Hi everyone -

I've been strickly a deposition reporter and have been offered jobs in court. I have only been in court twice as a reporter in my 17 years of experience.  I'm nervous and feel completely green! If anyone has any advice on what to do, how to do it, etc., I would really appreciate it.

I'm not even sure how to get in a courtroom and set up or who to speak with, let alone how the transcripts are handled, if there even is one.

Thank you for any help and suggestions you might have.

Karla Shallenberger 

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Are you going into federal or superior?  They're very different.

I suggest you call your county Clerk of Court and ask who their official court reporting firm is.  Then call the firm and ask if you can come for a meeting with a reporter.  Or you can set in on a court hearing/trial, then talk to the reporter after.

 

 

To get in a courtroom:  As part of the new-employee procedures, the court reporter manager will tell you how to get into secure areas where you need to be.  I'm not providing more specifics simply because procedures vary from venue to venue.  In general, though, it is a good idea to have the phone number for the clerk in the department where you are scheduled to be in case you have a problem getting in.

 

If the court reporter manager does not have sample transcripts for you, ask other reporters.  What you want to find out right away is who is entitled to a transcript, the priority of each requester, and how you are going to be paid.  For example, in the county where I do my pro tem reporting, transcripts ordered by a judge have top priority, and we fill out a form request for payment which we submit to the finance department.  If private counsel or pro pers want transcripts, once the court reporter manager puts them in touch with us, it's up to us to arrange that with them.  I would advise against producing a transcript until payment is made unless you have a longstanding relationship with an attorney, and I suggest that pro pers be required to send you a money order to your work address. 

 

Be strictly honest with everyone about what you don't know.  And, I'm afraid, it will be a lot.  It was a year and a half of near-constant work in the courts before I had any level of comfort with all of the various procedures and requirements.

Good for you being able to land court work.  I thought those jobs were being eliminated left and right.

Not Kelli, but, Trina, that is The Big Scare.  Official court reporting positions being replaced by electronic recording in courtrooms all over the country.  That's my opinion, too ... real reporters being replaced by ER.  NCRA has tons of articles, even the ER Task Force with helpful things and talking points that reporters can use to save their positions.  Whenever I hear that a reporter has landed an official position in court, I also say, "Good for you!"  I've known about 5 reporters in the last six months who've moved on to official positions.  So there may be a push to replace real reporters with button-pushers (ER), but there are also official positions available out there.  I know of some now.

 

M.A.

There are tons of reporters losing their court work and having to go into the depo realm.  I have had people post on it before.  People have been talking about that for a long time.  Courts are using electronic recording instead of reporters because it is cheaper.

A lot of courts are now digital.  There are still many states that have an official court reporter (one person) or a firm (which uses the firm's reporters) for circuit court work.  In Hillsborough County, Florida, now, the court reporter is hired and paid by the attorney requesting his/her services.

Thank you everyone!

That's a lot of great information. I'm not sure whether it would be Federal or State. I recently had an aqency ask me if I did court work. I said yes, naturally, and thought it's about time to spread my wings in any direction the work flows.

Thanks again.

Yes, ER is certainly taking over in many places and I tend to believe it will become more so due to the younger attorneys and judges that will be taking over.  I believe it's just a matter of time because the younger people all are used to technology and as it is so, technology usually does rule.  I hate to say it, but I would consider moving over to being a "button pusher" and handing my disc over to someone else that wants to transcribe it because of what is happening in the world of the national firms.  The national firms have all but destroyed the reporting business.  Wanting reporters to work for next to nothing but all the while demanding quicker turnaround time.  They are making so much money off the backs of hard working reporters and that's one of the reasons I got away from the agency world. Now being on my own I am left to try and gather the scraps that I can find.  Whoever came up with the idea of the national firms had a great idea for them to make money but obviously did not care about court reporters in general.  Sounds to me like it was someone getting together with the insurance companies.  Add to it that not many are going in to court reporting then yes, I do see a time where digital reporting will be the status quo.  Reporters won't lose their job, it will just be redefined because you will have to have someone running the recording system.  Court reporting in my opinion, is just too hard of a job to do for nothing, but since nothing was ever done to stop the national firms, this is the way I see it going.  It would be much easier to work for less money being a "button pusher" than it is to stress out over every little detail the way we reporters do.  By the way, I don't like the term button pusher because even if you do run a recorder you still must know some things about the deposition and court world.  An attorney client just asked me a few weeks ago about the ER, so don't think they aren't watching.  They see it in court so why wouldn't they wonder about it being used in depo work.  

 

I'm not trying to start an argument on this, I just refuse to bury my head in the sand and say it can't happen the way a lot of my court reporting friends are doing.   

Good day, ladies and gentlemen.

 

First I will reply to Karla's question, and then I will address Peggy's fine response.

 

The best way to start a career as an official court reporter is to sit in with a mentor for a couple weeks. If you choose the right person... someone with a good work ethic and healthy feelings about their highly important, intense and stressful duties... which most officials usually possess... you will gain the knowledge and confidence that you need to report prolonged proceedings in a trial setting.

 

I had the jump on my classmates when I was in stenotype school because I used to sit in court with one of my teachers and a fine mentor, starting from some of the lower speeds, right on up to graduation. It did me a world of good because when I got out of school I almost immediately gravitated towards a per diem position in the lower court system and then was hired to report in Bronx Supreme Court in the early '70s.

 

Another bit of advice to make an easier transition would be to practice your tail off. I don't necessarily mean you have to beat your head against the steno machine and practice speed contest material exclusively. But practicing long takes at varying speeds would do wonders for your everyday writing at courtroom speeds.

 

One discipline I used to have was to sit in front of a TV and practice the news. Sportscasters were great for numbers, while many other topics were spewed forth at supersonic speeds. This was a great help for my proficiency and writing stamina. Don't expect to get every word the first few times you try this, but you will notice a steady increase in your accuracy, and when you come back down to earthly speeds you will abe able to take on court proceedings with aplomb.

 

I wish you plenty of luck in your new direction and endeavor. Please let me know how it goes for you.

 

As to Peggy's response; we here in South Florida have seen a large proliferation of digital recording both in the courtroom and on depsitions. It seems that attorneys, law firms and insurance companies are willing to sacrifice quality to save a few bucks here and there. We have one digital firm that offers free, below-par Skype-type video with their digital personnel that attend the depositions. It appears that their inferior products are being touted by some exclusive firms around the state.

 

I personally think it is a ridiculous method of getting an accurate record with integrity. I reported for thirty-two years before I gave it up to manage my small, boutique south Florida reporting agency. To see the profession turned inside out by insurance companies and large reporting firms swallowing the mom and pop shops like voracious animals does not appeal to me one bit.

 

I had no idea, when I entered the field in 1972, what would happen to a profession that operated on pride and expertise to all of a sudden turn into the perfect storm, with members of our trade, court administrators and judges traveling in a million different directions, all to the detriment of the industry and profession, whereas once it was cadre of experienced reporters, many of whom had a relative or friend that previously got into reporting and passed down the knowledge of proper theory, conflict-free writing styles the ability to be closed captioners and realtime reporters, among other human feats of greatness. 

 

In closing, now I see why the United States is in the poor state that it finds itself in, with unemployment reaching unprecedented levels and the gross national debt rising through the proverbial roof. Something has to be and should be done quickly, so as not to have our profession travel into everlasting extinction in the near future.

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