Understanding the National Court Reporter Shortage and What it Means for Your Firm

court reporter

The country is experiencing an extreme court reporter shortage. If you have been fortunate enough to avoid experiencing the effects thus far, it’s only a matter of time before you’re faced with the reality of the shortage, which includes rising costs of utilizing shorthand stenographers.

The National Court Reporters Association recognized the potential for this shortage in 2013 and commissioned a study with Ducker Worldwide to explore the problem and potential implications in greater detail. We’ve summarized some of the key information you need to know, below.

The Nationwide Shortage by the Numbers

The gap between the number of available stenographers and demand for their services nationwide continues to increase year over year.

Stenographer court reporter shortage explained by U.S. Legal Support.

No state, firm or provider is immune to the effects of the shortage. The most litigious states are being hit the hardest, including California, Texas, Illinois, New York and Florida.

Why is this happening? In 2013 when the study was conducted, 70% of stenographers were 46 years of age or older. The fact is, the number of new stenographers entering the workplace each year is not keeping pace with the number of those who are retiring.

Court reporter shortage explained by U.S. Legal Support

You might be thinking, why not recruit and train more stenographers? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Certifying and introducing new stenographers into the marketing place is not enough. Based on current figures:

  • As of 2019, we needed 82,000 new students to enroll in court reporting training programs nationwide each year to overcome the impact
  • But in 2019, there were only about 2,500 new enrollments
  • When coupled with the average graduation rate of 10%, we’re looking at a maximum of 125 new court reporters introduced into the market annually

This will not make a significant dent in the shortage.

All court reporting vendors and firms are affected by this shortage. To help combat this crisis, U.S. Legal Support has established working business relationships with more than 5,000 independent court reporting professionals across the country.

Our Mutual Goal is the Preservation of the Record

Regardless of methodology, the highest calling of a professional court reporter is the preservation of the record. To facilitate the preservation, in addition to certified shorthand stenographers, we also offer other forms of court reporting services, including remote reporters, voice writers and Certified Electronic Reporters (CERs) to accommodate your needs. We recommend scheduling your court reporter as far in advance as possible, even if you only have a tentative date for a deposition, hearing or trial. The likelihood of coverage for same day (or even same week) requests for a reporter is extremely difficult given the shortage.

To learn more about our court reporting services or to schedule a deposition, contact [email protected].

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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.