Court reporters are highly-skilled individuals who play an essential role in the legal process. Today, it’s an in-demand job due to a shortage of qualified reporters in the legal system. If you’re looking for a new career path and have an interest in the legal field, learn more about court reporting and why this underrated profession could be for you.
What is court reporting and why it’s important
Whether in court, government, or a private setting, court reporters are responsible for keeping a written record of legal proceedings. They transcribe everything that is said in court, during a meeting, or a deposition word-for-word. Once the transcript is completed, it is given to the court and becomes public record.
Oftentimes, attorneys and judges will begin their proceedings by introducing the court reporter. After all, along with lawyers and paralegals, court reporters are at the heart of the legal discovery and deposition business. From hearings to depositions to trials, mostly all court proceedings require a court reporter to be present.
What it takes to become a court reporter
Similar to becoming a medical assistant, which requires completing a two-year medical assistant diploma program, becoming a court reporter also requires a two year education program followed by an official exam. Some court reporters must also get certified, depending on the state they live in. Throughout their program, court reporters learn to perform other duties beyond that of a stenographer, such as conducting legal research, assisting attorneys and judges, and administering oaths to witnesses in court.
To become a successful court reporter, you need to possess a high level of shorthand writing skills and have excellent grammar, punctuation, and proofreading skills, as well. A good court reporter is punctual, understands the importance of confidentiality, and is able to maintain a neutral stance when working on cases. In addition, because most court reporters spend the majority of their time working independently, good time management and organizational skills are important.
Career outlook in 2019
Court reporters have excellent job prospects through 2019. The National Court Reporting Association (NCRA) states that “the established shortage of stenographic court reporters presents a one-time, substantial opportunity for those seeking a lucrative career with a secure future.”
Currently, California and Maryland hire the most court reporters. Florida court reporters, in turn, tend to be highly-skilled and have good career prospects, despite the national shortage. It’s no wonder why Florida court reporters and specialists are among the top in the country.
Why court reporting could be for you
Court reporters generally have a high level of job satisfaction. The field is stable and, depending on the state of occupation, there is the possibility of high income potential. The field can offer the ability to work freelance as well as in a variety of settings. Law firms, attorneys, corporations, and organizations often hire freelance court reporters to cover depositions, examinations under oath, hearings, and board meetings. You could be in a courtroom one day covering a hearing and in a corporate setting covering a board meeting the next.
There has never been a better time to enter the field of court reporting. If you have an interest in the legal field, but don’t want to become an attorney or paralegal, court reporting could be the career you’ve been looking for.