Impact of Court Reporter Shortage in Rural Counties

Impact of Court Reporter Shortage in Rural Counties

In a previous post we wrote about the power of communication when it comes to the court reporter shortage. What we didn’t mention was the impact of the shortage in rural counties. It could be devastating if we as an industry don’t do more to attract people to the dwindling number of court reporter schools and integrate ourselves into the changing face of digital court reporting.

Freelance Court Reporters

The question we keep asking ourselves is whether or not we need court reporters to be living and working in our rural counties. Sure there is a need and there will be at least for the time being but couldn’t we pay professionals to commute from other parts of the state or work remotely via live depositions? We think this is a possibility. Afterall, being freelance is one of the perks of being a court reporter.

While it’s not as glamorous to travel to rural North Carolina versus a metropolitan area, we understand the economics of it. Simply stated, the cost may be more but the reality is that we may not have a choice to pay travel expenses to bring court reporters to rural counties.

With programs closing and as many as 5,000 court reporters retiring in the next few years, we have to think outside the box for solutions.

Digitizing of the Courtroom

You might think the digitizing of the courtroom means less of a need for court reporters. While that may be true to some extent, we’re still needed to review transcripts and certify them as accurate. Voice recognition technology isn’t to the point where it can understand the nuances of the English language.

Words like maid vs. made, for example, would need to be checked and corrected by a court reporter. There is also a need to understand when two people are talking at the same time; that just can’t be done by machine, at least not yet.

There is also an increasing need for us in corporate settings to transcribe video trainings and broadcasts. That’s new and exciting and could help attract new people to the profession which is ultimately what we need.

While we see the need for our profession changing, we don’t think court reporters are going to be extinct as some are suggesting.

While there is a need emerging in rural courtrooms, there are also solutions. We’re here to fill the gaps and provide service wherever we’re needed.

If you’re in need of a court reporter, contact Ruffin Consulting today!

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