LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Courtrooms across the nation are dealing with a shortage of court reporters.
The National Court Reporter Association estimates a shortage of 5,000 court reporters throughout the United States.
The role of a court reporter is very important. They’re there needed for court trials, hearing, deposition or other legal proceedings.
As reporters retire new people and substitutes are becoming hard to find.
Plus officials say a lot of young people don’t know about the profession.
The Arkansas Court Reporting Academy is trying to encourage more people to give court reporting a try and get the best of both worlds when it comes to the courtroom.
Inside a courtroom, you’ll see a judge and a jury, but have you ever noticed a court reporter.
“You’re responsible for the record you’re preserving the record,” Kristy Rooney said.
Court reporters make a verbatim record of all testimony and, upon request, produce a written transcript of court proceedings, but it’s not done on a keyboard.
“You either love it or you hate it,” Debbie Whillocks said.
Debbie Whillock has been a court reporter for 30 years. She does things the old fashion way.
“I do everything by pen writing, shorthand,” she said.
We timed Debbie to see how much she can write in 60 seconds and she’s pretty darn good!
“The most important thing is to be able to get the record and to be able to transcribe it when needed,” she said.
But that’s not the only training method for court reporters, Heather Pierce uses the voice-writing method and she takes notes at the same time.
“We train them on different techniques and tricks that can help them speak faster,” Heather Pierce said.
The problem is the Natural State and the entire nation is facing a shortage of court reporters, but why?
“The main reason for that is because reporters are retiring but people are not aware of this profession,” Rooney said.
“It’s affecting timely trails and different things like that because there are not enough court reporters to go around,” Pierce said.
If you love the courtroom and keeping things on track, court reporting may be the right choice for you.
“With our record can mean the difference of someone going to jail or someone free that needs to be in jail,” Rooney said.
You don’t need a college degree to become a certified court reporter.
Being a court reporter has several perks, you get to travel around the state and you get state benefits. As a freelance reporter, you get to make your own schedule.
Once you become certified, you have to master 225 typing 225 words per minute, ace your test and training; you will start making some money.
In Arkansas, the salary for a court reporter is about $45,000-$60,000.
Some earn more than $100,000, depending on their experience.
The Arkansas Court Reporting Academy has a 19-week online course. They’re also offering a free introductory course due to the shortage.
For more information, click here.