From Court Reporter to Legal Transcriptionist: Kari's Story

Apr 09, 2018 by Janet Shaughnessy

You don't have to have a background in the legal field to become a legal transcriptionist, but it certainly doesn't hurt!

Take Kari. She's a former court reporter who wanted to work from home after being a stay-at-home mom to her three boys.

She used her existing knowledge as a court reporter as the foundation to becoming a legal transcriptionist, and she's now a successful freelancer!

Read on to see how Kari's journey to freelance freedom unfolded.

Q: Welcome to the blog, Kari! Can you tell us a little about your background? What did your life look like before TA?

Professionally speaking, I was a court reporter in my 20s and early 30s. While I was a reporter, I worked in California, New York, and Connecticut. I then became a stay-at-home mom when my twin boys were born. I've always been an avid reader, which definitely is a plus as a transcriber! I love a challenge and I love to stay busy!

Q: I love that you worked as a court reporter! I'm sure that definitely helped you with the terminology in the course. So when did you start doing legal transcription, and what made you decide to learn it?

I started the course in late August of 2017 and finished in mid-November. I wanted to be able to use the skills that I had developed from having worked as a court reporter and parlay that into a profession that I could do from home.

Q: What was the most challenging part in getting started?

I wouldn't say starting the course was a challenge. I was very much ready to begin this new chapter of my life. The coursework itself, however, was challenging, as well it should be! But it was also interesting and I loved knowing that I was expanding my horizons. I approached this the same way I would have if I were taking a new college course. You have to know it won't be easy. You have to want to work for it and know there will be bumps in the road. Take advantage of the Facebook group that Janet has created. The support there is the best!

Q: The Facebook group is definitely an invaluable resource for students! What have been the most valuable things you learned during the course?

The importance of paying close attention to detail (extremely important as a transcriptionist!) and never to rush through something just to get it done and put it behind you. Those that work hard and do their very best are the ones who will succeed and have more professional options down the road.

Q: Hear, hear! How long did it take you to find your first client? And how many clients do you have now?

I work for a transcription company called eScribers. This is the avenue I chose to take starting out so that I could build my skills and confidence level before going it alone. I'm certainly not saying this is the only way to go when starting out. However, for me, it was what felt best. The great thing is that I found that after putting in the hard work, I had many job offers when I was ready to begin working. I found this job within two weeks of completing the course.

Q: What advice would you give anyone thinking about becoming a legal transcriptionist? Is it worth the money for training?

First of all, not all jobs are for all people. One has to look at why they are thinking about becoming a transcriptionist. I knew this would be a job I would enjoy after doing my research. I also spent quite a bit of time looking into what would be the best way to go about becoming not just a legal transcriptionist, but a good one. Janet's course is very fairly priced considering all that you gain in return. It exceeded my expectations.

Q: That makes me very happy to hear! In your opinion, what do you think it takes to be a GOOD legal transcriptionist? How about a GREAT one?

Certainly being a good typist is an obvious answer. The accuracy is more important than the speed, as the speed will come with time. Trust me on that one! And as I mentioned above, being detail-oriented is important. It is very important to be a good researcher. That was important as a court reporter and it is certainly important as a transcriptionist. When you aren’t 100% sure about something, don't guess! There are way too many resources at our fingertips to do that. And I really feel it's important to always strive to get better!

Q: I completely agree! What’s your favorite thing about being a legal transcriptionist? What about your least favorite?

My favorite thing about being a transcriptionist? I would say it's the flexibility of having a work-from-home job. In the job I have now, I set my own hours and can always adjust my availability. That's invaluable, especially as a mom of three!

And I love the variety of cases I get. The satisfaction I get after finishing a challenging job is wonderful. I just finished turning in a transcript that included the testimony of two neuropsychologists. While looking up all of the terminology was time-consuming and stressful, I know I'll be that much more prepared the next time I have this kind of case. Look at every job as a learning opportunity. Choose to look at the glass half full! :)

My least favorite part is not being able to control the quality of the audio, although I do have the option to turn down any job that is assigned to me. But that being said, most of the audio files that I receive working as a legal transcriptionist are of good quality.

Q: What does a typical day look like for you? Anything else you’d like to share?

A typical day for me is getting up and reading the newspaper before the rest of my family gets going. After I take my kids to school, my workday begins. It's important for me that I am showered and dressed in clothes other than pajamas! It puts me in the right mindset to work. Creating a designated workspace is very important. Decorate it with pictures, artwork, anything that makes you smile!

As much as I loved being a stay-at-home mom when my boys were younger, now that they are teenagers, I am more fulfilled knowing that I am doing something I enjoy and contributing to our family income. I love knowing that I'm just getting started. I can continue to make connections with others and build my business as much (or as little) as I wish. I'm learning how to step out of my comfort zone!

Our Take

I love Kari's positive attitude and go-getter mentality! It goes to show if you put in the time and effort, you can be successful as a legal transcriptionist.

Your Turn

Does legal transcription sound like a career path you'd be interested in pursuing? Sign up for my FREE mini-course and see if it's the right fit for you!

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What separates a ho-hum transcriptionist from an excellent one? Is there even a demand for transcription? Who hires transcriptionists? 
 Can anyone be a transcriptionist? 

Get the answers to all these questions and more by enrolling in my free introductory course, Transcription Foundations.

For our legal transcription mini-course, click here.