The legal industry has made a remote shift.
For the legal industry professionals – attorneys, court reporters, and judges – there have been many lessons learned from this pandemic, namely, how to successfully adopt modern digitalized technology to keep the wheels of justice turning.
The way legal professionals manage internal meetings, third-party hearings, trials, and depositions has seen a facelift, one that largely relies on and involves utilizing more modern technology that has been built for use in our now more remote-driven world. Instead of heading into the courtroom or office that has been set up and wired for capturing testimony, many are now using portable solutions or web-based teleconferencing applications such as Zoom or GoToMeeting to record these important interactions.
The migration to teleconferencing and the legal industry faces issues.
The implementation of remote and portable digital technology solutions has helped attorneys to utilize a cost-effective solution to support the continuation of remote proceedings today and well after the pandemic. It has become clear; the judicial system is successfully embracing the use of digital video and web-based conferencing technology to carry out civic duties and to better manage their caseload.
However, there is a real concern about audio quality in these recordings. According to a transcriptionist quoted in the Ontario Star, “The quality of the recording is horrible,” about a recent civil motion held via Zoom video conference, in a comment in a closed Facebook group. “The ‘talking through a tin can’ reverberation is mind-numbing. It took me 2.5 hours to do 10 pages in draft, representing 13 minutes in court time.”
The audio technology picks up the faintest sounds, such as foreign noises like paper crunching, fans switching on, or nearby noises from other people, animals or equipment, with great precision. Typically, these interactions are setup to capture audio directly from a person, but it has also been used to pick up a person speaking across a conference call or phone call. Additionally, the recording could be made in a room not suitable for such recordings. These factors end up influencing the quality of the digital recording, even if the in-person event was clear.
With the right technology this can be alleviated.
VIQ Solutions offers technologies that limit the impacts these factors can have on the final transcript. For instance, rather than using a microphone to capture the audio from a Zoom call, the audio track is fed directly to the audio source or recorder digitally, without any intervening microphones. This provides a stronger audio signal and thus a more prominent voice recording.
With the judicial system moving away from the traditional courtroom, guidance must be provided to all participants on microphone selection, position, and quality. Additionally, IP phone and internet connections need to be tested prior to interactions being captured.
There are other ways to enhance the transcription of evidence recordings. Documenting with quality annotations and speaker identification enhances any recording. Attaching relevant documents will help with context as well. All these factors help create a much clearer record of these detailed interactions. Simply using a digital recorder, although easy, in the end may not provide sufficient information to produce a verbatim transcript.
We are investing time and talent to continuously improve the original quality of voice recordings and applying algorithms to further filter, enhance, and differentiate voices. For such critical evidence to be provided with veracity and in meaningful ways is paramount to the technologies chosen to support the fast-evolving digital litigation market.