Is Speech Recognition Technology Changing the Litigation Support World?

Automatic Speech RecognitionTechnological developments are revolutionizing the way that many of us serve our clients.


In the world of litigation support, automatic speech recognition (ASR) is one of the many technologies that are starting to have an impact.


For litigation support staff, speech recognition technology has the power to automatically convert spoken language into text that can be included within reports andother written documents.


Industry leaders such as Nuance Communications, Google, Microsoft and Apple currently offer ASR technology.


However, is the technology actually ready for reliable implementation in the world of litigation support? Many professional court reporters feel the answer is “no.”


"The biggest problem, and this will always be true of with this type technology no matter how much it improves, is that a person will always have to certify the accuracy of a legally-binding document," said Claudio Espinoza, Legal Video Services Manager at Diamond Reporting & Legal Video. "I’m not sure how this would eventually play out, for example, when seriously considering the elimination of a reporter in the courtroom."


Daniel M. Gershwin of D’Amico Gershwin Court Reporting & Videoconferencing believes that the main problem is accuracy. He feels that main barrier to using the technology in the courtroom is, "It needs to be trained to recognize the nuances of an individual speaker’s voice/and speech pattern," which is not practical with all of the participants that may be involved. " I do foresee a time in the future where everyone with a smart phone will have the AI features on their phone trained to recognize their voice more accurately."


Steve Crandall, JD, CLVS, and CEO of ProMotion Holdings, adds, "The biggest issues are lack of punctuation, speaker identification, treatment of synonyms and homonyms, poor pronunciation, and overlapping speakers talking at the same time. Traditional ASR has yet to address these issues in an acceptable manner. Correcting errors is often more time consuming than traditional quality control steps."


Jeff S. Grenier, President of Allied Court Reporters, Inc. & Video Conference Centers also feels that ASR is not ready for the courtroom. "It cannot replace the personal interaction or the reporter and conventional method of reporting yet. ASR still cannot control a room full of people speaking over each other. Too much is lost with multiple speakers."


Clearly there are a lot of reasons that automatic speech recognition technology is not widely adopted by litigation support professionals.


But, things may be changing.


According to Kenneth H. Stern, trial consultant, founder of Custom Video Services, Inc. and a long-time MIVNET affiliate, “Speech recognition technology has now evolved to the point that the spoken word can be transcribed and preserved more cost effectively, more accurately and faster than ever before.”


“Automatic speech recognition offers the opportunity to have high quality audio or video recordings transcribed quickly and cost effectively, accurate to evidentiary standards,” said Stern. “In my business, the applications are evolving and have not yet taken root. However, pioneers like Steve Hubbard, RPR are poised to offer advanced ASR solutions to the legal community.”


From his offices at 21st Century Automated Transcription in Alexandria, Virginia, Steve Hubbard believes that the client, not the court reporter, will decide what is best. “Everyone has to remember, it is NOT what we think the lawyers and their clients want. They will decide what is best for them and when they feel ASR functionality is ready .”


Steve Crandall of ProMotion Holdings, is excited about automatic language translation combined with improvements in remote participation that are simplifying the user experience and reducing barriers to the adoption of these technologies. "The ubiquitous nature of video is changing societal expectations around communications capture. I believe we will see more and more depositions and trial proceedings being captured with video. We are also seeing a real increase in demand for remote participation using either traditional videoconferencing or webcasting," he said.


Claudio Espinoza at Diamond Reporting & Legal Video predicts the demise of physical media. "We still have many clients asking to receive paper transcripts, and videos in DVD format. Eventually, I expect that all vendors will have all of their offerings, be they deposition materials such as transcripts and deposition video, or their services such as translation, court reporting, and video conferencing centrally available and centrally managed from the Cloud."


Kenneth Stern of Custom Video Services feels that other technological developments, such as the real-time integration of ASR with online conferencing and collaboration will have a major impact on the litigation support world.


Working toward that future is MIVNET, a community of business professionals servicing meeting planners with affordable hybrid cloud based video collaboration solutions. Business meetings, depositions, interviews, board meetings, training sessions and even town meetings… Connect and engage with MIVNET Connect powered by Viewme. Download MIVNET Connect for free at


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