Court reporting services are those in which a court reporter is hired to take down information or testimony. These services are often required outside of the courtroom setting, such as when taking depositions. Different groups are set up specifically to offer court reporting services outside the courtroom. These services may also be called upon to fill in for regular court reporters, when there is a shortage.
Those interested in a career in court reporting services have several different options. Working as an official courtroom reporter is one option. In many cases, one court reporter will work primarily with one judge throughout that judge's entire career. Working with an organization that provides court reporters for various situations is another option. The third option is for the court reporter to offer court reporting services on a freelance basis. Many who are established, and well known among many attorneys, may choose this option because it offers the greatest amount of flexibility.
Getting started in court reporting services begins with getting formal training. Court reporting schools are often found in technical colleges, which focus not on general education or higher degrees, but on teaching specific trades. This may also be referred to as a court reporting college. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes on average it takes 33 months to become a proficient, real-time stenotypist.
Court reporting services often consists of the use of a stenograph to take down the conversations that take place on the record verbatim. This is important in many legal proceedings. During depositions, the testimony given is often given under oath, and therefore is as valid as the testimony given in a courtroom. Without an accurate recounting of the conversations, the deposition process is nearly useless. In addition to the stenograph, some court reporters may also use audio and video to record conversations.
After the conversation has been recorded on a stenograph machine, the court reporter will then transcribe the text into common language, usually the language in which it was recorded. This transcription is vital, as the symbols and figures used to record the conversation are not widely understood by those outside the industry. This is also often the most time-consuming, and costly, part of the job. Once completed, the transcription may be sent to the attorney, an expert, the client, or all of these individuals.
In some cases, the person performing court reporting services may be required to testify as to the accuracy of their work in court, but this is rare. Usually, the accuracy of the reporting record is not questioned by either side. No matter who hires the court reporter, the individual is expected to remain neutral and to simply record the words spoken.