Month: April 2018

What Does The Court Reporter Shortage Mean for Litigation in 2018?

In 2014, Ducker Worldwide released a report predicting an estimated 5,500 unfilled court reporter positions across the USA by 2018.

This prediction was based on decreased enrollment and graduation for new court reporters, combined with climbing retirement rates. The average age of a court reporter is in their fifties, a good decade older than the average working population.

Well, we’re a quarter of the way through 2018 now, and while we don’t have the official numbers for the nationwide shortage, plenty of courts across the country are feeling the impact.

“People have shown up, with their families and lawyers, only to learn that their scheduled court hearing will be delayed. It has cost people money and time.”

Does the shortage matter?

Some legislators view concern over the court reporter shortage as being overblown. After all, recent (and not so recent) advances in technology make recording court sessions possible for both audio and video. Because of this, these legislators believe that court reporters are heading the way of lamplighters and switchboard operators anyway.

However, this view oversimplifies the issue, and fails to account for problems that have already been encountered as courts try to test new technologies. Issues like garbled testimony and equipment failures are frequently experienced.

And, even if recording equipment works flawlessly, a skilled human is still required to to review and interpret the material.

Court reporting is a very specialized, skilled, and necessary field. Even a green court reporter starts out typing 225 words a minute, around three times faster than even the fastest typists in other fields. And when technology fails, being able to type at the speed of speech is a very important skill.

What does it mean for litigation?

Demand for skilled court reporters now far exceeds supply. As demand continues to rise, court reporting firms and legal firms will find it increasingly difficult to recruit qualified reporters.

While this is good news for new reporters entering an in-demand field, where they can command higher prices than they would have been able to 5 or 10 years ago, this is a less promising situation for the judicial system as a whole.

Complaints are coming from across the country:

“Hall [an Oklahoma court reporter] says the Tulsa County case flow has slowed down as a result of the shortage. She says fewer cases are being litigated, because there aren’t enough court reporters available for court proceedings.”

“It’s the beginning of a disaster for the court system in South Carolina,’ said Valerie McFarland, president of the South Carolina Court Reporters Association. ‘There is a problem. In South Carolina it is broken.”

“Illinois recently painted a similarly bleak picture for court reporters in that state. Three out of four court reporters there are expected to retire in the next 10 to 15 years.”

“Experts say one reason Kansas is struggling to maintain qualified court reporters is that only two schools in the state offer certifications in court reporting.”

And because of this shortage, the usual unpreventable issues like sickness or traffic jams are being felt more than they were in the past.

How to end the shortage

To bring this shortage to an end, it’s important to look at the factors that are contributing to it. Some litigators point to low awareness about the profession among young prospects and the lack of marketing in the field.

Others blame a history of scarcity in entry-level jobs, funding cuts to judicial programs, and declining pay rates for the issues being experienced today.

Luckily for would-be court reporters, the shortage has made this one of the best times to start out in the profession.

New reporters can expect higher earning potential than in the past, less demanding education requirements than other specialized professions, the option for self-employment through freelance, and a stable career with growing opportunities.

Court reporting firms need to make these benefits clear to the next generation, who may not even think about court reporting as an option, perhaps mistakenly believing that it is an example of yet another career option becoming obsolete.

Now we want to know what you think! Is the shortage really an issue? Have you experienced it yourself?

Let’s take this conversation to Twitter!

You can tweet us @expertdepos and/or use the hashtag #expertdepostech

The Evolving Role of eDiscovery

As technology changes and increases, so does its role in our daily lives. It has become part and parcel of all that we do, so it is no surprise that for years it has played an important role in the discovery phase of litigation. Electronic discovery or eDiscovery is part of the relevant information, along with other records and evidence, which builds or breaks a case.

The Importance of Staying Current

Considering the vital role eDiscovery plays in litigation, this is one time when it really does pay to keep up with and maybe even surpass the Joneses. Remember Myspace? It was a long time ago and it was the hottest thing in social media. Then Facebook came along and now hardly anyone remembers Myspace. Knowing the current platforms available and how to access them is crucial for using eDiscovery as part of a case.

It’s not only important to know the different forms of electronic communication and information storage. It is equally important to stay on top of laws governing the access to these valuable pieces of information. As with everything in gathering information and evidence during the discovery phase, eDiscovery needs to be managed correctly in order to preserve the integrity of the information.

The Importance of Relevancy

Sifting through all the information contained in electronically stored information for eDiscovery is a major undertaking. Considering the average responsive rate for reviews is 20% at best, and time does equal money, it is important to find relevant material in the shortest amount of time. Being acquainted with the various platforms and cultivating the ability to implement effective and efficient searches is key in making eDiscovery work optimally.

Additionally, the field of how to adequately glean electronic information in a timely manner is constantly changing. This is yet another area to monitor closely in order to make the job most efficient. As eDiscovery practices continue to grow and change, the savvy litigator will be sure to see that all those responsible for gathering information for eDiscovery are up to date on the various aspects of the practice.

Expert Depos makes your job easier. Attorneys, investigators and journalists find our services helpful in obtaining certified deposition transcripts quickly. Get the advantage by using Expert Depos for assistance with your discovery requirements.