When Dina Marcus first came to California from Portugal at the age of two, her family found work in the dairy industry. After she graduated from Galt High School, she knew she didn’t want to follow in those footsteps.
She was interested in becoming a legal secretary but when she went to get more information about the profession she was led down a different path. A receptionist at Humphrey’s College in Stockton, California asked Marcus if she had ever considered becoming a court reporter instead, explaining that the salary was higher.
The first piece of equipment she was introduced to was the stenograph, which is used to transcribe court proceedings, depositions and any other conversations deemed valuable to the legal process.
Marcus compares typing on the stenograph to playing a piano, “many fingers go down at one time,” she says.
Marcus worked hard and learned her trade well. She opened her own business, Marcus Deposition Reporting, where she and eight other independent contractors transcribe civil court cases.
She considers speed-building and accuracy to be the most important aspects in developing the skills necessary to become a successful court reporter. Speed is built up in 10 word increments and accuracy must be a minimum of 98.5 percent.
It is also important to have an excellent grasp of the English language to understand the terminology as well as to be able to transcribe complicated legal language.
According to Marcus, there is a misconception about court reporters being typists. “The process that we take in writing has nothing to do with typing at all,” she says. Words are being processed at up to 340 words per minute and must be recorded exactly as stated.
Her advice to those entering the field is to be work hard and be patient.