Anyone interested in becoming a paralegal has many options of which college, university, or business school to attend. Some schools require students to complete part of their studies in the classroom, but there are many others who allow those enrolled in the program to do all of their studies online.
There are certificate programs, usually designed for those who are already working in a law office who want to learn the basics about laws to add to their experience, or for candidates who have already earned an Associate’s Degree or Bachelor’s Degree.
In addition, other choices exist for the paralegal candidate. There are Associate’s Degrees, Bachelor’s Degrees, and Master’s Degrees in Paralegal Studies as well. Degree programs focus on Paralegal Studies, but they also include other general college courses.
Have you ever wondered what that thing is that court reporters are always using?
Well, that thing is called a stenographic machine, or ‘stenograph’. This type of machines is also used to produce captions for TV broadcasts, live streaming transcripts at meetings and at schools, and for office stenography in general. Stenographs are working a bit like portable word processors, but they have a modified keyboard with 22 buttons instead of a standard keyboard.
Modern stenographs include two rows of consonant keys on each side, placed underneath a ‘number bar’, and in front are four keys for the vowels A, O, E, and U.
Now how do stenographers work? Court stenographers may be typing entire words if they strike more keys at the same time. The left keys are for spelling the beginning letter of a syllable, and the right-hand keys are for the last letter. The stenographer presses all relevant keys at the same time, and the stenographic machine will come up with an alphabet soup that is unintelligible for persons who are not trained to read machine shorthand.
In the U.S., stenography is usually the method used for court reporting. A stenographer is using a stenograph, a stenotype machine, a word processing machine that has a 22-button keyboard especially developed for this purpose. A stenographer spells words in a phonetical way and a well-trained stenographer will record at least 200 words a minute, which is actually a minimum requirement for professional stenographers.
Court reporting is a well-respected profession and offers rewarding career opportunities. Let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits that come with this exciting profession:
Every year, there are around 5,500 job openings in the U.S. alone, and this trend will continue for some time to come. Graduates of a Court reporting program are holding much more than just a diploma, a piece of paper stating that they successfully completed an academic program. They also will be sure to land a great job! Though the economy is in pretty good shape, job options are changing rapidly and not every college graduate is certain of employment. The field of court reporting, however, is projected to see an ongoing surge across the nation. Shorthand specialists will be certain of a long-standing career.
The judicial system in America is relying on court reporters. They are the professionals that are maintaining the integrity when it comes to judicial processes.
They are the guardians of official records in everything from courtroom proceedings to pre-trial depositions. State regulations may differ slightly, but in this article, you’ll find the general requirements for becoming a court reporter.
Court Reporter Licensing
Court reporters (frequently referred to as shorthand reporters or stenographers) are professionals that ensure that every spoken word and gesture is recorded in a court proceeding. They are responsible for producing accurate transcripts. They are often labeled “guardians of the records” and they need to be reliable, responsible, and impartial. They need to have enjoyed the proper educated and their training and certification make that they will perform their job and duties responsibly.
Stenography is a shorthand typing form that’s done on special machines that allow for the simultaneous production of a verbatim transcript that can be used, for example, in courts. Stenographers are working alongside speakers when they, for instance, produce live subtitles for television purposes.
What Do Stenographers Do?
Well-trained QWERTY typists usually are typing at a rate of 80 words a minute, and to give you an idea how fast that is: Fiona Bruce, a famous British television newsreader, is talking at approximately 180 words per minute, and Jon Stewart (no explanation needed, I guess) even more. Well, stenographers are writing at a rate of at least 200 words a minute on a tiny machine, and they are able to come up with an exact transcript in that same time. Now that’s a lot, and fast!
Many studies have indicated that if college and high school students learn to properly take notes during their lecture, their academic performance will be far better.
They’ll be more successful, as Stahl, King, and Henk have demonstrated in 1991. Spires and Stone also found in a 1989 study that students will have to ‘increasingly depend on their skill to properly take notes in the classroom if they want to become successful’
In 1994, Ornstein published his findings that indicate that students will benefit if all teachers deliberately train their students in good note-taking techniques. Lower-achieving students will even benefit more. A Bakunas & Holley essay from 2001 is even suggesting that instructors should teach their students note-taking skills just like they’re taught reading, writing, or keyboarding skills.
Court reporters (also named certified shorthand reporters) need to record every word that is spoken at an official court proceeding. The court proceeding could be a hearing or a trial. Instead of using a pencil to put it all to paper or making use of a regular word processor (with a full keyboard), court reporters use a stenographic machine (the ‘stenograph’) that includes only 22 keys.
By using these 22 keys, court reporters are able to produce symbols on a very tiny and narrow paper strip in the machine and record all the things that are said in court. The stenograph is hooked up to a computer to convert the records into English that we can understand.
Court reporters are also required, if instructed by the judge to do so, to read out loud portions of what they have transcribed on their stenograph. Court reporters are also required to prepare official written transcripts of the court proceedings.
Gregg Shorthand is named after John Robert Gregg who invented the system. It actually consists of a pen stenography system that became pretty popular in America at the beginning of the 20th century. However, the invention of mechanical stenography systems cause, the Gregg Shorthand system to lose its popularity.
Up to some 25 years ago, you could find shorthand classes at practically all high schools across the nation, but today, most high school students today have never heard of the Gregg Shorthand writing system.
The well-known publishing firm McGraw-Hill (they bought the Gregg Publishing Company) states that the current popular version is named the Centennial Version. This latest edition works well for business dictation, and it has considerably more short forms than earlier versions, the Series 90 and the Diamond Jubilee Series.
Many Americans are overloaded with student debt. They often are questioning the value of having a college degree. Consider the alternative that’s described in this post, and study for a top-paying profession that’s crying out for employees and comes with relatively little costs.
If you don’t have a high school diploma but you are willing to learn and get the GED diploma, and then learn shorthand code and get familiar with court reporting job, you could have a really good future.
Getting a GED might seem challenging but it’s not that complicated. There are many (free) resources. Read more about online practice for the GED from BGC website here, they have the largest collection of GED practice tests and GED video lessons. Just bookmark their page and you can be prepared for the GED within 4 weeks.
Okay, let’s talk about being a Court Reporter. There are ‘stenographic court reporters’ and ‘voice-writing court reporters’ and these specialists are highly skilled people that often usually work in courtrooms and are the persons who produce court reports. They may also be employed at deposition suites that are found across America or at some places.
Court reporters (especially steno writers) need some four years of education and a lot of training-on-the-job. They require certification and there are three bodies in the US that are responsible for that, the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA), the National Verbatim Reporters Association (NVRA), and the American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers (AAERT). There are states that use their own certification system, but by and large, certification is granted by these three bodies.
Generally, shorthand systems are using phonetic representations of words, not the way we are used to spell them. English spelling is represented by 26 letters, and 50 speech sounds.
Take a look at the hurdles you need to overcome and the problems you may come across if you want to learn shorthand writing that is symbol-based.
First of all, all shorthand writing systems that are based on assigning a unique symbol to a specific word, require a lot of your precious time. You must memorize several thousands of these outlines or symbols.
Secondly, due to the large number of outlines or symbols, you must constantly practice to remember all symbols, and do this on a daily basis. You probably won’t have used all symbols but you must be able to memorize them in case you need them in future situations.
Another possible issue is that, depending on the thickness and form of a symbol, it may translate to a different meaning, causing problems to the accuracy of a transcription, and a last problem is that it is not possible to use symbol-based shorthand writing systems with a computer.