Intro[Ben]: So, it saves the law firm a ton of time and hassle because some of them have their legal assistants or paralegals transcribing when they should be doing other stuff, or it’s 4:00 in the afternoon and they’re like, “oh man, I need this hour-and-a-half hearing transcribed in the next day.” The paralegal can’t get that done.
Announcer: You’re listening to the Legal Mastermind Podcast with your hosts, Ryan Klein and Chase Williams, the go-to podcast for learning from the experts in the legal community about effective ways to grow and manage your law firm.
Chase: Today on the Legal Mastermind Podcast, we have Ben Walker, the founder of Transcription Outsourcing. He helps law firms, courthouses, universities, medical practices, and a bunch of other businesses help with their transcription services. And today, we’re going to be talking about how to save money and increase efficiency through transcription, real-time editing of documents, and also outsourcing your legal research. Welcome to the podcast.
Ben: Thanks, Chase and Ryan, for having me.
Chase: So, I guess starting out, if you can tell us a little more about your background and how you came to find Transcription Outsourcing.
Ben: Yeah. I actually started with another transcription company specializing in medical transcription 14 years ago based out of Omaha. And after three to four years, I figured out how to do the marketing myself and that we needed to diversify into other industries because there were major technological things happening in the healthcare industry that was allowing doctors to not have to dictate anymore. They can point and click, so we were losing medical clients. I started researching other industries that use transcription. Found legal and law enforcement, and then ran with it. Broke off, and started my own company and haven’t looked back.
Chase: Awesome. And I think for those that aren’t familiar with how transcription works, can you give us a little background on that?
Ben: Yeah. So, like a typical transcript we’ll do for a law firm would be a court hearing that happened yesterday, maybe even today, sometimes last month or a few months ago, that they didn’t have transcribed by a court reporter because at the time, they didn’t know they were going to need it. And then as the case has evolved, they say, aw man, now I need this transcript because we have another hearing in two days or next week. And in order to prepare properly, they’ll have a legal assistant or they’ll go get it themselves, the audio file from the previous court hearing. They’ll upload it through our web platform. Our people will get it and assign it out to the right person, who will transcribe it within a day or two. Then we email it back as a certified legal transcript in a PDF. And they can run with it and submitted to court, use it for research, do whatever they need to do with it.
Chase: And the real benefit of, essentially, outsourcing this is saving time and also efficiency. I know that you mentioned previously when we were, you know, kind of prepping for this podcast that sometimes you’ll receive a document and then you’ll be done with your job for the day and you’ll have your transcribers work overnight. And then by the time you come back to your computer in the morning, it’s completed.
Ben: Yeah. So, it saves the law firm a ton of time and hassle because some of them have their legal assistants or paralegals transcribing when they should be doing other stuff, or it’s 4:00 in the afternoon and they’re like, oh man, I need this hour-and-a-half hearing transcribed in the next day. The paralegal can’t get that done. It’s gonna take the paralegal at least – a 90-minute file would take six hours probably to transcribe. They don’t have six hours unless they stay up all night and get overtime. And a court reporter is already booked out because they’re the people that show up in person with the stenography machine. They can’t get it done overnight or in the next couple of days because they’re literally already booked out. They get booked out months in advance. So, using us is much more efficient. And when it comes down to it, we’re cheaper per hour on average than any paralegal is.
Ryan: I remember when I used to work inhouse for a criminal law firm, I guess about seven or eight years ago, I remember one of the lawyers came to me. He had this great app on his phone and he’s like, “I can’t believe it. All I have to do is have to talk into this and transcribes it. It’s called Dragon Diction.” And I remember back then reading the transcripts and I’m like, “Have you read this? This isn’t even, like, remotely close to what you said.” I’m sure that it’s evolved a lot in the past seven or eight years, but it’s obviously not where it needs to be or else that’s what everyone’s been doing. So, are people in situations where they’re, like, trying to have auto-transcription, they’re kind of editing it, or is that just really a waste of time and you’d have to figure out another solution?
Ben: Yeah. The editing of the artificial intelligence is still not even close to where it needs to be. In order for it to be more efficient for artificial intelligence, it needs to be at 92 percent or above accuracy. And right now, voice recognition is maybe – when you’re talking multiple speakers like the three of us on a podcast or a court room or in a conference room doing a deposition – let’s say there’s three people when know there’s usually more. It might be 50 percent accurate and it can’t tell the difference between a man and a woman. So, our people can type it faster than fixing 50 percent error rate. The error rate needs to be 8 percent or accuracy needs to be 92 or above.
Ryan: I mean, forget about cross talk. It’s over if that happens. And then also a lot of these times when you’re doing these official transcripts, it’s probably very important to establish who’s speaking when. Like, here’s a person when they’re speaking, this person’s speaking, I mean, how could, you know, those auto-transcription software differentiate properly? I can’t see it.
Ben: And it’s not here yet. I’m sure one day it might, but it, today, you’re right. It’s not even close.
Chase: Cool. So, I guess while we’re on the topic of software and, I guess, collaboration, one thing we also talked about before this call was one of clients is a law firm, I believe, and you were telling us they were on a road trip. And they’re able to, basically, run their firm remotely due to third-party services such as like a V.A. transcription and then also a shared Google doc. And we thought that was pretty interesting before the call, the idea of a shared Google doc. We know what it is, most people, but can you give us the use case of how that’s actually being used? ‘Cause I think something that’s probably overlooked and a lot of people aren’t utilizing it when everybody has access to this.
Ben: Yeah. So, the attorney that I’m talking about is a client of ours and has been for six years probably, and recently he and his wife have been traveling via RV all over the country. While doing that, he’s literally sitting in the back of the RV working and vice versa, and they trade off driving. He’s ordering transcripts from us. He’s emailing back and forth and texting with a virtual assistant on his calendar. They’re also fixing letters that are going out. He’s sharing Google docs with paralegals for briefs that need to be filed. He’s also sharing his calendar with his paralegals, setting up conference calls, and this is all on the Google doc, back and forth, a Google sheet as well to make sure that they’re staying in alignment with each other now that they’re in multiple time zones and still having to do everything as if they were in the office down the hall from each other, and it’s working seamlessly for them right now. I have haven’t seen any issues at least with our communication with him and his firm.
Ryan: And you also mentioned V.A.’s in particular. We’ve talked about V.A.’s in previous podcasts. We talk about it amongst ourselves in our agency and a lot of perceive a virtual assistant as being able to really only be capable of some basic level things. Like, when people think of V.A.’s, they’re thinking about call follow-ups, scheduling appointments, really doing some menial tasks here and there. In one instance, we did talk about it, you know, a little more involved arrangement with the V.A. to where it’s maybe drafting some sort of legal documents. But you mentioned something I haven’t heard before and I haven’t really talked to any lawyers that may do this, but you were saying even as going as far as doing some legal research. And I wasn’t really aware that that could be a thing that virtual assistants do some situations. So, are you able to give a few examples of how a V.A. has been able to provide that kind of help that law firms may be looking for?
Ben: Yeah. And again, I’m gonna use the same attorney that is travelling via RV. He happens to specialize in wildlife law. And when new cases come up – ‘cause wildlife law can be different in every state, there are different animals, there’s different rules, he hooks up with a virtual assistant that does legal research out of the Philippines. And overnight, they will get him all the research he needs for that specific case that may be in Pennsylvania, it could be Texas, Arizona, even Colorado where he lives normally, but he may not have come across this specific kind of case. And it’s also on a case-by-case basis. He doesn’t pay the virtual assistant to sit around and wait around for him. He uses them when he needs them. And then they go get the research and email it to him, and then it’s done. They keep track of their hours. He pays them based on the work they send, and now he’s ready to go. And he can continue his day when he wakes up as if he did all the research himself the night before, but he didn’t. He paid someone – man, it’s way less than what we pay here per hour. It’s between $4.00 and $8.00 an hour. That same person in the states is gonna be 20, 25?
Ryan: And then, as far as their qualifications, the biggest thing that I would think is, you know, where am I going to find this V.A.? And if I do find them, how am I gonna – do I have to train them? Do I have to spend time to show them how to do the proper research, or are there other vendors or agencies that are providing this V.A. that already comes trained and is going to know how to work with you in an efficient manner?
Ben: Yeah. If you use the overseas companies, normally, they’ll give you a free trial so that you can give them a go. And you can also have someone in your office do the same research to compare during the free trial or check their work to make sure. It’s like anything, you hire anyone, you’re gonna have to check their work ‘til you get used to them. But a lot of these companies in the U.S. and overseas, they specialize in this stuff. And they have good reviews. They’ll have references. It’s like us, we have reviews online. People read them all the time or they call us, and they’re in Ohio and they’re like, well, we want to talk other four other law firms you’ve worked with around the country. So, I give them four other law firms to call and ask them anything they want about us. Trust, but verify.
Chase: So, accounting – is that like your bookkeeping you’re outsourcing, or does it go beyond that, like, sending invoices?
Ben: It’s a little of both. I send invoices. They send invoices. They do a lot of bookkeeping in and around a government contract we have though. It takes – I don’t know – eight hours a month that I don’t want to do. ‘Cause I know what I’m good at. Well, I’m good at accounting, but I don’t like accounting.
Ryan: Well, I have a question because here, we kind of have momentum from, you know, the outsourcing the V.A., do you find people, like maybe yourself ‘cause in you’re in this so much. And the people that you work with, do they kind of get, like, an outsourcing bug where they’re just like wait a second, I’m doing A, B, and C and just, like, this is going really well. Do you seem them, like, taking a step back and just looking at the whole picture and saying what else can I do, even if it’s like you said, for, again, maybe only eight hours a month? Those are eight hours you do not want, and eight hours is an entire working day. So is it just build momentum and kind of snowballs into looking at everything for how it can be outsourced?
Ben: Oh, that’s totally 100 percent true ‘cause I’ve done that. I used to have an office manager that did a bunch of different things for us and she resigned, and I broke it up and split it out into a whole bunch of pieces. Now it’s piecemealed together with six people and it’s cheaper.
Chase: Let’s go, let’s keep going on that. I’m very interested to know how you siloed, I guess, the tasks into six specific people to take over.
Ben: Yeah. So, it was outreach. We’ve now outsourced our outreach for guest blog posts. We’ve outsourced our ghost writing for guest blog posts and our own blog posts. I’ve outsourced the bookkeeping for our NASPO transcription services contract. It’s a pseudo-government entity that requires a lot of paperwork and it’s time consuming. It’s eight hours a month for 10 different states and the overall parent that oversees all 50 states. It’s busy work I can do, I don’t necessarily like doing.
Ryan: Yeah. And I hear you because – people that think, well, it’s only eight hours a month. I might as well just deal with it. It’s just that one day of the month that I hate doing it. And it’s just like you’re saying, like, why even do it at all? You don’t have to have that one day of the month that you hate. Just don’t do it, just, like, find the person that will take care of that on a monthly basis ‘cause you’re always going to dread that day. I know how it is for me, too, when I had to do some monthly SEO tasks I don’t want to do.
Ben: Yeah, totally. It’s the same for anything that will take you a long time that you have to be in the zone for to do properly. ‘Cause you can’t half ass it. It has to be perfect or one of the 10 states or the parent organization is going to reach back out to us and say these numbers don’t match. That this isn’t right, you need to redo it. And every time you do that with them, it gives them that little seed of doubt. And then, yeah, are we gonna re-up this contract with them? Are we not? They kept turning in the wrong paperwork. And the quarter ends – let’s see – September 30th, and I know I have until October 31st to turn in the numbers. So, if I were doing it myself, I’d be waiting ‘till, like, October 25th and then split it into three days, and lose track of what I was doing on day two and day one. And I’m on the third day trying to finish it. Yeah, it’s no fun.
Chase: That’s fine. I can totally relate.
Ryan: Kind of going back to transcription for a bit, I’m sure that there are situations where law firms, depending on what they practice or if they’re, like, you know, frankly, not sure about every instance of having to transcribe anything or document. But what are some instances where anyone that’s listening doesn’t currently transcribe, a situation where it would very beneficial for them long-term? Like, for example, depositions oftentimes, like, transcribed and has the law firm taken care of that among other things?
Ben: Yeah. Some of the law firms that we work with that do a ton of depositions will have a court reporter onsite. They don’t have to order the transcript though. They can tell the court reporter not to do the transcripts because that’s another additional cost. So, they can sit there and do their live thing and swear people in and be one of the witnesses. By not ordering the transcripts then and there, they can wait to see if they even need it. And then if they do need it down the road, they have the audio and they can send it to us. And we can get it done really quickly. The court reporter can also get it done ‘cause they their first copy, but they’re gonna have to go back through it, like they normally do anyway, and finish the transcript up. Court reporters cost 50 percent more than us, though, so that’s another factor, you know, that goes into this, that law firms are starting to become more aware of is that they have an option. They don’t have to use a court reporter. And then, we have some law firms that do bunch of employment law. So, they’re in and out of these short hearings all day. They might have 10, 12, 15 hearings in a day. They go outside the first hearing or fourth hearing and they dictate really quickly what happened. And they use our iPhone app. And then our people get it and transcribe what ends up being a letter based on what happened in that hearing and when the next hearing is that they were having their paralegals do. Paralegals retire. Paralegal quit. Your law firm gets bigger. They don’t want to hire more people ‘cause it’s not necessarily a full-time job. It’s also a job that if you’re not trained at, it takes you a long time to get good at. So, we’re doing it for them and it’s all online. These employment law firms are in the north-east. We’ve never met them in person. We’ve talked to them on the phones many times. We’ve never met them. They use our iPhone app. Their paralegals log on to our web platform and they pull everything down on their own.
Ryan: That’s a great point. And you have an app that kind of directly goes into it. It’s almost as if they’re out of the office. They’re not in front of a computer or a note pad and they’re doing voice memos, and it’s going to be accurate. They’re not gonna, like, look back and be like why did I say there’s a banana in my pocket. They’re going to say like, oh, yeah, now I know what I said. So, it’s just, like, ensuring that your thoughts and what is top of the mind in that moment is going to be as you said it, nothing better.
Ben: Oh, yeah. You’re 100 percent right. And the more familiar we become with our clients and individual attorneys, the smoother it goes because we get used to them and we know what they’re saying. We know what they’re gonna say. We know who they’re referring to because we have their old transcripts, their old letters, we have all of that. Our transcriptionists are all college educated. They’re legitimately intelligent people that know what they’re doing. So they get back letters that are ready to go out to another attorney, to a court. Yeah.
Chase: So, Ben, I guess if you can leave our listeners with one or two more takeaways, what would you see?
Ben: Give virtual assistants a try. They can help tremendously. There are ones out there that are really good at what they do too and they can be highly specific. So, if you’re a patent attorney you can find a virtual assistant that specializes in patent law research and they really know what they’re doing. And kind of getting use to the fact that you don’t have to have everything under your roof. They don’t have to be down the hall from you to turn in good work. We act as an extension of our client’s offices. And when it runs well, we never hear from them ‘cause they’re not pissed off. And we haven’t heard from our law firm clients in ages, but they still pay us on time, all the time because we’re doing a good job for them. So, yeah, it’s the whole comfort factor with they’re not down the hall from me. I don’t employ this person. They are not W2. Getting over that hurdle, yeah, that will help open a lot more doors to efficiency within a law firm.
Chase: And if people want to reach out and possibly work with you or Transcription Outsourcing, what’s the best way to get in contact?
Ben: They can go to our website and fill out the little Contact Us form at TranscriptionOutsourcing.net.
Sign-Off: Thanks for listening to the Legal Mastermind podcast. If you’re interested in working with Ryan and Chase, please email Mastermind@marketmymarket.com. Make sure to join the free Mastermind group for growing and managing your firm at LawfirmMastermind.com. Ryan Klein and Chase Williams are the managing partners at Market My Market, one of the top legal marketing companies in the United States.
This Episode Transcribed By: Transcription Outsourcing, LLC