Court reporters are the backbone of the legal system. From hearings to trials to depositions, virtually all court proceedings require the presence of a court reporter. Now, in the face of incredibly high demand, the legal system is facing a shortage of qualified reporters. Today, we’ll attempt to shed light on the root cause of this shortage and offer insight into the future of court reporting.
What factors led to the shortage of court reporters?
One of the biggest contributing causes of the court reporter shortage is the level of skill required to join the profession. On average, court reporters can accurately type 225 words per minute. To put this number in perspective, the typical office worker types 75 words per minute with accuracy. The simple truth is, court reporting requires a skill that can be difficult to find.
According to the National Court Reporting Association, decreased graduation and increased retirement rates have created a shortage of nearly 5,500 court reporters. As the average age of reporters continues to rise, more young people must enter the field to keep up with the demand. The NCRA states that “the established shortage of stenographic court reporters presents a one-time, substantial opportunity for those seeking a lucrative career with a secure future.”
What is court reporting like today?
Usage of the legal system has risen steeply in recent years. In fact, since 1993, civil and criminal filing rates have increased by over 30%. Given the high demand for their services, court reporters are facing increased caseloads. In order to keep the justice system moving, many courts have turned to automation and artificial intelligence to fill the gaps in their operations.
How can technology help address the shortage?
Although no one in the legal industry is advocating for the replacement of court reporters, artificial intelligence and recording technology creates an opportunity to increase efficiency and lower operating costs without compromising accuracy. For example, simply recording court proceedings can allow for time shifting, meaning that reporters could tackle transcription as soon as they are available.
One of the biggest barriers to technological advancement is widespread distrust. After decades of reporter transcription, many believe that artificial intelligence simply cannot perform as well as humans. The truth is, AI-driven transcription can operate in real-time, providing immediate results. In order to move forward, court reporters must take on a monitoring and managerial role. This technology is not a replacement for reporters, it’s simply another tool in their impressive arsenal!