Court Reporter Stress and How to Minimize It

Court Reporters Experience Stress Too!

Whether you’re a lumberjack or a yoga instructor, no line of work is without stress.  Individual occupations have their own specific stressors, and court reporting is no different.  Last month, CompuScripts presented the health challenges faced by court reporters.  Today we’d like to discuss court reporter stress and how to minimize it.

Managing Finances

There are many benefits to being a court reporter.  The current court reporter shortage means that demand is high, and deposition court reporters can decide how often they would like to work.   Like most freelance workers, however, financial management is often cited as a common source of court reporter stress.  A construction litigation case could settle at the last minute, cancelling a scheduled deposition.  Two weeks’ worth of asbestos depositions might reschedule to a later date.  The fluid nature of litigation makes financial management more challenging for court reporters, but the folks at The Motley Fool have developed a list of suggestions for freelancers to keep their financial houses in order:

  • Base your budget on the lowest monthly income you received over the previous 12 months. Reduce spending to get closer to that figure, and save during the months that you bring home more.
  • Work up to having six months of living costs saved for emergencies.
  • Start contributing to retirements tools such as the SEP IRA, the SIMPLE IRA, or the Solo 401(k) early in your career and make regular contributions.

Scheduling Depositions and Hearings

Freelance court reporters follow the schedules of litigation attorneys.  A court reporter may block out time for an estimated two-hour deposition, only to have that deposition cancelled at the last minute, end early, or run long.  This is a common source of court reporter stress for those who want to maximize their bookings without overbooking.  Unsurprisingly, there’s an app for that.

Created by freelancers, Cushion is an app that allows you to forecast your schedule over an entire year, “automatically detecting your availability and when you’re overbooked.”  While Cushion is not the only scheduling app available, it also has components to help with financial goals, invoicing, and time tracking.

Knowing When to Interrupt

One area of on-the-job court reporter stress is deciding when to interrupt during a deposition.  A blog by the Bar Association of San Francisco frames the dilemma perfectly: A litigator who is honing in on a witness’s crucial testimony does not want the natural flow of the deposition to be impeded.  On the other hand, it is the court reporter’s legal and ethical duty to produce a full and complete transcript.  If participants are speaking too fast or speaking over one another, what is a court reporter to do?  Perhaps the answer lies in speaking with the attorney before the deposition.

The American Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division has produced an excellent guide for lawyers and witnesses that will allow the court reporter to produce a complete transcript without interrupting the colloquy.  Here are some of their suggestions to lawyers:

  • Speak slowly, and read even more slowly.
  • Spell difficult names and terms of art.
  • Do not speak over another person.
  • Answer out loud, using real words.
  • Do not speak if the court reporter is marking an exhibit.

CompuScripts Understands
Court Reporter Stress

CompuScripts understands court reporter stress because our president is a court reporter.  Deborah Dusseljee is a Registered Professional Reporter, a Certified Broadcast Captioner, and a Certified CART Provider by certificate of the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA).  In August of 2018, Deborah hosted a seminar called Terminate Transcript Turmoil, which was led by industry leader Anissa Nierenberger.   This seminar was designed to help court reporters streamline their transcription production process, as well as to offer a number of continuing education units (CEUs) that are required to maintain NCRA certification.  If you are a court reporter who would like to be a part of the CompuScripts team, contact Deborah Dusseljee.