“Milestone Reporting Company Launches a Partnership of Digital and Stenographic Court Reporters to Solve the Looming Crises in America’s Courthouses.”
According to an independent study conducted by Ducker Worldwide, demand for court reporters will exceed the supply by 2018, causing a nationwide shortage. This will increase the length of time needed to resolve cases, increase litigation costs and, in some cases, deprive parties of access to the court system. An Orlando-based court reporting firm, Milestone Reporting Company, has a plan to save our court systems.
Orlando, Florida. – July 25, 2015 – In November 2014, CNBC announced the inevitable crises pending in our court system as court reporters retire faster than they can be replaced. Sarah Nageotte, the President of National Court Reporters Association, was quoted as saying that, “seventy percent of our current [court reporting] field are estimated to be retiring in five to ten years”.
The effects of the court reporting shortage are already being felt. There have been reports of sentencing delays in criminal cases while attorneys wait on transcripts. The situation is even more dire in rural counties like Cambria County, PA. There, Judge Timothy Creany has reported that the county is already short-staffed despite advertising in numerous publications. He was quoted as saying, “We have a real problem. I don’t know how we are going to be able to address it.”
One court reporting company in Orlando, Florida, Milestone Reporting Company, believes it has found a solution by adding digital court reporters to its rotation of stenographic court reporters. According to Michael McDonner, President of Milestone, much of the crises stems from the closing of stenography schools around the country. “Most people do not realize that court reporting schools have an attrition rate of more than 85%. At that rate, stenography schools cannot remain profitable. They are closing rapidly despite the increase in demand.” McDonner went on to explain that most of stenography school is spent learning how to write in shorthand and then learning to do so rapidly. “It is like learning a second language,” he added. Students need two to three years just to learn the skill before they even see a courtroom or start to understand the litigation process.
Milestone has solved this problem by developing a program for training digital court reporters. Rather than learning shorthand, the digital court reporters can learn a speech-assisted digital system that relies on tag files rather than short-hand notes. This enables the reporters to enter an internship-like program for approximately six months. Their training focuses on learning the ins and outs of the courtroom and deposition process rather than learning another language. McDonner explained, “A computer can type faster than humans. We know that. So why spend money and time working on speed? Instead, we focus on the aspects of the deposition where humans are truly essential. Parsing out confusing words like ‘made’ and ‘maid’, controlling the record, clarifying inaudible comments, and working with the attorneys.”
Milestone has begun using digital and stenographic reporters interchangeably with great success. They have been able to cover the increased demand seen in the industry while actually decreasing the time it take to produce a verbatim transcript.
Does this mean the end of the stenographic reporter? “Absolutely not,” said McDonner. “I love stenographers, literally…I’m married to one.” He went on to explain that only stenographers can write in real-time and stenographers are better equipped to prepare transcripts in many environments. He added that he is committed to growing the number of stenographers and digital reporters employed at Milestone as supply permits.
Instead of looking at the future as stenography versus digital alternatives, Milestone has partnered the two to grow across Florida and the United States while others struggle. McDonner added that “the next time a county court is faced with a reporter shortage, I would encourage them to call Milestone.” We have the best Orlando court reporters and we plan to be the best nationwide court reporters.