Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the genie let out of the proverbial bottle, moving at a technological speed that makes it difficult to keep up with emerging developments. For court reporting, AI can decrease costs of transcription for lawyers, reduce turnaround time, and provide an alternative to markets plagued with a stenographer shortage.
As a partnered tool—rather than a replacement to human oversight —AI powered court reporting has amazing potential for the legal industry.
How Is AI Relevant to Court Reporting?
Discussion of Artificial Intelligence is everywhere today, being showcased as either the start of a brave new world or the end times. It’s not entirely new to the field of court reporting, however, as it already drives the speech recognition software used by many court reporters, including digital reporters.
At its basic level, Artificial Intelligence is the creation of computer systems intended to simulate human intelligence, including1:
- Speech and translation aided by NLP (natural language processing) and DLP (deep learning processing)
- Pattern recognition and predictive learning
- Interacting with its environment, including image and audio recognition
- Critical thinking, reasoning, and decision-making
Speech functionality occurs through automatic speech recognition (ASR), a complex process that can be summarized as2:
- Acoustic capture, analysis, and phoneme (speech unit) breakdown
- Language modeling via speech pattern recognition and phoneme conversion
- Punctuation and capitalization based on NLP
Another hot term is “machine learning,” which is a facet of AI that refers to its ability to observe, interact, and grow—or learn—with minimal human interference.
Advantages of AI in Court Reporting
AI is entering court reporting as a scalable model for use across firms and court systems. The top two subsets of AI specifically relevant to augmenting court reporting tasks include the use of ASR for:
- Transcribing speech to text with growing accuracy
- Translation between languages globally
The benefits of using AI within legal proceedings, include:
- Faster transcript production – Turnaround from a stenographic court reporter can take a week or more, depending on complexity and workload. ASR generated draft transcripts can be available almost immediately post proceeding for review.
- Scale – As the pool of stenographers shrinks, due to more professionals retiring than joining the workforce, courts and law firms can find it difficult to secure coverage for proceedings. Digital reporting, powered in part by AI technologies, can help provide coverage for court proceedings and depositions.
- Accuracy – AI technology is constantly evolving. The fact that it can learn and improve over time as well as adapt through the introduction of data sets such as specialized or local regulations and dictionaries, suggests that accuracy will continue to improve.
AI isn’t an all-or-nothing question. The use of artificial intelligence in law offers important benefits—with the emphasis on the “use of” rather than a “switch to” AI. There is a clear need to rely on the skills and functions of experienced, professional, court reporters to oversee and certify official transcripts alongside their other critical functions.
Court reporters are best suited to provide:
- Presence as an official of the court to administer oaths and related functions
- Certification of the truth, security, and chain of evidence of recordings and transcripts
- Live presence to request immediate clarification and provide a readback
- Nuanced interpretation of tone, inflection, and gestures
- Continuous monitoring of equipment and software for unbroken records
AI in court reporting offers:
- Raw speech-to-text AI transcription to generate immediate drafts at a high volume
- Clean connection between transcript text and its origin via paired audio recordings
- Speaker identification aided by premium microphones and the ability to isolate tracks
- Continuing development in accurately recording accented, foreign, and low speech
- The potential for aid through specialized practice knowledge dictionaries
A blended model of employing AI software under the review of court reporters is essential as the pool of stenographically trained reporters continues to drop. Balancing AI and human skills can lower costs, increase speed, and provide security and real-time transcript monitoring. The process of how to become a court reporter may eventually involve training related to AI.
U.S. Legal Support: Leading the Future in Court Reporting
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- McKinsey. What Is AI? https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/mckinsey-explainers/what-is-ai
- NVIDIA. Essential Guide to Automatic Speech Recognition Technology. https://developer.nvidia.com/blog/essential-guide-to-automatic-speech-recognition-technology/
- Forbes. Decoding The Future Of Legal Transcription: AI Versus Human. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2023/07/21/decoding-the-future-of-legal-transcription-ai-versus-human/?sh=7807d63c1be1
- National Court Reporters Association. Representative Cases of Electronic and Digital Recording Failures in the U.S. Court System: Evidence Supporting the Use of Certified Shorthand Reporters to Provide the Record. https://www.thejcr.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/Failure-Doc-Edited_February_11_2023.pdf
- Attorney At Work. Three Ways AI-Assisted Court Reporting Helps Improve Client Experience. https://www.attorneyatwork.com/three-ways-ai-assisted-court-reporting-helps-improve-client-experience/
- Australasian Lawyer. The technology that’s transforming court reporting. https://www.thelawyermag.com/au/news/general/the-technology-thats-transforming-court-reporting/441199
- National Court Reporters Association. Registered Skilled Reporter (RSR). https://www.ncra.org/certification/NCRA-Certifications/registered-skilled-reporter-(rsr)
Content published on the U.S. Legal Support blog is reviewed by professionals in the legal and litigation support services field to help ensure accurate information.