From Student To Scrivener
Court reporting is unique in that immediately out of school our first assignments tend to be freelance court reporting assignments. Many of us go directly from the classroom to being our own boss. This is focused on New York State, and even more specifically New York City. In the future, we’ll investigate just what it means to be a freelancer and delve into hard specifics and truths, but for now, you really ought to get a real job!
By a landslide, the most accessible starting job as a court reporter is as a freelance deposition reporter. How do you do it? Read the New York Notary Law. Go test and become a New York Notary. Now you can swear witnesses and officially meet all NYS Deposition Reporter requirements! Do you have your own stenotype? You are already overqualified for the job! First thing: Start identifying companies to work for, most likely via an internet search. CSR Nation is another great place to look.
Next: Call companies frequently. They’ll often say things like they’re not hiring new reporters; don’t be discouraged, because as soon as a last-minute job comes in and they need coverage, you’re hired! Don’t be afraid to call once, twice, thrice a month until somebody gives you the starter work you need to say “I am a working reporter.” Ask them to take your contact info and call you for any jobs that come up. Be professional, be polite, and go to your interviews overdressed, confident, and with nice things to say about the company!
Grand Jury Stenographer in NYC
For clarification, this post is solely about New York State grand juries in New York City. For information about federal grand juries, you need to use your Google-Fu.
Let’s talk about grand jury work! The Grand Jury is, technically, an arm of the New York State Unified Court System, however, in New York City its grand jury stenographers are actually hired by the District Attorneys of the various counties. Succinctly, grand jury reporters in NYC are New York City employees hired by the District Attorneys of Richmond, Kings, Queens, Bronx, and New York counties.
Generally, people get in on a provisional basis. The Offices of the District Attorneys will usually use their own websites and HR people to hire. Don’t be afraid to go on their websites every fifteen days or so and check, because a provisional spot may be open for a very short window before being closed! Yes, this creates a hassle of having to find the career page for the New York, Kings, Bronx, Queens, Richmond District Attorneys and check them frequently, but isn’t your future worth that? For those in the know, there’s even a sixth place that might be hiring you called Special Narcotics. You can also call their HR departments to ask if there will be any postings soon. Just don’t menace anyone.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE. So, as I said, often a provisional job is posted on the DA website. What about permanent jobs? Where might those be? Can anybody tell me the answer? If you guessed they would be posted on the New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services site, then you guessed correctly. So that gives you seven websites to check, and frequently, because sometimes postings are not up long at all. For example, one permanent posting for grand jury stenographers was up from something like December 1, 2015 to December 21, 2015. That means if you didn’t look at the DCAS site for 20 days, you were out of luck! Don’t be out of luck! Look for the jobs! Be proactive! This is an adventurous and exciting job for people who want to take a lifelong vow of secrecy.
Workers Compensation Board of NY
I have some bad news. I am told that the Workers Compensation Board has gone almost exclusively to electronic recording and has any reporters still on staff transcribing audio. I’m also told they are not hiring new reporters. That said, last I checked, they still have an application on their site, so I am leaving the link up as a bittersweet joke. Apply today!
New York State Unified Court System
So, then, what is the best way to get a job in the court system? Pretty much the same exact way you get a job in the grand jury, check the website obsessively until they have a space for you! Make sure to check the careers page and the exams page. This seems like it would make sense, but dozens of people missed the last court test because they didn’t know about it. Don’t be a victim. Be proactive. Provisional jobs will be listed under job postings by county, permanent jobs will be listed under exams. If you get a provisional job, you must safeguard your job by taking and passing the permanent test. Check often, or you will be sentenced to Stenographers’ Prison for your laziness.
United States District Court
The cream rises to the top, just like the fizz, so if you’ve got your RPR, CRR, RMR, or some combination thereof, the federal courts want you! Closest to New York City we have the Southern District, covered by the Southern District Reporters. A little further away, we have the beautiful palaces of the Eastern District, with courthouses in Brooklyn and Long Island. Eastern District seems to enjoy recruiting through the federal judiciary jobs page. And though there are not, to my knowledge, any paid positions with the Gallery of Shorthand, it is worth seeing at least once, particularly if you have been in this field long enough to apply for these jobs! Warning, if you apply for these jobs without the proper credentials, the federal government may or may not experiment on you in an atom smasher.
There’s nothing stopping you from living out your dreams of teaching people to court report! There are lots of ways to get into teaching stenography. Anything from the traditional, the brick-and-mortar program teacher, to writing incessant and whiny e-mails to online instructors, telling them that if they just cut you in as a teacher, they could DOUBLE program enrollment. If you are seriously looking to teach, there is absolutely no bar to going out there, getting yourself some webinar software, and teaching, or collaborating with other educators. You should take care to ensure that you understand and follow any laws or rules regarding teaching in your state.
There are very few people in this world who know nothing about CART, and even fewer willing to write about something they know nothing about! Clearly, I am one of those people. What I can tell you is that a healthy CART field relies on great mentors, and great mentors can be found in many ways. Some mentors are easy to find. As with all things, an option open to every professional is to join up with a state association and ask direct questions similar to “can you help me find resources/mentors to learn about CART?” My honest advice is to consult with someone on a personal level before you go CART reporting for an agency, because if you have a mentor telling you she commands a lot of money an hour, and someone wants to pay you a lot less for substantially the same work, it’s just nice to know. There’s an entire CART provider directory to assist in your search for a mentor. Undoubtedly, this section will be updated when I am swamped with all the links I should have included.
The greatest barrier to not getting a job is not knowing where to look. Proactive behavior is the name of the game. The more often you look, the more often you will find. I just want to have posted that I am writing as an individual using public sources. As of writing, I am not writing on behalf of any organization or governmental agency.
The bottom line is the longevity of our field relies on those of us with information to distribute it down to those without information so that jobs can stay filled and employers can stay happy. Don’t forget to join the Unremarkable But Reliable Stenographic Legion! Conduct yourself with professionalism, and get a real job!