Anatomy of a Court Reporter

Coming off the heels of the 2011 FCRA conference, I couldn’t help but think about how proud I am of my profession and all the hard-working court reporters out there. After all, this is one of the world’s oldest professions that dates back to the time of the Pharaohs in ancient Egypt. And, it has been a consistently important profession since those days as people will always need someone to keep the official record. But, while driving home, it suddenly dawned on me that most people don’t really know us or what we’re all “about”. We play a really important role in and out of the courtroom and it’s time the world got to know “us”! So, here goes…

Who are we? We are the hard-working, patient, smart, professional looking (and very attractive!), detail oriented keepers of the official record. And, we don’t take this lightly – it’s a big responsibility. Think about it.

We can’t make mistakes – the repercussions would be, well… unpleasant and awkward to say the least. We have to love words, grammar and punctuation. We have learned to listen with a keen ear and have the unique talent of being able to concentrate and pay attention for long periods of time. We can’t let our minds wander and think about anything other than the job at hand. Home issues, problems, etc. have to be “buried” while we’re on the job. No baggage allowed.

We have to be flexible. We have to be willing to work long hours, late nights, weekends or whenever we are needed. And we have to be on time and always professionally dressed. We have to show that we are meticulous in everything we do and being on time and dressed appropriately is all part of that image that we have to uphold.

We have to be able to handle stress. And deadlines. Court Reporters face both a lot. More often than not, the client needs our work yesterday, and in three different formats to boot.

We have to be self-assured and precise. If we don’t understand a word or a phrase, or we can’t hear someone muttering, we have to have the courage to stop and ask for clarification before proceeding on. No assumptions… ever.

We have to continually re-educate ourselves and stay on top of any and all changes that may have an effect on the courtroom. We have to learn (and embrace) the new technologies as they appear on the scene. And as the laws change, we need to be among the first to understand them.

We have to have a high moral character. Our high standard of ethics has to instill instant trust in those we work with and work for. They must feel assured that we won’t divulge what we hear no matter what. And, we can never voice an opinion.

And, last but not least, we have to have a sense of humor about ourselves. Enjoy this old, rather hard to hear and see, but nonetheless funny video from the Carol Burnett show and be proud to be a Court Reporter!

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