It’s common for court reporters to have difficulty transcribing unfamiliar acronyms and case-specific technical language. After all, there are shorthand techniques and code words in nearly every industry—and you can’t possible be expected to know them all. So what should you do when an attorney breezes through a string of complicated legal phrasing without skipping a beat, and it’s up to you to accurately record everything he’s saying?

Here are a few dos and don’ts to remember about recording medical and legal jargon:

  • Don’t guess! Never assume you have used the correct technical terms being used. There’s a big difference between abductor and adductor, fictitious and factitious, hypernatremia and hyponatremia—even transition and translation.
  • Get hard copies. Always get a copy of the documents used in court proceedings. Not only will this help clear up terminology confusion, learning the lingo will be a big help in the future when you take similar cases.
  • Build up your library. There are numerous journals and subscriptions to help court reporters build their technical vocabularies. For example, the Journal of Court Reporting regularly provides a section of new technical terms and commonly-used acronyms across various fields.
  • Don’t rely on pronunciation. There are many different ways to pronounce a given word—and anyone present can pronounce the same word differently.

A Little Preparation Goes a Long Way

The best way to prepare for the terms used in your case is to ask for an index of terms at the beginning of your involvement (either from a deposing attorney or before court proceedings begin). Many attorneys will ask for a court reporter with particular expertise in their type of case, but if even if they have, asking for terminology shows initiative and dedication to an accurate record.

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