Court Reporting Misconceptions
For those who work outside of the legal industry, it can be difficult to understand how important court reporters are to the legal field. And, not surprisingly, as more and more lawsuits are filed in American courts the value of a neutral record of all aspects of legal proceedings — inside and outside of the courtroom — also continues to grow. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (“BLS”) the court reporting industry is expected to increase job openings for workers by 9% between 2019 and 2029. This growth is much faster than the average growth in other industries. The BLS has determined that this growth is affected, in part, by new federal laws requiring TV programming and real-time broadcasts to be closed captioned for the hearing impaired.
Despite the growing demand for court reporters, the trend is that fewer and fewer workers are entering the field. The reason for this, in part, is due to the misconceptions about the occupation. Below are some of these wrong assumptions.
● It is simply typing: Perhaps the most damaging myth is that court reporting is “just typing.” A stenograph, which most people have never seen, only has 22 unmarked keys. Court reporters often have to record high-profile cases with impeccable accuracy at an extremely fast pace. While the average person can type 40 words per minute with a 92% accuracy. The speed of the average court reporter is 225 words per minute.
● Anyone can do it: There is a common misconception that court reports can be easily replaced by digital recording devices or unskilled typists. In reality, court reporters can capture the meaning and nuances that even the most sophisticated artificial intelligence or algorithms miss. Court reporters have a flawless understanding of language as well as legal and/or technical terminology. Likewise, live court reporters do not malfunction like voice-capture technology can.
● The career is easy: While many institutions offer placement programs for newly minted court reporters, statistics show that a large percentage drop out within the first two years of their career. While the reasons for dropping out vary, the most common are due to the overwhelming pressure of speed and accuracy required by the job.
● Not much training: Aspiring court reporters must learn to use equipment like stenotypes and complete a court reporting program that awards an associate’s degree or certification. Reporters also undergo on-the-go training. Depending on the state, certification or licensure is required and likely involves passing an exam and skills test.
For more data on court reporting in the legal industry, visit the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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