4 Valuable Insights
Court Reporters Want Attorneys to Know
How you can best support your court reporters to help
them produce top-of-the-line transcripts.
Although their work is often invisible, court reporters and their transcripts play pivotal roles in the
outcome of cases. Attorneys who spend time working with court reporters understand the
importance of supporting their work, as this ultimately can prove instrumental to their case.
As guardians of the record, court reporters take great pride in the quality of their work and
services. Of course, court reporting isn’t without challenges. Quick turn-around times, long
periods without breaks, the stress of interrupting lawyers for clarifications – all can compound
the already high-stakes nature of guarding the record.
While some of these challenges are unavoidable, attorneys can make the process easier for
court reporters and help ensure transcript accuracy and quality.
#1 Interruptions are meant to help, not annoy!
One of the most stressful and delicate parts of a court reporter’s responsibilities is interrupting
lawyers and witnesses to ask for clarifications. Court reporters are considered record-keepers
rather than active participants in cases, so drawing attention to themselves isn’t always comfortable. Additionally, interrupting lawyers when they’re talking over each other or on a roll can be very anxiety-inducing.
When court reporters interrupt proceedings, it’s for one purpose: to capture every utterance to the
highest degree of accuracy possible. Ultimately, this isn’t a matter of pride but of critical importance.
As stated by the Court Reporters Board of California, “The fundamental duty of a court reporter is to protect the record, including interrupting if the accuracy of the record is jeopardized.” That means if a court reporter fails to interrupt following an inaudible statement, they are falling short of their responsibilities. And by failing to protect the record, they’re ultimately failing you, their client.
The Key Insight: While it’s understandable to get annoyed, try to be patient when court
reporters interrupt – they’re doing it for the sake of the transcript and your case!
#2 Court reporters can only write so fast.
When you’re on a roll, it can be easy to speak a mile a minute, and understandably frustrating
when someone tries to slow you down. The reality is court reporters are highly qualified stenographers. To receive certification, court reporters must write at least 200 words per minute, a far cry from the general public’s average typing speed of 35-45 words per minute.
Talking at hypersonic speeds of 300 or more words per minute is nearly impossible to accurately capture. When attorneys talk this fast, it can lead to errors and sections marked in the transcript as inaudible.
The Key Insight: Do what you can to speak clearly and at a reasonable pace. No one is asking you to sacrifice your passion but making sure court reporters can capture an accurate record ensures your efforts are worthwhile.
#3 Scheduling breaks every few hours can be lifesaving.
Unlike lawyers who can walk around during proceedings, court reporters are tied to their stenography equipment and can’t get up during proceedings. This can lead to long hours seated in one position and contributes to back, shoulder, and neck pain. While seemingly not a direct concern for attorneys, the physical discomfort of court reporters can make it harder for them to concentrate and subsequently detract from the transcript’s accuracy.
The Key Insight: Planning breaks into your schedule can make your court reporter more comfortable and enable her to deliver higher-quality transcripts. Many court reporters find a short break about every two hours to be beneficial.
#4 Court reporters love what they do.
Court reporting is a passion, and those who prove themselves successful over the long haul often
demonstrate a commitment to excellence.
As guardians of the record and an uninvested third party, most court reporters approach their work with a service-oriented mindset. Court reporters take pride in creating accurate transcripts that reflect the proceedings as they occurred. Often working excessive hours, surpassing 40 hours a week to meet short deadlines, as well as attending early morning and late evening proceedings.
The Key Insight: A little bit of respect and consideration can make a world of difference for your court reporter. Most lawyers treat court reporters with appreciation and compassion, but it can be easy to get swept up in the stakes on stressful days. Remembering that court reporters are skilled and trained professionals, being considerate of them can enhance your working relationship and make it easier for court reporters to deliver quality transcripts.
Checklist: How you can help your court reporters (and your transcript)!
There are many ways you can make things easier for your court reporter and ultimately
contribute to a more accurate transcript. Read through the checklist below for a quick recap on
our top insights, alongside a few additional tips to help you create a great working relationship
with your court reporters.
· Provide introductory information in advance, (names, special terms, complex spellings), so court reporters can capture proceedings more effectively.
· Give some time when you introduce new exhibits.
Court reporters can’t mark them and record testimony at the same time.
· Prioritize clarity of speech to help reduce inaudible sections in your transcript.
Watch out for mumbling, overlapping speech, quick interruptions, talking
too quickly, background noise (if over Zoom or digital platform).
· Communicate expectations and deadlines early. While not always possible,
giving advance notice to court reporters on timelines relieves stress and
helps deliver high-grade transcripts on time.
· Treat court reporters with respect and compassion. From turn-around times to scheduling breaks so your court reporter can stretch her legs every few hours, a little thoughtfulness goes a long way.
At the end of the day, it’s an attorney’s job to passionately represent their clients. And it’s up to
a court reporter to capture and guard the record diligently and accurately. When looking for
seasoned court reporters ready to passionately protect the record for your upcoming depositions
and cases, reach out to Kusar Legal Services. We’re happy to help.