What do Court Reporters do?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 04 March 2020
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A court reporter is someone who is trained to take official, verbatim records of proceedings in environments like courts, government meetings, and public hearings. The job requires accuracy, skill, and an ability to perform well under pressure. Qualifications to become a court reporter vary, depending on the type of court reporting and the nation, but generally a training class is attended to pick up the basic skills, and a court reporter may seek certification through a regional professional organization.

Many people are familiar with the sight of a court reporter. Typically, he or she sits close to the proceedings to ensure that no words are missed, and a variety of technologies may be used to create a transcript. Some court reporters use a stenograph machine, which records symbols which stand for various sounds or words. Others transcribe verbatim speech in real time, or record proceedings to transcribe later. Technology such as voice recognition may also be used by a court reporter.

Once the court reporter completes a transcript, it serves as an official record of the proceedings, and it is usually carefully filed. In some cases, transcripts may be inspected for signs that a legal proceeding was not carried out properly, in an attempt to overthrow the decision in a case. People may also use such transcripts for research; many courts make transcripts of their proceedings available to people who want to look them over.


In most countries, a court transcript is a legal document. In some cases, the court reporter will be sworn in as an officer of the court, pledging that the document is complete and correct. Court reporters can take transcripts of depositions, record proceedings at corporate board meetings, take notes at meetings of city government, and perform other tasks outside the courtroom. A good court reporter is often in high demand, with some firms zealously retaining their transcription staffs.

Work as a court reporter tends to pay reasonably well, and in the United States, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the demand for court reporters will continue to rise, as the number of qualified individuals is smaller than the number of available positions. Some court reporters work for a specific court or organization, while others freelance, traveling to jobs as needed. The work is not inherently dangerous, although prolonged sitting and strain can put stress on the body of a court reporter.


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Post 3

@Markerrag -- I really don't think alternative dispute resolution will cut into the demand for court reporters. When it comes to a lot of those proceedings, there still needs to be an official record and who is to keep that record? That's right. Court reporters.

Oh, and one more thing. Keep in mind that court reporters aren't just around for trials. They are around for all hearings and depositions. Even if alternative dispute resolution gains in popularity, you will still have plenty of traditional court proceedings and despositions and that means court reporters will continue to be in demand.

No, court reporting school isn't a bad career option at all.

Post 2

@Terrificli -- But won't that change if alternative dispute resolutions methods like arbitration and mediation become more popular? Most states have laws in place that push for alternative dispute resolution and it is only a matter of time before more people look at that process instead of filing suit.

Once there are fewer trials, won't there be less demand for court reporters and court reporting agencies?

Post 1

I do believe it goes without saying that the demand for court reporters will increase. Like it or not, the legal field is a growth industry as tons of laws and regulations go into effect every day, people just love suing each other and courts appear to be increasingly busy.

Court reporters are extremely important because they maintain transcripts at trials and those are necessary for appeals. If you ever thought about going to court reporter school, this is a pretty good time for that.

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