How Has Technology Changed the Court Reporting Industry?
12 November 2022

How Has Technology Changed the Court Reporting Industry?

The COVID-19 pandemic may have shut down workplaces for much of 2020, but it also revolutionized how we work, especially in the court reporting industry. 

 

The legal industry has always had a reputation for being adverse to digital technology. However, with the coronavirus confining attorneys, court interpreters, court reporters, and other legal support professionals to their homes, the justice system turned to digital tech to remain functional. 

 

The court reporting sector experienced some of the most significant tech adoptions in the legal system. During the pandemic lockdowns, 90% of depositions happened remotely, with court reporters leveraging video conferencing and digital transcription technology to execute their duties. 

 

Interestingly, with pandemic lockdowns lifted across America and attorneys back in the courtrooms, the tech trends that defined the pandemic period have remained and will be around for much longer. This article highlights some recent ways digital technology has transformed court reporting.

Court Reporting Tech Trends Since the Pandemic

Court reporting has evolved since the coronavirus, with digital tech transforming transcription and deposition processes. Here are some of the top tech trends in court reporting today: 

  • AI-assisted Court Reporting

AI-assisted court reporting combines artificial intelligence and human transcribing methods. It involves using digital transcription technology to handle the initial transcription of depositions or court proceedings. A human transcriptionist or court reporter will then evaluate the AI-generated document to ensure accuracy. 

 

AI-assisted court reporting produces court transcripts faster, with 98.5% accuracy. The fast-paced transcription feature of AI court reporting is an invaluable asset in the legal industry, as it'll speed up justice procedures. 

 

Rather than wait several weeks for a courtroom transcript, attorneys can get rough transcript texts during live court proceedings or depositions and accurate, comprehensively proofread documents within a day. 

 

With other benefits, such as lesser legal fees, AI-assisted court reporting will remain a significant feature in the legal industry for the foreseeable future. 

  • Remote Depositions

Remote depositions were a significant highlight of the pandemic lockdowns in the court reporting industry. Since the justice system had to keep running despite nationwide shutdowns, attorneys and court reporters turned to remote depositions to execute deposition proceedings. 

 

During the pandemic, stenographers leveraged video conferencing tools (such as Zoom) to perform their virtual duties. The benefits of these tech tools were obvious. Remote depositions were more budget-friendly than in-person depositions, as court reporters and attorneys spent less on travel, accommodation, and conference room costs.  

 

Remote depositions also offered smoother procedures, with scenarios where lawyers and litigants had to pass several pieces of paperwork back and forth becoming alien. Witnesses, defendants, and plaintiffs could simply review documents on PC screens without sorting through hardcopy files. 

 

The result of these benefits beyond the pandemic? 83% of Attorneys expect one party in future depositions to participate virtually. 

  • Digital Court Reporting

The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) had termed digital court reporting risky and disastrous for litigations. Yet, this claim has done little to impact the popularity of digital court reporting in the US justice system. 

 

Digital court reporting involves using high-quality audio and video recording equipment placed strategically across a courtroom to record court sittings. A digital court reporter oversees the recording process and takes non-phonetic shorthand notes to identify speakers during the proceeding. 

 

After the court sitting, the digital court reporter leverages the audio and video records and their log notes to produce a hardcopy transcript of the proceeding. 

 

In contrast, stenographic court reporters use a stenographer and phonetic shorthand to record every word in a court proceeding. Digital court reporting offers numerous benefits in comparison to traditional legal stenography. 

 

For one, court stenographers typically struggle to record everything spoken by attorneys and litigants without interrupting a proceeding's flow. These interruptions are avoided by digital court reporters since they possess audio and video records to work with after the sitting. 

 

As a result of its benefits, digital court reporting is becoming more popular across American courtrooms. 

Benefits of Digital Technology In the Court Reporting Sector

The immense popularity of digital tech among court reporters is down to how it has revolutionized the deposition and transcription process, especially the flexibility and ease it has ushered into legal stenography. Here are some top benefits of digital tech in court reporting: 

  • Dealing With the Court Reporter Shortage

Before the pandemic, the US legal system was battling a court reporter shortage. Legal experts claim that the legal system is short of 9,000 court stenographers. This growing lack of stenographers has seen several attorneys and litigants struggle to find court reporters for depositions and court sittings. 

 

The increasing retirement of older stenographers and the high drop-out rate in court-reporting schools contribute to this shortage. Few students can meet a court reporting degree's stringent graduation requirements (such as typing 225 words/minute during a mock deposition).

 

However, the rising popularity of digital court reporting and the increasing number of digital court reporters is reducing the shortage. Digital court reporting training programs and degrees are devoid of the demanding graduation requirements of traditional stenography, making it easier to become a court reporter. 

 

The tech tools used by digital court reporters also guarantee detailed and more accurate deposition transcripts. 

  • Time-saving and Faster Justice Proceedings

Traditional stenography often left attorneys and judges waiting weeks for deposition and courtroom transcripts. Delayed transcripts could have significant effects on a lawsuit. 

 

Not to mention that court reporters dealing with strict deadlines and piling projects meant the slow-paced processes of conventional stenography made the profession back-breaking. 

 

However, digital and AI-assisted court reporting allows court reporters to produce transcripts quicker and without the strain of traditional stenography. Rough transcript drafts could be ready during a deposition, while stenographers can provide proofread and accurate versions within a day. 

 

Furthermore, the legal system can now avoid the needless court reporter interruptions typical of court sittings since stenographers use audio and video equipment to capture every detail in a courtroom. 

 

Finally, court reporters can take on more projects thanks to the possibility of remote depositions. In-person depositions typically require significant travel time to get to the venue. As a result, court reporters could often not handle more than one deposition daily. 

 

However, with depositions now happening from their homes or anywhere in the world, stenographers have more time to serve more clients. 

  • Reduced Travel and Accommodation Costs

In-person depositions required clients, attorneys, and court reporters to travel often. Therefore, they spent significantly on travel and accommodation. However, remote depositions eliminate these costs, as litigants, lawyers, and court reporters can hold depositions from anywhere in the world. 

Conclusion

The court reporting industry has witnessed revolutionary changes since the coronavirus, with digital tech becoming a significant part of legal processes across America. 

 

With the benefits of digital tech already obvious, its use in court reporting will further increase in coming years, and technological improvements will usher in faster and more flexible procedures in the US legal system. 

 

Considering hiring a digital court reporter for litigation or deposition? We offer expert digital court reporting and virtual deposition services at Courtreporters.com. Contact us today to find out more about our legal support services and how we can assist you.