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Word Processing & Transcription for Law Firms – How Long Does It Take to Type an Audio File? Feb 6, 2020

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At SBA we often come across the question of how long does it take to type an audio file?

The answer depends on many variables, so let’s do a deep dive.

Audio duration: The length of an audio file obviously is a key factor in how long takes to type an audio. In general, every 1 minute of audio takes an experienced typist between 3 to 4 minutes to type where there is a single speaker in the audio. It might come as a surprise that the ratio is not 1:1, but this is in general an industry average.

Audio quality: Audio quality plays a big part in how long an audio takes to type – if the voice of the speaker is clear then typing is a breeze; if the voice of the speaker is not clear then things slow down considerably.

In this context, how the speaker dictates also plays a big part in time taken to type – if the speaker takes time to spell out names, uncommon words or technical jargon/terms, then it is easier for the typist and quicker to type. Also dictating while playing music in background, near traffic noise, or sitting in a pub is obviously not ideal!

Number of speakers: The higher the number of speakers, the more time is required to type a dictation. A recording of a meeting with 7 speakers will take a lot longer to type then an audio with a single speaker.

Do the speakers know that the audio will be typed?: If there are multiple speakers in an audio where the speakers are conscious that a transcript will be produced, then the speakers may take the time to slow down or pronounce words more clearly.

However, if the tape in question is of a recording where the speakers were not aware of a recording, or if even if aware, the nature of the meeting is like a board meeting, then the audio produced will likely take longer to type as speakers may be speaking over each other, or multiple speakers speaking at the same time.

Formatting requirements: For law firms, dictations require detailed formatting in MS Word as per a style guide. Style guides vary from 1 or 2 pages through to 125 pages (one firm had!) and application of the style guide to a transcribed document adds to the time taken to compile a dictation.

Precedent and practice management system: Typically for dictations for professional services firms, the documents produced are often required to be ‘uploaded and merged’ in the firm’s practice management system and this adds to time taken for a dictation to be finalised.

Edit an existing document: Often dictations may contain instructions to edit an existing document in the client system, and this means the transcriber will have to go through the document, locate and amend or insert words as per the audio dictated.

Artificial Intelligence (AI): There are several AI based transcription tools which can produce transcript output. AI tools are great in producing a baseline transcript with one or two speakers and producing a draft which can be worked on. Human intervention to quality check, finalise and upload as per formatting guidelines and upload in practice management systems is required. AI can be a good option where timelines are tight, and audio is clear.

In summary, word processing for legal practices is a specialised task that requires not only good typing speed but also knowledge of practice management systems and tools, and legal jargon and terminology.

At SBA our word processing team currently assists law firms nationally with word processing services that provide firms a flexible resourcing option to fulfill their word processing requirements.

SBA clients also save on the opportunity cost of in-house paralegals spending more time on business development – through more engagement with clients on phone and similar and less time typing.

Explore how SBA’s word processing services can give your practice resource flexibility and reduce opportunity costs.

Contact us here to learn more about our Word Processing Services


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