Court reporters, also known as legal transcriptionists, are a part of the legal process. They support lawyers and courts by transcribing and formatting legal documents. Primarily, court reporting involves real-time transcription of courtroom dialog. Through a legal transcription certificate program, you can learn skills relevant to the profession, including legal terminology, the litigation process, and how to properly prepare legal documents.
Types of Legal Transcription Certificates
A law degree is not required to become a legal transcriptionist. Rather, the necessary skills to work in the profession can be picked up on-the-job or, more preferably, during a legal transcription certificate program, so students who are interested in this line of work can avoid the time and expense of degree programs. Here are some typical requirements to apply to a certificate program in legal transcription:
- High school diploma or its equivalent
- Ability to type a minimum of 40 words per minute
Court reporting programs can take between three to six months to complete. During this time, students learn legal terminology commonly used in legal documents for litigation, torts, criminal law, contract law, real property, family law, and other areas of law, as well as the differences between these types of specialty law. They also learn how to analyze lawsuit procedures, conduct legal research, and prepare legal documents. Students learn practical skills relevant to legal transcription, too, including using word processing spreadsheets and basic keyboarding topics like keying techniques and improving speed and accuracy. These courses can be completed entirely online, though students would need regular access to a computer and the relevant software and tools, such as a USB WavPlayer Footpedal.
What’s Next for Certificate Holders?
Upon completion of a legal transcription certificate programs, students are prepared for entry-level work as a legal transcriptionist or legal secretary. They work in court systems, law firms, and private attorney offices. They might also work for companies that offer transcription services. There is also the option to pursue a formal law degree.