Most people think of court reporters as an inconsequential part of the legal process. The myth continues to perpetuate wherein they are nothing more than glorified secretaries of the court. However, a group of veteran Miami court reporters noted that this might be a normal line of thinking. After all, most of the population sees them in action in courtroom dramas where they do nothing but type.
However, court reporting deals with more than just typing. As most court reporters concur, they create accurate reports using their skills combined with a high-tech stenographic machine. They create a real-time word-for-word record of all the legalese recited in their courtroom. However, this profession may soon be on its last leg because of a shortage. Unfortunately, this profession is not archaic, but it is, in fact, a necessity because it helps with the carriage of justice. Let’s learn more about the issue below.
The Massive Decline in the Number of Court Reporters
Today, the average age of Miami court reporters is 56 years old. On top of that, there is a decline in young people entering this industry. Why? Check out the details below:
Fewer schools teach stenography
- Awareness of the profession has declines
- Outreach efforts on TV and radio have declined
- Lesser advertisements on stenography
Because most current court reporters are in their 50s, everyone believes there will be a massive shortage in the next 5 to 10 years. After all, the current court reporters will be retiring. And with no new influx of court reporting graduates, there will be no people to assume their role.
The Importance of Court Reporters in the Eyes of the Law
Miami court reporters play a vital role in the administration of justice. After all, they have to give verbatim records of what transpires inside the courtroom. In addition, they prioritize fairness and take an objective stand in their documentation of all parties’ statements. Therefore, court reporters must be trained not just typing 200 plus words per minute. They must also have the following qualities:
- Strong in steno theory
- Keen attention to details
- Understanding legal procedures
- Learn legalese or medical jargon
- Pass certifications, licenses, and accreditation
Court reporters exercise fairness as they dispense their final edited reports to all parties involved at the same time. For these reasons, judges and attorneys consider them as an indispensable part of depositions and arbitration hearings.
The Ability to Engage Outside the Courtroom
Whoever said Miami court reporters grow archaic each day does not understand what they are talking about. Court reporters are expert stenographers that provide transcripts not only for court proceedings. In addition, many other settings require a court reporter, such as the following examples:
- Live captioning during cable broadcasts
- Note-taking for important meetings
- Closed-captioning for movies
- Personalized and specialty services for the hard of hearing
This profession will never be archaic because Artificial Intelligence recording machines cannot make up for the wisdom of a real-life person. For example, a machine cannot understand accents or slang. It can also not encode or note down non-verbal cues or ask for clarifications.
The Barriers to Entering this Profession
However, in spite of the importance of this career, veteran Miami court reporters still fear that there will be a shortage in this profession when they retire. In fact, they have been anticipating this since court reporting certification has dwindled while the demand for this kind of service has increased.
The massive decline in student enrollment to court reporting combined with many veterans retiring would create a big problem down the line. On top of that, legal activities and other new opportunities have sprung open, so there’s just a massive demand. Check out the barriers to entry for this profession:
- Closing of reputable schools
Sadly, despite the demand, the decline in enrollment has forced two schools in Florida to close. Now, only a few programs offer stenographic reporting, and the majority of classes are online. As a result, not many people are motivated to embark on a court reporting career.
- Student failure rate
Miami court reporters also noted that today’s students fear failure. If you want to become a successful court reporter, you must learn and hone your skills. It requires learning theories, and at the same time, it needs a lot of practice. Sadly, in some programs, only 4% of students who enter successfully graduate.
- Costs of taking the course
Besides, it can take a lot of money to take a court reporting program. For example, tuition fees can cost more than ten grand per year. You must also invest in a stenography machine, which some students forget to allot money for. Thus, those who are ill-prepared to face expenses can take between 2 to 8 years to finish. Some jeopardize their chances because they need to take a part-time job, and therefore, fail to focus on school work.
The Guarantees of a Lucrative Career
Despite the hard work it entails to get your court reporting credentials, many professionals assert that persevering through the tough times is well worth it. Why? The hardships will bear rewards when you complete your training.
Those who stay the course, graduate, and complete their accreditation will have a lucrative career for life. There is a guaranteed demand for court reporters upon completion of training. Professional Miami court reporters shared that newly minted stenography graduates earn $40,000 annually.
Once they get the proper certifications, they can command a rate of $150,000 and up. It can indeed go higher, especially for independent contractors, whose income is based on how many hours they put in. These figures truly indicate that this profession is not archaic. The need for competent court reporters will never wane and die.
Even with technology like microphones or recorders, no one can replace the services that a human being provides. Likewise, from lawyers to justices, every legal professional understands that a computer recording can never replace the invaluable service that a court reporter renders.
Thus, if you are looking for a new profession or are considering shifting to this career, you will not regret your decision. Court reporting is here to stay, and you stand to earn from this lucrative profession. But, most of all, nothing can ever replace the feeling of fulfillment when you know you played a huge part in administering justice and helping others find peace in their lives.