Court Reporter Skills That Help Your Case
Court reporting is a complex job that requires a variety of skills. The best court reporters are highly proficient in all of these court reporter skills and understand how to use them effectively inside and outside of court proceedings. While certain skills like fast typing may be obvious, there are many other skills that go into being an effective court reporter. The team at Kusar Court Reporters is proud to help our clients through skilled court reporting. Contact us today at (800) 282-3376 to learn more about how we can help with hearings, depositions, and all other types of court proceedings.
Court reporters require a wide range of skills, including some that apply to other disciplines. However, stenography skills and other technical skills specific to the world of court reporting are paramount. Court reporters must be able to quickly and accurately record written transcripts in real time. These professionals typically go through extensive training in how to use stenography machines and transcription software, which aids them in this goal. Other important technologies include closed captioning, broadcasting, and communication access real-time translation (CART).
Stenography machines have keyboards that use phonetic sounds rather than letters, which allows court reporters to type much more quickly by pressing multiple keys at the same time. Those who wish to qualify as certified court reporters must type at a speed of at least 200 words per minute with an accuracy rate of at least 97.5%. While these machines are powerful, court reporters are unlikely to be replaced by AI anytime soon. A recording device is not capable of capturing nonverbal communication, which is another key court reporter skill.
Both verbal and written communication skills are integral to a court reporter’s daily duties. While court reporters generally stick to capturing verbatim records of legal proceedings, sometimes they may need to intervene. These interventions are typically in the interest of clarifying something. For example, the court reporter may need to ask someone to repeat their response if it was unclear due to mumbling, low volume, multiple speakers at the same time, or another reason. They may also need to ask for the spelling of names or locations mentioned during the proceeding. An effective court reporter is assertive and speaks up when clarification is needed.
Court reporters also need strong communication skills when working with their clients or employers. Clients demand accuracy and prompt delivery, so court reporters must meet these standards consistently in order to succeed amongst their competition. Success in this field often involves repeat business, so clients will typically only stay with court reporters that communicate well both inside and outside of legal proceedings. According to the United States Department of Labor, communication skills are the most sought-after skill by US employers.
Listening skills is a broad term that includes several key court reporter skills. Accuracy is of the utmost importance when capturing the verbatim record for legal proceedings, so court reporters must be able to remain focused and record every word exactly.
Some key types of listening skills relevant to court reporting include:
- Paying close attention to what all parties say
- Understanding the meaning of each statement and question
- The ability to remember relevant details from previous related proceedings
- Awareness of important names, dates, and locations
- Be assertive and ask for clarification when needed
At Kusar Court Reporters, we demand the highest standard in listening skills and all other key court reporter skills.
Organization is a key soft skill in many disciplines, including court reporting. A court reporter’s daily schedule can often be jam-packed with assignments, editing transcripts, meeting with clients, and other crucial tasks. Court reporters also have strict deadlines and must make sure they consistently deliver accurate transcripts by these deadlines. Unorganized individuals will not last long in this field, as everything must be thoroughly planned to allow court reporters to keep up with the stringent demands of the job.
Promptness is another key skill that goes along with organizational skills. Court reporters need to arrive before everyone else to ensure that their equipment is set up correctly and that everyone is in attendance.
Although a court reporter only records what other people are saying, they need strong writing and grammar skills in order to produce error-free transcripts. In cases that involve esoteric terminology (such as a case involving pharmaceuticals), the court reporter should familiarize herself with relevant terms before the proceedings take place. Strong proofreading skills are also pivotal, as court reporters need to ensure full accuracy and clarity before submitting their transcripts.
Ability to Work Under Stress
Professional court reporting can be rewarding work, but it can also be extremely stressful. People who choose this career path must be calm under pressure. Accurately recording dialogue can be difficult if the proceeding turns tense and the individuals involved become emotional. The subject matter of certain types of proceedings can also be stressful, such as a violent murder or case of abuse. Court reporters need to have the stomach to compile accurate transcriptions in these cases.
Court reporters are obligated to conduct themselves in a professional manner. This includes following industry-specific standards (such as those set forth in the Federal Court Reporting Program) and general professionalism related to the job. Some examples of professionalism that are indispensable for court reporters include:
- Confidentiality – The information covered in depositions and other court proceedings is often sensitive and must be kept confidential. Court reporters understand that they must never repeat information from their court proceedings.
- Punctuality – Court reporters need to show up on time (or early), as this is key to maintaining reliability and ensuring that the proceedings go smoothly.
- Neutrality – All proceedings must be transcribed based solely on what transpires during the proceeding. The court report must avoid sharing any opinions on the case and should be impartial if and when they need to interject.
Contact Kusar Court Reporters to Learn More
Success as a court reporter is a combination of learned court reporter skills and natural traits. At Kusar Court Reporters, everyone on our team is extensively trained and has all of the soft skills and inherent skills needed to provide our clients with consistent results. If you are in need of a reliable court reporter for a deposition or other type of legal proceeding, call Kusar Court Reporters at (800) 282-3376.