What they didn't teach you in court reporting school...


Remember this poster/book? All I really need to know, I learned in kindergarten. I wish it worked like that for CR school. Everyone knows that no two court reporting schools are alike, and I'm sure there are schools out there that really do fully prepare you to transition into the working world after getting out of school, but the majority of them teach theory, speed, and then you're basically on your own.

Sure, the internship process does help teach you some job-specific skills, but until you're actually in the driver's seat and getting paid to produce professional quality transcripts, you just have no clue what's really involved. The beginning of your career is when having a mentor really comes in handy. He or she could be someone you networked with at a convention; other reporters at your firm or courthouse; or the helpful crowd on twitter, Facebook, and other social networks.

For me, one of the biggest things that they glossed over in school is just how much money is involved in starting out. Sure, they tell you you have to buy your software and professional writer, but there's more than that. The short list includes a fast, reliable printer (laser, if you're going to use it to print final transcripts), exhibit stamp or stickers, transcript covers/binders, copies, postage, your notary, and certifications, depending on where you work.

As far as transcript production, no one in school tells you how, specifically, to word exhibit descriptions. Some exhibits have titles and dates on them already, but the exact order to include those elements is not always clear. And nobody tells you how to handle it in the transcript when one client keeps putting her two cents in under her breath while the other client is being deposed. They don't tell you in school whether to include the law clerk's hushed dialog with the attorney about the stack of copies she just handed him.

As far as ordering is concerned, I wasn't aware that when both attorneys order a condensed transcript, the taking attorney always gets the full-sized original, sealed up for the court system with the original exhibits, in addition to the four-per-page transcript and copies of exhibits. They don't teach you how to listen to the banter between the lawyers about when the trial is to find out when they need their transcripts by or to whether or not they're planning to have a conference call to try and settle the case and that you might want to get the job edited, proofed, and sent out before that deadline.

There are many things people aren't told about being a CR. The long and the short of the story is that you should find someone who is willing to take you under their wing and teach you about the finer points of being a working court reporter, and keep reading or learning about the subject.

Take heart and stick with it. You've picked a wonderful, interesting, and rewarding profession, both financially and otherwise. What other job can you do where every day is different and teaches you something you didn't know before, all while doing an task that takes incredible finger dexterity and mental acuity? Steno rules.