How to Hire a Court Reporter That You Can Rely on for All of Your Future Depositions

If you have been combing the Internet looking for a local court reporter, you may feel a little like a college recruiter. All of the potential candidates on your list have the same diplomas, certifications, and memberships—so how can you tell which one will be a reliable asset for your firm’s depositions?

What to Look for When Hiring a Court Reporter

Whether you hire a freelance reporter or use a reporting service, you will have to look beyond stellar qualifications to find a match for your firm. Some of the most important qualities a court reporter should have include:

  • A strong work ethic. Not all freelancers will “flake out” on their deadlines, but they do not have the same accountability as court reporters who are part of a service. Your reporter should be committed to the work she performs both in and outside of the deposition chamber—and that includes showing up and turning transcripts around when she says she will. Job flexibility is also a good indicator of a strong work ethic, so be sure to ask how a reporter would respond to working late or coming in on a weekend.
  • A positive attitude. Beware the reporter who is uncooperative, gives short responses, or doesn’t interact well with you or your staff. Many firms have opted for less skilled or inexperienced reporters who have good personality traits than seasoned reporters who do not seem to care about their clients. Remember: skills and experience can be improved with time, but a bad personality isn’t likely to change.
  • Life experience. In addition to the string of acronyms on a resume, a good court reporter should have hobbies and interests that afford further learning opportunities. Time spent studying abroad in France can help with language and spelling skills, while a financial background increases the likelihood of punctuality and fact-checking. From speed-reading to car repair, any indicator that the reporter is genuinely curious and looking to increase his knowledge is a positive sign.
  • Technological savvy. So many advances have been made in court reporting technology over the past few years, it is in a reporter’s best interest—if not his duty—to keep up. Not only do reporters need computer skills and experience, they should also be familiar with current in-house systems such as Communication Access Real-time Translation (CART) software or other computer-aided transcription equipment.

What do you think are the best indicators of a valuable court reporter?

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