Court Reporters and Lawyers




The relationship between lawyers and court reportersA common misconception is that court reporters are employed by law firms.  Though they do work with attorneys on a daily basis, the very nature of the job of a court reporter prevents him or her from being employed by anyone affiliated with any party to a case for which he or she has been hired to provide services.  A court reporter is sworn to be completely unbiased and have no interest of any kind in a case he or she may be covering.

Why Court Reporters Are Not Employees of Law Firms

While some law firms may hire court reporters to serve as transcriptionists in a word processing department, a law firm would never employ a court reporter in-house to perform the duties of taking sworn testimony for the firm’s cases.  This is certainly not to say that some attorneys would not love that idea, but, in reality, attorneys understand the role a court reporter plays in a deposition or other proceedings in which sworn testimony is taken.  During a deposition, the court reporter is the only person in the room who does not have a personal bias about the case.  It is the court reporter’s duty to put the witness under oath and to accurately record the sworn testimony given by that witness.  Ethics are at the center of the neutrality of a court reporter.  For further insight into a stenography career, also read Everything You Would Like to Know About Court Reporting Jobs in our article library.

In a scenario of a court reporter being made an employee of a law firm, it is fairly easy to see how that court reporter would have an interest in making sure the law firm he or she works for remains successful, so that his or her job is not in jeopardy.  Even if the court reporter is completely trustworthy and would never alter a transcript, the appearance of the relationship is what would cause the problems.  If a deposition was underway and the opposing counsel determined that the court reporter had some kind of personal involvement with the law firm either suing or being sued by his or her client, that attorney would immediately make objections and file a motion to have the testimony thrown out.  It is likely he or she would also request sanctions against the attorney and the court reporter, and undoubtedly they would both be harshly chastised by the judge.

The Working Relationship Between Attorneys and Court Reporters

The working relationship between attorneys and court reportersThough official employment by an attorney is not an option for a court reporter, some court reporters do have special clients who utilize their services over and over for many years.  Because the court reporter is an independent contractor, the appearance of an improper relationship is alleviated.  Court reporters must keep in mind, however, when working with regular clients that it is important to be impartial and to treat the attorney on the other side of the case with the same respect as the hiring attorney.  If a court reporter and an attorney appear to be too “chummy” during a proceeding, it is understandable that this could make the other attorney quite uncomfortable.

When handled professionally, the relationship between attorneys and court reporters is a mutually beneficial working arrangement that helps the judicial process run smoothly.  Court reporters are contacted and hired by attorneys to cover depositions, examinations under oath, statements under oath, and sometimes exploratory meetings to determine whether a situation warrants that a suit be filed.  If a court reporter performs his or her duties efficiently, the attorney makes progress in his or her duties to aggressively represent the client.  An attorney appreciates anything that saves him or her time, and a court reporter who can do that can expect repeat calls for service.

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Written by , CCR on 9/4/2012 Suzanne has been a court reporter and worked in legal communities for over 18 years. 

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