There are some people who do not differentiate between legal transcriptionists and court reporters and think that the 2 professionals are similar. Although they have some similarities there are also major differences. One of the main differences is that the court reporter transcribes speech that is in real time and a transcriptionist on the other hand deal with recorder speech. The later is at an advantage because they can replay the speech they are working with to get all the words correctly. In addition to this, the 2 jobs require different educational backgrounds.
The primary duty of the court reporters is to deal with real time verbatim transcription of the speech that is happening in court real time. In addition to this, they are some duties they are supposed to perform depending on the judge that they are working with. Some of the additional tasks they perform include:
- Preparing documents and any other administrative duties that they are supposed to work on.
- Administering oaths to the witnesses on the stands
- Providing notary public services
- Real time reporting on the things that have been recorded already
- Additional research for the items that have been entered into records.
Regardless of the court reporting method that has been used i.e. (voice writing, stenotype reporting) the educational requirements are basically the same. Certification, licensure and formal schooling are a must. You need to go through academic programs for 2-4 years and some of the classes include business law, medical vocabulary, legal research, legal terminologies and procedures and the English language mechanics and grammar. There are some states that require the reporters to have certifications while others need licenses from legal associations. Certificates are awarded when you pass exams.
There is no formal degree or certification that is required for a person to work as a transcriptionist. It is however important to have some background information on the topic to make work easier. Most legal transcriptionists tend to specialize in the field to do the best work. The professionals do not work in a court room as they work in companies that offer the transcription services.
Court reporters who work outside the courtroom
The court reporters many also work as freelancers. Other than the courthouse they can also work for government agencies, corporations and other organizations. They are needed to transcribe speech in real time when they attend functions like seminars, meetings and press conferences. More on legal transcription