What makes a quality court reporter?
Court reporting isn’t easy. An aspiring court reporter must meet a number of education and training requirements and possess the necessary talent to achieve the high expectations that come with the work. Accuracy matters a great deal to your case. Without someone reliable and capable of writing the proceedings verbatim, you run the risk of receiving an inaccurate record. You cannot afford to let that happen. It’s essential to understand the key traits that make quality reporters. Here’s what to look for to find the best candidates.
Professionalism is essential for quality court reporters. When I evaluate potential candidates, I look for competent, passionate and skillful individuals who are willing to sacrifice their personal time if needed to help someone else. We employ court reporters who are committed to serving others before themselves. Those are the type of reporters that impact lives.
When you sit down in a room for a proceeding, a quality court reporter knows to stay silent unless they are asked to speak. You and your clients should quickly forget a court reporter is in the room, so everyone is focused on the case at hand.
Punctuality is also a fundamental trait of reliable court reporters. There is no time to waste during a deposition. The court reporter you hire needs to arrive early and be prepared for the day. You should not have to worry that you have hired someone that will hold up the proceedings and divert your focus elsewhere.
I have always looked for court reporters with excellent time management and organizational skills. Managing their time wisely is crucial because being a court reporter often requires juggling multiple projects at once.
An excellent court reporter will not be easily distracted. If a court reporter loses focus on the case, you may end up with a flawed transcript. Every detail matters and nothing that happens in a court proceeding can be overlooked. There is also an expectation that quality court reporters will have the necessary mental toughness to deliver professional work in difficult circumstances like listening to testimony with upsetting descriptions of violent crime.
An experienced court reporter knows to remain calm throughout any deposition and refrain from displaying unnecessary emotion. Your court reporter should keep a neutral position throughout the deposition to avoid favoritism toward any party involved. “It can be difficult, but you have to stay focused,” Maria Wainwright, a court reporter for 38 years for Stewart Richardson Deposition Services, said. “The last thing you want to do is skew the results of a case.”
Court reporters that have previous deposition experience are usually better prepared and more reliable. For instance, reporters that understand court protocol will excel at doing other tasks they may be called upon to do in a proceeding like swear in witnesses or mark exhibits. If they understand the flow of the deposition and courtroom, it will make it easier to know who is supposed to be speaking next. Also, attorneys can benefit from having a court reporter that has done work on similar cases. “By hiring a deposition services company, you are more likely to be sent someone who has dealt with your kind of case.” Wainwright said. “These companies can rely on a network of qualified reporters with different types of expertise.”
Outstanding, experienced court reporters possess a broad range of knowledge. They are able to process the information they are reporting quickly and communicate it clearly on the transcript. “Experience makes a big difference when it comes to complicated litigation cases,” Wainwright said. “You cannot send someone in there who does not know what they are doing. “
You need a court reporter that can write quickly and accurately. Since court reporters are asked to write every word spoken verbatim, you need to hire someone with excellent grammar and a strong vocabulary.
To double check your court reporter’s work, Stewart Richardson Deposition Services offers an app that allows attorneys to read real-time text the reporter is typing. Attorneys may follow along at any time during the deposition.
What does it take to become a court reporter?
There are programs, exams and training required to become a court reporter. To start out, you must obtain a professional diploma, an associate’s degree or a certificate from a recognized court reporting program. Your certification may differ depending on your court reporting program. After graduating, one must achieve a minimum standard of skills.
The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) requires court reporters to show proficiency in three categories for machine shorthand: literary, testimony and jury charge. Each category requires a “words per minute” (wpm) minimum that includes 180 for literary, 225 for testimony and 200 for jury charge. A court reporter must complete all three categories with 97 percent accuracy. The final step is to meet all state licensing requirements. Each applicant must pass both a written and skills test depending on their location.
At Stewart Richardson Deposition Services, we hire court reporters that are NCRA certified. One of the best ways to guarantee you are getting high quality court reporters is to partner with a deposition services company that has experience vetting candidates and weeding out poor performers. If Stewart Richardson Deposition Services can help you find the professionals you need, check out our website today and we’d love to get what you need for your next case.