Court Reporters Test Their Speed at National Court Reporters Association Convention
There are three court reporting associations that operate within the United States: The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA), the National Verbatim Reporters Association (NVRA), and the American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers (AAERT). However, the National Court Reporters Association is the one that hosted the 77th annual National Speed Competition last week in Chicago.
Every year after the competition, one skilled reporter leaves the conference with bragging rights as the speediest and most accurate court reporter in the country — a status that’s extremely difficult to attain.
For those unfamiliar with certified court reporting, or court stenography, it may just seem like a job that requires fast typing skills. However, there’s a bit more to it than just typing fast.
In addition to approximately two and a half years of schooling and continuing education to keep up with licensing requirements, court reporting involves being the recordkeeper of everything from legal depositions and court proceedings to real-time closed-captioning for hearing-impaired individuals. The stakes are too high to turn over this task to machines, and court reporters have to handle high-stress situations without losing their cool.
Court reporters are required to type a minimum of 225 testimony words per minute from two voices, as well as 200 jury charge words and 180 literary words per minute.
If that wasn’t enough, reporters at the National Convention were tasked with stenotyping up to 280 words per minute by typing a transcript read aloud by a quick-tongued speaker.
Beyond typing at near blinding speeds, court reporting has the potential to be taxing in other ways.
“People say, ‘do your fingers get tired?’ It’s your brain that gets tired. It’s the focus and concentration. The processing involved is tremendous,” said Mike Bouley, who has been in the business 31 years.
Not only that, but reporters are often tasked with recording emotional or unnerving testimonies, which requires a professional-level game face and unflappable sense of concentration.
Countless people wonder if and when voice recognition technology might take over for court reporters, but the truth is that no amount of technology can complete the same tasks with the same quality and dexterity that court reporters do.
Becoming a court reporter is no easy task, and neither is keeping the job. However, if you have the skills necessary, and a keen sense of concentration, you might find yourself looking into this field.