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Court reporting changes with tech, but remains vibrant

Technology is changing just about everything in society, and courtrooms are no exception. But as companies such as Orlando’s CourtScribes alter the landscape, court reporting remains a vibrant profession.

In fact, a study by Ducker Worldwide predicts a shortage of court reporters in the coming year, as court reporting professionals retire without enough replacements ready to fill their shoes.

According to Ducker Worldwide: “Increased legal activity and new opportunities will drive demand despite the steady transition of some courts to digital recording. Decreased enrollment and graduation rates for court reporters, combined with significant retirement rates, will create by 2018 a critical shortfall projected to represent nearly 5,500 court reporting positions.”

Ducker Worldwide predicts there will still be a strong market for courtroom stenography in the years to come. But the research firm adds that the work is changing. From Ducker’s report:

“New technologies have been developed to assist the court reporter in producing an accurate record with better equipment and better software. At the same time, competing technologies such as digital recording and even voice recognition are making headway. Increased emphasis on improving digital recording procedures and voice recognition software accuracy will occur.”

The smartest people in the industry, such as Orlando court reporting agency CourtScribes, see the changes as an opportunity rather than a threat.

CourtScribes is among the leaders in using technology to revolutionize court reporting. Thanks to cloud computing, and digital and audio advances, the Orlando court reporting company is able to offer complete court reporting service, as well as advanced services such as live-streaming and on-demand courtroom video.

Entrepreneur and professor Barry Unger, in a white paper, writes that the Orlando court reporting agency is leading a wave of change to disrupt the centuries-old profession.

Unger writes: “CourtScribes is changing the court reporting industry by using Internet age technology to create the official record of court proceedings, using remote transcriptionists and charging attorneys up to 50% less than what they now pay, and as … a disruptive technology will not only improve the quality of services, but also ultimately extend and even democratize the use of services that are today often restricted only to high profile or high dollar value cases.”

Unger points out that the Orlando court reporting company can offer its services for up to 50 percent less than competitors, thanks to the company’s cutting-edge technology.

Here’s a thumbnail portrait of some of CourtScribes’ services:

An experienced court reporter oversees recording equipment and takes simultaneous notes.  Digital annotations are time-linked to the recording so it’s a simple process to find and listen to actual testimony.

Each primary participant in the proceeding is given a discreet sound channel so that each voice is distinct, eliminating confusion caused by cross talk. “This voice isolation feature permits a full and accurate transcription of exactly what was said — and who said it — because each channel can be listened to individually,” Unger writes.

Because of the quality of the recordings, court reporters are less obtrusive than in more traditional court stenography. Unger writes, “The recording process captures all words exactly as spoken — then in transcription the audio can be replayed as needed to verify verbatim accuracy.”

Lawyers or other interested parties can obtain copies of the digital recording as well as the transcript, and, “With digital annotations directly “hot-linked” to the audio, points of interest are located quickly and efficiently,” Unger writes.

Notes and audio files can be delivered over the Internet. Unger writes, “Both log notes and audio files are transmitted over the Internet, reducing or eliminating shipping costs and delivery delays. Storage and archiving are efficient and compact. When the audio and log notes are saved as computer files, there are no cassettes to store, nor files of reporters’ paper notes to maintain.”

Those practices lead to higher quality at lower prices. Unger writes: “Court reporting agencies in Florida charge both parties ordering a Daily transcript as much as $10/page or about $2,500 a day or about $25,000 for a two week trial to create official transcripts delivered the next morning. CourtScribes provides up to 50% off the Daily transcripts. The company charges ~$5/page or ~$1,250 a day or ~$12,500 for a two week trial to create the Daily transcript for both sides (saving each side as much $12,500 on a two week trial). Twenty of these trials a year would save as much as $250,000 for each side. CourtScribes is able to leverage its process and technology to provide live and ondemand video or audio recording to attorneys in the office at marginal cost. Attorneys not only benefit from a less expensive transcript but the video and/or audio recording provides them with a more accurate and complete record. The digital recording reveals the demeanor of a witness and whether, for instance, they were being sarcastic. In addition, the live video and/or audio feed can be watched by attorneys in the office, allowing the office team to monitor the proceedings and more effectively assist the attorneys in the courtroom.”

All of that makes the Orlando court reporting agency part of a digital revolution that is reaching virtually every corner of the economy.

According to Unger: “The idea of legal audio and video recording has been around for decades, but only within the last few years has the technology and pricing caught up. Likewise as a cofounder of Kurzweil Computer Products, Inc., an early artificial intelligence and digital imaging company which then became Xerox Imaging Systems, I saw first-hand the enormous positive impact of what is now called digital photography, and how this new capability has both improved the quality of photography and equally importantly opened up active photography to a much bigger audience and to new uses. Think for example how many of the countless unforeseen ways we now on a regular basis use the electronic cameras built into our phones to communicate with each other and facilitate our work flow, and even recording images like damage to our cars or receipts for expense reports or to identify items for purchase, or to make video calls around the world, and how integral video recording is becoming to law enforcement activities. This of course is the impact disruptive technologies can have. Looking at the already successful implementations of CourtScribes’ technology and internet based service, I can see an analogous type of phenomenon beginning to happen in the legal industry, where court reporting and videography will become a new standard, a “no-brainer” as it were, for the legal professional, and thus extend both the amount and uses of legal reporting, and its practicality and availability to a larger part of the public the legal industry serves.”