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What the Court Reporter Shortage Means in Arizona

Court Reporter Shortage

It’s estimated, by Ducker Worldwide that by this year there will be a court reporter shortage of 5,000 within five years meaning that demand will exceed supply. The combination of many court reporters being close to retirement age and a dearth of younger people pursuing the profession is leading the shortage.

What does this mean for the courts and for attorneys?

This shortage highlights the need to recruit younger people to the field. To retain the highest level of customer care for attorneys in Phoenix, Arizona and their clients, the profession literally cannot afford any of the current court reporters to retire early.

Recruiting new court reporters to the profession is not as easy as it once was because court reporting schools are also going out of business. This is especially true in rural areas which might not only experience a shortage of court reporters, but a complete lack of them.

The shrinking base of court reporters and a smaller pool of potential candidates to replace them has many court officials seeking options to ensure accurate records of court proceedings are captured and maintained.

What can be done?

Phoenix, Arizona attorneys and the courts themselves need to find ways to support and help regrow interest in the career. The salary and the flexibility the career offers should potentially lure new professionals into the career.

The starting salaries for court reporters is estimated at $43,000. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a 14% growth in salary per year through 2020. The reason for the salary growth is because the supply of court reporters is low and the demand remains high and that leads to salary increases. It is hoped that the salary level for even beginning court reporters will be an incentive for them to pursue training in the field.

Many court reporters work on a contract basis with various courts and this means they can work as often, or as infrequently, as they like. They are essentially able to set their own earning potential. Some court reporters, on certain cases, could earn more than six figures.

Why is there a court reporter shortage and what does it mean to the public?

A shortage of court reporters means a dearth of qualified professionals available to deliver service to attorneys who are representing their clients in courtroom proceedings. 

While electronic recording devices have been introduced into some courtrooms they are no replacement for an experienced court reporter who can pick up on nuances in conversations and request something be repeated it if wasn’t clear.

Technology is no a solution to the court reporter shortage, though because with technology comes technical problems. Additionally, even if the proceedings are recorded, the record still needs to be transcribed. Litigation firms do not anticipate a decline in the need for court reporters.

Court reporters provide service during court proceedings and they also prepare transcripts for appeals and other judicial review processes.

To entice a new crop of court reporters to the field, current court reporters in Phoenix, Arizona should be urged to communicate what they enjoy about their careers. It is up to those in the legal profession to help the public understand the need for these professionals in courtroom proceedings.

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