As a court reporter of 20 years, I’m honored to be included among the tribe I value most; real-time reporters dedicated to making a certified, yet neutral, record. We create a record of proceedings that decision makers and fact finders across this great nation may someday review. We type, transcribe and proofread, giving up days, nights and weekends, all for the love of our profession.
I’m not here to list our challenges and virtues, but to issue a clarion call to this group that I consider heroes. It’s time for us to suit up and take on a new fight. And we need to do it together because our profession is changing, and we haven’t kept pace. We’ve surrendered our power to the insurance companies and national big-box firms. It’s time to show those who stand in the way of increasing our value that we will no longer surrender. It is up to us to control our destiny.
Together, we can do it by solving the simple problem; attorneys are turning to the cheapest and most incentivized alternative on the market, contracts. There’s a handful of companies that control the market that hold us all hostage. We need to change that.
Our profession is at a crossroads. Traditionally, the legal industry has been a laggard, not a leader, when it comes to capitalizing on technology to improve efficiency and increase the quality of service. The entire legal profession is based upon a foundation of hourly billing rates. Service delivered by anything other than a person has been viewed as a threat to the entire business model.
Court reporters are not immune to this. Technologies, including artificial intelligence and digital recording devices, have many court reporters fearing for their jobs.
The National Court Reporters Association agrees. “Stenography is the most effective and efficient means of capturing the spoken word, the best way of providing speech-to-text services in any forum,” according to the NCRA CEO and executive director, Marcia Ferranto, in a recent statement offering support to stenographers who will likely lose their jobs because the Sinclair Broadcast Group is transitioning to an automated speech recognition (ASR) platform for closed-captioning.
For what new fight are we suiting up? Court reporters need to come together to embrace and learn the technologies that impact our business. It’s an opportunity not to be replaced by technology, but to, instead, capitalize on it to increase productivity, quality, and revenue. It’s not just about surviving. It’s about thriving.
Do you know how to create .pdf and .ptx files? How about a .pdf signature? Learn it.
Do you know how to coordinate videoconferences? Learn it.
Are you using the right technologies to market your services? Learn them.
Are you using the right technologies to run your business? Learn them.
We all know this. There is a critical shortage of court reporters in this country. In many states, this critical shortage is grinding the legal process to a halt.
There is a time and place for human-only resources for court reporting, and there is a time and place for technology-led solutions. The winners moving forward will be the modern court reporters with the right mix to deliver quality services at the right price.
Technology can bridge the gap created by the shortage of court reporters, and as a result, you can generate more revenue streams. Part of our fight is to get the more than 1,500 captioners affected by Sinclair Broadcast Group’s recent decision back to work quickly. Their skills are in high demand, just in different venues and/or sectors of the industry. There are countless opportunities available immediately that require little if any, retraining.
In addition to recruiting more court reporters, current reporters need to improve skills, the quality of service and participate in distributed networks to identify and secure new opportunities to utilize their talents.
This is one of the reasons we have created Expedite. Expedite is a distributed network that instantly connects talented, available court reporters and other legal service providers to attorneys and paralegals in a moment of need, based on location. If a reporter has not been scheduled or they fail to show, an attorney or paralegal can find an available reporter with a few simple clicks on the mobile app.
Expedite is just a start. Court reporters need to come together – locally or virtually – to share best practices and principles and teach each other new skills. We need to create forums where court reporters can ask each other questions and learn from our shared experiences.
There IS a shortage of skill in our industry. There is more than enough work to go around. A rising, skilled, smart tide will lift all boats.
Be the agent of change. It’s time for us to lead this industry together.