Court reporting is a skill that many people have deemed unnecessary thanks to digital recording technology, but the need for human court reporters is actually growing. In fact, court reporter employment is actually projected to grow almost 10% by 2022.
Not too long ago, court reporters were a necessity in every court. Without digital recording technology, they were tasked with listening and typing every word in a given case. To be deemed competent for the position, students had to hit 225 words-per-minute with 95% accuracy. The demand for these professionals died out in the 1990s, but several issues have prompted a return to hiring these speedy typists.
Slowly but surely, court administrators realized that there were issues with electronic recording that could only be remedied with the security of having an actual human being present to monitor and record court proceedings. Turns out machines can’t really replace human beings after all, especially when they’re sometimes not plugged in or turned on.
“There have been many, many instances in the past when recordings have failed, the machinery didn’t work, or it just wasn’t turned on due to human error,” Eric Allen, president of the Association of Supreme Court Reporters, told the New York Daily News.
But beyond that, transcribing digital recordings can be a tricky business. Not only are transcribers without a visual, but Allen adds that it can be nearly “impossible to decipher legalese” from a simple audio recording.
And the need for human court reporters is one that’s sweeping the nation.
Officials in Texas county courts even went so far as to provide an incentive for people to get back into court reporting. Rather than adding more positions, the Nueces County court system has eliminated two court reporter positions and raised salaries for the remaining seats. This was done in an effort to keep the position competitive and reduce turnover.
“We knew at $46,000 a year for court reporters here that we wouldn’t either be able to hire one or as soon as they get hired they’d drive across the bridge to San Patricio for $25,000 more,” District Judge Missy Medary told KIII TV.
Measures like these are being taken across the country as court officials recognize the importance of human court reporters. The future is uncertain, but as of right now it’s looking like there will be a good number of court reporting positions in it.