Hi everyone,

I'm the co-founder of a two-person internet startup that is creating new software to help you, the people in the court reporting industry. We have not yet released it but based on interviews we've had with local court reporters and reading the discussions here on CSR Nation we are optimistic that people will be pleased with it. We are thrilled to serve an industry that is doing such important work and is known for its integrity.

I'm working on our business plan and a couple of questions have come up to which I can't find the answer. I thought I would put this out to you, the community, and see if any of you know:

  1. How many court reporting agencies are in the US?
  2. What is the average number of court reporters per court reporting agency, whether as freelancers or employees/owners? (This might help answer #1)

I've been doing research and my local business librarian has been helping me. The best information we have found so far is:

  • NCRA's stats page says there are 36,000 stenographic court reporters in the marketplace.
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics says Court reporters held about 21,500 jobs in 2008 and a little more than half of those were for state federal government agencies. "Most of the remaining wage and salary workers were employed by court reporting agencies." Straight-line interpolation of their forecast implies there are 23,060 total in 2012.

If I assume most court reporting agencies are small (average of 3 reporters??), and assume that "a little more than half" as officials means 45% are freelancers working for agencies that leads to this conclusion:


(23,060 x 0.45)
--------------- = 3,459 court reporting agencies in the United States
       3


This number is smaller than I would have expected. Do any of you know of other sources of information that I have missed?

Please be gentle in making corrections if I've got some facts or assumptions wrong. :-)

Thank you so much.

- Brian Morearty

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Boy, Brian, I have no idea.  That sounds like a lot of agencies.  Had no idea there were that many, but I guess it makes sense.  There should be tons of work with that many agencies out there you would think.

I'm just curious, Kelli, what would you have guessed? How many do you think work in your area? (Your profile says San Mateo--I'm just south of you in San Carlos.)

I have no idea  either.    I have always worked for one agency but I'm an old timer.  But most reporters nowadays work for 10 or more different agencies.   I'm not sure if that concept of "how many reporters per agency" holds true anymore.  You mean how many  staff reporters that do most of the work?   If there is even such a thing nowadays.   A lot of reporters never even step foot in an agency to know how many reporters work there, I would think.

That's really interesting, Martha. Ten agencies!? I knew many reporters work for more than one agency and that that would throw off my numbers a bit, but had no idea it would be as many as ten.

You mean how many staff reporters that do most of the work?

No, I just meant how many reporters total--including the owner, who is often a reporter, as well as the freelancers and employees who do reporting work.

Maybe this is the wrong way to try to figure out how many agencies there are. Unfortunately I'm at a dead-end with my other attempts, since there does not seem to be any other good way to estimate it.

One year I got 31 1099s, and some agencies didn't send me any!  Are you looking to know how many agencies, period, or agencies of a certain size?  Maybe the NCRA can help you out if you contact them.  I work for several reporters who call themselves an agency because they have a few clients of their own.  They only call me when they are double-booked.  Most of them also work for other agencies when they are not busy.  Good luck.

Hi Deborah,

Originally I was looking for agencies that have 1-20 reporters who do work for them. (I know reporters tend to be freelancers). Reporters who call themselves an agency because they have a few clients of their own would definitely count as an agency by my definition. 

But at this point the information is so hard to get that I would be happy with any additional information about the number of agencies.

Thanks for the idea about the NCRA. They didn't have any additional stats other than the total number of court reporters. 

Thanks!

Hi Brian,

 

It's a relatively easy way to get a good gauge of how many court reporting firms there are by counting the 2011 NCRA Source Book listing ads.

 

The 2011 NCRA Source Book freelance agency ads are contained on pages 348 through 430.

 

Also it gets a little involved in counting the ads because some firms might list their firm under 10 cities in a state like California, and national firms may list their firms in each state.

 

I will work on trying to get you a number from the 2011 Source Book.  The counting will take me some time and involve not counting the multiple listings by single firms listing their firm under many cities in their state. 

 

Also I will have to not count each national firm each time it is listed under a different state. 

 

Bill Parsons

 

 

Thank you so much, Bill. Are all court reporting agencies listed in the Source Books freelance agency ads? I would different agencies would get business in different ways, and many might choose not to advertise there.

Hi Brian,

 

Absolutely not all agencies are listed in the NCRA Source Book.  So my Source Book totals would have to have additional firms from the on-line professional services locators added.  Those services would include NCRA's on-line Professional Services Locator, Martindale Hubbell and a California listing service I know of, et cetera.

 

Also, the phone book Yellow Pages can be checked to locate further firms that only advertise in their city or state Yellow Pages.

 

Before we are through, we can come up with some real good numbers.

 

Best Regards, Bill

Hi Brian,

I counted the NCRA 2011 Source Book ads, and there are 668 freelance agencies listed in the 2011 Source Book.

I would say 40% of the agencies are not listed in the NCRA Source Book.

Therefore, with adding in the 40% unlisted freelance agencies, I would say there are approximately 935 freelance agencies in the United States.

Then adding in the stenomask agencies and agencies that use electronic recording, I would say you would be safe to say there are in the area of 1,000 freelance agencies in the United States.

Keep in mind you won't be able to reach many of those agencies with your marketing.

I hope the above info is helpful to you.

Best Regards, Bill

 

 

Very helpful. Thank you so much for the research, Bill.

I'm surprised by how small the industry is. I guess I thought that with legal cases happening in every courtroom in America and with depositions being involved in a lot of cases there would be a lot more. 

Brian,

I've been in the field 30 yrs and will tell you it has changed greatly. I will be very interested to see/hear about your business.  You would think there would be tons of depositions going on constantly, and I'm sure in some areas there are, but with the onslaught of national firms taking over and expecting reporters to work for next to nothing along with not paying the reporter for the work, has driven many reporters out of the field.  I used to work for a large reporting firm in downtown Cincinnati, Oh that used to have 20 full-time court reporters.  Now I hear they are down to less than 10 part-time reporters.  Other agencies in the area are operating with 5 or less part-timers, and then you have the 20 to 30 reporters who work for themselves and/or help out other solely owned reporters, again part-time.

Also, insurance companies have, over the years, encouraged their clients, the attorneys, to do as little deposition work due to the cost of reporters and have highly encouraged them to try and settle the cases before it gets into too much cost.  I'm a reporter who believes the field is rapidly changing and not necessarily for the better so I'm curious what your venture will offer.          

Good Luck!

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