What is Court Reporting?

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Court reporters are highly trained professionals who share a unique ability to convert the spoken word into information that can be read, searched, and archived. Court reporters save time, are cost-effective, and provide quality results through the use of cutting-edge technology. This specialization has created new career paths for reporters, including broadcast captioning and realtime translation services for people who are deaf and hard of hearing.

 

What do court reporters do?

Court reporters, also known as guardians of the record because of their impartiality and role within the judicial process, capture the words spoken by everyone during a court or deposition proceeding. Court reporters then prepare verbatim transcripts of proceedings. The official record or transcript helps safeguard the legal process. When litigants want to exercise their right to appeal, they will use the transcript to provide an accurate record of what transpired during their case. During the discovery phase, attorneys also use deposition transcripts to prepare for trial. By combining their skills with the latest technology, some court reporters provide realtime access to what is being said during a trial or deposition for the benefit of all involved parties. A court reporter providing realtime, which is the only proven method for immediate voice-to-text translation, allows attorneys and judges to have immediate access to the transcript while also providing a way for deaf and hard-of-hearing Americans to participate in the judicial process.

 

I am a court reporter

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"I’m fluent in a language that allows me to convert speech to text as fast as humans can speak (at least 225 words per minute with 96% accuracy). I put Siri to shame. I’m a master of technology. I’m committed to constantly learning and improving my skills. I run my own business as a freelancer, and I set my own hours – I may write deposition transcripts one day and caption a town hall meeting or church service the next. Or I work in federal, state, county, and local courts to capture the record."

 

I made it through court reporting school by having a great group of friends who were also students. Hard work does pay off in the end when you finally get to take your first deposition.

A career in court reporting

Salary

Court reporters earn an average of more than $60,000 a year, though many earn much more. Income varies according to the area in which a person lives, certifications earned, the kinds of reporting jobs, and experience of individual reporters.

Schools and programs

The knowledge and skills to become a court reporter or captioner are taught at more than 150 reporter training programs, including proprietary schools, community colleges, and four-year universities. Many of these programs offer distance learning options. Visit our website to learn more about the various schools and programs offered and the resources available to prospective students on DiscoverSteno.org 

Certification

Upon graduation, court reporters can further their marketability and earn recognition for achieving high levels of expertise in particular reporter markets by pursing certification. Learn more about NCRA's professional certifications.

 

 

 

What is realtime?

Realtime reporters are highly trained professionals who share a unique ability to instantly convert the spoken word into English text into a feed that can be read, streamed, broadcast, searched, and archived. This specialization includes broadcast captioning and realtime translation services for people who are deaf and hard of hearing, as well as providing near-instant translation in legal and other settings.

 

More about realtime

Court reporters using their highly developed skill in stenography can provide a nearly instantaneous feed through a computer translation system to provide a readable and searchable record of ongoing events. Some reporters employ someone to proofread or scope the feed as it happens to provide a live transcript with an even greater degree of readability.

Sometimes the realtime reporters will also prepare official transcripts of legal proceedings in addition to a realtime feed. While a realtime feed can serve as an on-the-fly tool for the judge or parties to a case to consult and can aid in quicker access to justice, the official record or "transcript" safeguards the legal process by providing a document to consult when litigants want to exercise their right to appeal. During the discovery phase, attorneys also use realtime transcripts to prepare for trial during depositions for many reasons, including the possibility of lowering costs by allowing some parties to be in different locations but still have access to the record through a realtime feed transmitted by the reporter. While a court reporter providing realtime, which is the only proven method for immediate voice-to-text translation, allows attorneys and judges to have immediate access to the transcript, realtime also provides a way for members of the deaf and hard-of-hearing community to participate in the judicial process.

Salary

Court reporters earn an average of nearly $60,000 a year. Reporters who provide realtime, especially those who are certified by NCRA or by a state in providing realtime, often earn even more. Realtime reporters also have more options in pursuing alternative paths, such as captioning, and find themselves in demand for jobs that can allow them to work from home or travel to unusual places.

Certification

Realtime reporters can further their marketability and earn recognition for achieving high levels of expertise in particular reporter markets by pursing certification. Learn more about NCRA's professional certifications.

 

Getting started with Realtime

NCRA members have become realtime proficient to meet the demands of the market. Providing realtime also allows court reporters to differentiate their skills from other methods of making the record. NCRA encourages state associations and individual members to carry the realtime message to reporter colleagues. Experience has shown that learning in small group settings is ideal for helping court reporters make the transition to realtime.

The resources below can aid in learning more about realtime. Please feel free to use them on your own or with other like-minded court reporters.

Fast-track realtime

Fast-track your learning to get you on your way to writing realtime!

Below are some useful links that will provide information on your realtime technical needs, writing tips, and ideas on how to face challenges. If you don’t have access to a local realtime group, you have access to some great information just for you. And if you are involved in a realtime group, here are some fresh ideas and tips to have in mind before your next meeting.

Realtime tips

Hardware tips

Software tips

Writing tips

Fighting fear tips


 

Court reporter career paths

More than 70 percent of the nation’s 50,000-plus court reporters work outside of the court. Because court reporting involves a highly specialized skill set, reporters have a variety of career options:

Freelancer

Freelance reporters are hired by attorneys, corporations, unions, associations, and other individuals and groups who need accurate, complete, and secure records of pretrial depositions, arbitrations, board of director meetings, stockholder meetings, and convention business sessions.

Hearing

Hearing court reporters use verbatim methods and equipment to capture, store, retrieve, and transcribe pretrial and trial proceedings or other information. Also includes captioners who operate computerized stenographic captioning equipment to provide captions of live or prerecorded broadcasts for viewers who are hard of hearing.

Legislative

Legislative court reporters transcribe proceedings in the United States Congress and in state legislatures around the country.

Officials

Official court reporters work for the judicial system to convert the spoken word into text during courtroom proceedings. The reporter also prepares official verbatim transcripts to be used by attorneys, judges, and litigants. Official court reporters are front and center at controversial or famous cases – criminal trials, millionaire divorces, government corruption trials, and lawsuits – ensuring that an accurate, complete, and secure record of the proceedings is produced. Official court reporters may also provide realtime during a courtroom setting to allow participants to read on a display screen or computer monitor what is being said instantaneously. Learn more

More about Officials
 

Scopist

A scopist is a professional transcript editor for court reporters. However, unlike an editor or a proofreader, a scopist has the ability to compare a court reporter’s shorthand to the finished transcript. By “scoping” the transcript, mistranslate errors can be identified, thereby helping the court reporter preserve an accurate record. Learn more


 

The value of court reporting

Court reporters are cost-effective
Court reporters are cost-effective
  • Court reporters in many jurisdictions bear most, if not all, of the expenses for their equipment, making sophisticated voice-to-text technology available to the court system at no additional expense to the courts.
  • Digital audio systems require yearly maintenance costs, and software and hardware upgrades do occur, which are additional costs to the court system’s budget that negate and potentially exceed any claimed cost savings.
Court reporters are highly skilled and educated professionals

Court reporters are highly skilled and educated professionals
  • Court reporters provide the most reliable and most accurate transcript.
  • They undergo several years of academic and skills training to achieve different levels of certification. This allows them to post speeds upwards of 280 words per minute, enabling them to capture every word of the proceedings.
  • They are required to pursue ongoing continuing education throughout their careers to maintain their certification(s), ensuring that they are up to date on the latest technology and processes in the legal industry.
  • Court reporters are able to certify and testify, if necessary, to the accuracy and integrity of the record.
Court reporters are high-tech

Court reporters are high-tech
  • Court reporters are at the forefront of technology and constantly upgrade their software and hardware to ensure that they remain the most reliable and most accurate method of capturing the record.
  • They can synchronize their transcript with a digital audio or digital video recording to provide a searchable multimedia record.
Court reporters cannot be replaced by electronic reporting
Why can't electronic reporting replace court reporters?
Court reporters have the capability to provide realtime.
  • Realtime is a process that instantly captures the spoken word so that judges, law clerks, court clerks, parties to a proceeding, jurors, and members of the media as well as those who are deaf or hard of hearing have immediate access to a transcript.
  • Realtime feeds can be accessed remotely and by multiple devices, saving time and money. Wireless technology delivers realtime feeds simply and securely.
Court reporters help the court provide an invaluable public service.
  • Through stenographic realtime, the court and legal system are made accessible to people with hearing loss.
  • The reliability and accuracy of a court reporter cannot be replaced by voice recognition in the foreseeable future.
  • Court reporters have the skill and training to provide the public accurate and reliable court records, ensuring a full and fair appellate review to all parties.
Court reporters can perform functions that other technologies cannot.
  • Court reporters can go beyond the transcript. With transcripts of court proceedings available on demand, a reporter can provide clarification on any moment of the court record, saving time and money.
  • They are able to discriminate between testimony and background noise and can clarify otherwise inaudible or heavily accented speech.
  • Court reporters do not inadvertently record off-the-record attorney-client exchanges.
Court reporters provide fast turnaround of transcripts.
  • Court reporters are able to produce both electronic and paper transcripts, offering virtually instantaneous resources and added flexibility to accommodate the needs of the court.
  • They are able to provide certified transcripts at the close of business each day to those involved in complicated and/or high-stakes trials.

What's next?

 
Discover if a career in court reporting or captioning is the right career for you!

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