There Is No SubstituteNancy Varallo, president of the National Court Reporters Association, owns The Varallo Group, which offers court reporting, business development and administrative support services to reporters and reporting firms.
APRIL 7, 2014
In an era defined by technological advancement, stenographic court reporters remain the gold standard for capturing the spoken word. It’s not just that they produce the most accurate legal records, including capturing certain interpersonal nuances that digital recordings might miss. Nor is it simply because they are trained to handle complex procedures associated with trials and depositions. Court reporters are indispensable to the legal system because they offer 21st-century solutions to unyielding situations that demand speed without sacrificing accuracy. They are certainly not relics of a bygone era.
Today’s court reporters are able to filter their shorthand through computers to provide judges, attorneys and clients with instantaneous, understandable transcripts. No other technology can come close. Truth be told, the incident that inspired this discussion probably would have been curtailed had the court been using the real-time method. Traditionally, stenography is expanded into a readable transcript following the day’s events. But real-time uses computer software to instantaneously translate shorthand into understandable English. The text then scrolls across the laptop or tablet, much like captioning on a television.
In recent years, court systems have struggled to contain costs. Even in courts that have been forced to implement more affordable methods of record keeping, court reporters nearly always remain in place for complex civil litigation and felony criminal proceedings, because they are the most reliable in high stakes situations. Likewise, in the deposition setting, outside of the courts, where true market demand is at play, court reporters remain the overwhelming choice for attorneys because they know there is no substitute for what we do.