I have previously written about how privileged I feel to have “discovered” court reporting many years ago. It has been a wonderful and fulfilling career for me in so many ways. One thing that may not be obvious to the casual observer is that it also is a career that has provided me with a free education of many industries, types of people, and situations that I would never have encountered in another profession:
- Reporting a deposition on a container ship and being invited by the captain to have lunch in the officers’ mess
- Going to a prison and experiencing the rigid security measures taken, along with seeing firsthand how very restricted the life of the prisoner/deponent is
- Driving to a small rural town in Central California to report the deposition of a farm worker who had been burned over 90 percent of his body in a factory accident
- Reporting trial testimony in numerous cases where the witness was not expected to live to testify personally at the trial
Personal experiences aside, my colleagues and I are noticing that many younger people do not appear to be interested in pursuing court reporting as a profession. Consequently, many court reporting schools have closed across California. When I was in court reporting school, there were approximately 15 schools in California, four in San Francisco alone. Now there are only a handful of accredited court reporting schools in California. This concerns us.
As older reporters are retiring and fewer people are entering the profession, we are beginning to see the effects of a shortage of court reporters. As in other situations where demand is greater than supply, the result is that some reporters are refusing more difficult reporting assignments because they can find plenty of “easier” work. This is not the character and quality of reporters that I have known and respected throughout my reporting career.
I will add that I feel extremely fortunate that the reporters who work with Grossman Reporting have never said that they shy away from “difficult” assignments; rather, most will request a pleading so that they can get some vocabulary ahead of time and go to the deposition or arbitration prepared.
The answer to the inevitable court reporter shortage is complex.
- One avenue I think could move the dial in attracting millennials that I support is for seasoned reporters to attend high-school and community-college career days; to go to entry-level court reporting program classes and tout court reporting as a profession; to explain the wide range of benefits of working as a free-lance reporter, including seeing different areas of the city/state/country/world; hearing about interesting topics that probably would never come into their sphere of thinking.
- I would also offer to have students come to our office and see the kind of work we do, explaining to them that acquiring organizational skills and learning to punctuate properly will be a great asset to them in the future, describing the benefits of reading the newspaper daily and how that alone will give them relevant vocabulary in a reporting situation, and emphasizing just how much fun court reporting is.