Court reporters play a significant role in the proceedings of a court case. Their job is to record legal proceedings in a written format. A court reporter who is a strong and effective communicator can be a valuable asset to you. On the other hand, one without the necessary skill can harm your case and inevitably waste your time, effort, and money.
You may think that hiring a reporter employed by a large-scale company is a guarantee that you will wind up with the best of the best, but this isn’t always the case. Court reporters require a very specific skill set which not everyone possesses and which, arguably, cannot be taught. For this reason, it is highly important to look into the credibility, reliability, and and accreditation of your court reporter before making your final decision. One of the unfortunate consequences to selecting a court reporter without a proven track record of success is being straddled with incomplete documentation of the legal proceedings. Here are three common misconceptions people have about court reporters.
- They’re all the same.
Contrary to popular belief, court reporters don’t all have the same skills. It’s impossible to be certain that your court reporter is going to have the technical, analytical, and communication skills required to accurately document your case’s proceedings. Some reporters may possess the written ability, but their communication skills leave something to be desired. If your potential reporter has flawless grammar and an impressive vocabulary but isn’t fluent in legal and medical terminology, they may find themselves slowing down as they write long and complicated words.
On the other hand, some reporters may be excellent communicators when it comes to the language of law, but they struggle to analyze and condense large amounts of information. Not everyone is detail-oriented by nature, but a court reporter should be. A qualified court reporter is expected to be able to work under stress. This means that they may use shorthand dictation in real time, and send a completed draft to you immediately following the deposition. A reporter who is capable of working in retail time is a real asset, and a rarity. If you find one, inquire further about their background and accreditation.
- Larger agencies are more trustworthy.
A court reporter employed by a large, prestigious agency may seem like a better choice than a reporter working for a smaller agency. It makes sense: most large agencies do have better reputations, larger budgets, and a bigger pool of reporters to choose from. They may also have more up-to-date technology available and a larger list of services available.
However, sometimes the glamor turns out to be a smoke-and-mirrors game. If you are taken in by an agency’s bold, professional branding, don’t feel too disappointed in yourself. Large-scale corporations occasionally use excellence in branding to hide the fact that their services are more impersonal and disconnected from the local market. They are often pressured by investors to maximize their profit, and as such, lose sight of what is truly important. They often begin to value profit over quality. Watch out for companies with a suspicious employee turnover rate.
- They are knowledgeable about your niche.
Some agencies operate like international call centers or content mills, outsourcing work to employees who may have limited knowledge of the legal industry. Smaller agencies can usually provide more specialized services and reporters tend to have a strong local connection. In a case of tractor trailer accident negligence, for example, your reporter should not only be familiar with legal terminology but also local laws.
Court reporters who move around a lot or have worked in different states might have a lot of experience but not be able to apply that to your specific state’s laws. If you reside in rural Florida, for instance, West Palm Beach court reporters who have a long history of work in the area are likely to provide you the services you need, as opposed to a corporate employee with an illustrious history in New York City.