“Courage is not the absence of fear, but the mastery of it,” said Victor Hugo.
Being a court reporter takes so many skillsets: the ability to write 250+ words per minute accurately, having the intelligence to understand words spoken by every type of expert in the world talking about every subject from mold remediation to DNA sequencing of the human genome, and having to upon occasion interact with angry, high-maintenance individuals.
The type of person that becomes a great court reporter is the type of person who knows how to face their fear and master it.
When a person makes the decision to go to court reporting school, they have to take into account only 10 percent of the students actually graduate. They know it could take two, four, six or eight years to become licensed. To go to court reporting school takes courage and determination, and I would suggest those who face any fear they might have about going to court reporting school, ignore the naysayers that worry for the student and ask, “What is wrong? Why aren’t you done yet?” have a great career ahead of them.
When a person is first licensed to be a court reporter, there is a fear of all of the “firsts,” first deposition, first hearing, first I.M.E., first arbitration, first real-time job… Great court reporters put their heads down, ask for advice from more seasoned reporters, and take the job. I still get nervous when I have a “first.”
Because court reporters have a tremendous talent, especially with their real-time skillset, new opportunities are opening up all of the time, for example, the court reporters who are reporting the trials at GITMO. I am lucky enough to be a friend of some of those reporters, and I would bet $100 that when they first flew down there they were nervous, and these are some of the most talent court reporters in our nation. Now, they are a tightknit team, providing amazing instantaneous real-time, scoping and proofing for each other, and have received accolades and praise for their work.
Being a stenographer and transcribing meetings, writing CART, providing closed-captioning are just some of the modern opportunities that court reporters have.
We know the average age of court reporters is 56, 57 in the United States, and the majority are women. I think it is GREAT that as a woman in my early 60s I have the opportunity to keep walking through my fear/nerves and try new things. To be honest, I have thought to myself, “I don’t need to learn how to work a webcam and stream video/text. I can let someone else do it. I know enough stuff.” But then I think to myself, “I need to know as much as any other court reporter, so just do it, Rosalie.” It is about winning. I remember the first time I provided interactive real-time. I was super scared, and real-time was so new the attorney stared at the screen the whole day. He had never seen anything like it before, and he couldn’t help himself and kept stopping the deposition to point out a misstroke or let me know “tier not tear.” A part of me never wanted to provide real-time again, but then another part of me got mad, and I wasn’t going to let an uneducated attorney stop me from working at getting better, clean up my writing, and then ultimately getting my CRR certification – so there.
Court reporters are amazing in so many different ways. Having a talent that so few people can master is something to be proud of, and I would suggest trying new things keeps people in their 50s and 60s young. Punching fear in the face and moving forward is actually fun and is what court reporters do best.