Familiar with the shortage of court reporters in Texas, attorneys have reason to celebrate a new program that took effect in September. Having endured years of scheduling difficulties due to the court reporter shortage, the new Texas Apprentice Court Reporter license “ACR”, offers relief.
“Lexitas is proud to announce that we have licensed Apprentice Court Reporters. The Apprentice Court Reporter program will greatly assist with the shortage in Texas.”
Apprentice Court Reporter Program Details
Approved by the Texas Supreme Court, the Apprentice Court Reporter licensing program allows ACRs to practice as an Apprentice for up to two years. To receive the ACR license, applicants must pass at least one of the three CSR skill tests, their written test, and a criminal background check.
Apprentice Court Reporters are assigned a Supervisor Reporter with a record of 10 years in good standing as a Texas CSR. As the Apprentice’s mentor, the Supervisor oversees their work, trains them, and must proof every transcript with audio. The Supervisor and the Apprentice then certify the transcript. Lexitas is fielding Supervisor Reporters and will pair them with one Apprentice, so they have a one-on-one mentor opportunity.
To encourage coaching and mentorship, each licensed Apprentice will begin at Lexitas by shadowing an experienced court reporter prior to taking their first deposition.
Apprentice Court Reporters cannot cover medical, technical, or expert depositions. In addition, they cannot practice in court or at court hearings. They can report basic deposition testimony.
The CSR/Apprentice relationship aligns with common attorney practice where a senior litigator or partner trains a new attorney. They take them to depositions, mentor them, and check their work in a similar fashion. Lexitas is proud to fully support the ACR program, providing our newest court reporters opportunities for mentorship and growth.
What it Means for Attorneys
To our clients and all attorneys, the Apprentice Court Reporter program has the approval of the Texas Supreme Court. The program is fully embraced and supported by Lexitas.
ACRs will be held accountable to all the rules, codes, and standards that govern CSRs in Texas. Attorneys can expect the same high level of service and high-quality transcripts they have come to expect.
Why a Shortage?
Are law firms too familiar with the phrase, “Let me try to find a court reporter for you,”? This leads to the question of the shortage. With the strictest state requirements for Certified Court Reporters (CSR), the number of practicing reporters in Texas is currently down 800 and continuing to fall. Furthermore, the U.S. faces a total court reporter shortage of about 10,000.
With an average age in the mid-’50s, CSRs in Texas retire faster than new CSRs can be certified.
The Texas CSR license exam includes a written portion and three-part skills test on a stenotype machine or through oral stenography at speeds up to 225 wpm. With an average pass rate of only 10%, candidates must complete all three legs of the skills test at 95% accuracy in one sitting! Other states allow them to pass those legs individually.
A difficult testing regimen explains only part of the problem. Court reporting firms have new reporters enter the field without training or mentoring. This often makes them feel overwhelmed which leads to reporters quitting.
Over the years, the court reporting profession fell off the radar for school counselors. Sharing the court reporting profession is not of mention to students. With a decrease in enrollment, many court reporting schools throughout the U.S. have had to close their doors.
Enhancing the Court Reporter Profession
The ACR license is an exciting mentorship opportunity for aspiring court reporters entering the field. We are hopeful it will result in increased enrollment. It will also create a better path for students, and increased numbers of CSRs that will provide optimal service to law firms.
Relieving much of the pressure that can overtake what a candidate is fully qualified to do. The Apprentice Court Reporter program should help improve the CSR exam pass rate.
Students invest up to 5 years pursuing a CSR license. Some never pass the state test, and ultimately quit before they do. The ACR license allows qualified candidates to practice their skills in real situations while working to complete their CSR certification.
As leaders in court reporting ethics, and to support the Apprentice Court Reporter licensing program, Lexitas has developed a Professional Development Accreditation Program. This program matches supervisors to apprentices. Our senior court reporters are excited for the opportunity to become supervising reporters and work closely with our new Apprentice Court Reporters.
About the Author
Janice Eidd-Meadows is the East Texas & Fort Worth Regional Director for Lexitas. She serves on the Court Reporters Advisory Board for the Judicial Branch Certification Commission under the auspices of the Texas Supreme Court.