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What Exactly Does a Court Reporter Do, Anyway?

What Exactly Does a Court Reporter Do, Anyway?

It’s in every courtroom drama on TV or in the movies — the image of a court reporter, sitting with perfect posture, silently recording legal proceedings with fingers bouncing on a stenotype, occasionally reading back portions of the transcript so the hot-shot attorney can catch a witness in a lie and win the case.

But there’s a lot more to being a court reporter than learning shorthand and reading back dramatic passages.

Court reporters are needed for a wide range of legal proceedings (source)

Court reporters provide the official record for a wide range of legal proceedings, from high profile criminal cases to depositions. The job demands certain skills and personality traits.

Court reporters need to be:

  • Discreet and organized with an attention to detail that guarantees they’ll cover every part of the proceedings and provide an impartial record of what happened in the courtroom.
  • Dedicated and comfortable sitting in the courtroom for long hours, only to dig into transcribing and organizing that day’s proceedings.

The perks of the job

It’s a rewarding profession that can be quite lucrative. The median pay for a court reporter in 2010 was $47,700 per year. In May, 2010, court reporters came in sixth on Forbes’ list of the best jobs that don’t require a four-year degree. Forbes listed the average starting salary at $26,000, but estimated the potential for income growth at 250%.

Many court reporters obtain formal training and most states require court reporters to get certified, including:

  • proving they have worked in the industry for two years
  • are knowledgeable about stenography and recording equipment, and
  • can type 225 words a minute at 95% accuracy.
Typing quickly is an essential skill for court reporters (source)

Documenting the action minute-by-minute is an essential skill for court reporters (source)

And as technology continues to improve, a wide range of devices, from stenotypes to cameras, have become part of court reporters’ toolkits, helping to make official transcripts more accurate and faster to produce and get to the parties that need them.

Despite these new technologies, court reporters are more in demand than ever. And having a skilled court reporter documenting your legal needs is essential to reaching a positive outcome.

By and large, the better a court reporter is at his or her job, the less likely they are to stand out.

And that’s a good thing — clients rely on court reporters to document and record legal proceedings, and a good agency will provide that focus on solutions specific to the needs of each specific case. The more seamless those services can be, the better.

Missing court reporter holds up murder trial

Consider the alternative: A murder trial in Tennessee was delayed recently after a judge realized no court reporter had been assigned to the proceedings. After he realized there was no court reporter present, the judge waited 10 minutes before resetting the cases scheduled for that morning.

The hearing was for a motion brought by Jamie Lynn Curd to have his case separated from his co-defendant, Marvin “Buddy” Potter, Jr. The two are accused of first degree murder for the deaths of a Tennessee couple after a dispute on social media.

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. has been serving attorneys and law firms in Philadelphia for over 30 years.  Come see the difference that we make for our clients.

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