An Unprecedented Challenge: Reporter Supply vs. Demand

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17Nov2010

An Unprecedented Challenge: Reporter Supply vs. Demand

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court reporting challengeWhile the legal profession is dealing with non-precedential opinions, we in the court reporting industry are also dealing with an unprecedented situation: that of a diminishing supply of deposition reporters.

According to the National Court Reporters Association, the number of students enrolled in NCRA-approved court reporter training programs went up following years of steady decline. During this same time, an increase in the use of captioning on television, in classrooms and at live events, has led to reporters abandoning deposition work for this newer field.

While the uptick in enrollment is encouraging, one cannot tell if this signifies a reversal in the overall trend. Even if it did, it still wouldn’t have an immediate impact. It takes about five years to train a reporter, and a few more to hone their professional skills on the job.

In the meantime, we still have to meet the expanding demand for us to provide court reporters. We can’t wait another decade and hope that everything will somehow work out. We are, therefore, engaged upon a three-pronged attack to ensure that a reporter is always available when you need one.

On the long term, we are supporting the NCRA in its efforts to promote the profession and increase the number of reporters in training. For the past two years, I have been the association’s top recruiter of new members, and have been encouraging reporters to go out to local schools and give talks promoting the profession.

On a more immediate basis, since there are fewer reporters to handle the load, each one must report more depositions than before. We have, therefore, been working with our reporters to improve their efficiency. This includes training them in time-management skills and the use of technology to increase their output, without working longer hours or becoming burned out.

Internally, we have restructured our reporter recruiting activities and boosted our number of support staff (now over 150). This enables us to increase the number of reporters available to serve you at any time, as well as making it easier for them to do their jobs and get the transcript to you swiftly.

Whether we are your regular reporter, or you only use us as a backup, we are doing everything possible to ensure that the reporter shortage never means you have to do without.

Sheila Atkinson-Baker

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