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The Veritext Peer Advisory Council (VPAC) is a team of seasoned court reporting and videography experts on the Veritext team who share their industry knowledge and expertise to help our reporter and videographer community.
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For those of you still in training, practice, practice, practice. Even when you’re sitting in a room full of people, on public transportation or in a movie, practice writing what you’re hearing in your lap without a machine.
Once you start reporting, join the national and state associations to stay current with what’s going on in the industry; and constantly hone your skills to become the best reporter you can be, with realtime reporting being your ultimate goal.
Keep up with technology. Always strive to be the best writer you can be. Get a mentor to help you through the first few years.
Love what you do and have passion about turning out a good work product. Be concerned about the comfort of other people and do your part to make them feel as at ease as possible in the situation. Keep the most up to date equipment – it makes your job easier to perform. Pass all the tests you would like to pass early on before life gets too busy.
Look at and work on your dictionary. Create new briefs for difficult phrases or words. If you stay on top of the technology, your job just becomes easier. Take CEUs that will make your job easier. Find a mentor to bounce ideas, issues and thoughts. Get your certifications as soon as you can after you graduate.
I do not believe you have to be the best writer or the best realtimer or have the most credentials — although all of that helps — but a great attitude and a willingness to continue to learn and grow will take you far. Believe in yourself. You can and will do this.
Be a life-long learner. Keep current on your equipment and software. When you achieve a certification, start preparing for the next one. (You can never have too many initials after your name, and they are key differentiators!) Become a subject expert in court reporting and customer service. There has never been a better time to be a court reporter. The work is plentiful and lucrative. Take care of the people you work for… and they will take care of you with work.
What makes a great court reporter is consistent practice and goal setting. Find a good mentor who loves the profession, put in as many hours as possible practicing and always remain focused on the goal of an amazing career that will be yours when you complete court reporting school.
Be honest, be ethical at all times and always treat people as you’d want to be treated. You may be hired by the “taking attorney,” but once in that deposition or hearing room, you are impartial and are there for the record, never for one side or the other. Stick with it. There are bumps in the beginning and a huge learning curve, but you’ll get past those with perseverance. It’s SO worth it! This profession comes with so, so many rewards.
If you are going to be a court reporter, be great in every way — not just on the machine. Be a team player. Engage with other reporters in a positive way. Dress and act like the jobs you want. Support the office and they will support you. Respect the people that have gone before you and remember that they have paved the way. Be a good person! This will draw momentum toward you as you begin an epic journey. And once you are on your way, look around to see who you can develop and support.
Practice, practice, practice. Never stop learning and working to get better at your craft. Strive to reach higher levels with more certifications. Be the best at what you do. If you’re a new reporter, find a mentor that you can bounce questions off of. Join professional associations that will broaden your horizons. Attend conferences and seminars that will empower you and help you become the best reporter you can be.
Find something interesting about each case you take, whether it’s the people you work with or the topic of the case. It’s a continued learning experience. Accept that you are in a service business and be tolerant of the case and the people you work with. Be flexible since each case is a live proceeding and the flow is not always predictable. Continue to hone your skills all the time. Always try your best. Don’t become complacent. Always walk into a case, whether in person or by Zoom with confidence and a smile. Introduce yourself to everyone at the beginning of the case, don’t be afraid to make eye contact, and thank them at the end of the case. For stenographic reporters, don’t always count on remembering a short form for every word,. Rely on phonetics and then Google it. This way, you will be open to accepting a greater variety of jobs.
We asked our court reporters: If you could have received one piece of advice when you were getting started, what would it have been?
My favorite thing about being a court reporter is how versatile the job is, particularly when it comes to time. Of course, just starting out, as long you do not pick a firm to work with that demands you work or are available certain hours, whenever you don’t have a job scheduled, you are on your own and can do what you want. Sometimes you are only working outside of the house two to three hours a day, but you still have plenty of work at home editing.
You are constantly learning new things and meeting new people. Never a dull moment!
If you love learning, you will love this job. I feel like I go to school each day I take a job – and there is no test – and I get paid. You will meet the most interesting people – educated and not so educated, but always fascinating. One can be inspired at any time in one’s life. My inspiration was during a field trip with my fifth-grade class to the courthouse (50 years ago). I saw that court reporter. Kindly take note, court reporters are still in that courtroom today! I am still in contact with my fifth-grade teacher and celebrate most holidays with her. As a matter of fact, I helped her in the online scheduling of her COVID vaccine appointment.
My best advice for anyone considering a career as a stenographer: Research school’s reviews/complaints and accreditation and make sure all instructors are licensed Court Reporters. The school I trained at hired all instructors who dropped out of court reporting school; therefore, no experience and no real-life knowledge of the field and career opportunities in the field. As a direct result, I was ill-prepared for real-life court reporting. Don’t base school exclusively on non-licensed staff pitching court reporting training. And find your niche while training in school. ALWAYS TALK TO PEOPLE WHO ARE DOING WHAT YOU WANT TO DO WHILE COMPLETING SCHOOL!
The most exposure to testimony under oath given by people in literally every occupation, profession, apprenticeship or expertise involved in explaining how things work in their particular field. My brother asked me one time, after a lengthy discussion about some topic, “does it hurt to know so much?” After 41 years as a freelance reporter who has passed competency writing tests in four different jurisdictions, even in Canada for a year. Practice, practice and get the difficult words and phrases in your head so they don’t trip you up when under pressure with a fast talker. Find a method of brief forming that works for you because you have to have some form of extended way to shortcut the repetitive phrases and names, etc. that they will be saying in the particular job. I still enjoy watching how clean my transcripts come out, almost zero percent untran rate and zero conflicts. I got that way through constant development of my writing style, which I compare to playing a concerto on the piano, but only I can hear the silent music of the steno language appearing as words on the page just like magic when you enjoy a piece written by Chopin played by a professional pianist. Looking back, it is definitely recommended to follow up and see if you can hack it. There is a high attrition rate, though, especially when you get to the over 220 WPM world. Best of luck on your journey. It will be worth it if you make graduation and then get certified. What a feeling. Oh, by the way, the money is really good if you can distinguish yourself and work hard and get dem pages out. Sincerely, Rick White.
I guess there are several reasons that I still enjoy what I do so much. I’m in my 56th year of continuously reporting (no time off) and I still enjoy what I do. That in itself is remarkable. The fact that you have a different set of circumstances every day ensures that you are not bored with your job; not every job offers that. Attorneys are among the highest quality people in this country and a joy to work with. It pays well, and a great company like Veritext completes the package.
Stay committed. Practice makes perfect.
BE SWEET, BUT ASSERTIVE. PROTECT YOUR RECORD. IF THEY ARE GOING TOO FAST OR DIDN’T HEAR THEM, SWEETLY AND PROFESSIONALLY ASK THEM TO PLEASE RESTATE. IT’S BETTER THAN NOT BEING ABLE TO READ BACK. AND ATTORNEYS, I FEEL, HONESTLY DON’T MIND REPEATING.
Never pass up an opportunity to practice, practice, practice. Don’t sit in front of the TV without writing the audio on your machine.
It may seem difficult at first, but if you practice, practice, practice, you’ll pass the CSR test with flying colors. It really is the best field to work in. I still love it after 32 years! It’s the most interesting job ever. I did depositions at first then switched to court three years ago. I’m just having a blast at my job. There’s great days and challenging days, just like any profession. But the great days outweigh the difficult days by a long shot. We need new reporters out there!
Every reporting student hits speed walls. It can be extremely frustrating when it happens, but know that it’s totally normal and happens to everyone. This too shall pass, and so will you… into the next speed level!
Continue to practice to write exceptionally fast – having a reserve of speed is your best friend. Learn your software *really* well. It will save you untold hours of time.
If you want to get out of school at around the two-year mark, you must be prepared to write 5 to 6 hours a day on your steno machine and you must scope (type in my day 1980) everything you write. You have to write, read and scope with proficiency. Practice is the only way.
You can do this!! So many people quit school because they get stuck at a certain speed. I did. Then I passed three speed tests back to back. Of course it’s hard. That’s why there is such a shortage of court stenographers. Remember me when you hit a bump in the road. If I can do it, anybody can! Go for it. your future is waiting!
Take heart! Long days at the machine can be exhausting, then you have your transcript deadlines. Pace yourself, organize your time, and make healthy habits important in your life so you can stay strong. Burnout can be part of the job, so you need to make frequent and regular deposits into your life bank. That means making family and community time, as well as recreation in whatever form that is for you, a regular part of your career! Now, go and reap the benefits of this awesome job!
Start with the intention of writing in realtime from the very beginning, and 100% conflict-free. Ask for help and guidance. Read various publications from many different fields, science, literature, arts, sports, to enrich and inspire and also build upon your vocabulary. The steno machines nowadays have the audio synced Try not to rely on the audio, but your own raw technical skill and talent. Upon entering the work field, whatever path that looks like for you, (I.e., official, freelance, CART provider, etc), decide that you will say yes to every job experience offered… always stretch far and wide of your comfort zone. Good luck to you!
Even if your confidence isn’t quite there yet, always act and look like you know you are at your best…and dress accordingly.
You can do this! Sometimes the speed plateaus and you feel like you can’t get there. Don’t get discouraged. Allow yourself to follow the ups and downs and success will come.
Use your short forms but please embrace writing phonetically when new terminology comes your way. You can always find the spelling later but you’ll never get back the three seconds you lose trying to remember or come up with a short form when an unknown word or phrase are spoken. This tool will help you accept more jobs and make more money
During Q & A if there is a speaking objection, especially in court, make darn sure you get that last question perfect at all costs because that’s what they’re going to ask you to read back, not the objection.
Be service-oriented, be on time, and keep your word.
Don’t ever give up! Your aha moment may be just around the corner when everything clicks. Reporting worldwide news at its source is both exciting and lucrative. You can do it, students!
Write clean from the start. Don’t just slap down junk. You will be able to produce transcripts on the back end so much faster that way. And speak up! Talking too fast? Stop them. Talking all over each other? Stop them. Didn’t hear what they said? Stop them.
Learn all you can because you’re gonna need it.
I have found intimidation to always be the worst part of being a court reporter, whether it’s by the caliber of attorney you are assigned, the content of the material you will be covering, the technology that is required to perform, all of which seems overwhelming at times. But with each milestone you achieve, you become a better reporter, and you also gain more interest in and relevance for this profession. Try to raise the bar for yourself. Grow with the changing times. And stay connected with fellow reporters. The best support for any concerns or issues you may be experiencing comes from those who have walked in your shoes before and know exactly what you are going through and can give you real-life solutions to help you along your way.
Don’t give up! There are so many great opportunities in this profession.
Don’t give up. Take time for yourself and time away from your machine.
Practice speed building discs at a faster speed than what you are comfortable with. That’s how I built my speed up.
Please find a mentor so they can answer questions you may have and who can help you along the way!
Stay focused! Don’t get discouraged if you get stuck at a speed for a while! Takes practice! Some need to practice more than others to gain speed!
If you enjoy writing, this is the field for you, as it is a gift! Stick with it. The world needs you!
Hang in there! You’ll love ❤️ it!
Oh, my goodness… stick with it! Practice, practice, practice. If you can get a working reporter to help mentor you, that is ideal. Someone to hold you accountable and celebrate your successes. We need you out here!
Speed testing doesn’t prepare you for what real reporting is like. Most days are way easier and some are way harder. When you get the hard days, just remember your 225s and how hard those seemed, but you go through them!
Find an excellent motivator, person or thing, and do not be afraid to use them or it regularly. Also, find an energetic mentor to help when it gets tough, because it will! But it is so worth it
Expect fast days. They will make you faster. You will never regret becoming a court reporter
Briefs. Use them daily. I forgot so many from school, so I’m currently trying to relearn them
Know your market and seek many mentors
Have a voice! It’s your record as much as theirs. Dont be afraid to speak up if needed, but professionally.
1. Continue to practice and perfect your speed and accuracy. This will only help you get the most accurate record and further your career as a professional.
2. Speak up in the proceedings when there is overlap or inability to hear to avoid difficulty in transcription later.
3. Mark your notes to go back and ask for spellings at breaks to save time on transcription later.
Get your RPR!