By now, you have heard there is a shortage of court reporters or felt the pinch of not having a reporter when you need one. The Texas Court Reporters Association, or TCRA, has suggestions to help lawyers have a greater likelihood of having a reporter when they need one.
Court reporters are vital to the justice system. We know the system can get bogged down when a reporter isn’t available. Currently, the demand for court reporters exceeds the supply. TCRA has been working to recruit people into the field. We are also working on new ways to alleviate the problem in the near term. In the meantime, the suggestions below will help ensure you have the service you need when you need it.
- Most importantly, as soon as you know you will need a court reporter, reach out—right away—to your favorite reporter or a court reporting firm to book the work. Many court reporters are independent contractors and take work from any firm that hires them or act as substitutes for official reporters in the courtroom. Reporters stay booked up, many as far out as three weeks. Asking for one the day before a deposition or hearing will often result in a court reporter not being available. The further out you book, the better.
- Second, when scheduling, ask the firm if they have a reporter who is committed to do your specific job or if your job is just one of many on their books for that day. Request—when you book—that the court reporting firm confirm that they have a reporter assigned to your job for the date and time you have specified.
- Third, if a court reporting firm doesn’t have a reporter for the time you would like to schedule one, ask the firm what dates the firm can commit to cover your job. While that process might take longer, it will be one way to keep things running smoothly.
- Fourth, a few days before the job, follow up with the court reporting firm to confirm they have a reporter committed to your job. Firms normally confirm jobs the day before with both the attorney who scheduled the job and the reporter assigned to it. However, most firms welcome early confirmations.
Keep in mind that anything can happen to court reporters that can hinder them from doing a job to which they have previously committed. Even the most responsible reporter can get sick or have a family emergency. In that instance, the firms will do everything they can to get a replacement reporter for your job.
Court reporters want to be available when you need them and will make every effort to do so. However, we need your help to make this happen. TCRA’s members want to work with their customers—Texas lawyers—to keep the wheels of justice rolling as our new ideas for alleviating the shortage are implemented.
Thanks for your patience and your service to Texas.
Shari J. Krieger, CSR, RMR—President, Texas Court Reporters Association
Official court reporter of County Court at Law No. 3, Tarrant County
Lorrie A. Schnoor, CSR, RDR, CRR—President-Elect, Texas Court Reporters Association
Owner, Kennedy Reporting Service, Austin