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Legal profession is not limited only to lawyers and judges. It is something beyond the judges and attorneys. There are many different areas in which one can think of pursuing a legal profession. Few of these other areas of law are that of the legal assistant, legal secretary, trial consultant, jury consultant, legal nurse consultant, e-discovery professional, litigation support professional, mediator, compliance specialist and court reporter. Thus you have many options to choose from other than being an attorney or a judge.

One of the legal professions most commonly opted for, according to A. Harrison Barnes, the owner and creator of the well known job search portalBCG, is court reporting. The job prospects in this field are expected to be excellent, especially for the ones who have been certified. The increasing demand for real time broadcast captioning as well as translation will encourage even more employment growth in the near future. To become a full time court reporter the amount of training that is required varies by specialization. The licensure requirements for a court reporter vary by State.

A court reporter is also known as a voice writer, steno mask writer or stenotype reporter. They are the ones who transliterate recorded or spoken words or speech into written format. A. Harrison Barnes informs that this is done by the help of a voice silencer or a typical shorthand machine along with a digital recorder used to produce official copies of court hearings, legal depositions, court speeches, testimonies, legal proceedings, meetings, cyber conferences and other legal events at rates that exceed 225 words per minute.

The court reporters also review, prepare and proof printed or magnetic media transcripts with the help of a transcription software. With the help of the special equipment named stenotype, they are able to capture the sound of words or speech in a phonetic code, with each line of characters representing one syllable or sound.

Methods of Court Reporting

Live person court reporting is done in three main methods – machine short hand, electronic reporting and voice writing, says A. Harrison Barnes.

Machine shorthand

The machine shorthand enables the court reporter to move with the flow of speech or conversations, so that he or she doesn’t miss any word. The steno mask writer repeats word for word what the witnesses, the lawyers and others are saying during the legal proceedings. The machine allows them to press many keys at a time in order to record combinations of letters that representsounds, words or phrases. These symbols are first electronically recorded and then the recorded symbols are translated and displayed as text. This process is called computer-aided transcription (CAT).

Electronic Reporting

This is another method of reporting used by the court reporters. In this method an audio equipment is used to record the court proceedings. With the help of this equipment the court reporter monitors the complete process, identifies the speakers by taking notes, and also listens to the recordings to check the quality and clarity of sound that is recorded. The audio equipment might include digital equipments or analog tape. The electronic reporters are the ones responsible for presenting a written transcript of the recorded court proceedings.

Voice Writing

With the help of voice reporting method the court reporter speaks directly into a voice silencer, which is A. Hand held mask having a microphone. The court reporter repeats the testimony into the recorder. The mask on the equipment stops the reporter from being heard by others during the testimony. They record everything that is said by the attorneys, witnesses, the judge and other parties at the proceeding. They also include emotional reactions and gestures in the recording and prepare the transcripts later, informs A. Harrison Barnes.

Court reporters are the ones who ensure a complete, accurate and secure legal record of the legal proceedings. In the USA a court reporter is also empowered to act as a notary and administer the oaths to witnesses. The court reporters also play an important role at official meetings where the spoken words are needed to be preserved as written transcripts. Training and Skills for Court Reporting

Barnes says that all court reporters need the same basic academic classes. The classes include medical and legal language, business law and intensive training in English. There are high technicalities involved in the training of the Voice Writing method. One must learn to use speech recognition engines and computer aided transcriptions fluently in order to be a voice writer. Normally it takes one to three years to complete the course and acquire the skills to be a stenotype court reporter. Apart from the formal training, a court reporter requires to possess great attention to detail, a perfect command over the language that is spoken and the perseverance to focus for a long time.

Salaries of Court Reporters With the increase in demand of competent court reporters, the earning potential in this profession has also increased tremendously. Despite fluctuating accounts, the median annual earning of court reporters was reported to be $45,610 in May, 2006. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the average annual salaries of the mean 50% of court reporters in the USA to range between $30,680 and $60,760. This makes court reporting A. Highly lucrative job option for the competent candidate.

Despite its high challenges, court reporting promises to be a bright career opportunity to the future generation with lots of rewards for those who are talented, diligent and highly-focused.

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