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Will AI Fix the Court Reporter Shortage in the Future


Artificial intelligence is making inroads in the legal profession.

There is a question that must be pondered. Will AI (Artificial Intelligence) fix the court reporter shortage in the near future? The innovation of AI applied to legal transcriptions should result in an updated version of the invaluable profession of court reporting. The second question is, is this a good thing?

Court reporters are the silent force that drives the court system efficiency, from local levels all the way to federal levels.

Their typing speed, which is unrivaled, meets the courts’ needs for transcripts on all proceedings. The average court reporter types 225 words a minute. That is three times as fast as a regular typist and five times the speed of an average one.


Finding those capable of reaching the needed skill level has been difficult. Due to a variety of reasons as we have highlighted before in previous stories, the court system is facing a shortage of court reporters. And this forces the courts to slow down as a result. A National Court Reporter Association (NCRA) report estimated that there is a current shortage of 5,000 court reporters in the United States. The industry is used to employing 32,000 court reporters. This means that 16% of the workforce has been wiped out without being replaced.

But machine learning and AI (artificial intelligence) can step in and fill that gap. AI and voice recognition are improving to the point that they can transcribe the courtroom dialogue in real time. AI transcription has the potential to rescue court systems from their chronic backlogs by filling in the gaps where there aren’t enough court reporters present. SOunds pretty amazing, right?


Why the Shortage

The court reporter shortage has been having a significant negative impact on the productivity of the court system. What causes are behind the shortage?

  • Aging Stenographers The average stenographer is 51. That being said the average age of retirement in the U.S. is 62, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Given the age of those filling these spots, an estimated 70% of that workforce will retire over the next couple of decades. The problem is, is that the next generation isn’t waiting up to fill the vacancies. The career’s high barrier to entry thanks to a challenging certification process pushes up-and-coming professionals away from the field.
  • Difficult Certification Program Stenotype is the predominant method for court reporting over the years. Getting certified in stenotype is quite challenging, and comparable to learning a foreign language (which in a sense it is), then teaching yourself to type it at 225 words per minute while hitting 96% accuracy. Because of the difficulty of the skill, certification programs have very high dropout rates. Some programs graduate only 4% of those who start.
  • Closing Court Reporter Schools With a waning number of prospective court reporters obtaining certification thanks to a lack of interest from younger generations and low graduation rates, many trade schools have failed to meet Department of Education requirements. Their ratios for placement to graduation rates result in lost funding or accreditation, and they’re forced to close permanently.

The effects of the shortage create issues in civil, criminal and family courts across the country. Without proper transcription that these court reporters bring, proceedings cannot move forward in a timely manner.

One silver lining for those who are able to meet the challenge in a smaller pool of trained stenographers means qualified reporters are able to demand higher salaries thanks to the scarcity of their skills. But this increases both courts’ costs and time spent on negotiations.

What is AI’s Potential

AI-driven technology has the potential to completely transform the court system’s court reporter struggles. Some states have already gotten started. Those states are Alaska, Indiana, New Hampshire, Oregon, Utah, and Vermont. They all use audio digital recording in all or most of their general court sessions, while many other states are close to catching up with those states. Here’s how it might affect several different elements of what courts already struggle with amid the court reporter shortage.

  • Costs Automation allows for serious savings due to majorly reduced training time and manual labor. As a result, courts can allocate resources more judiciously and avoid the problems that come with understaffing. Courts that leverage AI technology for transcription can reduce strain on resources and solve the understaffing issue, while still maintaining the high level of transcription precision required by the courts.
  • Efficiency As many know who either work in it, or have been caught up in the legal system, it is sadly known for its delays and slow-moving cases. The feeling is, that automation can speed up the sluggish process. AI-powered speech recognition technologies create workable transcripts in real time. AI transcription technology offers a noticeable improvement from the current weeks-long standard of turning around accurate transcriptions, as well as some impressive new features. For example, it offers sophisticated voice biometrics capable of identifying separate speakers based on their unique voice characteristics, along with multichannel speaker authentication and audio search capabilities.

What is Ahead

While all of these benefits are exciting, it’s important to note that skilled professionals are indispensable as monitors of that technology. Just as court reporters went from handwritten transcription to stenotype machines, they now must learn to adapt to AI-enabled transcription and voice recognition software.

This advanced technology is driving the transition from court reporter to court “technologist”. Human judgment is impossible to replicate, so a skilled individual who is an expert at managing a wide array of court technologies and ensuring that they function properly is still sure to be in high demand going forward.

The adoption of these emerging technologies disproves the idea that courts are conservative when it comes to tech. While human court reporters will remain an integral part of the process, by teaming up with technology, humans can offer long-lasting benefits for the whole court system. Being open to transcription technology (which is coming like it or not) is a natural next step courts can take to improve their operations.


This is why you need the services of They are ready to serve you in your court reporting, videography services, interpreters, live-streaming, and video-to-text synchronization.

Although the majority of cities that offer CourtScribes’ services are in Florida, the company home base, other cities all across these United States that CourtScribes offers services in, are the following: Jacksonville, Miami, Tampa, Port St. Lucie, Fort Lauderdale, Cape Coral, Coral Springs, Clearwater, Palm Bay, Fort Myers, Weston, Sarasota, Orlando, St. Petersburg, Hialeah, Stuart, Hollywood, Naples, West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Deerfield Beach, Jupiter, Key West, Coral Gables, Maryland, Manhattan, Buffalo, Washington DC, Baltimore, Bowie, Virginia, Frederick, Albany, New York, Brooklyn,  Westchester, Gaithersberg, and Rockville.