I have been a court reporter for over four decades. I estimate that I have done about 7,500 oral depositions in my career. I have a regular set of clients who ask for me and I would like to think that I have served them well. There are times when I wonder why they ask for me especially when handling high profile and sensitive cases. My wife assures me that it is not because of my charm or good looks, so it must be something else. At the end of the day, I believe I am a good court reporter. What makes a good reporter? Let me attempt to quantify what skills and traits a good reporter should have
One quality that all good court reporters have is preparation. I treat all depositions with the same urgency and importance. I try to learn as much about the case as possible and try to familiarize my self with the possible terminology that might be used. In my experience, having this background information provides me with a broader perspective and I would like to think that our clients appreciate this level of preparation.
In consonance with preparation is the obvious notion of focus. I try to prepare myself physically and mentally before every deposition regardless of the client or the high profile nature of the case. In situations where there are consecutive days of depositions, I integrate this in my preparation. Again, it sounds obvious, but people sometimes forget the rigors of a deposition as well as the physical and mental demands to all concerned.
Proper interaction and communication with all parties is an essential role of the court reporter. From the moment the witness is sworn in, the court reporter must be professional, impartial and interactive. All parties in the deposition, should have confidence in the court reporter’s ability to absorb and write every word, every nuance, every question and every objection. Producing a quality transcript is the primary objective of the court reporter. The transcript should be accurate and error free.
Finally, a court reporter needs to fulfill commitments and meet deadlines. Unfortunately, this is not obvious to all court reporters. A court reporter always needs to have a clear understanding of their work load and how they need to manage their time. Clients will sometimes ask for the impossible and some court reporters surrender to pressure just to impress or please. At the end of the day, a good court reporter is one who can make the necessary adjustments in order to meet their commitments. Clients will remember situations where major problems are solved and minor miracles are made.
Despite my wife’s biased opinion, I do give my charm and good looks some credit for being a good court reporter.