What did you learn about the profession that nobody’s told you before you started? I think nobody told me how interesting it would be and flexible. Those are the two main things that I think that…it’s not the same thing everyday and you do have a good work/life balance. It’s been a wonderful career. I would not have been as happy in any other career, I think. I love being a court reporter.
What kind of person does it take to be a court reporter? Well, someone’s who’s very detail oriented. Because court reporters generally, we tend to nit pick sometimes on where to put the commas. And it’s very important sometimes because just the placement of the comma can change the whole context of the sentence. A lot of times when people text each other, and they will take something out of something that’s written that somebody didn’t mean, you don’t have the person there to see their facial expressions, to hear the inflection in their voice, and things. So we’re trying to make the record as readable as possible and making it so that when people read it, they are getting almost the thoughts and the words of the person as they are spoken. And if you don’t punctuate that correctly, it’s just words on the paper. But if you put the correct punctuation in, you will get the greater meaning out of what the person has said. So a lot of times you do have to be kind of a stickler. So someone who is detail oriented, very good in grammar, and punctuation.
Is there anything else you’d like to say? I would really recommend if you’re thinking of a career in court reporting to check it out. Perhaps maybe job shadow a court reporter, in either the freelance form, or at the courthouse. There are other forms of jobs that you can do with court reporting. All of the closed captioning on television is done by court reporters, the live closed captioning. So there are many other avenues that you can take. It’s not like you’re just pigeonholed into one type of career. A lot of court reporters have left the legal world of court reporting and have become captioners of television, and the captions that are put into movies and things, those are court reporters who get the movies and caption them. So there’s a lot you can do with it, and you don’t have to think “Oh I’ll have to just do this.” Well you can use that skill to branch out into some other field.
Have you ever used your court reporting skills outside of the legal world? Yes for about 8 years, I have been captioning at my church. So I do it a couple of times a month, I’ll set up my court reporting machine. The church had purchased three computer screens that are left there in church. So I come there and I hook my computer up to the computer screens, and I will caption mass for people who are hard of hearing. It’s amazing how many older people in church have probably been sitting in church and haven’t been able to hear what’s being said for a number of years. And I had one parishioner whose mother in law was visiting from Florida. And they had already sat down in one part of the church, then the parishioner saw that I was going to be captioning that day, so she said “Oh mom, let’s go over there and watch this. You’ll be amazed,” because that person had a hearing loss. So they had come over to watch the captioning and that woman could not stop talking about it after church. She could not believe it. She said “I haven’t been able to hear the homily or the message in church for many years.” And she was just so thrilled and said “I’m going back to Florida and telling my priest to get a court reporter to do some captioning in our church.” She was just amazed, she could not believe that something like that existed where you could have somebody take down what’s being spoken and magically it appears on the computer screen in a fraction of a second. The people that have never seen it are truly amazed.
And if there aren’t always people who aren’t hard of hearing to watch the screens, little kids like to watch the screens too! They’ll behave. 😉