Across the US, there is a shortage of stenographers. Many people in the legal community fail to think about the vital role of the court reporter until they have trouble finding one to cover their proceedings.

In many jurisdictions, the issue is only getting worse. Some states are turning to technology to fill the gap and allow litigations to move forward. Digital court reporting offers a well-tested and accepted alternative to stenographers that can address the personnel shortage.

States that embrace digital court reporters will be better equipped to handle the stenographer shortage and adapt to the increasingly tech-friendly legal community.

1. Florida: Going Digital to Address a Heavy Case Load

Along with other highly populated states like California, New York and Texas, Florida has more litigation than most parts of the country. When compared to those other large states, Florida appears to be more receptive to digital court reporting. According to a study by Strategy& of PwC, about 30-50 percent of small court reporting agencies (CRAs) in the state are either hybrid or fully digital.

For comparison, only 10-20 percent of New York’s CRAs are adopting digital or hybrid models along with just five percent of Texas’ CRAs and one percent of California’s CRAs. These statistics indicate Florida is at the forefront of technologically advanced court reporting.

Although Florida still experiences a court reporter shortage, it pales in comparison to California’s massive and growing supply versus demand gap.

2: South Carolina: Educating Future Court Reporters

South Carolina’s courts were experiencing backups and delays caused by a lack of court reporters. Like Florida, the state is embracing digital court reporting as a solution. The South Carolina Justice Department partnered with a community college to train and recruit digital court reporters. Over two years, the state courts increased their court reporting staff by 13 percent.

One stenographer who trained to learn the new digital technology pointed out that the current generation of stenographers is likely the last. Some schools closed their stenography programs, and the state is leaning into digital court reporters as the profession’s future.

3. Kentucky: Long-Time Reliance on Digital Court Reporting

Kentucky switched to using digital methods decades ago following a court reporter strike. The courts never went back, and Kentucky is the only place in the country to abandon stenography in favor of digital methods entirely.

Courtrooms throughout the state have the equipment to video record proceedings. Success in Kentucky inspired others to look at ways that digital court reporting can cut costs, speed up the transcription process and solve the challenges created by the shortage of court reporters.

State Laws on Digital Court Reporting

State laws related to digital court reporting vary, but the practice is legal in every state. Some states, like Wyoming and Ohio, include electronic reporting in their court rules. The Supreme Court of Colorado established electronic court reporting as one proper way to preserve court records in that state. Although states may require that the parties stipulate to use digital court reporting, each still allows this method as an alternative to stenographic reporting.

Court reporting is not the only part of the legal field that is evolving because of technology. COVID-19 led to an increase in remote proceedings, especially depositions. Lawyers and other legal professionals are now more comfortable with digital tools and receptive to technology that can improve their workflow. Digital court reporting will only continue to grow to fill personnel gaps and help the legal profession become more efficient.

Digital Court Reporting in 2021

Currently, the litigation process in many states faces delays and setbacks because of court reporter personnel shortages. The situation is not sustainable. Fortunately, digital court reporting is a reliable alternative that will support the legal community into the future.

Verbit uses sophisticated artificial intelligence to aid its transcription process. The tool’s speech-to-text software creates the first draft, and then professional transcriptionists review and proofread the document to meet a guaranteed 99%+ accuracy.

This modern transcription tool also protects private information. When it comes to depositions and other legal proceedings, HIPAA compliance is essential. Verbit completes audits to ensure that it meets or exceeds industry standard best practices when safeguarding private information.

Stenographers will continue to play an essential role in the legal community. However, few students are entering stenography programs and with an 80%+ drop-out rate, far fewer are graduating and entering the market. Digital court reporting will continue to expand and become standard in court proceedings and depositions throughout the country.

States that are embracing digital court reporters will be able to address shortages, save resources and allow litigation to proceed with fewer delays. The legal industry needs court reporting services that can quickly scale to meet the field’s growing demands. Digital court reporters can fill the gap and continue to support the changing industry.

To learn more about digital court reporting technology and how to implement it into your practices, contact Verbit.