Why Choose a Stenographer

What exactly is your court reporter doing?

Your stenographer has the skills and technology to hear the words spoken by one or more individuals and instantaneously turn those words into a realtime transcript allowing litigants or other users of their services to utilize readbacks and gain access to quick turnaround times on transcripts.  

They do this by studying a shorthand theory and building upon that knowledge throughout their entire career to handcraft a dictionary of briefs and phrases.  When your court reporter is recording testimony, they call it “writing”, and it is more akin to striking many keys at once on a piano to make a chord than it is to typing out each individual letter on a keyboard.  Those key strokes are fed into your reporter’s computer-aided transcription (CAT) software, and the result is a realtime transcript.  

This transcript still requires editing and proofreading before it will be certified and produced, but the way transcripts are created has come a long way from pen writing and shorthand machines that use ink and stenopads.  Stenographers truly embrace technology and use cutting-edge technology.  They are always looking for ways to improve on that technology to compliment the services provided. 

Stenographers are life-long learners.  The schooling they attend is best described as a trade school where the focus is primarily on honing their skills and learning to recognize situations where the transcript’s integrity might be in jeopardy.  This includes speaking up when non-verbal responses or cues are being given, several people are speaking at once, or in the world of videoconferences noticing when a participant’s audio or video has dropped.  Your court reporter may ask for clarification of words and phrases and/or ask people to repeat themselves, slow down, or speak one at a time when the record otherwise would not be clear.  

Digital reporters (who also call themselves court reporters)

Digital reporting is a comparatively new service on the scene.   In some cases, if a client does not specify they require a stenographic reporter when they are booking a court reporter, a digital reporter may show up to their proceeding. 

This may be easier to identify in person.   If the reporter for your proceedings walks into the boardroom and only sets up a laptop and a tape recorder with no stand-alone shorthand machine, you have a digital reporter.  The consequence is that they are not making a verbatim record of your proceeding in real time.   

It may be harder to spot a digital reporter when your proceeding is being held via videoconference.  A stenographer will happily show you their shorthand machine on video and their hands will be busy throughout your proceeding. 

A digital reporter will sit through your proceeding and maybe, but not always, monitor the recording that is being made.  They will record the names of the individuals in the room so the correct speakers can hopefully be identified later on when they or someone else sits down to type the transcript.  They will also often make tag notes during the proceeding to compare to the recording later, but they lack the speed and accuracy to capture your testimony in a meaningful way in real time.  

The transcript becomes an after-the-fact product, and it typically involves a team of typists to create.  There are cases where this team of typists will cross provincial borders and sometimes even be sent out of the country. Because the people preparing your transcript are often not the person who made the recording, context cues and other nuances can be missed or disregarded, and consistency can be lost. 

There are some software programs that can help a digital reporter by providing speech-to-text solutions to help them create a record in a more efficient manner.  In a case where this method is utilized, we would caution you to think about privacy concerns and consider how that data may be stored, who has access to it, and how it is utilized in the future.  

Make Sure Your Court Reporter is a Real Court Reporter (Article from Daily Journal)

Why choose a stenographer

A wise stenographer once pointed out that you can make the most brilliant argument of your entire legal career, but if they cannot hear you, it won’t make its way onto the record.  A digital reporter would not know they could not hear you until it is too late.   

The words spoken during your proceeding are important, and sometimes they are a reliving of the worst day of a person’s life.  When a stenographic reporter is in the room with you, you can sleep soundly knowing you will only have to elicit that evidence once and that it is being handled and stored with the respect and care it deserves.  

When every word matters, the way those words become the official record requires some consideration.  We urge you to only accept the gold standard and ensure your court reporter is a Certified Shorthand Reporter or Participating Shorthand Reporter.