People often ask me: what does it take to be a court reporter? The funny thing is that my answer always ends up a little bit different depending on who is asking the questions.
Most of the time, I get these types of inquiries from people who have seen a few too many courtroom dramas. They always want to know if Hollywood “gets it right”, or if I’ve ever been taking testimony in a courtroom when some wild criminal decided to get out of control. Thankfully, there have been very few of the latter during my extensive court reporting career. But with regard to the former: yes, I have seen, heard, and recorded for the official and legal record some pretty sensational things. And for the sake of most of the people who ask, I avoid going into too much detail.
It also takes flexibility and versatility to be a good court reporter. I’ve had to take depositions in some very strange places, and many of them are not for the feint of heart. I once had to take a deposition in a hotel room. No, not a ballroom or a conference room on hotel property – the actual room where guests usually stay overnight. And then there was another occasion where I had to take a deposition in the middle of an illegal sex shop. Most people can’t even imagine what being inside an illegal sex shop is like, much less being expected to perform your day job (and perform it well) amidst such a chaotic, unnerving environment.
Through my own personal experience, I’ve discovered that being a court reporter takes dedication. Above all else, it certainly takes dedication to the English language. And being a court reporter in South Florida presents extra challenges, because there are so many people from different countries speaking many different languages. Of course I’m trained to take depositions in English, and I have many reputable contacts in the area I can call when I have a client who needs to have a non-English speaker deposed.
Unlike your typical stenographer job, being a court reporter takes time. I had to go to school for many years to earn my certification in court reporting. On top of that, even the lengthiest training program cannot fully prepare you for the real world of court reporting (much to my chagrin, I never had the opportunity to take “Sex Shop Depositions 101” during my college years). But I knew early on that this was something I wanted to make into a lifelong career, so dedicating the time to pursuing my profession of choice was a sacrifice which I was more than willing to make.
Lastly – and more often than not I feel like this is the most important part – it takes professionalism to be a top-notch court reporter. I’ve seen younger reporters have very emotional reactions to shocking crime scene photos and footage. I’ve seen reporters who lose clients because they couldn’t deliver accurate depositions, or because they didn’t have the adequate facilities for the law offices which approached them. Luckily, that has never been much of a problem for me and my staff here at Bailey and Associates. Not that I’m bragging, of course.