Court reporting is a difficult career path that not everyone is suited for. In the Bay Area, as in all of California, court reporters must go through rigorous training and certification requirements . Top-notch court reporters continually strive for higher levels of excellence throughout their careers, such as by completing continuing education programs. Arguably, the word that most often comes to mind when defining excellence in this field is “accuracy.” It’s true that these professionals must be accurate at all times, but the following abilities and characteristics are also crucial.
Whether in a courtroom, at a deposition, or in a boardroom, neutrality is crucial. Court reporters abide by a strict code of ethics, which prohibits them from commenting or opining about a case. Even if an attorney or other party engages in chitchat with a court reporter after a deposition, the court reporter will not offer speculation or opinions about the testimony.
Legal depositions, hearings, and trials often bring sensitive information to light. Witnesses may need to answer questions about their finances, or testify about personal situations. Even when the information they record is not of a sensitive nature, good court reporters will never repeat it because they understand that confidentiality is a top priority. Additionally, these professionals hold in confidence all written records they see and off-the-record conversations they hear.
Excellence in court reporting requires consistent punctuality. It isn’t acceptable for these professionals to show up late to a deposition or a trial, as doing so would delay the entire proceeding and derail everyone else’s schedule. Excellent court reporters always plan to show up early to assignments. This allows them some time to set up their workstation and review any last-minute information from the attorney, such as industry-specific terminology or acronyms that may be relevant to the testimony.
Much of the time, court reporters are the proverbial fly on the wall. They listen attentively and record every word spoken on the record, but they don’t often speak up, and they never call attention to themselves unnecessarily. However, the best court reporters understand that certain situations do require assertiveness. A court reporter will speak up if he or she needs a witness to speak up or repeat something, because this ensures accuracy.