“Just send me an E-Tran” is something that we hear a lot at the end of depositions, and generally both the attorneys and reporters understand this to mean “I don’t want a hard copy”. Over the years, the term “E-Tran” has turned into the legal industry version of “Kleenex”.
But what exactly is an E-Tran?
What are its benefits?
And more importantly…is something out there that’s better today?
RealLegal’s E-Transcript program has been around in some iteration for well over 15 years and over that time has established itself as the industry standard for digitally transporting transcripts. Offering novel and convenient features like an automatically generated word index, linked exhibits, and the ability to print both a full-sized and condensed transcript from the same file, it is no surprise that E-Tran essentially took over the market. Over the years, RealLegal has expanded their reach offering LiveNote to reporters for RealTime and Case Notebook for attorneys as a way to organize cases. However, the core features of E-Transcript (and its limitations) have remained fairly unchanged.
In the ensuing time, many programs have risen in an attempt to eat into E-Tran’s ownership of the market, the most notable two being Visionary and YesLaw. The Visionary program took most of the features of E-Transcript and combined it with quick and easy syncing capability. However, both E-Tran and Visionary suffer from the same major drawback. They require a specific viewer program. I’m sure many of you have run into this problem. You either have a new computer or a new court reporting company and they send you an email with the “transcript and exhibits attached”. You go to open the file and…nothing happens. Windows gets confused and, if you are lucky, refuses to open the file. If you are unlucky, your virus scan thinks the unknown file is evil and shuts down everything. After failing to open the file, you go to the handy link on the email to download a viewer program, but then your security system throws a fit because you are trying to run a new .exe file, forcing you to call IT and wait, when all you wanted to do was read a transcript.
This is where transcripts created by YesLaw differ from the other products on the market. When you receive a transcript made with YesLaw, you get it in a PDF format. While PDFs initially had the same limitations, where you had to download an Adobe Reader program to open them, that restriction has long since ceased being the case. Both Windows and Mac computers can now open PDFs without any special software whatsoever, and, in fact, PDF files have become the standard format that most industries use to maintain and digitally transport documents. This also applies to phones. I’ve seen many apps over the years promise an easy transcript viewing experience. And while some of those do offer features like annotating a transcript on your phone or providing highlights, it still doesn’t beat the convenience of simply opening a file when you get it. Doesn’t it make more sense to have one format for all documents, rather than a separate proprietary viewer for each industry or type of document you want to view?
Opening a file without downloading a viewer first is all well and good, but what about all the other features? Well, YesLaw has you covered there, too. Just like the files you get from E-Tran or Visionary, every transcript you get has the word index attached and easily accessible (just click on the word you want and the PDF will jump to the various instances of that word). PDFs are also easily searchable allowing you to look up and jump to specific phrases if you so wish. It is also possible (and easy) to attach exhibits to a PDF. In other programs, linking and attaching PDFs requires including separate files on the email or disc and the viewer program would simply open that file when you clicked the link. Attaching exhibits to a PDF makes everything much more efficient. Both the transcripts and exhibits are contained in one file. You still can open the exhibits up in separate windows and save/print them at your leisure, but this way you don’t have to worry about broken pathways or lost files. If you have the transcript, you have the exhibits.
In addition to the ease of receiving a YesLaw transcript by email, YesLaw also offers a robust and well-organized repository for online viewing of transcripts. While normal transcripts can be viewed and downloaded like any other program, YesLaw actually allows you to watch and review synced transcripts right from your web browser with no player needed at all. Now you can watch all that testimony from the airport or the comfort of your own home without worrying about misplacing a DVD.
There are a lot of different products out there when it comes to creating and viewing transcripts. I’ve touched on what I consider the big three in this article. I’ve worked with all of them over the past 15 years. While they all have pros and cons on the court reporting end, YesLaw has been by far the most user friendly and convenient program I’ve come across for our clients.
In another article, we discuss Six Tools to Make Attorneys More Efficient.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Steve Troncone has worked in the court reporting field for over 12 years in multiple areas including videography, production, technology support, and trial presentations. He has been working with Mike Mobley Reporting as a legal videographer and office support team member since May 2016.