The world of the justice system has always been a complex place where crime, evidence, innocence, witnesses, and attorneys all converge to determine truth and consequences. However, to accommodate the complex process of the court system, there are many roles within the courtroom. Getting justice exactly right is incredibly difficult to do, but these roles enhance our abilities to at least come close. One of the essential roles that serves to record conversations and provide other services is that of the court reporter, who works within courtrooms and with attorneys to make sure exchanges are appropriately recorded. With an Associate's Degree in court reporting, you will acquire the skills necessary fill this critical role in the legal system, serving defendants, plaintiffs, attorneys, judges, and justice itself with your talents. The complex world of the legal system is somewhat simplified when you, a talented and knowledgeable court reporter, are there to provide the services that this system depends on to logistically function.
Court reporters sit in a position that is designed to help a variety of people in the judicial system sometimes it requires helping multiple individuals with multiple needs simultaneously. A degree in court reporting helps you develop the skills necessary for efficiently providing these essential services. Not only will your proficiency be highly applicable within the legal system, but you will be empowered with communication services to assist those with hearing loss, become an independent contractor, or even run your own reporting firm.
Most commonly, court reporters are responsible for using current technology to accurately record every word spoken in legal proceedings, and prepare official transcripts of these conversations.
Because of changes in technology, the sophistication of legal communication, and the unique terminology and processes inherent in the legal system, an Associate's Degree is highly relevant to ensuring individuals are adequately prepared to take on this challenging responsibility. In addition to recording the speeches and conversations during legal proceedings and their surrounding meetings, court reports are responsible for recording and providing transcripts of depositions and other non-courtroom proceedings. To accommodate those with hearing loss, court reporters are also charged with the task of providing real-time closed-captioning and translation services during live meetings.
It might seem that the primary place for a court reporter to find employment is inside of a actual courtroom. While this is true in many cases, there are also other areas where accurate recording and transcriptions are required. Freelance reporters are often hired by attorneys and their firms to perform their services during depositions. This means that they can obtain contractual work in law offices, or even own their own office and meet with attorneys and witnesses in a third-party setting.
Degree programs that train today's court reporters cover a variety of skills necessary to this unique position. First, programs focus on providing students with a clear understanding of legal terminology and procedures so that they are familiar with the most up-to-date practices in criminal justice and appellate courts. Additionally, students are trained to use the most recent technology to aid their tasks, including computer-aided transcription and real-time reporting techniques.
Our judicial system is meant to bring people from all areas of life together and sort out what is fair and truth from what is injudicious and false. This highly complicated process requires all kinds of specially trained individuals to fill roles to accommodate such a wide range of tasks. The court reporter, in particular, is equipped with unique knowledge and skills to competently record the interlocutions transcribe them accurately. With an Associate's Degree in court reporting, you will be prepared with this skillset to ensure the proper, fluid simplification of the court's complex system of justice.
Over the last 10 years the need for qualified court reporters has never been higher. Currently the court system needs to hiver over 5000 court reporters over the next 5 years according to the NCRA. People are also now working from home doing closed captioning. Pay is $35-45 hour and up plus benefits. If you are good at multi-tasking and can type 230 words per minute you’d be great at this career.
We recently talked to a court reporter to get an idea of how they entered in the field and what advice they would have to anyone wishing to be a court reporter.
Question: Why did you pick court reporting as your career?
Answer: When I was little I took a field trip to a court room and had a chance to talk to a court reporter. She shared her day and I instantly got hooked.
Question: Did you already have good typing skills before you began?
Answer: No, in fact I was typing at about 30 words per minute when I first decided I wanted to start my training. I enrolled in an Associate’s degree court reporting school in my local town and started practicing typing at home. I actually enrolled in a typing class at the same time as I realized that during the first year of my training I’d mainly be taking general education courses such as English, math and history. I wanted to increase my typing speed as I was told I would need to be at a minimum of 200 words per minute in order to get a job.
Question: What is your typical day like?
Answer: When I first started my days were actually pretty hectic as I was still trying to understand my day and how things worked but after about 6 months it became pretty routine. One of the biggest changes for me was to continually stay on-top of all the new technology that they courts were using. The industry has also changed and has become so digital that I’ve had to adjust and get additional training every few years.
Question: What advice would you have to people entering the field.
Answer: The biggest thing I’d recommend is to actually go like I did and talk with someone in the field. Take a field trip to the courts and sit-in to see if that is something you think you can do on a daily basis. One thing for sure is you’ll need to have the ability to sit for long periods of time.
Court Reporting Resources
The journal of court reporting - http://thejcr.com/
American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers
United States Court Reporters Association