Listen up court reporting students and listen well. I recently had a colleague of mine from the University of Central Florida send me a Facebook message. She wanted some information for her friend, who was considering going to court reporting school. They wanted to know my opinion on the profession, and whether or not it was worth it for her to spend the tens of thousands of dollars on training and equipment.
When all you look at is the “pros” of the court reporting profession, it really seems too good to be true. And this is what the court reporting schools want you to think. Court Reporting schools are for-profit institutions that care about numbers, not what’s best for their students. Granted, there are some quality schools out there, but they probably aren’t the ones with ads posted all over the Internet.Coming out of school, you’re likely to be taking the work that senior court reporters don’t want. You’ll be taking the EUOs, DMV court, and Foreclosure hearings. You may get a few criminal depositions here and there. Typically these types of jobs don’t even order transcripts (in Florida). You’re basically in there, stressing to get every word, when no one will read your hard work. It’s incredibly dissatisfying for a stenographer.
So let’s say that you’re willing to muscle through it. You’re going to grind through the tough part (while probably having a second part-time job). You’ve spent the money on the steno machine, court reporting school, and you’re paying off student loans. There’s no turning back, right? Before you dig any deeper, here’s a glimpse of what Google thinks about court reporting:
|Google Insights for Search|
Google seems to think that the overall interest in “court reporting” has shrunken to less than half of what it was in 2004 and forecasts it to keep declining at a similar rate into the foreseeable future (throughout 2013). These are raw statistics, irrefutable evidence that people in general, are becoming disinterested in court reporting.
I don’t like telling someone to quit school, or abandon something for which they’ve worked hard, but the writing is on the wall. It’s not looking good for stenography. Although it may not be in the immediate future, stenography is on it’s way out. In order to succeed as a stenographer, you not only have to be the best at your trade, but you also have to be a good businessperson. You’ll have to schmooze your way in and out of law firms to even have the chance at getting the good work.
I think that court reporting is heading for a drastic change in the coming decade. I think that digital court reporting is going to take over the majority of court reporting work. Legal transcriptionists will be in high demand, but the use of stenography won’t be, except for maybe the high profile corporate cases. The 95% of litigation that doesn’t require realtime and same-day expedites will be forced to make the smarter economic decision for their clients, which is digital court reporting.