The argument could be made that the evolution of court reporting equals the elimination of reporters but we’re here to tell you that’s not true. In fact, opportunities are growing outside the courtroom making this an exciting and growing field. Our biggest challenge isn’t extinction but a shortage of experienced reporters so if you’re choosing a new career, we encourage you to take a look at court reporting.
According to the Ducker Worldwide Industry Outlook Report, there are 32,000 stenographic court reporters who have an average age of 51 years old. That’s ten years younger than the national average for all industries. The retiring of reporters plus a decrease in students entering court reporting schools and the digitization of courtrooms means a shortage of more than 5,000 reporters by 2018.
While states like Oklahoma are slowly implementing digital recordings in court, the human factor has not been eliminated. In fact, we’d argue that reporters are needed more now than ever in legal settings as well as for real-time in education, business, professional sports, senior citizen, hard of hearing, and deaf services, and medical facilities.
Evolution of Court Reporting
The cost of employing a court reporter have, in some areas of the country, been outweighed by technology. For example, if the case doesn’t involve a grand jury or isn’t a felony or death penalty case, the court only requires a recording of proceedings, not an actual reporter. In these places, they may lay off reporters and hire them back as freelancers on an as-needed basis saving the cost of benefits like retirement and healthcare.
The challenge with hiring a freelancer is that they can’t ask for clarification on anything. Even when they’re unable to easily discern details, there is no chance to pause to clarify a fact like names or titles. That’s where real-time court reporting comes in.
Benefit of Real-time
Perhaps the biggest benefit is that with remote access, real-time court reporters can transcribe proceedings even if they’re not actually in the courtroom. They can literally take depositions and follow proceedings from almost anywhere in the world which means the record is preserved and accurate.
The technology can also be translated to the business world for seminars, webinars, press events, to the classroom for deaf and hard of hearing students, and to professional sporting events. As the population ages, we expect to see additional opportunities in communities, medical settings, and senior citizen communities.
We feel the evolution of court reporting is just beginning and we’re excited to be part of this growing industry!