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Qualities of Successful Court Reporters

Mar 18, 2008
If you are considering entering the field of court reporting, be prepared for the rigors of the job. A certified court reporter is a well-paid professional but success requires serious dedication. There are several personal qualities and skills that are common to the most successful in the profession.


One of the most important skills court reporters possess is the ability to document the spoken word in real time with complete accuracy.

A reporter must be able to type faster than a person speaks since the reporter must add information during the proceeding. The reporter must identify each speaker and may also need to add narrative notes.

For example, an attorney asks the victim of an assault where he was stabbed. The witness points to his arm and says, "Right here." On television the attorney says where the person pointed, but in real life attorneys sometimes forget. It is up to the reporter to enter the information into the record without losing track of the continued questioning.

Sometimes people talk over each other. Court reporters must be able to document the words of both parties, accurately and correctly attributed.


Speed is useless in this field if not combined with accuracy. Reporters must not only transcribe the speaker's words but must do so correctly. They must not only be able to tell the difference among words like "know" and "no" but must be able to correctly transcribe the words of people who mumble or have heavy accents.

Court reporters have immense vocabularies. They must be intimately familiar with the language they transcribe in including slang or unusual words. They must be familiar with legal terms but also terminology from almost any field. A given court case might have expert testimony from a doctor, an investment broker, and a ballistics expert and the reporter must not be fazed by each expert's jargon.

A reporter can and should stop the proceedings and ask the participants to clarify a point, but it is disruptive to do so. The best reporters are the ones that don't have to ask.


One of the most difficult skills to learn is the level of concentration required. The reporter must remain completely focused at all times. We all have a tendency to let our minds wander, but a couple of seconds of daydreaming means a loss of important details.

Reporters have to remain detached from the proceedings. Most trials are fairly tedious but a reporter's mind has to stay on task. Nor can the reporter be distracted by disturbing and emotional testimony, such as a coroner discussing the wounds on a murder victim.

These skills and others make this a demanding but lucrative profession. All over the country there is a shortage of certified court reporters and some states are in particularly dire need. For example, Texas court reporters are in short supply and opportunities abound for both experienced and entry-level professionals.
About the Author
Author is a freelance copywriter. For more information on court
, visit http://www.Huseby.com/.
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