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Trends that are Currently Shaping the Legal Industry

There’s no doubt that the face of the legal industry is changing, thanks in no small part to the always-connected global network. Rapid-pace advancements in technology are driving change across most industries, and the legal profession is simply no exception. As law firms work to integrate new technology, while also managing the dramatic age gaps introduced by four separate generations working alongside one another, new approaches to old problems are beginning to take shape.

Social Media and the Legal Profession

When it comes to tech driving change in the legal industry, few things have the power of social media. It’s not just the place where firms promote their services, reach out to potential clients, and work to woo new talent. Social networking sites have the power to discredit witnesses, bolster strong cases, and provide discoverable evidence under amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

Another effect of the ability to network beyond borders through social media is an uptick in globalization efforts throughout the industry. Firms are collaborating with peers in other countries and taking a truly international approach to law, but they’re also changing the way they do things at home.

The proliferation of powerful devices and tailored online services today allow more flexibility than ever before. From allowing professionals to telecommute, to the establishment of truly virtual law firms. This best-of-both-worlds approach allows professionals to establish a work/life balance while still serving clients and employers effectively.

Outsourcing and Specialized Web Services

From databases designed to help locate and utilize depositions at lightning speed, to pure outsourcing via external contractors, tech innovation is pushing more firms to evaluate how they staff, where they spend money, and how to create greater flexibility with existing tools and services.

It’s not all about cost, either. Outsourcing some tasks is another way of building the all-important work/life balance necessary for productivity. Tools and services exist today which allow a single professional to manage what would have required dozens of man-hours in generations past.

From streamlining operations to saving money and creating a more hospitable work environment, tech trends are driving the legal profession in a new direction. What would you like to see next? Let us know in the comments.

How to Pick the Right Court Reporter Training Program

Whether you’re exploring your career options for the first time or looking for a change, court reporting is a stable, fulfilling career with earning potential in the 6-figure range.

But the first step to beginning this incredible career is learning the skills needed to become proficient in the industry. These include a strong command of the English language, the ability to meet tight deadlines, effective communication skills, and so much more.

Quickly and effectively building the requisite skill set means finding the right court reporter school to fit your needs.

Here’s how to do it:

Look for Certification

The first thing to do is exercise caution. When you begin to explore your options, you may find plenty of places willing to offer you the world in exchange for tuition fees. Don’t take the hype at face value.

To avoid getting taken advantage of, ensure the schools you are interested in are certified. You can use this NCRA list to cross-reference your choices.

Think About What You Want Out of It

Picture yourself working in your ideal court reporting job. What are you doing?

Take this image of yourself and use it to reverse engineer what you should be doing in school.

Does it require a certification beyond Certified Shorthand Reporter (CSR)? Do you need specialized knowledge such as medical or scientific terminology? What skills do you need to get the job you want? Will you need an associates degree or is certification enough?

Ask yourself as many questions as you can think of before you pick a course.

While continuing education is great, you don’t want to have to go back immediately after completing your training because you learn that you’re missing something required to land the job you really want.

Consider Your Limitations

If you have nothing but time and freedom at this point in your life, you may be able to easily pick whatever school offers the program most tailored to your career goals. But chances are that you have responsibilities that limit the time and/or place you can focus on your education.

You might have young children that make it impossible to move to another state for school or a day job you need to keep to pay for tuition. Whatever it is, the best school for you is the one that can work with your constraints.

Luckily, there are plenty of schools that offer night courses, partial online courses, or that operate completely online.

If you visit the NCRA link we provided above, all of the programs are clearly labeled so you can quickly find the schools with time slots that work best.

Understand the Structure of the Course

Everyone learns differently. You may be the type of person who works best alone, or you may prefer individual guidance, or you might enjoy the structure of a traditional classroom environment.

No matter your learning style, research schools to find one with a structure that matches it as closely as possible. For example, you may think that you’d do fine taking courses online. But there are a number of ways schools offer online learning.

Some schools will provide a webinar style video and a message board to ask questions while others offer a live, immersive experience with tons of opportunities to interact.

Given the option, which would you choose?

Look for student reviews of the program you’re interested in and learn as much as you can about the actual structure of the classes before you make your final decision.

If you’re currently looking for a court reporter school, we’d love to hear from you and answer any questions you have.

Let’s take this conversation to Twitter!

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

What do Court Reporters Need from Attorneys Before a Trial or Hearing?

Court reporters are highly trained professionals who, like attorneys, prepare for a new trial or hearing well in advance. In order to use their stenograph at the required 225 wpm to accurately transcribe the proceedings, court reporters build custom shorthand dictionaries with names and information specific to the case.

To accurately build a complete steno dictionary and create abbreviations for subject matter unique to the case, including names and key phrases, they need attorneys to submit the following:

  1. Joint Exhibits and Witness List – Generally standard forms with the case number, name, court clerk, department, type of hearing; and for the exhibits, the ID, number, date received, and description of each. The witness list includes the name, title, and address of each person an attorney intends to call, as well as a brief summary of the witness’ testimony.
  2. Job Dictionary from the Depositions – The court reporter(s) who reported the witness depositions will have done a lot of the legwork already. Referencing their dictionaries will help the trial court reporter speed up his or her preparations.
  3. Case Citation List – Providing a list of past court case decisions that are relevant to the current case will enable the court reporter to reference them quickly and efficiently at trial.
  4. Points and Authorities – The memorandum referencing important legal points that are discussed in the case, and the authorities that are relied on, is a key document the court reporter uses to prepare abbreviations for trial.
  5. Motions in Limine – Knowing what evidence may be excluded from trial, and evidence that will need to be discussed, enables the court reporter to have a well-rounded dictionary.
  6. Trial Briefs – Gaining access to the facts, evidence, and legal arguments the attorney intends to present enables the court reporter to develop key abbreviations for both names and ideas.

To further aid the court reporter in their preparation, it his helpful to submit as many documents as possible, particularly the Points of Authority, Motions in Limine, and Trial Briefs, in searchable PDF format.

A court reporter is a key ally at trial. Submitting all of the above documents by the required deadline will enable the court reporter to develop a complete case-specific steno dictionary, which is imperative for them to provide clean, real-time transcripts.

Attorneys Caroline Song Lloyd and Alex Borchert to Speak at National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) Convention

PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Attorneys Caroline Song Lloyd and Alex Borchert to Speak at National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) Convention & Expo in New Orleans, LA

NEW ORLEANS – Caroline Song Lloyd, General Counsel/Partner at Expert Depos, and Alex Borchert, Customer Relationship Manager for RealLegal, a Thomson Reuters company, have been been invited to speak at the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) Convention and Expo, to be held August 2-5 at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans in Louisiana.

In a joint seminar, Ms. Song Lloyd and Mr. Borchert will discuss technologies that are emerging to change the practice of litigation, how it affects court reporters, and the need for new safety measures to protect their electronic work product. Specifically, Mr. Borchert will discuss how to safely adapt to the changing world of legal technology and the benefits of using electronic safety measures so court reporters can further protect against sharing of work product. Ms. Song Lloyd will discuss how court reporters can take advantage of changing legal technology by utilizing new revenue streams opening up in the court reporting industry. Specifically, Ms. Song Lloyd will discuss ways in which the court reporting industry can ethically take advantage of technology for new revenue in a manner that faithfully adheres to the rules and regulations that govern the court reporting industry.

In addition to her role at Expert Depos, Ms. Song Lloyd is practicing as a defense attorney in the greater Los Angeles area and continues to serve on the editorial board of Los Angeles Lawyer magazine, a publication of the Los Angeles County Bar Association (LACBA). Additionally, she is a member of the NCRA Committee on Professional Ethics (COPE).

Mr. Borchert is a licensed attorney with a background in Personal Injury and Immigration law. Prior to working with Thomson Reuters, he worked with a small Personal Injury firm while also giving his time with Legal Aid (non-profit affording professional legal help to those who traditionally lack funds and access to the American justice system).

The National Court Reporting Agency (NCRA), is the certification entity of the court reporting and captioning industry. The NCRA Convention is the largest annual gathering of court reporters, captioners, scopists, legal videographers, trial presenters, and other legal services professionals. ###

Pictured: Caroline Song Lloyd, Alex Borchert

CONTACT:
CAROLINE SONG LLOYD
(800) 970-4553
CAROLINE@EXPERTDEPOS.COM
HTTPS://WWW.EXPERTDEPOS.COM

What the Music Industry Can Teach us About the Future of Court Reporting

The music industry is dead.

Right?

Technology has killed it!

Some artists work incredibly hard learning to play instruments and perfecting their craft, but most of the time, the people getting the most attention have a MacBook and synthesized sounds. Or they coat everything in autotune to get by.

Not that it really matters. Not even the most popular DJ can make money when record sales are dwindling due to rampant piracy. Who’s going to pay for music when they can get it for free from so many sources?

If this type of fear resonates with you in your career, it shouldn’t. The music industry is doing just fine, and despite some people claiming that court reporting is dying, it’s doing just fine too.

We’ve already debunked the technology takeover of court reporting here and here, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t changes to be aware of or that you shouldn’t be thinking of alternative ways to make money from your hard work.

The way the music industry has adapted over the last several years can teach court reporters a lot.

Work With Changes in Tech, Not Against Them

Record sales used to be the gold standard to measure how an album performs. And there was a time when a big artist could go multi-platinum in the first few weeks or even days of releasing something new.
Times have changed.

Almost no one buys physical CDs and few people want to spend the same price on a digital product, especially when they can buy one song for a few cents on iTunes or stream the whole CD for free.

But major recording artists and their managers are still millionaires…at least the ones who have learned to adapt to the changing landscape. Anyone still trying to figure out how to make CD sales go back up isn’t doing so well.

It’s the same with court reporters. Of course, the job doesn’t look like it did 20 years ago; the world is changing at lightning speed and the court reporters who are still making good money are the ones learning to change with it.

Even though you don’t have to worry about tech replacing you, you do have to worry about becoming a relic. New technologies can simplify your daily tasks and provide better optics to the people looking to hire you.

In an interview with Lifehacker, Cassandra Caldarella answered, “I stay current on all technology. I have the latest software, hardware, tech gadgets, and gizmos,” in response to a question about how she makes her job easier.

Beware of Pirates

There’s no way around it: hundreds of sites make pirated music available to the masses. While trying to take them all down is like playing an unwinnable game of whack-a-mole, taking out a few of the most egregious offenders can help stem the tides and show that labels are willing to act.

Similarly, keeping an eye out for listservs that provide illegal copies of your depositions can help you keep the money you deserve for your work in your pocket.

Simply ask these sources to remove your property. Since they likely also work in the legal field, they probably know it’s in their best interest to do so when you request it.

Additionally, depositions are not meant to be public record. Maintaining control over them will help you protect the privacy of the individuals you’ve worked with.

Offer the Best Service

Sure, there are a lot of people illegally downloading music from the internet. Probably most people. But there are also a lot of people with paid, monthly memberships to services like Spotify.

Why?

Because in addition to providing virus-free music, Spotify offers a service that people enjoy.

They have a massive online music library that you can access from anywhere, you can download music when you don’t want to stream, and you can create your own playlists to share online or listen to hundreds of pre-made playlists.

Essentially, the extra benefits make it more convenient to pay for music than to steal it.

As a court reporter, you own your depositions. And ensuring they remain profitable after the initial creation means that accessing them through you has to be the most convenient option. Luckily, the internet makes this easier than ever.

Help attorneys find you and the depositions they need by creating a solid online presence. It will help to also explicitly state what you can offer. And of course, you can take advantage of the Expert Depos platform to simplify the process even further.

The added benefit of having the proper certification requirements to be able to use the deposition in court to help them win a case will outweigh the temptation to get the deposition from other sources.

And you get to decide what you want to charge for your new and improved service!

We hope this has made you think about how you can keep adapting to changes in your job and even use those changes to your financial advantage.

If you have any stories about the changes you’ve made, please let us know.

Let’s take this conversation to Twitter!

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

The Court Reporter Pay Scale: What Affects Earning Potential?

Court reporting is a stable profession that allows qualified members to earn a good wage. But with so many variables influencing the pay scale, it can be difficult for court reporters to determine if they’re being paid what they’re worth.

According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, in 2012, the median salary for a court reporter was $48,160. At the same time, the bottom 10 percent of earners were making $24,790 or less and the top 10 percent of earners were making $90,530 or more.

This is a massive difference.

So what places you on this broad spectrum and how can you get to the top?

Type of Employment

If you stick to working in the legal profession, there are two primary types of employment: official court reporter and freelance court reporter (you can also work in captioning, but that is beyond the scope of this article).

Official Court Reporters

Official court reporters work in the same place day to day and are generally provided with the tools and software needed to do their work. They are paid on salary, but are also paid a page rate for the transcripts they produce (both salary and transcript fees are set for you by your employer).

The highest paid official positions are in the federal court. You can expect to make from $64,278 up to $73,920, depending on your experience.

Freelance Court Reporters

Freelance court reporters can set their own fees and hours, and they tend to work in different physical spaces day to day depending on the jobs they book.

While freelancers set their own rates, they usually work within a standard. For example, deposition appearance fees for jobs under four hours generally range from $50 to $75. For a full day, the fee is usually $100 to $150. And for other proceedings like arbitrations, court hearings, board meetings, etc., you can charge much more.

Freelance court reporters also need to consider the costs of running their own business. While official court reporters have everything provided, freelancers need to purchase all of the software and equipment they need to work. The startup cost is about $7000, but will vary greatly depending if you buy new, what brands you buy, etc.

Additionally, freelancers need to consider costs like self-employment tax, insurance, transportation, other office supplies, not getting compensated for time off, etc. However, the ability to control your fees and hours means you can still earn a good living as a freelance court reporter if you put in the work.

Location

Where you live will have a big impact on your earning potential as a court reporter. Relocation isn’t always possible, but if you’re in a position where you can move to create the career you want, there are a few things to keep in mind.

The first thing to consider is which states have the highest wages in your field. A 2011 study from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that Oregon offers the highest wages for court reporters, with an average of  $85,670. New York, Maine, and Colorado are also high on this list.

The second consideration is the actual demand for court reporters in the region. There’s no point moving for high court reporter wages if the market is already flooded in the region. States with dense populations like California, Florida, and New York usually have consistently high demand.

The third consideration is the cost of living in the region you want to live. If a state or town has a particularly low cost of living, making $50,000 there could create a better quality of life than earning $60,000 somewhere else. For example, the cheapest city to live in in 2018 is McAllen, Texas, which is 23.9% below the US average cost of living.

Skills, Certifications, and Experience

What you bring to the table will have a large impact on your earning potential. Unfortunately, gaining experience will just take time, but there are other things you can do to show off your skills in the meantime.

Taking certification tests like Certified Shorthand Reporter (CSR), Registered Professional Reporter (RPR), and Certified Realtime Reporter (CRR) will show your dedication and prove a certain level of proficiency.

Selling Transcripts

Court reporters own the work they produce, and every party who wishes to use that work must pay for each page they wish to access. The average ‘per page’ price for a transcript is $2.50 to $6.50, but it can be much higher for the top court reporters in the profession.

These fees add up quickly. As one Canadian court reporter noted in an interview with the Globe and Mail, “That’s where the real money is made. It’s in the transcript fees, not the hourly rate. She also stated that the top 5 court reporters in her agency make well over $100,000.

No matter where you stand on the pay scale today, there are ways to move yourself to the top. Be dedicated, learn everything you can, and make strategic decisions that prove your worth as a court reporter. Good luck!

Now we want to hear from you! Are you working on ways to improve your earning potential as a court reporter?

Let’s take this conversation to Twitter!

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

Building Your Career in Court Reporting: What are the Options?

Most people entering the workforce today are preparing for an uphill battle. Between growing student debt and wages that have fallen 43% from the previous generation, many young people are giving up hope

But demand for court reporters remains high, with a starting salary to match.

Some cynics predict advancing technology will topple the industry. But like rumors of Mark Twain’s death in 1897, rumors of tech usurping court reporters are greatly exaggerated.

Producing a complete, accurate transcript is too important to risk by using temperamental tech, where a loud cough, a glitch, or forgetting to hit record could render it useless.

Unfortunately, not enough people know what a career in court reporting can offer, so employers are facing difficulty trying to find qualified candidates to fill empty positions. Though fortunately for new court reporters entering the field, this means there are few barriers between you and a fulfilling career.

Keep reading to explore the options available, complete with pros and cons.

 

Freelance Court Reporter

Freelancers are independent contractors who tend to work outside the courtroom, helping to cover depositions, arbitrations, meetings, business sessions, and more. This is where new court reporters usually start their career.

You have the option to work completely independently or as part of an agency. The agency is hired by law firms, lawyers, or a corporation and it assigns court reporters as needed.

Freelancers who work for an agency are typically on-call and can be given as little as one day of notice for a job. But it’s up to the freelancer whether or not they take it.

Because of the variety of assignments, freelance court reporters often get the opportunity to travel to different locations. Depending on the job, this could be local, national, and occasionally international travel.

Most freelance work is done from home after the initial record is taken, making it an ideal option for court reporters with kids or other home-based obligations.

Pros: maximum flexibility, job diversity, can complete most work from home.

Cons: short notice for work, usually no benefits.

Official Court Reporter

‘Official court reporter’ is a salaried position, working for United States district and magistrate judges. These are the court reporters who work directly in the courtroom recording trials.

According to the National Center for State Courts, these positions usually require four years of freelance work and can pay up to a six-figure salary with benefits.

These positions may also require various certifications, including Certified Shorthand Reporter (CSR), Registered Professional Reporter (RPR), and Certified Realtime Reporter (CRR).

As an official court reporter, there are several opportunities for advancement. You can become senior reporters or look for jobs in higher courts.

The first step is attaining a position at the Superior Court. Positions in the District Court is the next step, and becoming a Senate Reporter in D.C. is considered the top of the field. But note, moving up in the industry requires finding ways to stand out.

Pros: stability, high pay

Cons: high pressure, few breaks

Captioner

Captioning is used to accommodate the hearing impaired by providing a text-based version of speech. It can be offered as an additional skill for a freelance court reporters or can be the focus of your career.

Getting hired for captioning positions usually requires certifications like Certified Realtime Reporter (CRC) and Certified Broadcast Captioner (CBC).

There are two primary types of captioning work: open captioning (real-time) and closed captioning (done in advance).

Both types may require expensive equipment that goes beyond what is required in a courtroom, deposition, etc., but court reporters who are drawn to this type of work enjoy that most gigs allow you to work completely from home.

Pros: remote options available, flexible.

Cons: tends to be lower pay, often requires expensive equipment.

 

Whether you see yourself working at the senate one day or prefer the flexibility of freelance court reporting, the options available are numerous. Court reporting is an expanding profession with room for you to design exactly how you want to work. So pick up your steno with confidence, and start working your way to your ideal career.

Now, we want to hear from you! How long have you been a court reporter? How do you prefer to work?

Let’s take this conversation to Twitter!

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

The Millennial Court Reporter: 10 Ways to Stand Out in the Industry

By: Jennifer de la Chevotiere

Whether you’re actually a Millennial entering the field for the first time, or a member of another generation making a career change, you’ve made a great professional choice.

Despite some misconceptions about being edged out by technology, court reporting is actually a growing field with a lot of job security. Not to mention, it has great pay, a flexible schedule, a short time in school, and a lot of variety.

But the job also requires a high degree of skill, and like most skilled professions, there are exceptional people who are constantly in demand and not-so-great people who struggle to find work.

To make sure you’re part of the former group, there are a few key competencies you’ll need to master:

1. Be On Time

Your job is an integral part of a deposition, so if you run late – or worse – fail to show up, you’re making other people’s jobs more difficult and giving yourself a bad reputation in the process.

Take time to make sure you know where you’re going and how you’ll get there. Then, show up about 30 minutes early to give yourself plenty of time to set up before it is expected to start.

2. Know Your Terms

Deposition content can be technical, full of jargon, or riddled with confusing acronyms. If you don’t know a lot about the industry you’re serving, ask for a spreadsheet of terms you can study a few days before the session. This will help you improve your accuracy when it’s time to go.

3. Avoid Multitasking

Not every day will bring exciting new information to record. Sometimes, depositions can be paint drying levels of boring. But even if you consider yourself a master multitasker, don’t give into the temptation to split your attention.

Looking at your phone will give everyone in the room the impression that you aren’t paying attention or taking an accurate transcript. It doesn’t matter if the resulting transcript is actually flawless, this will diminish your reputation.

4. Make Sure Your Requirements are Known

People don’t always speak clearly. In fact, often, people don’t really speak at all. Instead, they use implied sounds like “uh-uh” and “uh-huh” as substitutes for “yes” and “no”.

It’s your job to record both what was said and how it was said. And when people use language substitutes that your stenograph doesn’t have shorthand notation for, it puts you at risk for falling behind the conversation or losing quality in your transcript.

Take a moment before the session begins to let participants know to speak slowly, clearly, and avoid using implied sounds.

5. Take Charge

It’s your job to accurately preserve the words spoken during a session. And sometimes, the other people in the room will make your job much harder.

Don’t be afraid to interrupt when people are mumbling, speaking too fast, or speaking over each other. Remind them of your needs as a court reporter.

6. Get the Spelling Right

Accuracy is fundamental. This includes the spelling of names. Don’t assume common names are spelled the way you expect. Take a moment to ask the witness to spell their name for the record, even if it means you’re interrupting something.

7. Control Your Emotions

As a court reporter, it’s important to stay neutral. But it isn’t always easy. There may be times when you have to listen to discussion of sensitive topics and witness strong emotion from the parties involved.

But you must provide an impartial transcript. If people see you laugh or cry during the session, it can give the wrong impression. Remain calm and professional, no matter what’s happening around you.

8. Work With Attorneys

Both you and the attorneys involved have an important job to do. For everything to run smoothly, it’s vital to build a rapport with attorneys and ensure clear communication.

For example, “I need it tomorrow” could mean first thing in the morning or by the end of the day. Make sure you know which.

9. Keep Your Tools in Working Order

If you’re just entering the industry, chances are you’ll be using up-to-date industry tools. But in case you’re thinking about saving money by using older tools, be careful.

Make sure your computer and steno work reliably, as well as any other software or accessories. Time is valuable, and you don’t want to be viewed as wasting it when your equipment breaks down or requires an unexpected update.

10. Take Breaks

Court reporting can be demanding. You have to maintain intense focus for hours at a time without frequent breaks. This can be a stress on your body and mind.

So take breaks when you can. Have a nice lunch, go out and enjoy the sunshine, do what you can to mitigate the effects of an intense job. This will help you avoid burnout and continue to operate at peak level.

The Takeaway

Court reporting is a promising and lucrative career. To rise to the top of the industry, invest time in learning the nuances of the profession to gain a positive reputation.

While mastering the nuances will help separate you from the crowd, don’t forget the basic elements of professionalism required in any industry. Dressing appropriately, maintaining a professional attitude, continuing to develop soft skills, and focusing on how you can deliver value every day are just as important to becoming a star court reporter.

Don’t get discouraged. You may lack the experience of some of your colleagues right now, but while experience is important, offering quality service and dedicated professionalism will help you in every step of your career.

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.

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