When most people think of a court reporter, the first person that comes to mind is the one who sits inside a courtroom and records each spoken word. The fact is that a good number of court reporter jobs are found outside the courthouse as well. If you’re considering a career as a court reporter, here are some unusual places where you may be able to find employment.
Court Reporting Agencies
Some agencies specialize in providing court reporters for depositions, administrative law hearings, mediation and binding arbitration. These agencies may hire several court reporters and then disperse them where and when they are needed. Their business model is similar to that of a temporary employment staffing agency in that workers are assigned different positions to fill on a very short-term basis. However, court reporting agencies differ in that the length of an assignment is much shorter-often hours or days rather than weeks or months.
Many court reporters begin working for agencies, and then branch out into private practice once they have developed a following. These court reporters work on a freelance basis, and typically have a home-based office where they answer calls and prepare reports. The bulk of their work however is performed in the field, and largely takes place in law offices during depositions. A freelance court reporter carries his or her own stenotype machine to each appointment, and then uses special software to process dictated material upon returning to the office.
Larger law firms may sometimes hire their own in-house court reporter. This is more likely whenever a law firm performs a good number of depositions, as is often the case with personal injury attorneys. Law firms such as these typically have a special area set aside for taking depositions in that is similar to a conference room. When not taking depositions, the court reporter may perform other duties such as filing paperwork, performing legal research, and drafting pleadings, provided the work does not create a conflict of interest.
Local, State or Federal Government Agencies
Court reporters could sometimes be needed by city, state or federal government law enforcement agencies. In this capacity, a court reporter might provide services during criminal trials, or be present during internal hearings that deal with fraud or other wrongdoing. A few of the government agencies that sometimes use court reporters include the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The Armed Forces of the United States has its own set of laws known as the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). As an Armed Forces court reporter, you may be responsible for recording testimony during a court martial, which is the military’s version of a courtroom trial. To work in this capacity, you must have an understanding of military customs and courtesies as well as the UCMJ. For this reason, these positions are normally held only by service members or honorably-discharged veterans. Some positions could require your deployment to a combat zone, even if you are employed as a Department of Defense (DOD) civilian.
After gaining some experience as a court reporter, you could then go on to train new students at a career college or vocational school. Court reporters these days are often cross trained in captioning and/or sign language, so you are more likely to land a teaching position if you also have demonstrated skills in either of those areas.
Regardless of where you end up working, you’ll need the right education in order to get started. For help with finding the right training program, contact us.