Court reporting involves creating precise, verbatim transcripts of proceedings at trials, depositions, and other legal events. While accuracy is important, one of the most critical skills for court reporting is speed.
Students in court reporting programs certified by the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) are required to capture a minimum of 225 words per minute for testimony. This speed is also required to qualify for federal government employment as a court reporter. The NCRA conducts a National Speed Competition as a part of its annual conference. This year, 40 court reporters prepped for the competition in August by testing their speed on their 22-key stenotype machines at the NCRA convention.
Court reporters need to be able to concentrate consistently throughout lengthy legal proceedings, which may involve heat or fast-paced dialogues. The transcription should be clear and accurate as it has to be read aloud in public. These professionals also need to master the techniques of court shorthand reporting and legal, medical and related technical terminology. They need to have good language and advanced spelling, punctuation, vocabulary and grammar skills. They should also have proper knowledge of clerical and legal record keeping practices and procedures. A skilled court reporting professional can transcribe what is said with 99% accuracy.
Court reporters work on a special stenotype machine, which also helps them maintain speed. On its special keyboard, the keys represent sounds rather than words and the way the words sound are translated into finger movements on the keys. Language is broken down into its syllables and a dictionary of code is used to input words into the steno machine. This allows single keystrokes to be used to write words, phrases or even entire sentences. Only three strokes are required to write court reporting on this keyboard where the standard QWERTY keyboard takes 15. To use the stenotype machine effectively, court reporters need to:
- Write short – reduce keystrokes and write briefs to increase overall speed
- Write fast – maximize typing speed
So speed is critical in the court proceedings transcription process. Today, professional audio transcription services are available to ease the task. They accept audio files in any format. Established companies have teams of expert legal transcriptions that can deliver accurate transcripts of court hearings, arbitrations, depositions and more in time to meet the most demanding deadlines – STAT or immediate requirements.