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Why Stenography is Necessary in Law

You probably already are well familiar from this site that court stenographers are people trained to type and write in shorthand, which allows them to write as fast as people can speak. It is believed that 180 Words Per Minute is the ‘speed of speech’. Stenographers document and record everything that takes place in the courtroom. This makes them an integral part of court hearings across the world. In this article, we are going to break down what stenography is, and explain why it is important in law.


What Does Stenography Mean?

The word ‘stenography’ comes from the Greek word ‘steno’ which means narrow and ‘graphy’ which means writing. ‘Narrow writing’ therefore, is the writing system of shorthand. Stenographer simply means shorthand writer. Modern-day stenographers use machines called stenotypes, which allow them to type, in some cases, faster than 300 WPM, which is just about double the ‘speed of speech’.

Stenography is a specialist career, still vital to the legal industry despite the massive changes and advancements made in technology. Attempts to phase out stenography have failed in many places around the world, which we will explain, so continue to read more here about it. But first, here is a brief history of stenography, some basic facts you should know about.


The Importance of Stenographers

It is a requirement in many places for courts to have written transcripts. This alone makes stenography something that is still needed. Court reporters sit in on courtrooms and transcribe as the case is heard. Many now use a technology called ‘steno masks’ which are microphones plugged into their computers that run voice-recognition software. The stenographer then, in real-time, cleans up the machine’s mistakes and errors; the perfect fusion of technology and stenography.

While technology is an incredibly important part of all of our lives, it cannot be entirely trusted just yet. Machines are not infallible and make mistakes. A stenographer must supervise and verify what these ‘steno masks’ record. Court reporters are now also tasked with writing down the defendant’s gestures and expressions, as well as their reactions to things. This is something that no machine can do (at the moment).

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