10 Pros and Cons of Being a Court Reporter

Are you considering a career as a court reporter?

Court Reporters are some of the most important members of the legal system who play an indispensable role in accurately capturing and reporting on legal proceedings in courts, law offices, and other areas where professional transcription services are required.

Read on to learn about where they work, what court reporters do, and a few pros and cons of being a court reporter.

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Where Do Court Reporters Work?

Today’s court reporters can be found working in a variety of different settings in and around the judicial process.

Stenographers can work as independent contractors or as employees in the legal field.

Courts: Stenographers work as employees and independent contractors in federal, state, and municipal courts.

They work with judges, attorneys, paralegals, law enforcement, and other legal professionals to ensure accurate transcription of court proceedings.

Law Offices: Today’s court reporters work in law offices to help attorneys transcribe legal hearings, assist with legal research, and organize and retrieve transcription records.

They may also offer captioning services for legal professionals who produce video content or webinars.

Corporations: We can find court reporters transcribing essential meetings and conferences and creating detailed records of critical corporate discussions.

They may also transcribe shareholder meetings and other internal communications for legal proceedings.

Government: Stenographers working in government transcribe trials, hearings, arraignments, and motions.

They also create verbatim transcripts of legal records and attend government meetings.

Court Reporters are legal professionals trained to use special equipment like stenotype machines and voice recognition software to convert court proceedings into readable text for later review.

The transcripts Court Reporters create to serve as a permanent legal record used in all legal process aspects.

What do Court Reporters Do?

Contrary to popular belief, stenographers don’t just silently witness and document court and legal proceedings.

Theirs is a complex role that can involve any of the following duties.

Transcription

Transcribing spoken and recorded speech obtained during legal proceedings using recording devices, stenotype machines, and voice recognition software.

Capturing Legal Proceedings

Attending legal proceedings to create verbatim and recorded records of the events taking place during court trials, hearings, depositions, and other legal proceedings.

Real-time Reporting

Highly skilled Court Reporters are trained to capture legal proceedings and provide instant, simultaneous transcription reports to attorneys, judges, and other interested parties using sophisticated transcription software.

Verbatim Reporting

Court transcribers must ensure that every word, statement, question, answer, and utterance during legal proceedings is accurately captured and transcribed for legal documentation.

Verbatim reporting is a highly sought-after skill that often requires stenographers to produce immediate and accurate copies of transcription records.

Maintaining Accurate Records

Reporters must include even the most minute details of spoken words, gestures, and other non-verbal communication in the transcription of legal proceedings to maintain an accurate and complete record.

Leaving out any details not deemed as important isn’t an option.

They are required to record every relevant detail accurately.

Pros of Being a Court Reporter

Pro #1. – Court Reporters Have Excellent Job Stability

Court Reporters have high levels of job stability as their position is unique and integral to the proceedings of the United States Justice System.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics says that they expect the role of Court Reporters to grow by more than ten percent within the next ten years.

People seeking to start new careers in stenography can feel comfortable knowing they are choosing a stable career with high levels of projected job growth.

Pro #2. – Stenographers Make Highly Competitive Salaries

The Bureau of Labor reports that entry-level Court Reporters in the US make a comfortable salary of just over 60,000.00 per year.

This high-level entry-level salary can be increased by earning years of experience in the field, taking related training and continuing education classes, and working for prestigious employers.

Pro #3. – Unlimited Advancement Opportunities

One of the benefits of working as a court reporter is the opportunities for advancement after becoming an expert in the field.

Experienced reporters can move on to higher-level positions within the judicial system or use their skills as transcribers or captioners for television networks.

They can also earn comfortable salaries by teaching or becoming consultants.

Pro #4. – Getting Started Requires a Short Training Period

People committed to training and certification will find that getting started as a Court Reporter doesn’t take years of experience or education.

In fact, prospective Court Reporters can enter the field by completing the required training, education, and certification process within six months to one year.

Pro #5.- Direct Contribution and Impact on the American Justice System

The records transcribed by Court Reporters have a direct and lasting impact on the US Justice System.

Their integral role in accurately reporting real-time court proceedings earns them a unique place in US history.

Transcribed records help decide the fate of almost every person who passes through the US Justice system as a witness, plaintiff, defendant, legal representative, or member of law enforcement.

Cons of Being a Court Reporter

While there are quite a few pros of being a stenographer, including earning a comfortable salary and working as an integral part of the legal system, this career also has its cons.

Below are examples of some of the downsides of working as a stenographer.

Con #1. – Demand for High Accuracy Always On

The nature of a Court reporter’s position leaves very little room for making mistakes.

Their transcribed records are often the deciding factor in the outcome of serious legal cases that can impact the lives of the parties involved for the rest of their lives.

Con #2. – Courtrooms Are High-Stress Work Environments

America’s courtrooms are some of the most emotionally charged workplaces in the country.

Transcriptionists must sit through hours of grueling court cases and testimony that can be emotionally and physically taxing.

Con #3. – Long Cases Equal Long Hours

Exhausted court reporters are often required to work late into the wee hours of the night when legal cases drag on.

They can end up working extremely long hours when the need for transcription demand on high-profile or complex cases are high.

Con #4. – Repetitive or Redundant Work

The court reporter may find they are transcribing the same or very similar details in judicial proceedings over time.

The monotonous nature of the work can lead to boredom or burnout without a break from their regular routine.

Con #5. – Working Long Hours Can Lead to Physical Strain

Reporters who work long hours transcribing legal records for complex cases are prone to physical ailments like carpal tunnel or repetitive motion injuries.

Prolonged use of required technology like stenotype machines or voice recognition software devices can lead to other chronic aches and pains.

10 Pros and Cons of Being a Court Reporter – Summary Table

Pros of Being a Court ReporterCons of Being a Court Reporter
Pro #1. - Court Reporters Have Excellent Job StabilityCon #1. - Demand for High Accuracy Always On
Pro #2. - Stenographers Make Highly Competitive SalariesCon #2. - Courtrooms Are High-Stress Work Environments
Pro #3. - Unlimited Advancement OpportunitiesCon #3. - Long Cases Equal Long Hours
Pro #4. - Getting Started Requires a Short Training PeriodCon #4. - Repetitive or Redundant Work
Pro #5.- Direct Contribution and Impact on the American Justice SystemCon #5. - Working Long Hours Can Lead to Physical Strain

Should You Become a Court Reporter?

Are you still deciding if becoming a court reporter is the right career for you?

Consider that reporters are integral components of the US Justice system.

You should become a court reporter if you have a passion for learning about and transcribing the law and a desire to directly impact the US Justice System.

What Skills Do Court Reporters Need?

There are a wide variety of skill sets required to make a lasting career as a court reporter.

People who are interested in pursuing a career as a stenographer can learn these skills by enrolling in a brick-and-mortar or online court reporter training program.

Real-time Reporting Skills

Prospective transcribers who want to be at the top of their game invest time in learning real-time reporting skills which provide a simultaneous, instant, verbatim transcript of live court proceedings as they happen.

Problem-Solving Skills

Court Reporters must have strong problem-solving skills to resolve issues that arise during the course of doing their job.

They will need to be able to handle technical troubleshooting for transcription equipment and find novel solutions to problems that occur during recording.

Attention to Detail

Paying attention to verbal cues while reading and interpreting body language is part of the attention to detail required to work as a court reporter.

They must be able to transcribe non-verbal cues and responses to maintain an accurate record of legal proceedings.

Excellent Typing Speed and Accuracy

Verbatim reporting and other techniques used by transcribers require them to type the information they hear quickly and accurately to keep accurate records.

Computer Proficiency

Transcribers must be proficient in using computers and the latest technology and software required for recording and transcribing legal records.

Steady Concentration and Ability to Focus Under Pressure

Staying focused on legal proceedings and testimony without becoming distracted is one of the primary skills required for new court reporters.

Honing concentration skills is paramount for reporters who need to record verbatim records.

Above-Average Listening Skills

Reporters need excellent listening skills to hear the spoken statements and to collect other detailed information about court proceedings that should be included in court transcripts.

If these skills sound like a good fit for you, take the next step and visit the National Court Reporters Association website to learn more about getting started in this exciting career!


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