Many legal professionals may be surprised to hear there is a shortage of reporters in the court reporter pool across the country and the demand is outpacing the supply. Prior to the pandemic, almost all depositions were in person. In contrast, during the pandemic almost all depositions were remote. Our industry had to adapt fast, shifting to provide remote deposition services for about 90% of all depositions. Reporters were forced to become proficient with the remote deposition process and some remain reluctant to transition back to in-person. Now, with more people vaccinated and as States have eased gathering and mask mandates, there is a desire by many attorneys to conduct depositions in person again.
Ultimately, this has caused the shortage of court reporters to become a more prevalent issue and presents additional considerations for reporting agencies when covering in-person jobs. First, there is only a subset of reporters who are willing to go in-person given the continued uncertainties surrounding the pandemic. Of those that are willing to go in-person, they must be within a short drive of the location, so their proximity to the location matters. Finally, locations are asking about vaccination status. Like the general public, there are many reporters who are vaccinated, but many that are not. If the location requires proof of vaccination, this will again shrink the potential pool of available reporters that the reporting agency can choose from.
As the above factors do not come into play when the job is remote, there is a larger court reporter pool to pull from when securing coverage. For example, the physical location of the reporter becomes a non-issue when remote; if the witness is in Southfield, MI, the reporter covering the job can be based in Marquette, Bloomfield Hills or even Hawaii, if they have the required credentials.
I’m not saying that getting reporter coverage in-person is impossible. We here at Fortz pride ourselves on getting creative to get jobs covered! It is, however, more difficult to get in-person coverage than it was just 18 months ago. If you do decide to conduct a deposition in-person, it is best to provide the agency as much notice as possible to ensure coverage. Finally, when you are out and about and someone asks for your advice on a viable career, please tell them about court reporting, we need their help!