What I wish I knew my first year out as a court reporter.

I know a lot of court reporting students are out there who go to school and can't wait to start reporting in the "real world." And you guys have lots of questions about what it's like reporting out there. You wonder about is there going to be work for me? Am I going to make enough money to pay off my debts and live the "glamorous" lifestyle?

Well, this is a great place to ask those questions. And if you have any particular topic that you want discussed, bring it up. But I thought I'd share some of the things that I learned the first year out.

A lot of students focus and worry about going out and being in the actual deposition or court setting and taking down the words. A lot of students never even think about actually producing a transcript.

What you've got to realize that for every hour you sit there and take down notes, it's going to take you at least two hours to produce a transcript that you're going to be willing to give to your agency/client. You've got to scope, edit, and proof. Those are the minimum parts to producing a transcript.

The first transcript that you do will be painfully slow, for the most part. You're not going to be sure on format, parentheticals (what are parentheticals? that's another whole discussion). You might be unfamiliar with your software. You might not know all the shortcuts. IT WILL GET BETTER. Once you have that first transcript under your belt. Then it will get easier and faster.

Know for your first year out, don't overwhelm yourself. Don't burn yourself out. Remember, you have the right to turn down a job. If you find yourself awash in 1000 and 1000 of pages and the agency is begging you to take the job, you can turn it down. They will use you again. If you're a good reporter, turn in a quality product and do it in a timely manner, they will use you again.

Anyway, that's my first thought for new reporters and students. I'll try to post more as time goes. And if you have any questions, you can ask me or any reporter on this board.

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Comment by Stephanie Poster on January 1, 2013 at 21:05

Thank you for this!  I just passed the CSR and feel so overwhelmed at how much I need to learn!  I see you are in So Cal, if you ever have time for me to sit out with you, I'd love that!  I live in southern orange county.  I know this was written in 08 but worth a try!  Thanks!!

Comment by Marty Herder on April 17, 2011 at 21:35

Hello all.    I enjoy an extensive amount of mentoring and working with interns.    Please know that my door is always open for any topic that a new reporter or student might have.   Whether you're beating your head against the wall, or simply wondering if freelance firm owners are being fair with you, please feel free to tap into 32 years of freelance experience in the career I love. 

Comment by Lisa Dupre on January 5, 2010 at 15:37
okay anyone will to tell me how much you might make the first year. I am struggling to get out and work. I still need to make money while I transition and wonder how long will this take. I am sure I will only do records in the beginning.
Comment by Susan Crivello on August 21, 2009 at 3:42
I have to comment on this. I LOVE the fact that the cr school boasts six figures a year. My first two jobs were depos, which were not bad, but it did take me a long time to edit. About the third or fourth job I was into student and teacher tenure hearings. They have multiple witnesses, and sometimes as many as eight people at a table...not easy, and you are not getting paid more for these types of jobs. Since I am still a new reporter and have been working since the beginning of March, I am getting paid $3.00 pp and a 25 cents charge for proofreading. As Kyung said, it is the editing, proofing and scoping. I probably make about $1.00 pp, if that much. I have to say, though, my editing time is improving. I have to tell all new reporters out there. The key is to LEARN YOUR SOFTWARE! I am on Eclipse, and believe me, there is so much to learn that will cut our editing time in half; form fields, number conversion, auto indexing. The problem is finding the time, but if I am
going to stay in this field, I have to find the time. I had to take two weeks off to stay home and just finish editing my work.
Comment by Jane McGill on August 20, 2009 at 7:56
I was somewhat timid when I started cr school and thought this would be a great job because I can sit in a corner, like I'd seen on TV, and not say anything. HA! I know in school, they say to interrupt if you aren't getting it, but it's sometimes difficult to get to that point in a depo. Yes, I would stop them, but I didn't do it with the authority that I needed. If you have someone who constantly interrupts and mumbles, remind the attorneys that they are not going to have a good transcript if they continue to do what they are doing. One trick that works well for me if I have a difficult person who is interrupting to be overheard and they are clearly the one doing most of the interrupting is I say to them, "If two people are talking over each other and I can't get you to stop and can only take down part of it, I take down the person who was NOT doing the interrupting." This lets them know that their bullying and interrupting is doing them no good in the long run. The other thing I can add is DO NOT depend on your audio. We all need backup at times, but if you aren't getting it, chances are your audio isn't getting it and you'll be in a world of hurt if you depend on it!
Comment by Dorothy (Dee) Ayer on March 28, 2009 at 20:38
Oops, let me preface the above blog I just posted.....I did not mean to sound as if 99% of the time I have to ask a witness to repeat a word or two in depositions. What I mean is that IF I have to ask someone to repeat a word or two that I may not have gotten, which is NOT often at all, 99% of the time it is the witness I am asking.
Comment by Dorothy (Dee) Ayer on March 28, 2009 at 20:32
I use my Insync for audio, rather than a casette player, with my Stenocat software. It's just an audio backup function that's integrated with Stenocat. My laptop doesn't have a built-in microphone, so I went to Radio Shack and purchased a cheap external microphone. Very small. I hook it into the audio jack that's on the laptop, sign into my Stenocat program at the depo, make sure that the Insync funtion is checked (you can get information from your software provider how to do all of this...it's easy), and then be sure to hit "record."
I don't use my Insync often, but now and again I have an expert in a big case, and it sure removes any question of what it is I wrote, not to mention technical dialogue of unfamiliar territory...ha ha.
Best advice I ever received right out of school and into depositions is that you may not get all of the question a hundred percent, but always be sure that you get the answer. This was told to me by an agency owner that's been around for quite a while and has tons of experience.
As years have gone by, I find that if I need to interrupt because I didn't catch something, 99% of the time I am asking the witness to repeat a word or a two that they've said.
Trust me, all of this gets easier as time goes on. The first year can be rough, but everyone gets through it.
Comment by Yvette LaRochelle on October 28, 2008 at 7:10
Thank you Kyung, this is the type of information I need to learn about. I am not ready to step into a courtroom of any kind right now or do depo's. My friend who is a lawyer suggested that I come in and just give it a try with a client of his and the other parties involved. My lawyer friend explained that I was in school and just wanted me to get some experience and it was OK'd by all. How do I get the digital stuff like hooking up to a court microphone or do I need to supply my own? I just want digital backup in case I mess up or loose something verbatim. Yes I am a very nervous want to be!! LOL
Comment by Kyung on October 28, 2008 at 6:10
I'd definitely go digital. But remember this is a backup. I rarely, if ever, use my digital backup to produce a transcript.

And most attorneys will get upset if you ask them to stop so you can change your cassette tape. I don't think ithey will be talking about using audio at school. I think most schools are of the mindset that you need to get it when they say it and you need to stop them if you didn't.
Comment by Yvette LaRochelle on October 28, 2008 at 4:49
Geesh... Thank you for the heads up!! I am still a student but very nervous about what equipment I need to bring into court. LOL I do know that I need my laptop and machine but so far in class we have not spoken about audio. What kind of audio equipment do I need to buy? I have done a depo in an office for a friend that is a lawyer but all I did was bring my writer and laptop and the audio I used was a tape recorder!!! LOL I had to ask the client to stop so I could change my cassette!!! Can you give me any advice?

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