Technology vs. Shorthand

Court Reporters – The Human Element

Like most industries today, the legal industry has lots of new technology.  Much of it is designed to make life easier and more efficient, by removing the need for the human element.  But there are areas where technology really can’t compete and where the human element is exactly what is needed to avoid mistakes and to keep the process moving along properly.

Computers Can Make Mistakes

Audio recording options are being used more frequently in , court hearings, and trials.  Audio recording relies on technology to collect information; however, it’s possible that the recording could stop if there is a malfunction. This may not even be noticed until someone goes to play it back or tries to listen to part of it, only to find missing information.  In some cases, the information could have been crucial, and is simply not there.  Obviously, this can seriously affect a case and its outcome.

While technology has come a long way, audio recordings are definitely not foolproof.  The speed someone speaks, their accent, or the volume of their voice can all contribute to an inability to accurately record information and testimony.  Background noise can also affect the quality of the audio recording.


The Benefits of the Human Touch

There is a big benefit to having a human court reporter present, in that the attorney has a guarantee that everything is being taken down and preserved.   The reporter can easily ask a person to repeat what was said, if necessary.  This ensures accuracy and reduces the chances of missing or difficult-to-decipher testimony. In this scenario, live court reporters are the best choice; they are always “recording.”

Another benefit to a human court reporter is the ability to produce an immediate transcript.  Today’s technology enables reporters to provide a rough draft transcript right away, as the court proceeding or the deposition is happening.  The transcript shows up within seconds on your tablet or laptop as an electronic feed.

This is an excellent way to use technology in the legal field, yet to couple it with the human interaction that is necessary for a high quality product and without risk of losing large chunks of information to technological glitches.

In addition, the human reporter knows when to stop “recording.”  They only record “on-the-record” discussions and “turn off” when the discussion goes off the record.

Court reporters attest to the accuracy of their record. They ensure the integrity of the record and certify its validity.

There is no better choice for doing this type of work correctly than the human court reporter.  While technology can perhaps enhance their work and efforts, having a human being present to take down the testimony and provide it to the parties is the best way to handle a legal proceeding.

Atkinson-Baker offers technological advances that can make depositions easier.  We focus on immediate access to the record.  Technology is available to attorneys who are interested in receiving an immediate voice-to-text translation, and then make notes or flag important testimony as it is occurring.  For more information, visit