CompuScripts Court Reporters has often been asked, “What makes a good court reporter?” In our 24 years serving the legal community, we’ve assembled a host of resident court reporters in South Carolina and a network of court reporters across the United States. Below are six soft and hard skills that make a good court reporter.
All jobs require them, but court reporting, more than most, depends on the soft skills of court reporters. First and foremost, a good court reporter should be punctual. Scheduling a deposition or arranging a hearing can be difficult, and clients’ time is valuable. Our reporters regularly plan to arrive at a job 30 minutes ahead of schedule to allow for travel hiccups and equipment setup.
Next, a first-class court reporter must have a sense of professional wear. No one expects a reporter to be runway ready, but professional dress lends gravitas to both the individual stenographer and the industry. And since a deposition or hearing may last for some time, a good court reporter knows the appropriate intersection of style and comfort.
Last, a court reporter should be a good communicator who is comfortable interacting with others. Legal proceedings often involve people at their worst, and it is important that all litigants see the reporter as a neutral, non-judgmental guardian of the record. The reporter must be able to interrupt a proceeding if he or she cannot hear participants or if participants are talking over one another. The superior court reporter must be able to explain an action (or lack thereof) in order to fulfill an ethical obligation. The reporter must also be able to educate both the Bar and the Bench on upgraded court reporting services and technology within the industry.
People who have never participated in a legal proceeding might mistakenly think that the only hard skill necessary for an excellent court reporter is an understanding of current technology and the ability to keep up with evolving technological advances related to the use of steno equipment, digital recordings, video conferences, and emerging software. Keeping up with technology is also important as it relates to the production of various transcript and exhibit file types, as well as privacy and security regulations.
A second hard skill that makes a high-quality court reporter is a knowledge of and interest in words and grammar. If the court reporter is covering a deposition involving asbestos litigation, he should be prepared to do light research to increase familiarity of medical terminology such as pleural plaque, pleural effusion, asbestosis, or mesothelioma and the correct spellings for the names of experts in the field. If the deposition involves construction law, the court reporter should be prepared to write terms like inadequate structural support and expansive soil. As the deposition transcript is prepared, a first-rate court reporter should have a keen understanding of the rules of English grammar to ensure that a party’s meaning is not confused. He should also have grammar skills to set up and punctuate spoken language that is grammatically incorrect to ensure that meaning is understood.
A final hard skill that makes a great court reporter is certification. An RPR, or Registered Professional Reporter, designation is given following a rigorous exam, and it certifies that the reporter has knowledge of court reporting technology, court reporting practices, and professional practices. The National Court Reporters Association offers several certificate exams, stating, “The judicial system and society as a whole depend heavily on the services that only a qualified court reporter can provide.”
Founded by a court reporter, CompuScripts Court Reporters is uniquely qualified to provide lawyers and paralegals with reporters who meet our professional standards. To schedule a court reporter, call us at 888.988.0086 or schedule online.