A couple weekends ago, the Arizona Court Reporter's Association (ACRA) invited C2C Consulting, LLC to speak at their annual state-wide convention in Prescott, Arizona. Randy went prepared to speak about the benefits of a website for those individuals in the court reporting profession, but because of a topic covered at a meeting over lunch, he ended up expounding upon the topic of websites to the value of social media and technology as a whole to their profession.
Suffice it to say that there have been many changes regarding traditional jobs. Some jobs are fading away while others are flourishing. Why? The answer is "adaptation to change". The key to a successful career and/or profession is the ability to learn and grow and adapt. It is one of the major concerns of the Court Reporting industry, namely those who have been the "live" face behind the stenography machine for years. It was clear from our meeting that there is a bit of a tug and pull in how this profession sees themselves in the face of survival and embracing technology.
A court reporting career can be very diverse and provide a number of opportunities. A court reporter, by native defintion, is an individual who records court proceedings verbatim, transcribes depositions, records business meetings, and often times, provides real-time translation services for the deaf and closed captioning services. Technology, in many ways, has changed how court reporters get their job done. And there are many more ways that court reporters can use technology to advance their marketing thus helping attract more lucrative jobs from the judicial system.
Instead of letting their profession diminish into the sunset, court reporters can market themselves using technology in a number of ways. One of the topics of conversation at the meeting was the inaccuracy of speech recognition software. Although speech recognition has come a long way, a human is still needed to ensure the integrity of the output from the software to make it usable. That is understandable, but as I sat and listened to Randy, I had a number of ideas that came to me in terms of how technology can help the court reporters. Ideas like networking amongst themselves and those they work with, video conferencing, Internet communications, document management, and encrypted e-mail services.
In preparation for Randy's presentation, we found many an article on the Internet talking about real-time reporting, or displaying testimony in real-time on computer screens. Court reporters can record and translate testimony and display it on computer screens or print it right during a trial. This allows lawyers and judges to have same day accessibility whether it be in disc, print, or online sharing. Real-time reporting software can now scan numerous documents, highlighting key words and phrases to help in case research and reducing the amount of time it takes to get the correct information to the requester. In one article, it referred to the use of CART, otherwise known as Communication Access Real-Time Translation. CART is primarily used for the deaf, giving them real time access to what is taking place. Broadcast Captioning is also a thriving area for court reporters as they can now enter captions of live television programs for the deaf.
A study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that court reporting job openings “will increase by 25% over the next several years.” We encouraged the ACRA court reporters to embrace technology and discover ways to incorporate it into their daily job duties. By doing so, they will become more efficient, faster, and as a result, more valuable to the legal process. We certainly hope that court reporting is a career that is around for awhile, but will only be able to do so by taking advantage of the changes in technology to ensure their field is one that is staying in demand.