Esquire Finds Court Reporters Predict Progress for their Profession and the Law

Atlanta, GA, September 19, 2017 – Over the past 50 years, technology has extinguished industries, redistributed wealth, and upended time-honored careers. Court reporters, however, remain bullish on their unique profession, which has stood the test of time and is poised for a new era of progress.

According to court reporters:

  • The deposition transcript is more important than ever.
  • Electronic exhibits will streamline litigation for everyone involved.
  • Court reporting schools are creating thriving online communities.
  • Mentorship will be the key to developing the next generation of people uniquely capable of capturing upwards of 300 spoken words per minute.

These are among the predictions Esquire captured at the recent National Court Reporters Association’s (NCRA) annual 2017 Annual Convention & Expo in Las Vegas.

“Litigation is worth billions, and with more complex litigation and fewer cases going to trial, the record is more valuable than ever,” Nativa Wood, outgoing NCRA president, told Esquire in a conversation at the expo. “Experience has proved that skilled court reporters make the best record. As we’re seeing in New York, for example, attorneys and judges seem to concur.”

Esquire spoke with the Esquire Court Reporting Council and other court reporters in addition to Wood to gather these observations:

Jobs are available

Rapid changes in technology, industry, trade, and global supply chains reshaped most careers in the past few decades. As a result, an education is no guarantee of employment in many professions. Court reporting is the exception, says Joanne Lee, a member of the Esquire Court Reporting Council: “There are definitely jobs if you successfully complete the program. Many industries can’t say that.”

Digital exhibits pay off
Technology has done wonders for managing litigation information. For example, digital exhibits make it easy for lawyers to manage and present documents in a trial, hearing or deposition, and for court reporters to incorporate them into the record. Says Lee, “We need to keep educating people on how easy it is to make the change to digital exhibits and how concrete the return on investment is.”

Online education works
Technology has also reformed education in court reporting. Although a few brick-and-mortar court reporting schools remain, online schools are creating vibrant virtual learning environments. Instructors can watch students capture the spoken word in real time across thousands of miles. Genuine relationships form within rich communities of students, mentors, and instructors. “Learners can be scattered among the four corners of the earth, but they can still have a community,” according to Lee. “It’s amazing what online schools are doing in terms of interaction.”

Mentors make a difference
To sustain the profession, career court reporters need to share their wisdom with those just entering the profession. “We can’t simply bemoan the fact that we have a shortage of court reporters,” says Wood. “We need to step up and be willing to mentor, whether that’s one to one or in a virtual classroom. While court reporters everywhere have been stepping up, we need everyone to join the cause.”

The NCRA has predicted a shortage of nearly 5,500 court reporting positions by 2018. Court reporters in the United States earn an average salary of $50,000 per year, according to Glassdoor, and can work either full-time or flexible schedules.