Attorney at Law Magazine sat down with Stephanie Shear-Anderson, the founder of Supreme Court Reporters to discuss her career and the challenges facing the court reporting industry.
AALM: What drew you to court reporting?
SSA: When I was in high school, people would always say that I typed fast and that I should be one of the ladies in the courtroom that typed. I had no idea about the career, but I did my research and went to court reporting school after graduating high school.
AALM: Tell us about the first Zoom civil jury trial you were chosen to cover? Any mishaps in that first virtual attempt?
SSA: My experience with the first Zoom trial was amazing. We did a mock trial a few days before to ensure everything would go smoothly. We didn’t have any issues. It was great to be able to continue to move cases along in the pandemic.
AALM: What compelled you to launch Supreme Court Reporters? Tell us the origins of the name?
SSA: I started this company because I am passionate about court reporting so when I thought of a name, I wanted something that meant high, great, superior, so what better name than Supreme Court Reporters! I want Supreme Court Reporters to be known for accurate, quality transcripts and service.
AALM: Tell us a little about your team at Supreme Court Reporters? What’s the culture you’ve built?
SSA: Supreme Court Reporters is a newer business and is growing. I hope to create the culture of diversity and inclusion. I want everyone to be respected for their views. That’s the exciting thing about building a business is getting to put the pieces together and create an amazing culture.
AALM: How is your career different today than you envisioned while in school?
SSA: I never thought that I would start my own company. That was never a plan for me. When I realized that it was not impossible to do this and all it took was an idea, I started putting the pieces together.
AALM: Tell us about some of your mentors and the best lessons they taught you.
SSA: Some great lessons that my mentors have taught me are being very accurate and precise with your transcripts. Court reporters are the guardians of the record. It’s so important to have every word verbatim because these words literally determine the outcomes in legal cases.
Being on time with transcripts is imperative. Attorneys appreciate knowing that they can depend on getting their transcript in a timely manner.
AALM: The court reporting industry is in the midst of change with shortages and the intro of digital reporters. What are your thoughts on the challenges?
SSA: The shortage of court reporters is certainly a challenge everywhere right now. As court reporters, if we can advocate for the profession and let people know about the profession and what a great career it is, I think we can make a difference. I think there will always be a need for a live court reporter. We can read back testimony instantaneously, produce a quick turn-around, and ask someone to repeat something that we did not hear. A digital reporter cannot do these things.
AALM: What would you like attorneys to know about court reporters?
SSA: We appreciate when you ask a witness to slow down if they are speaking too fast. We appreciate breaks. They are much needed and give us a chance to recharge.
Spellings of names, or medications or anything that is not so common is such a help. It helps us get the transcript done faster so that we can get it to you faster.
AALM: Do you prefer to be on Zoom or in-person?
SSA: I am an advocate of both. I prefer Zoom when COVID cases are high. I love being able to be at home, walk in my office and just get on my computer without having to go out in bad weather. I feel like I can hear really well on Zoom, especially if everyone has a great connection.
I also love to be able to get out and have communication with people. I definitely believe Zoom is here to stay, though, and I am happy about that.
AALM: Tell us about yourself outside the office. What do you do to unwind?
SSA: Outside the office, I like to shop, listen to audio books, watch YouTube about all kinds of DIY projects, play with my toddler daughter who keeps me very busy, and travel.
AALM: What is something your colleagues would be surprised to learn about you?
SSA: My colleagues would be surprised to know that I completed court reporting school in two years. Most people take three years or longer. A lot of people quit court reporting school because they cannot attain the speed of 225 that is required to become a court reporter. I practiced a lot and went to school day and night to finish quicker.
AALM: Looking back on your career so far, is there anything you’d change?
SSA: I would not change a thing. My career has been absolutely amazing. Every career has its challenges and hard days, but overall this career has truly been good to me. I would do it all again the exact same way.