Arguably, no other job requires the amount of focus, concentration, and accuracy that court reporting does. Apart from being able to listen to and accurately record every word spoken in a courtroom, court reporters must know how to set up, operate, and make the most of their work equipment.
What’s more, reporters also need to be good at interpersonal relations and primarily be able to maintain seamless communication with judges, lawyers, and witnesses to ensure they produce transcripts with acceptable levels of accuracy.
If you are a reporter or are looking to become one, here are some tips to help you become a better court reporter.
Always Be Early
As a rule of thumb, a certified court reporter should be at least twenty minutes early to any assignment. This allows you to set up equipment and familiarize yourself with the court setting and deal with any arising issue.
Familiarize Yourself With Spellings of Certain Words Beforehand
By looking at the charge sheet or case files, you can tell the names of the people involved in the case, and the type of terminologies likely to be used in the proceedings.
After that, check the right spellings for these terminologies and seemingly difficult last names, and also get the punctuation for every word. That way, you will save a lot of time when transcribing and presenting a more accurate transcript.
Know How to Deal With Interpreters
In the course of your work, more than one language may be used in court. In these situations, an interpreter will be used.
As such, the reporter should indicate who is speaking at any given time. For instance, if a witness is speaking, the transcript must indicate so. The same applies to the interpreter.
Develop Your Communication Skills
It is imperative to be a good communicator when working as a court reporter. In particular, you should be able to develop a quick rapport with the attorneys involved in the cases you handle.
This means you should try to be open about your expectations (and ask about theirs) and not be afraid to ask for clarifications when you need them.
Dress For Work
It goes without saying that when attending any court, you should dress in formal attire. Don’t wear jeans or shorts, and whenever you are in doubt about the ideal skirt to wear, always go with the longer ones.
If possible, avoid loud colors and overly dated clothes. Instead, wear clothes that are not more than two years old and they should be freshly pressed.
Always Be Up to Date
The equipment and procedures used in court reporting keep changing with time, and it is in your best interest to stay current.
Commit time to improve on your skills and learn new ones, and familiarize yourself with the latest trends in the industry, such as the use of timers and AI.
Keep Up With The Demands of The Job
Be prepared to go to great lengths to ensure your transcripts are of the highest quality possible. For instance, you may ask speakers to clarify anything you don’t understand and take the time to go through your transcripts to remove mistakes.
Most importantly, dedicate enough time to rest and sleep and try to eat healthily. Both are not only good for your physical health but also ensure your brain remains strong and focused for the job.