Will court reporters become obsolete or more valuable?

In the legal profession, court reporters and stenographers are substantial entities. However, they are often viewed as just extra people filling the courtroom on lazy afternoons. In reality, they are the ones who contribute the most to running the justice system. Not all stenographers and reporters may work at the same pace, but they have a specialized skill to write days of nonsense that happens in the court in the form of a transcript, and it certainly is a big achievement. Not just they transcribe all the drama happening in the courtroom but also possess a skill set for arbitrations or depositions. 

Will court reporters become obsolete? Well, the profession is indeed thinning out already. Court reporters flushed with talent, right after graduating from law schools are trained for this occupation. They earn a good paycheck by making use of their specialized skill. However, today, it doesn’t excite the youth as it used to do long ago. 

Perhaps, this digital era has shifted our perceptions about traditional ways of doing jobs. Thereby, very few graduates are there to replace the experienced reporters, this shortage will eventually turn into a crisis sometime soon. The fun fact is, it was initially thought that the voice recognition software and virtual assistants will replace the experienced reporters, but it turned out that we had been living with the wrong fear. 

Firstly, no matter how much the technology advances, reporters are always going to be there in the courtroom to help in some form. In case you’re wondering, there are 3 ways by which records are taken in the courtroom. 

  • Stenography
  • A steno mask
  • High fidelity – audio recorder with voice recognition

You might be thinking about what the Steno mask is, seemingly it looks strange but gives astonishing results. 

Some of these methods might look like advanced technology, however, they still need human assistance to operate. For instance, stenotype to produce transcript by someone, the steno masks need someone to be put on and lastly, the audio capturing device, it also requires human assistance for error checking, making annotations, and entering exhibits.  

Regardless of how advanced things get, the world of reporting will still be needing reporters. Even though the profession is elevating, it’s critically important that everyone recognize the tools that will further this profession and make next-level improvements for emerging reporters. The key to success in every field is awareness and adoption.

Court reporting is a 100 years old profession, but that doesn’t imply it is not tech-driven. The reason for the dropping numbers of this profession is not the alternative technologies but the lack of trained individuals to replace the retired ones. Such individuals will always be required to operate new technologies and facilitate the process. For instance, videographers have been around for years, but the profession is still alive and has even advanced for good. 

YouTube streaming may have declined the television broadcast but on the other hand, it has shifted the focus on advanced alternative methods. The actors, scripts, and producers are all the same but just moved to a new platform like Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc. Similarly, the current and future reporters must have trained themselves for their new jobs which will be now managing digital devices and microphones instead of quirkily typing. 

Technology is the future, but it doesn’t mean it has replaced humans with their jobs. It has elevated them for more substantial tasks. Likewise, human court reporters cannot be replaced. AI and text processing still needs a human hand to operate even that means this is the only task they will have to perform. The real crisis will be a lack of reporters shortly. More people with high experience are retiring but there are very few people pursuing this field, which means very few people will be entering this field/profession. We need to have more graduates in the reporting field to replace the traditional typewriting methods.

Hidden Costs associated with technology

The growing expense for court maintenance has compelled the authorities to cut back. Besides, court reporters are still kept on reporting jobs as the attorneys trust them for writing the most accurate information, for high-risk cases they are preferred over advanced alternatives of recording. Amidst the new digital era, court reporters have their jobs saved and are the first choice of lawyers

Replacing court reporters with a computer system seems an invalid assumption. The hidden costs associated with the advanced system would end up costing heavily to lawyers and their clients. The cost of the computer-generated transcript will outweigh the cost of reporters’ typed ones. 

How to become a court reporter

Becoming a court reporter requires a lot of talent and persistence to thrive. It is a valuable job which comes with big responsibility and incredible pay. The need for qualified reporters, also called stenographers, will continue to grow. To become one, you need to have the following skills.

  • Excellent vocabulary – plus points if you are well aware of medical and legal terminologies.
  • Grammar – accurate spelling and grammar, to maintain professional standards.
  • Active Listener – good listening skills are essential to secure a future as a deposition in the courtroom.
  • Fast Typing – fast typing and attention to detail are the must-haves to become a court reporter.
  • Timely – punctuality is important in this field as the courtroom will rely on you to start.
  • Patience – in this field patience is everything, you must deal with tough situations in the courtroom and for that, patience is required in abundance.

Perks of becoming a court reporter

  • You will be taking dispositions and working closely with attorneys and lawyers.
  • You will have a great responsibility of swearing witnesses.
  • You will get an opportunity to travel abroad (if you choose)
  • You will be offered a handsome salary package.
  • You will be trained to become a better listener and communicator.

In final words, “will court reporters become obsolete” is an invalid question. Technological advancements have widened the scope of this field. Their presence in the courtroom is equally important as it was years ago.

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