The Courtroom and Beyond
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.