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How to Prepare for Your First Court Reporting Assignment

Photo of a court reporter actively recording the transcript of her case during her first court reporting assignment

If you’re reading this article, it’s likely that you’re nearing the end of your court reporting education. Congratulations! Whether you’re planning to pursue freelance jobs or work with a singular court, these tips will help ease the transition into your official role and prepare you for your first reporting assignment.

Let’s dive in!

Understand When Interruptions are Appropriate

As a reporter, you’re constantly striving to be unobtrusive. In most cases, those efforts are appropriate – however, there are some circumstances where it may be necessary to speak up. Creating an accurate record is very difficult when participants are mumbling or talking over one another. Don’t forget: if the court reporter didn’t hear it, the jury didn’t hear it either.

If you’re feeling uncomfortable with the idea of interrupting, consider practicing a few times in a mock session. You shouldn’t interrupt without cause, but equally, you should not be afraid to interrupt when it is necessary. Simply state your reason for interrupting clearly and professionally. Once the parties have clarified, thank them for their cooperation and adjust the record accordingly.

Maintain and Update Your Equipment

After graduation, many young reporters rush out to buy new equipment and software. While this can be a wise investment, you need to ensure that you know how to use the tools before your first official assignment. This step is particularly important if you’ll be using different software or device than the kind you learned on. Be sure to practice setting up your equipment from start to finish to avoid unnecessary delays in the room. Ensure that you’ve run all software updates before proceeding.

Remember Your Personal Preparations

You wouldn’t neglect your equipment the day before an assignment, but many new reporters forget to extend the same courtesy to their bodies. Reporting may not seem like a physically demanding career, but it requires sustained energy and focus – both of which are extremely difficult to produce when you’re tired or hungry.

Know yourself and know your body. If you know that you tend to ‘drag’ around noon, consider packing a small snack to boost your energy and stamina.  Lunch breaks can get delayed or even canceled entirely when you’re on assignment. For that reason, you should do your best to ensure you’ve had a complete meal, even if you don’t usually eat breakfast.

Be Mindful & Positive

With each new job, you’ll steadily build your reputation as an effective, courteous, and respectful reporter. For that reason, it’s important to be mindful of your conduct and how it may impact your future business. As you know: you’re not just working for one party. Always make it a point to offer the same services to both sets of counsel. It’s possible that an attorney will decline a copy of your transcript, but it’s likely they’ll remember that you took the time to offer it.

When your day ends, remember that you’re still learning and honing your skills. If your first assignment didn’t give you warm, fuzzy feelings – don’t get discouraged! As a court reporter, your days are filled with new information and new cases. Difficult assignments won’t last forever. Luckily, you’ve chosen a rewarding career where you never know what the next case may bring.

Final Thoughts

Thanks for reading! We hope we’ve been able to offer some useful tips for your big day! If you enjoyed this article, feel free to share it on social media.

When you plan your next deposition, don’t forget to take advantage of our plentiful deposition tools, including remote court reporting, concierge remote exhibit management, remote videography, and full-time tech support for your remote depositions, arbitrations, court hearings, trials, and other proceedings.

If you have questions on any of our services, please don't hesitate to get in touch with us.

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