I was just reading the court reporting news articles on the front page of CSRNation. They are horrible! It ALMOST makes me not want to pursue court reporting as a profession. I start school in less than 2 weeks and judging by these articles, by the time I am done (approximately 3 years) I will need to file for my unemployment. This is very disheartening. My concentration will be CART/Broadcast Captioning, but I would like the experience of Judicial Reporter. I am flabbergasted. Is this truly what I have to look forward to. Luckily I have heard none of this foolishness going on in Alabama, but I don't plan on spending the rest of my professional life here either. What are your thoughts?

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If you are concerned, one option might be to postpone school for a while.
Cathryn, as a court reporter, I am shocked that you would even suggest such an option. We need to encourage everybody who is interested in our profession, not feed their doubts! Thhe shortage that we are currently in adds to the ER threats around that nation!
Adrienne, let me give you some advice, and I beg you not to listen to anybody else if they tell you or suggest to you otherwise! DO NOT, under any circumstances, postpone starting CR school or decide not to become a court reporter. These are tough times, yes, but it will get better.

I read those articles you we're referring to, and the state of Utah has predominantly used ER in their courts for ages and they are just now getting rid of the few reporters they had left in court. They still have freelance reporters, and I know that there are plenty of attorneys who will pay to have a those freelancers report a trial over a machine. If I read the article about Iowa correctly, they aren't replacing their reporters with ER, they just laid a few off, which is really unfortunate.

And let me tell you one thing, if your goal is to concentrate on CART/Captioning, you will always have a job. We need more real time reporters, and being able to perform real time is really what's going to preserve our profession. California, which is where I live, just had a huge victory with beating down a proposal to replace our officials with ER. Hopefully, this will set a precedence for other states and prove that ER is not more cost effective and it cannot replace what we do. As evil as this may sound, I wish every court who decides to switch to ER experiences a huge machine malfunction and loses days of testimony. That will prove that there is no deficit big enough to be forced to replace us court reporters! Good luck with school! You sound like you're going to be a good student!
Adrienne, you are right to be asking these questions before you embark on a course which involves so much time, energy, and financial investment. IMO you are many lengths ahead of other students by being so aware of the profession and following what's going on. Since you want to do primarily CART and captioning, I encourage you to look specifically at those markets, if possible, in the time before you embark on this course of study. If you haven't joined the Yahoo group Broadcast Captioners, I encourage you to join and to read absolutely everything that is posted there, every post that is available. I also encourage you to ask hard questions about the CART market in your area: who is doing it, and how much work do they have? I was a CART provider for several years. However, I got that work through various connections I had made via being very involved in the profession; it took a lot more than just being able to write well. I also put a lot of energy into learning about deafness and the Deaf community. Your success in CART will depend heavily on your ability to interact successfully with the consumers.

What you must absolutely do is what is right for you, and that needs to be your sole consideration. I would not suggest you start until you are sure this is what you want to do. I would encourage you to also seek advice on this important life decision in venues beside court reporting forums and to take all the time you need for reflection and considering the different viewpoints you will receive. Concentration and focus are key elements of CR study. If you are really ready at all levels to pursue this path, it will be a shorter and easier one than it will be if you start out with uncertainty.

It's a fact that I have managed to stay afloat during a time when the depo market in the San Francisco Bay Area is very far from booming. When I perceived the unfortunate trend, I got myself going as a pro tem in county courthouses while that market was still open. (I don't want to discourage others completely from applying pro tem work, but I am not at all certain that it will be available at this time to any great extent.) I am now getting more calls from depo agencies, and other reporters I know are saying the same thing. There is general agreement among the reporters I know personally that better depo days are coming. However, I did keep my head above water, and so have other reporters; what we all have in common is that we all are engaged in a constant effort to get our name out and to continually work to be better at our very important jobs. I was recently at a conference, accompanied by Ted (husband). After helping me carry my equipment to one seminar, Ted ended up having a long conversation with another Bay Area reporter who was ready to leave the profession. During this conversation, he gleaned that this particular reporter refused to do court work and had not even sent out any resumes to various agencies. My point here is that you can keep yourself going in tough times IMO, but you need to be constantly educating yourself and working at developing good contacts.

Matthew will just have to be shocked, but yes, that's my advice: get the biggest picture you can of the profession and its trends; evaluate everything; and only move ahead with this if and when you arrive at a clear conviction that this is the career you want to pursue. Don't go into something this challenging to please someone else, particularly strangers.

Luck and blessings, Cathryn
Actually, Cathryn, your last post was well put and I agree with a lot of what you said. Thank you for elaborating on what you really meant. Had this been your initial post, I wouldn't have posted that I was shocked!

"My point here is that you can keep yourself going in tough times IMO, but you need to be constantly educating yourself and working at developing good contacts."

This is definitely true and key to staying afloat in tough times!
Good job, Matthew and Cathryn, for being so professional and courteous on this message board. I appreciate it, as I'm sure others do, too! :)

Adrienne, I'm a court reporter student myself, and from the years I've been in school, I've heard that there will ALWAYS be threats to our profession, especially ER (electronic recording devices). But my teachers, the very good court reporters on this board, and the court reporters I meet personally all tell me that REAL TIME WILL SAVE OUR PROFESSION! Just as Matthew said! :) No machine can replace the human mind, especially a court reporter mind writing at 225+ WPM!

My suggestion: Yes, make sure you want to pursue court reporting before you start. Many people start the program only to drop out because they didn't know what they were getting themselves into. They get frustrated that they can't pass a certain speed level, etc. But if you continue to practice, stay humble to learn from others, and just keep going, going, going... you (and I!) will get there! Once you're sure you want to be a future CART/broadcast captioner/official court reporter... GO FOR IT WITH YOUR ALL!!! All the court reporters I meet tell me they LOVE their jobs... and I'm sure you (and I!) will too one day! :)

Hope that helps! Let us know what you decide to do...

~ Christine
I'm a Steno Nerd!
Please realize also that ER is being put in for two reasons. One of course is a monetary consideration. But the other one is the fact that there is shortage of court reporters willing to go into the courts. Some courts have had to move toward ER bec. they could not find court reporters to cover the courtroom.

Now, with the budget crisis, government is being very short-sighted in thinking it will be cheaper to cover the courtroom w/ER. But down the line, they're going to have to produce those transcripts. There might be a growing market in that field as well.
Court reporting is very difficult. There are pros and cons to everything.
The cons are if you are not employed by the state, you will need to go with a company that will train you, you will need to buy your own health insurance, take out your own taxes, etc, all the stuff self-employed people deal with. I was not aware you are an independent contractor when I started college. The freedom and other perks of working at home for this job are an excellent pro.

Whatever you decide, study the program/school success rate. Make sure you are using a theory that people pass with. The theory and real-time ready is what is slowing people down for passing tests is what I get out of the posts I read by students.
Good luck in your endeavors!
Adrienne - welcome to the work world. When I first graduated from a high school I worked as a waitress. There was another girl working there. She dropped out of college. She was majoring in a teacher education program, was intending to teach deaf kids. The girl did have a strong personality. She dropped out because a school director told her she didn't think she was a good fit or would not be a good in doing that.

No one of us ever has the right to stomp on someone else's dreams. Go to court reporting school. You will also have a job in demand, a job that cannot be outsourced, flexibility in your working hours, can take vacations whenever you want, get to work in nice offices and don't have to stay at one place too long.

My advice: Don't spend thousands of dollars on a court reporting program because the school had a slick marketing agent. All the money is going to the school and it will not make you a better reporter. I know you're starting in two weeks.

A good program requires 98 to 95 percent accuracy, three tests to pass for each speed. I went in Lansing, MI, and we only jumped 10 words at a time. I started out at Bakers and they jumped 20 words at a time.

Court reporting is a wonderful profession. You can't let the current economic crisis discourage you. Many professions and jobs have taken a hit during this time, not just court reporting. Even in the midst of this downtrodden economy there are constantly available employment positions for court reporters posted in the NCRA magazine and other sources, and many of these are reoccuring postings because the positions remain unfilled indefinitely. I love this profession and I want to preserve it, so I would encourage anyone who is pursuing it, not turn them away from it or encourage them to delay pursuing it. I feel it's our duty to encourage you and we would do a disservice to our profession to advise otherwise. I have been very blessed in this career and it has truly been financially rewarding and provided me a life that I am very proud of and made many of my dreams come true. You will never know if you can make it unless you try it. Go get your steno writer and go to school!
Thank you to everyone that has responded to my post. I greatly appreciate all of your thoughts and suggestions. I think that I may have overracted in my initial post. I am not getting discouraged, just concerned. I want to pursue both avenues of court reporting, I just don't want to chose judicial reporting over cart/captioning and some misfortune falls upon me. I really have no interest in being a court official, I just want to do depositions. I guess that's where the mix up occurred. Many of the articles were about official court reports being replaced or losing their jobs. At any rate, you all offered such good advice. And I have thought in great detail about what has been said. I am definitely going to pursue court reporting as a career. I feel a passion that I have never felt before and I can not explain it. I have all the confidence in the world.
I am so happy to hear that, Adrienne! And I know what you mean when you say that you feel a passion that you have never felt before. I felt the same way when I started school and now I'm doing what I love and getting paid for it! Good luck and keep me posted with your schooling!


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