Whether you’re hiring a court reporter or thinking of becoming one, there are qualities of a court reporter that make this profession unique. We might be the quietest person in a court proceeding but we’re also quite important.
7 Characteristics of Great Court Reporters
- Concentration. In this profession you must not allow outside distractions get in the way of hearing court proceedings. It’s your job to record exactly what was said, even the minute details. You’re creating the legal and permanent record that must contain no omissions or inaccuracies. That takes concentration!
- Organization. Whether you’re in a courtroom or working from home, being organized is essential to scheduling and serving your clients. Legal documents must be kept in a particular order and for the proceedings to be recorded precisely. You can’t be distracted by a messy desk or barking dog.
- Promptness. My grandfather used to tell me that being early to an appointment was actually on time and being on time was late. That’s come in handy in my days as a court reporter! Never be late to a deposition and it’s even better to arrive early to be sure people and equipment are in place.
- Attention to Detail. There are no nuances in court reporting. We must record exactly what witnesses say even if it’s our eighth (or more) hour of reporting on the same day. You’ve got to have the stamina to focus on the details even if you need that second or third cup of coffee.
- Maturity. You may hear testimony that could make you giggle or squirm on your seat but you’ve got to maintain composure in front of attorneys and judges. You’re not there to make comments or react, only to do your job. The only time you’d need to interrupt is if you needed a witness to speak more clearly or if two people are talking at the same time making it difficult to do your job.
- Good Grammar. You will have to review all the transcripts to make them ready for court and your clients. That means a lot of time spent proofreading punctuation and grammar.
- Confidentiality. You may find yourself working cases where you learn interesting details about people’s lives like who they know or their financial status or details of a case that are not public information. You must maintain a high level of confidentiality and professionalism as these details are private to the proceedings.
Being a court reporter is an opportunity to learn and flex your skills. If you’re organized, have an attention to detail, and other qualities, you’re ready to pursue becoming a court reporter!
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