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The many jobs of a court reporter
A court reporter takes part in the legal process by “recording” the words and actions that take place during trials, depositions, hearings, and other legal proceedings. The report, called a transcript, is then filed with the court and used as the official record. However, court reporters can also perform services outside of the legal profession. Here is an overview of the many jobs a court reporter is qualified to do from Boss.
Court reporters and the legal world
We’ll start with the most familiar job of a court reporter, which is within a legal setting. While much of a court reporter’s job takes place in a courtroom, their services can also be required in an attorney’s office or some other setting. They might be employed by the court, hired by the law firm or through an independent business-like Boss Court Reporting.
A court reporter’s duties may include:
- Attending depositions, hearings, trials, mediations, arbitrations, and other legal proceedings where a written record is required.
- Capture and record every word that is said using specialized equipment, computer programs, stenography machines, and video/audio recordings.
- Identify speakers and report gestures and other non-verbal actions.
- Ask speakers to repeat inaudible or unclear statements.
- Read or playback portions of testimony when requested by the judge, an attorney or by a jury.
- Review notes to look for inaccuracies or make corrections.
- Provide copies of transcripts and recordings to all necessary parties, including the court, attorneys, and the parties involved in a case.
Other jobs performed by court reporters
Transcribing for other proceedings and events. A court reporter may also be hired to record a transcription of events outside of legal proceedings, including meetings, speeches, and conferences.
Broadcast captioning. It’s likely that you have seen closed captioning before. It’s a service that helps deaf or hearing-impaired people follow television programs, news broadcasts, and movies on TV. Spoken dialogue is written out and displayed on the bottom of the screen so they can read it. Court reporters are often employed for this service. They may transcribe the dialogue live during the event, or it may be added later during postproduction.
Communication access real-time translation (CART) providers. CART providers also aid deaf or hearing-impaired people, but their service is done in real-time and in a variety of settings, including meetings, doctors’ appointments, conferences, and other public forums. They are often used in classrooms to caption what a teacher says and provide an immediate transcript to students with hearing problems or who may be learning English. They can either work onsite during an event or listen remotely via a phone or internet connection.
The largest employers of court reporters are:
- State government (excluding education and hospitals) – 34 percent
- Business support services – 31 percent
- Local government (excluding education and hospitals) – 26 percent
- Self-employed workers – 7 percent
How court reporters work
A court reporter transcribes legal, broadcast, and public proceedings using a stenography machine. These machines look a bit like an old-fashioned typewriter, but they don’t have the same number of keys.
Instead, the machine creates words using key combinations so that the court reporter can keep up with the speaker. The stenography machine allows court reporters to work much faster than they ever could with a regular typewriter or computer. The symbols are then put into a specialized computer program, which translates them into complete, readable words and phrases.
Some court reporters today use a steno mask. They speak directly into a covered microphone, recording the dialogue as well as gestures and actions. This recording is then converted into a printed transcript using voice-recognition software. Digital recorders may also be used, creating an audio or video transcription rather than a written one. In some cases, a written transcription is made using the recorded audio or video footage.
Thinking about becoming a court reporter?
To become a court reporter requires, you must take specialized classes, either at a college or vocational school. Depending on the program, you may earn an associate’s degree or post-secondary certification.
Each state has different requirements to become a court reporter so do some research to find out the standards for your state. Some states require court reporters to have a professional license, which means passing a written exam. Beyond education and certification, there are some basic skills you should already possess if you are thinking about becoming a court reporter.
- Listening skills. You need exceptional listening skills in order to record spoken words.
- Writing skills. Court reporters are great writers. You also need to be an expert at grammar and have an extensive vocabulary.
- Court reporters are required to sit for hours and listen to every word that is being said. This takes a tremendous amount of concentration.
- Detail oriented. It is essential that court reporters transcribe everything correctly and accurately as a transcript serves as the official record of any legal or business proceedings. There is no room for mistakes.
A court reporter is an integral part of the legal industry as well as other industries. Boss Certified Realtime Reporting in Fort Lauderdale, FL has been providing nationwide court reporting services for trials, depositions, mediations, meetings and conferences since 1995. If you would like more information, call us at 954 467 6867 or complete our contact form to let us know how we can assist you.
Ensure the accuracy of your transcripts and the success of your case by hiring the right person.
Choosing a court reporter is a task that should not be taken lightly. As you know, a precise and accurate transcription can be the key to your case and without a highly-qualified reporter, you may not get what you need. Additionally, because you are often dealing with confidential or sensitive information, you want to make sure that a court reporter is reputable. And you want to choose a reporting firm that will become a trusted partner, supplying you with top notch personnel that meet all of your requirements. With that in mind, here are some important considerations and key questions to ask when you’re hiring a court reporter.
1. Is your reporter a member of the NCRA?
It’s a smart idea to enlist the services of a professional who is a member of the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA). This internationally-recognized association is the premier educational and informational resource for its professional members and for the public. Court reporting agencies that belong to the NCRA are committed to adhering to the highest standards and ethical best practices in the industry.
2. Are they a full-service agency?
Whether you’re in need of a court reporter for a mediation, deposition, trial, conference, or arbitration, your goal should be to choose a firm that has full-service capabilities. The agency should have conference rooms, videoconferencing, interpreters, Wi-Fi, and various locations to serve you. Hiring a partner that offers all of these services (instead of having to hire multiple people to do each) makes scheduling and managing all of your needs easier and faster.
3. What kind of litigation support do they offer?
There’s no question about the importance of finding a court reporting firm that offers crucial litigation support, including: real-time reporting, the choice of rough disks and/or transcripts, overnight, daily and/or condensed transcripts, word indexing, and audio-transcription.
4. How much experience do they have?
It probably goes without saying that you want a firm that has a respected reputation in the industry and a long record of happy clients. Always ask for referrals from current or former clients and do your research online to learn more about potential hires.
5. How many court reporters are onboard?
While you may likely only need one court reporter at a time, it helps to choose an agency that has a team of experienced professionals to ensure that you can always get service when you need it.
6. Do they have insurance?
Hiring a court reporter who is not insured is a risk you don’t want to take. A top court reporting firm will have liability insurance—this shows that they take their commitment to accuracy and their reputation seriously.
7. How well-versed are they in the rules and regulations of the industry?
It’s important that the firm you choose has reporters who are not only experienced and qualified, but who are also well-versed in the field of litigation and court reporting procedures, and have knowledge of the complex legal, medical, and technical terms that are often used in proceedings.
When selecting a court reporting firm, it’s important to ask these questions. Check on each potential agency’s record, reputation, and range of services. Boss Reporting has more than a decade of experience and over 40 court reporters on staff. We use the latest technology for every job and provide full service to our clients—many of whom have been with us since we first opened our doors in 1995. Get in touch with today to find out how we can serve you.
10 rules of etiquette to make the most of a court reporter’s expertise.
If you’ve been an attorney for some time, you may be familiar with some of the unwritten rules of etiquette that govern working with court reporters. But for lawyers without a lot of experience, this guide outlines exactly what you need to know to get the most out of a deposition. Take a look:
1. Make sure your court reporter is close to the action.
It may seem obvious, but make sure that your witness is seated close to the court reporter. This will ensure that even the most soft-spoken witness is audible and the reporter doesn’t have to strain to capture every word accurately.
2. Is this on or off the record?
Always be clear as to whether you’re saying something that is on or off the record. The best way to make sure that your deposition goes perfectly is to clearly state out loud the nature of your speech.
3. No speeding!
When you’re speaking during a deposition, remember to maintain a moderate pace. If you go too fast, your court reporter can miss something, forcing her ask you to slow down or repeat a crucial point. Make sure that you speak at a speed that is comfortable for the reporter to easily record every word.
4. You have the right to remain silent!
If you’ve asked your court reporter to mark an exhibit during the deposition, remain silent and refrain from questioning until he has finished. If you don’t, the reporter will be unable record what you say because it’s not possible to do both things at the same time.
5. Voice your objections.
In the midst of a deposition, you or other attorneys may have several objections. And while it may seem natural to use hand motions or body language to communicate one objection after another, be sure to verbalize every single one. It’s all too easy for your court reporter to miss an objection if you’re using non-verbal cues.
6. Spell it out in plain English.
While your court reporter may be very experienced, it’s possible that some of the terms of your case will be unfamiliar to her, especially you’re using industry jargon. To ensure that she knows how to properly spell everything, you should provide a list of terms (and the spelling of the names of all the witnesses as well) beforehand.
7. Stick to the facts!
Never ask your court reporter for an opinion about your case. It’s unprofessional and it puts the reporter in an uncomfortable position. The court reporter is always considered a neutral party and he is only there to accurately and efficiently record the deposition.
8. Slow down!
Although court reporters can record hundreds of words per minute, most of us speak even faster than that. So if you’re reading documents out loud, be sure to read slower than you normally would to ensure nothing is missed.
9. Want wings on that transcript to make it fly?
Rush transcripts are not uncommon in the industry and your court reporter should be able to accommodate you, providing you let him know in advance. The earlier the better, of course. But at the very least, provide notification before the deposition begins.
10. Break it down.
Depositions can sometimes take several hours. In long cases, make sure that you and your court reporter take regular breaks. Even a small, ten-minute break will give both of you time to regroup and prevent exhaustion, which ultimately ensures that a deposition will be as accurate as possible.
Court reporters are professionals dedicated to providing the highest quality recordings to their clients. To make the most of their talents and expertise, be sure to follow these simple rules of etiquette while working with them on a deposition.