There is a growing shortage of stenographers. This reality combined with the fact that the average age of a court reporter is 53, leaves cause for concern about the profession’s future. Additional contributing factors to this shortage include a significant decrease in graduates from professional stenographic training and the closure of many training schools, according to the American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers (AAERT).
To overcome these hurdles, the legal industry has been tapping into digital court recording systems, such as audio and video recordings of proceedings and advanced transcription technologies, which provide accurate court reporting.
To help companies in this field understand the new landscape, we’ve provided a quick overview of what it means to transition into digital, including advantages and important concerns.
What is a Digital Court Reporter?
Like a stenographer, a digital court reporter, also known as an electronic court reporter, is a notary. Responsibilities include swearing in witnesses and marking exhibits, just using a different court reporter device.
Instead of the traditional court reporter machine, these professionals record the proceedings using digital technology. That usually means audio, but sometimes includes video. Professionals take notes during the recordings either manually or by annotating in a software platform, and then submit these for transcription into a cohesive document afterward.
How Digital Court Reporting Future-Proofs Your Business
The biggest difference between digital and standard stenographic court reporting is that digital court recording systems allow businesses to grow and future-proof their operations.
Both clients and the legal system as a whole are transitioning into digital. There’s little dispute that digital court reporting is more efficient. Companies can get faster transcripts at better prices and avoid unwanted delays due to the stenographer shortage.
The legal system as a whole is recognizing the nuance of unnecessary delays, keeping people’s lives in limbo for too long with taxpayers footing the bill. All US states now allow digital court reporting, and there’s a growing pressure on court reporters to adapt.
Cost savings is also a significant factor. Based on data from the AAERT, court reporting companies that transition into digital are expected to save nearly $250K USD over the next decade simply by transitioning from stenography to digital court reporting systems. Advanced technologies therefore provide the opportunity to lower costs, while also serving more clients faster.
How Digital Court Reporting Provides a Competitive Career Advantage
For industry professionals, choosing to learn how to operate digital court recording systems now, when adoption is still growing but not fully spread, is a way to guarantee competitiveness and experience. Digital court reporters can now expect to earn an average of $43K a year, with some earning as high as $99,500, according to ZipRecruiter.
How Digital Court Reporting Improves Turnaround and Quality
Legal clients prefer to work with digital court reporters due to the faster turnaround that advanced transcription software provides. Due to artificial intelligence, instantaneous transcription also continues to be more accurate, as the software learns from its mistakes. Even if the transcription provider offers additional review by humans, the process is faster.
A top concern and also deciding factor is the quality and accuracy of court reports. Since the software is trained to understand both legal terms and a client’s own specific situation, the most advanced products provide professional levels of accuracy. Similarly, if selected software features an automatic sound recognition (ASR) engine, it can distinguish between different speakers to avoid confusion.
Even during the proceeding itself, playing back recorded audio is more accurate than reading a manually-written transcript.
Common Digital Court Reporting Concerns & How to Easily Overcome Them
It’s clear that digital transformation and technology provide many benefits, but we’d be remiss not to mention the industry’s concerns about security and privacy.
Unlike paper documents, which can easily be accessed by anyone, digital documents and files can be protected using a wide range of cybersecurity protection tools. Many software providers have taken measures to secure their products, adhering to HIPPA compliance and providing end to end encryption.
There is also some hesitation about working with machines instead of humans. It’s important to note that digital court reporting requires a human court reporter be present at every proceeding, even if it is machine-recorded. The human court reporter is in charge of ensuring the technology is working properly, providing quality recordings and accurate transcriptions. The reporter also is responsible for taking notes throughout the proceeding to set the technology up for success.
How to Become a Digital Court Reporter, or Transition Your Stenographers into Digital
Whether you’re interested in becoming a digital court reporter, training your stenographers to become digital court reporters, or are just interested in the market when considering recruitment of new talent, remember that requirements vary by state.
More than half of US states require court reporter certification, usually one of two AAERT certifications: certified electronic court reporter (CER) or certified electronic transcriber (CET). In some states, electronic court reporters are also required to have NCRA RPR certification to operate digital court recording systems.
You can find more details in this free ebook, which also provides a step-by-step process to becoming a digital court reporting company, including the equipment an agency needs and how much budget is required.
Integrate the Latest Technologies to Empower Your Team and Grow Your Business
While court reporter devices may change, the critical need for human professionals to operate these devices is crucial for a fair legal process. Technological advancements are developed to empower a court reporter’s work and create ease and efficiency.
Technology presents a win-win for all. Legal professionals find it easier to bring justice to clients and court reporting agencies can thrive even when faced with a stenographer shortage.