A Professional Legal Court Reporter’s Top 10 Skills

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Aside from the skill to write and transcribe testimony at 225 words per minute with 95% accuracy, it is most helpful for a professional legal court reporter to have these qualities:

1)         Be an excellent listener. The ability to concentrate, stay focused and give complete attention to each speaker, as well as attempt to understand the content of what is being said, is extremely important.

2)         Integrity.   Remain unbiased, honest and ethical, as well as detached from testimony. Should the subject matter be funny, sad, ridiculous, you must show no emotion.

3)         Well-read and curious. An extensive vocabulary is a must, as well as the desire and curiosity to research as needed.

4)         Have a genuine interest in the English language, words and their meanings, as well as knowing the differences between similar sounding words. For instance, allude and elude: allude, meaning suggest or call attention to indirectly or hint at, and elude, meaning cunning or skillful escape.

4)         Proficient knowledge of grammar, punctuation and spelling. Without the proper use of commas in this sentence, the writer has just gone from Rachel enjoying her family to Rachel cooking her family: Rachel enjoys cooking her family and her dog vs. Rachel enjoys cooking, her family, and her dog.

5)         Be thorough and pay attention to the details. For instance, it is important to spell names correctly and consistently throughout the transcript, as well as make sure dates and figures are accurate.

6)         Dedication to your profession. Get your certifications and stay up on the latest court reporting technology and what it can do for you and your clients. Get involved with your local, state and national associations.

7)         Be confident and effectively communicate, both written and orally.

8)         Strive to improve your skills.   If you aren’t already a realtime writer, become one.   It’s fun and fairly easy.

9)         Understand the legal system and how it works. Tour your courthouse, know the names of the judges in your county and state, and know the difference between a legal assistant and a paralegal and what their responsibilities include.

10)       Be polite, personable and professional to office staff, clients, and witnesses. You will be working with office staff and clients for many years. Get to know them.

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