Freelance Court Reporter
Most people assume court reporters are all employed by the court system or a government agency. The reality is that the majority of court reporters work on a freelance basis. In fact, there are some court reporters that earn a full-time income and have never done work in a courtroom.
What Is a Freelance Court Reporter?
Unlike official court reporters that work for a particular court and often the same judge everyday, freelancers go wherever they are needed. They may be called to record a deposition at an attorney’s office one day and take minutes at a shareholder’s meeting the next day. They work for a variety of agencies, attorneys and courts. Typically, they work out of their home and clients may call them directly or they may be sent assignments through an agency.
Freelance court reporters travel quite a bit, sometimes up to 300 miles from their home if they live in rural areas. The locations where a freelancer may go in relation to his or her job vary. They may be called to an attorney’s office, a courtroom, or even a hotel room where a witness is staying. When a court reporter is required for the legal proceeding, the freelancer must go there.
One of the main reasons why a court reporter’s presence is required at many legal proceedings is because one of their duties is to put the witness under oath. In a courtroom, witnesses are typically sworn in by the judge, court clerk or deputy. Outside of the courtroom, however, the court reporter is tasked with the job. Another reason a court reporter must be on location is because they must record everything they hear and see. This can be challenging to do over the phone or via video conferencing.
How Does a Freelance Court Reporter Find Work?
Freelance court reporters are independent contractors that work for themselves. Even freelancers that are hired on a consistent basis by a particular court or judge are still not considered to be employees. The benefits of being an independent contractor are you can choose who you work for and which assignments you take.
Freelancers typically start out working for a court reporting firm. The firm is usually contacted by one of its clients regarding the need for a court reporter. The firm then starts calling agents to see who is available to take the assignment. You are not obligated to take any assignment, but you should take as many as you can when you are first starting out. This will help you gain experience and build up your resume. The firm may also put you at the top of the list for choice assignments if you show you are dependable.
Established court reporters eventually build up a roster of clients. They do this a couple of different ways. Some court reporters made contacts through previous legal careers, like legal secretary, prior to entering the profession. Others market themselves to local law offices and courts. Still others make connections through the people they know. By building their own clientele, court reporters have more control over how much work they receive rather than depending solely on the availability of assignments through a court reporting firm.
Court reporting is a personally and financially rewarding career. As a freelancer, you will have the freedom to work the hours want and pick your assignments. If this sounds appealing to you, take time to find a court reporting educational program that will training you in the skills needed to be successful in this job.
Court Reporter Training
There are a variety of stenography degrees you can earn. The degree types range from certificate to master’s and you can specialize in one of several types of stenography. A sample of possible degrees includes an Associate in Judicial Reporting,....