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Court Reporter Shortage Looms Around the Country

Court Reporter Shortage Looms Around the Country

Courts across the nation are anticipating a shortage of skilled court reporters, posing a host of problems from delays to substandard transcripts and recording services. 

The latest area of the nation to report an upcoming court reporter shortage: Kansas.

The economy is causing many court reporters to stay on the job after their eligible to retire (source)

The economy is causing many court reporters to stay on the job after their eligible to retire (source)

As many as 25% of the state’s court reporters will be eligible to retire in the next three years, reports the Emporia Gazette. And there aren’t a lot of younger people jumping up to fill the open spots. The still-recovering economy has kept many court reporters on the job past their retirement date.

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.

A nationwide issue

But that’s not a problem unique to Kansas, or the Midwest. There are only six accredited schools in Pennsylvania and only one in the greater Philadelphia area, according to hackcollege.com. Those schools graduate 27 students a year, on average, each of whom hope to find a job among the states 700-plus court reporters.

And while there aren’t many educational options for court reporters, the situation in Pennsylvania doesn’t seem to be quite as dire as in Kansas. The job outlook for court reporter school graduates is “average,” the site says.

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 call the job outlook for a court reporter in Pennsylvania "average" (source)

Experts call the job outlook for a court reporter in Pennsylvania “average” (source)

And the effects of that shortage are already being felt. The sentencing of a man convicted of a violent crime had to be delayed recently while his public defender waited on the 1,200-page transcript from the trial, according to Galesburg.com.

Technology isn’t a comprehensive solution

Facing the threat of these shortages, some will argue new recording/transcribing technologies will cover the gap and eliminate the need for real people in many courtroom situations.

While it’s true courts have made amazing leaps forward in technology in the past few decades, many of these advances don’t replace the most essential services a skilled, ethical court reporter provides.

Whether a deposition or other courtroom proceeding is recorded, videotaped or hologrammed, someone will still need to review the material for errors and overall accuracy. What’s more, recorders aren’t able to decode mumbling witnesses, fast-talking attorneys or non-English speakers.

In short, advances in technology aren’t going to totally replace the need for court reporters. If anything, the demand for court reporters who are skilled in these new technologies will be even higher. Make sure the court reporters you have on your side are up to date on the new advances in the industry and the best ways to obtain a positive outcome.

Looking for a reliable court reporter?

If you are looking for a court reporting agency that is the right fit for your needs, I invite you to contact us. www.phillycourtreporters.com has served attorneys and law firms in the Philadelphia Metro Area for over 30 years. Come see the difference that we make for our clients.

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