Paper Chase

Transcription services by any other name would smell just as sweet and successful.
Magazine Contributor
2 min read

This story appears in the April 2002 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Q: I hear a lot about medical transcription from home, but what about legal transcription? I've been thinking about starting a homebased business offering both legal transcription and secretarial services. What do you think of that combination? Name withheld

A: Although it's not as common as medical transcription, legal transcription is related. The skills needed are the same: keyboard accuracy and speed, excellent spelling and familiarity with specialized terminology. Legal transcriptionists typically work for attorneys, courts and companies that hire them as independent contractors.

Because of confidentiality concerns, many attorneys prefer to keep legal transcription duties in the office. So it's a good idea when soliciting lawyers to offer a confidentiality agreement. With the growth of attorneys practicing at home and the economic pressures on small law firms, many outsource this work. But because small firms need office support as well as transcription services, offering both makes sense.

When working for a solo practitioner or a small firm, expect to charge $15 to $25 per hour. Working for a company that hires independent contractors usually doesn't pay as well, but you can find a list of such companies at mboard?board=/mb/legal.

If you've already worked as a legal secretary, armed with Black's Law Dictionary(West Group) and The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation (Cambridge:The Harvard Law Review Association), you may be ready to solicit your first clients. Need training? Check out, which offers an at-home study course.

Paul and Sarah Edwards' most recent book is Changing Directions Without Losing Your Way. Send them your start-up questions at or e-mail

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