After a successful campaign to trick lawyers and law firms into allowing digital court reporting via their deposition notices, the court reporting industry giant Veritext made a statement on Thursday that it would continue its aggressive expansion of digital court reporting. Part-time spokesperson Richard Stubbins said:
“Since nobody opposed us using the Speech-to-Text Institute (STTI) to join with our fellow competitors, spread the lie that the stenographer shortage was impossible to solve, and generally manipulate the market, we’re in good shape. Consumers are too complacent to explore antitrust options against our successful bait and switch of digital court reporting in the place of stenography, and the government agencies that are meant to protect consumers are too underfunded and terrified of our lawyers to do much of anything, so we will now move to the next phase of the operation.”
Asked to expound, the industry behemoth stated that it would continue to work its way into lawyer education and legal spaces in order to continue to frame stenographers as old and outdated, despite the fact that stenography is referred to as the gold standard of court reporting and more efficient than digital court reporting.
“It’s a genius plan, really. Lawyers don’t want to think about what we do and they let us handle everything. We take advantage of that by charging them gold standard prices for substandard service and charging them as much as possible even though they could probably hire any stenographer off NCRA PRO Link for less. We wanted legal professionals to use digital, and they wouldn’t, so we simply pushed the narrative that the stenographers they prefer are unavailable. Bottom line is the only people standing against us are a nonprofit designed to call out misconduct, an idiot with a blog, and a field of women. With those odds, I’d put money on the dishonest corporate machine any day. It’s not like news media are going to report on corporate fraud, they’re reliant on corporate advertisers.”
Critics of the expansion of digital court reporting point to the difficulty of being able to subpoena foreign transcribers in the event of suspected error or tampering. They also believe that the lower paid workers will have an incentive to sell or distribute sensitive or private information that standard court reporters simply do not have.
Stenographic and voice writing proponents point to the importance of having a court reporter that can be called to testify as to the truth and accuracy of stenographic or audio notes. In today’s AI-heavy world, voice cloning and manipulation leaves mere digital recording at severe risk of tampering to produce favorable court outcomes.
“Even though our clients are some of the smartest people on the planet, they haven’t worked out a way to stop us from giving away sweetheart deals to BigLaw and its insurance counterpart while overcharging smaller shops on the copies they’re more or less forced to buy from us. Since there are zero consequences, we don’t intend to stop any time soon. Worst case scenario, we’ll just tell them all the stenographers are making a big deal out of self-interest. Nobody’ll think about our own self-interest as a multimillion dollar company. It’ll be great.”
*This is satire and should not be taken as a factual article. It’s part of Stenonymous Satire Weekends, a project to bring more eyes to corporate fraud in court reporting. As you can imagine, it’s the centralized power of capital versus the decentralized power of 18,000 to 30,000 stenographers. The situation is just a tad asymmetrical and we have to push back in ways that don’t involve spending thousands of dollars, at least until court reporters get so fed up that they “GoFundMe” enough to hire people that’ll hammer on corporate fraudsters full time.
To sum it up, a group of court reporting competitors and companies syndicated behind the Speech-to-Text Institute to pump the market with misinformation that the stenographer shortage was impossible to solve and make the case that therefore digital reporting is necessary. Digital proponents talk about the equivalency of steno versus digital, but then they do things like call the workforce not highly trained, presumably to create the illusion that this shift will be cheaper for the consumer. Don’t believe me? Check out this old Verbit infographic.