We’ve seen it happen with ATMs and self-checkouts. People are replaced with machines but can technology replace the human factor when it comes to court reporting? The quick answer is sort of. In states like Arizona where reporters have been replaced in all cases except those involving a grand or felony jury, death penalty murder cases, certain sex crimes, and parental consent for abortion. Even when proceedings are recorded, there may be a need to transcribe and that can be challenging.
Digital recording is great in a directed production or even on livestream where only one person is talking but in court or at a deposition there’s less control. People can talk over each other so the entire exchange may not be captured accurately. When there is a court reporter present, they may interject and ask for witnesses to repeat themselves but without that interaction, the recording may just be a bunch of indistinguishable sounds. Not only that but the technology of recording isn’t as advanced as it needs to be.
A recording picks up on every sound in the room. Sneezes and coughs can muffle what the witness is saying. A clicking pen can become the center of attention instead of the proceeding. When there is a reporter in the room, the transcript solely reflects what is being said without the distractions of gum chewing or finger tapping.
Aside from the shortcomings of a recording, there’s something to be said for the personal touch of hiring a court reporter. At Ruffin Consulting, we pride ourselves on being dependable, accurate, and professional in all we do. We’re there for our clients when you need us to answer questions and offer immediate turnaround in a variety of formats – video, print, photographic, digital, and voice. A machine can’t do that.
Court Reporter Shortage
While we can tell you about the value of the human factor to your legal firm, we’ve got a huge challenge in our industry. There’s a court reporter shortage happening, especially in rural areas, that’s impacting the supply of reporters. Students aren’t enrolling in court reporting schools. Even when they do, the drop-out rate is high. If they graduate, there’s a learning curve that takes time and experience to overcome. To top it off, the demand for professionals with reporting skills is growing outside the legal field.
Business are increasingly requesting reporters for transcription and real-time reporting for events, seminars, workshops, and livestreams. And machines aren’t ready for real-time reporting yet so we need people with the right skills and experience.
The reality is that technology can replace the human factor to a point and then we have to intervene to deliver the highest quality transcriptions to our clients. There’s no replacing customer care with a machine.
If you’re in the Wilson, North Carolina area, we’d love to meet you and share how you can help attract new people to a career in court reporting before there’s a crisis.