A vast majority of court reporting work actually takes place outside of the courts — for law offices.
Reporters go to conference rooms, doctors’ offices, shade meetings, mediations, etc. and take down the proceedings. Attorneys have major need for stenographer’s services because they need to remain impartial. If one side just records it and then has their paralegal send it out to a transcriptionist or transcribes it themselves, the other side of the case can accuse them of tampering with the transcript. On the other hand, if a court reporter is physically present and certifies him/herself as an impartial third party, neither side has to worry about the other side screwing with the transcript or trying to make the witness say something they didn’t.
This means that despite the trend in some courts toward digital recording, law offices are not trending in the same direction — there is a much larger demand for court reporters outside the courts than there is inside the courts. There is also a shortage of steno reporters according to the National Court Reporters Association. Court reporters are used in insurance cases, medical malpractice cases, mediations, divorce cases — you name it, court reporters are needed. Where court reporters are needed, so are proofreaders.
In addition, please take a look at the recent Court Reporting Industry Outlook Report sponsored by the NCRA and presented by Ducker Worldwide.
- Why Punctuation in Court Reporting Matters More than Grammar
- An Attorney’s Firsthand Experience with Court Reporters and Her Journey into Proofreading
- A Court Reporter’s Guide to Choosing a Proofreader
If digital technology were to ever replace steno reporters entirely, it would probably cause the transcripts to be in terrible shape… so they’d need proofreaders MORE, not less. Agencies would need more quality control than ever. If digital reporting became the norm, I’m certain the fee for that would increase and proofreading would be outsourced just like it is now.
Digital recording and digital reporting are two different things though. Recording is just recording the job on some kind of audio device… and it’s fully 100% less reliable than someone being in the room. A digital reporter is actually in the room and uses special software to take notes on the job, then transcribes it into a transcript. There is a certification for this job through the American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers.
Proofreading absolutely still plays a large role in this type of reporting — not typing in steno doesn’t mean reporters magically become better at catching their own errors 🙂