Caasandra Caldarella, a veteran court reporter in Orange County, was kind enough to give advice to prospective court reporters in an extensive interview with Gawker Media.
Caldarella stressed the importance of staying current on technology and the critical importance of backing up your work. She used two SD cards, writes to her laptop which creates a backup file. Caldarella uses a USB flash drive to copy every file which is then saved to her home desktop computer and backed up to both a hard drive and the cloud.
Staying highly organized is critical, since court reporters often juggle multiple deadlines for transcripts and delegate work out to proofreaders and scopists. Keeping track of the accounting is also vitally important. A substantial amount of a court reporter’s income can come from providing copies of transcripts that have to be done in your free time. Caldarella has work going around the clock, since her proofreaders and scopists work while she sleeps.
She stressed how she distinguishes herself from her peers by constantly taking certification tests. Caldarella goes to seminars and conventions, belongs to several lawyer and court reporting associations, and keeps up to date on court reporting and legal news. She pushes herself to be active in the field and even practices speed tapes in her downtime.
When asked about certifications, Caldarella said the most desirable ones in California are the California Realtime Reporters (CCRR0 and the Certified Realtime Reporter (CRR). These are not easy to get, since they require training and experience along with a lot of time perfecting your writing.
Realtime credentials will enable you to get pay increases at the District and Superior Court levels. Freelance reporters can get better jobs and even qualify for international jobs.
Caldarella discounts concerns that court reporting will become extinct due to electronic recordings. She said there are too many examples of situations like having a door slam at the exact time a ruling was made. Court reporters can ask for a witness to repeat their testimony if they are speaking too slowly or if there was a simultaneous loud noise.
While she works extremely hard, Caldarella is very happy with her pay and is glad she left a corporate job to work as a court reporter.