The North Carolina Court Reporter Shortage

The North Carolina Court Reporter Shortage

Pockets around the country are already starting to feel the court reporter shortage when it comes to capturing and keeping the official record both in and out of court. It’s no secret that court reporters possess a skill that is not only in demand, but also very difficult to learn.

Closing Schools Contribute to Court Reporter Shortage

In fact, most attorneys don’t realize that court reporting schools have an attrition rate of over 90%. Due to this statistic and the lack of awareness about the profession in general, court reporting schools struggle to remain profitable and have been shutting their doors over the last decade. The closing of schools has only worsened the court reporter shortage since even qualified candidates might not have access to education.

While the National Court Reporters Association has acknowledged this epidemic, some say that it’s too little too late.  Even hiring top tier public relations and marketing firms, and paying for top spots in the Wall Street Journal and popular news stations like Fox Business, the NCRA has unfortunately faced an uphill battle in drumming up awareness for the profession.

Interest in Court Reporters

Today, the average age of a stenographer is over 50 years old and more than 70% of court reporters are 46 years-old or older.  This is compared to an average age of 42 years old for the entire US workforce.  The court reporting profession has aged to its capacity and while the upside is that most stenographers are trained veterans, there simply isn’t enough young blood to absorb the work of their retiring elders. 

North Carolina is projected to have the 5th highest court reporter shortage by 2018.  Estimates indicate that the state will be short by nearly 200 reporters which would account for almost 25% of the total stenographers needed in North Carolina.

So what does this mean for lawyers?  Relationships matter.

The court reporting business is made of strong relationships with law firms.  It’s part of the reason why you don’t see too many court reporting salespeople.  It just doesn’t work.  Most lawyers have their favorite firm or reporter, but maintaining business relationships will become increasingly important as court reporters become fewer and further between.

All data and statistics for this article was taken from the NCRA 2013-2014 Industry Outlook Report Executive Summary

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