Guide to Hiring a Remote Court Reporter or Stenographer

A Short History of Stenography

If you are looking for a remote court reporter, it’s likely the person you are looking for has significantly enhanced court reporting skills that reflect the changing landscape. Court reporting and stenography have a much longer history than you might think.

In 63 B.C., Marcus Tiro took dictation and managed financial matters for Roman lawyer and philosopher, Cicero. Tiro developed a system of abbreviations and symbols—more than 4,000—that comprised his own shorthand system. The first court reporter stenographer system for English speakers wasn’t widely used until Timothie Bright, a British physician, published a system known as shorthand. 

This system consisted of about 500 symbols.  The next shorthand system was not based on symbols, rather on the English alphabet. In the late 19th century, John Robert Gregg opened shorthand schools in Boston and Chicago. 

Gregg’s shorthand method was finally published in 1893. Stenotype machines came next, allowing court reporters and stenographers to type faster than they could write. Eventually, recording devices were added to stenotype machines to increase accuracy and efficiency. 

What Do Remote Court Reporter Stenographers Do?

According to the NCRA, as highly-trained professionals, remote court reporter stenographers convert the spoken word into information that can then be read, searched, and archived. 

The “remote” part of the title has added certain skills and education to the court reporter stenographers’ repertoire. These professionals capture and preserve what transpires during a wide variety of legal proceedings, including hearings, trials, arbitrations, and depositions, delivering a verbatim transcript that can later be used as evidence. 

What’s the Difference Between a Court Reporter and a Stenographer?

While stenographers and court reporters produce verbatim transcripts of legal proceedings, court reporters often have expanded duties beyond the transcriptions. Court reporters generally need from two to four years of education from an NCRA-approved institution. Stenographers must usually only complete six months of training, requiring no licensure or certification. 

Court reporters must type quickly and accurately, possess basic language interpretation skills, understand legal terminology, as well as court procedures and processes. They must complete continuing education courses to receive and maintain certifications. Because of this, they generally receive a higher salary than stenographers. 

Court reporters may organize research and information within court records, while stenographers stick to transcription. When hiring a remote court reporter stenographer, you want to ensure the individual is well-rounded and comfortable with new remote deposition software and platforms. 

Is the Industry Expanding for Remote Court Reporters?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics determined in 2019 that the demand for court reporters would continue to expand (by 9 percent) over the coming decade. At that time, the median pay for a court reporter was approximately $29.64 per hour, with a postsecondary non-degree education required. 

At that juncture, remote court reporting was very new. The pandemic accelerated the need for remote court reporters, and at this point in time, it appears as though there is no going back. 

This evolution means that court reporter stenographers starting out in the profession will be trained in remote court reporting. Those who have been in the profession for years may have to seek additional training for remote court reporting to grow with the technology and the times. 

Since there is a major shortage of court reporters across the country, this could actually be the perfect time to choose a career in this area. Court reporter stenographers must be impartial, responsible, and reliable, not to mention properly trained and certified. There are a variety certified training programs; many allow students to study in different areas within the legal profession, including:

  • Judicial Reporting
  • Closed Captioning (Broadcast Captioning)
  • Specialized services for the deaf or hard-of-hearing (CART—Communications Access Realtime Reporting)
  • Court Reporting/Stenography utilizes a computer and stenotype machine
  • Court Reporting/Voice Writing involves speaking into a “stenomask” device that feeds the reporter’s voice into voice recognition and translation software. 

As far as startup costs, stenotype machines usually cost between $100 and $250, then rent or purchase a model computerized writer ($2,000 and up) for CAT classes. Software adds an additional $100 to $500, therefore many students rent the machines. 

Court reporter programs typically require students to pass entrance exams prior to acceptance, usually in typing and English. Depending on the individual state, the court reporter may be required to obtain state licensure. 

Do Remote Court Reporters Require a Degree?

The answer to this question is dependent on the state in which the court reporter stenographer intends to work. Each state has its own court reporting licensing and certification requirements, with “baseline requirements consisting of age (18 or older), a minimum of a high school diploma or GED (college degree a plus), a crime-free history, and at least some experience with shorthand and transcription. 

As an example, the Registered Professional Reporter exam requires 95 percent accuracy and a minimum of 225 wpm on the stenography machine. NCRA state-by-state requirements for court reporters can be found here.  

A 24-30 month National Court Reporters Association-approved certification is often a requirement or, alternatively, a two-year Associate Degree program. Programs include classes in legal terminology, criminal and appellate procedures, and technology-based courses for remote court reporting. When looking for a court reporter, you will certainly want to choose one that has at least the minimum requirements in your state. 

What Qualities Are Important for a Remote Court Reporter?

When the pandemic hit in March 2020, people across the country were forced to work from home, quickly becoming proficient in Zoom and other similar programs. Court reporters also found themselves working from their homes, however the extremely sensitive nature of legal proceedings resulted in court reporters having to quickly train themselves in how to conduct a remote deposition and more. 

Remote court reporters must be comfortable with new technologies, willing to learn additional skills to build on their court reporter stenographer skills, and fairly unflappable. When technology is being used, Murphy’s Law is very real. If anything can go wrong, technologically speaking, it probably will. Remote court reporters must take these glitches in stride, having worked out ahead of time what to do in the event technology takes a momentary dive. 

New remote platforms, guidelines, and client expectations required court reports to adapt—and to do so quickly and efficiently. Because the court reporter is no longer in the same room with attorneys and witnesses, it can be more difficult to “watch the room.” This is something most court reporters do naturally, developing a sense of when someone is about to interrupt or when an attorney is about to object. 

The nuances a court reporter has depended on for years can make the job different in many ways. Since many court reporters also implement lip-reading into their overall technique, the use of masks during the pandemic has required compensation methods for remote court reporting. So, in addition to making shifts in the way they have always done their job, court reporter stenographers today must be able to resolve at least basic technical difficulties.  

How a Court Reporter Stenographer Can Be the Final Puzzle Piece in Remote Depositions

When you choose a court reporting service that includes court reporters, you will receive a personalized, adaptive court reporting experience. The court reporter provided will have training and experience with the specific technology and software, along with necessary state and/or national certifications. 

Each court reporter undergoes a thorough assessment to determine skill level, overall knowledge of hardware and software, and expertise in specific legal areas. Court reporters are professionals, demonstrating a commitment to personal excellence, superior client services, and continued education to keep up with the changing remote landscape. 

Remote Legal Court Reporting for All of Your Court Reporter Stenographer Needs

The mission of Remote Legal Court Reporting is to thoroughly modernize the legal experience. Access to justice must be made more efficient and accessible through the use of cutting-edge technologies. 

Depositions, mediations, arbitrations, and EUOs can now take place any time, any place, and in any language. We strive to modernize court reporting as well as embedding these new court reporting solutions into a broader technology-enabled virtual litigation platform that reduces litigation costs and drives lawyer efficiency. Contact Remote Legal Court Reporting today!   

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