Carolyn Bodley - Legal Verbatim Transcriptionist of Audio, Video & Digital Files

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blog entries are strictly the opinion of Carolyn Bodley and may not reflect the opinion of others

(to see archived blog entries, click on the links to the right of the top blog)

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Friday, July 31, 2009

BLOG - Legal transcription is not medical transcription
medical.jpgJust as there are several medical specialities, i.e., a foot doctor would not operate on a person's brain, neither would a bankruptcy attorney handle a criminal trial.

I have absolutely no idea why medical transcriptionists constantly email me about getting into legal transcription. I'm a legal transcriptionist and I have no inclination to "learn" medical transcription.

Without experience or training, exactly why do you want to get into legal transcription or if you are a legal transcriptionist would you want to get into medical transcription?

When you email me with questions as to what is needed or if you can do it -- I don't know you; I don't know anything about your skills or experience; I don't know if you are a self-starter or can make judgment calls on your own without being told ... have you ever transcribed ANYTHING for any previous employer?

Legal transcription is a specialized skill as is medical transcription -- and in my opinion, the two should NEVER be interbred.
[end of blog]

10:15 pm mdt 

Monday, July 27, 2009

BLOG - before starting a transcription service
magnify.jpgIf operating a business was easy, then everyone would be doing it.

Once again, I'm almost without words -- almost being the operative word. I've discussed before how search engines grab me in. The latest search phrase that found me: "Do employers pay taxes for outsourced transcriptionists?"

In the 1980's and 1990's there was no Internet, no Wordwide Web, no webpages, no emails ... at least for me, I didn't just one day decide that I wanted to begin a transcription service. In fact, I researched for close to eight years. I spent a lot of time at the library and a lot of money on business books and periodicals on business startups looking for answers to my questions. I would never have thought of calling someone for business advice that would end up being a competitor.

I talked to tax consultants to find out about taxes BEFORE ever taking the final plunge of owning and operating a business. I talked to state and local authorities to learn about required business taxes, registrations and licenses.

When opening my door for business, I knew that I was a business owner and no longer an employee. I knew the difference between a business owner/independent contractor and an employer. I had written a business plan. I knew that I was responsible for paying my OWN taxes and that I would no longer have an employer pay or match my share. I knew that self-employment taxes were paid on a quarterly basis throughout the year. I knew how much the business needed to earn weekly, monthly and yearly and set my charge rates accordingly -- I didn't just pull a figure out of the air or ask a competitor -- oh, wait, in the 1980's and 1990's, start-up business owners learned by the seat of their pants and through hard work and trial and error -- we didn't expect it all to be handed to us.

In answer to the question that sent me on this tantrum, "if an employer were responsible for paying taxes for an outsourced transcriptionists, then he would hire the transcriptionist to be an onsite employee!"--additionally, as a business owner/operator, you work for "CLIENTS" not employers; you are a SERVICE PROVIDER and NOT an employee!!!!!!!!!!!
[end of blog]
2:40 pm mdt 

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Transcription frustration level
frustration.jpgI was helping out for a few hours in one of my attorney-client offices today. There was a CD on the desk with a sticky that it needed transcribed. I just stuck it on the floor with my purse so I would remember to take it with me when I left -- to transcribe from my office where I have the software, foot pedal -- ALL the proper equipment needed to transcribe a transcript. For more than a year I have been transcribing audio/video CDs/DVDs for this attorney -- always at home and never from his office.

I was almost ready to leave, and the law clerk asked if I had finished the 911 transcript?

Me: "Well, actually no. I'm planning on completing it at home and emailing it to you, as I always do."

Clerk: "We need it done right away. The trial is fast approaching and we are brainstorming today and we need the transcript right now."

Me: "But the office is not equipped for me to transcribe it *right now*."

Clerk: "Sure it is. Just take the ear phones from the transcriber here and use them in the computer's ear jack."

Me: "But what you don't understand is the fact that you don't have the proper transcribing software or foot pedal to transcribe from this computer."

Clerk: "You can play it in Windows Media Player."

Now I know how people that don't have transcribers and use Boom Boxes work --

1. Open up Word.

2. Stick the CD into the drive and open up Windows Media Player.

3. Press Start and listen to a few words and press Stop.

4. Type the few words into Word.

5. Press Play again in Windows Media Player. Listen to a few words.

6. Type from where you left off in the Word document.

7. Press Play in Windows Media Player which starts at the beginning of the recording unless you fast forward it.

Without the proper tools and equipment, just look at the number of times your hands are removed from the keyboard and your chain of thought interrupted! What a PITA. The three minute 9-1-1 call took me almost one hour to transcribe. It would have taken me NO LONGER than 8-10 minutes with the proper equipment.

There is a HUGE difference in simply "hearing" a CD and actually "listening" to what is being said and transcribing the audio verbatim.

The frustration level in attempting to transcribe using Windows Media Player without the proper transcription software and foot pedal, will send any EXPERIENCED and SKILLED transcriptionist over the edge.
[end of blog]

1:01 pm mdt 

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

BLOG - Transcription Search Hits

change.jpgI suppose I should be flattered at the search engine hits my web site gets -- and no doubt about it, each hit keeps my site at the top.

What irritates me is the search phrases that attach onto my site and gobble me in. I can always tell when it is someone needing transcription services from the "lookie Lou's" or "transcription wannabes." Today must be my lucky day for the wannabes, or I should say one wannabe. Even though five different search phrases grabbed me, I can tell that it is one person -- the same person.

* - video transcription pay rate

* - legal transcription pay rate

* - average hourly rate for legal transcriptionists

* - audio hour rates for transcription

* - what is the going rate for transcriptionists

Do you see the same pattern here that I'm seeing?

First of all, there is no "going rate" as that would be construed as price fixing -- which is illegal. Second, define "average" and average for who/whom?--different parts of the country will pay and accept different fees. Additionally, transcriptionist are not equal and the services transcriptionists offer are not equal, therefore, charge rates are no where the same -- the client really DOES get what they pay for. Thirdly, if anyone regularly reads my blogs and different pages of my site, they know how I feel about transcriptionists charging audio hour rates and why I'm so adamantly against audio hour rates.

For the transcription wannabes, what value do YOU place on your time and the quality/quanity of your work product? Check with your city licensing departments and see what the cost of a business license is, and even if the city will allow you to operate a business out of your home--if that is where you are planning on setting up shop. How much money do you have invested in equipment and what additional equipment needs to be purchased? Have you even written a business plan outlining costs, expenses and estimated earnings? You aren't going to be an employee, so you must think of your own retirement savings, health insurance, self-employment taxes, business licenses and registrations.

You've got a lot of homework -- which no one can answer for you -- before you even think of averages or pay rates.
[end of blog]

2:57 pm mdt 

Friday, July 10, 2009

BLOG - Danger, Will Robinson, danger!
caution.jpgIf Will Robinson is before your time, in the 1960's there was a television program "Lost in Space" where Will was a small boy with the Robot acting as a surrogate guardian warning Will of impending threats.

My internal Robot often alerts me of impending threats from callers interested in my transcription services. Earlier this week it once again kicked in when  I received a call from a law firm with three CD's needing transcribed. Right at the beginning of the phone call, the caller advised that two of the CDs were pretty poor quality and the third was in Spanish and needed to be transcribed into English. I began with the easier answer first: I don't speak Spanish, don't understand Spanish, don't read or write Spanish.

The caller kept repeating the same question: How much will the other two CDs cost? I repeated numerous times that I need to listen to the audio first BEFORE giving a ball park quote on a low and high end -- dependent on the actual time to complete. Obviously my voice was going in one of her ears and out the other because, once again, she asked the same question.

There are many transcription sites which give line, page and audio hour rates. To me, these people giving a finished project price BEFORE even hearing the audio are fools. They have absolutely no idea the quality or lack of quality of the audio. A stellar audio will take a MINIMUM of three hours to transcribe one hour. The poorer the audio quality, the longer it will take to type. One hour of poor quality audio can take 10 hours or more to transcribe. Therefore, there is no way -- I don't care how many times someone asks -- that I will give a price and/or time-frame off the top of my head without first having listened to 15 minutes of the audio.

The next warning flag was when I asked about true verbatim and the caller had no idea what verbatim meant -- although she had no problem with asking me, once again, how much it will cost? There really are times that it is good that I can't reach through the receiver and reach the individual's neck!
The caller also had no idea what I was talking about when I told her that once I finish the transcript, I go back and re-listen to the audio as I proofread word-for-word against the audio.

Now, I realize that different parts of the country talk "funny" -- making it difficult to be understood -- different parts of the country have different slang, but I don't know how much clearer I can make these points:

1. I don't give project rates without first listening to the audio.

2. I don't have a line, page or audio hour rate.

    2.a. One hour audio DOES NOT MEAN that it takes only one hour to type.

    2.b. My rates are hourly -- the final charge is based on the number of hours it takes to type and proofread.

3. Proofreading will take, at a minimum, the length of the audio (i.e., one hour to one hour)

4. I live in the United States and I speak English. When I visited Paris, I thought how arrogant the French were: "speak the language or go home." Arrogant or not, when it comes to communication and language barriers, we need to take a lesson from the French. Past Germans, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese and EVERY immigrant that has come to the United States to live were not only expected but required to learn the ENGLISH language. Communication was not halted and stopped in its tracks because the immigrants didn't speak English. We were not required to learn their language instead of them learning OUR language.
[end of blog]
9:35 pm mdt 

Thursday, July 2, 2009

BLOG - Egg on my face!
error.jpgNever let it be said that I'm above admitting that I don't walk on water and that I do, at times, mess up!

I regularly change my site around so it doesn't get stale for regulars. I add things, delete things and just rearrange some things.

A couple of weeks ago on my 17th business anniversary, I updated my 16 years to 17 years. Every once in a while, I also admit to reading every word of every page and link of my site. Much to my embarrassment this morning, I realized that since I changed my years in business to reflect 17, every visitor has been reading that I've been in business for 71 years.

Let me assure everyone who is imagining a little 'ol granny sitting in her rocking chair on her front porch with her laptop on her lap, that although my hair is greying and I'm noticing more wrinkles and the spots that I've always called freckles, after a certain age, are referred to as age spots, that I've only been in business for myself for 17 years, that I've got a number of years until I'm 71 years old!

Let me also assure prospects interested in my services, that it is always better for me to mess up my own material, and that I ALWAYS do everything in my ability, knowledge, belief and power to ensure your own documents are error-free -- but if something should slip through, it will, of course, be corrected to your satisfaction without charge to you ... our eyes see what they want to see and that is another reason I put your finished documents "to bed for the night" before word-for-word proofreading the next day.
[end of blog]
12:19 pm mdt 

BLOG - Beware of text expanders, shorthand and macros ...

oops.jpgThe argument for using text expanders or shortcut macros is "time is money." Some transcriptionists purchase or download free software to make their life simpler -- others create macros -- enabling them to type a few characters or a few keystrokes and common or repetitive words and/or phrases appear on the screen without the need to actually type each and every character/keystroke.

Transcriptionists that rely heavily on this "shortcut" technique can't talk it up enough. I, myself, have never resorted to this crutch -- the reason being is that I can mess up all on my own. My biggest typo, which isn't even a typo, is that ninety percent of the time, "does not" comes out as "doe snot." I'm almost positive that a doe has snot, but unless a client only wants a spell check and not a thorough word-for-word proofing, my clients never know about my fingers getting ahead of my computer and the improper placement of the space breaking the two words. A machine spell check accepts both doe and snot without even a blink of the eye -- the same as text expanders/shortcuts. The problem arises when the expander shortcut rears an ugly head in unsuspecting documents days, weeks, months and even years later when they unexpectedly pop up.

Additionally, my second complaint or concern is remembering the "shortcut" sequence devised to save time -- thus enabling more input and more money. When I'm typing along putting audio words on the screen, my entire concentration is geared to listening to the exact word(s) being spoken. To make my mind shift gears and remember what shortcut keystroke/macro I've created that will type a single word or a group of words means that I'm not concentrating on the exact words being spoken. While others argue how much time they save using expanders/macros, in my case it would be the complete opposite because of losing my chain of thought and typing rhythm.

Since I don't use keyboard shortcuts, I will never find myself embarrassed with an "oops" word/phrase appearing unexpectedly out-of-nowhere.
[end of blog]
8:08 am mdt 

Archive Newer | Older

With a typing speed of 120 wpm, Carolyn Bodley began offering independent contractor/secretarial and transcription services to the Denver metro legal community in 1992.

I am not a court reporter or medical transcriptionist and I don't videotape depositions -- I'm strictly a legal transcriptionist which means putting spoken words on paper. All my transcripts contain a certification stating that to the best of my knowledge, belief and ability, the audio/video I received has not been altered in any way, and the transcript is true, accurate and complete. I have never been advised that a court rejected one of my audio or video transcripts. If my transcript is rejected by the court, you will be reimbursed in full for my services. Because I certify that the transcript is true and complete, the entire audio/video must be transcribed--I am unable to transcribe "just a portion" that you need. 

I guarantee that your transcripts will be typed confidentially, accurately and with attention to detail at a fair price.

  • Discovery is often turned over in a format other than hard copy. This discovery includes, but is not limited to, recorded telephone conversations, police interviews, depositions, investigations, witness statements, and more. The audio and video "words" need to be put to paper, and your already overworked legal staff often don't have the skills, equipment, the inclination or the time.
  • Discovery is often the deciding factor of whether a case goes to trial. Most of us hear, but do we listen? Recently I transcribed a video that had been viewed and listened to several times and by several people before I transcribed it. There was a one sentence statement that not one person caught -- this one sentence was not the only reason the case was dismissed one day before trial--however, it carried quite a bit of weight -- and I'm the only one that "heard" it. Had the video never been transcribed, how many other words would never have been heard?

Add-On Services:

  • laser color printing
  • laminating
  • spiral binding
  • proofreading/editing your work product

Your Documents are Your Reputation ...
Making Them Look Good is Mine!©1992-2016 Carolyn Bodley

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