The source material is found here. The URL says October 2022. The copyright says 2021.
That whole tacit parallelism thing I keep harping on shines through. All the players are supposed to be independent but they all come to the same incorrect conclusions. The first thing I have to point out is the quality of the booklet. I’m going to try to balance their copyright with my fair use and not republish the entire thing, but I will show off the table of contents page. This is crisp. It’s really well done. It stands out. To me, it looks like an advertisement for digital court reporting. Just for the refresher, Veritext does that too. So that’s what jumps out at page 2.
Page 3 is an introduction. Very much like the companies in the Speech-to-Text Institute Bloc did, Esquire focuses on the shortage and then pans immediately to digital court reporting as the solution. It’s stacking propaganda where they lay out all the positives and none of the negatives about missing or lost audio, potentially confidential information going to overseas transcribers, and the like. But to be fair, without having an intimate understanding of the business model, I cannot say whether those are problems Esquire itself has run into, so let’s give the benefit of the doubt.
Page 4 again doubles down on the stenographer shortage, so I’m going to put it on full blast. If this was made or posted in October 2022, Jim Cudahy had already left the Speech-to-Text Institute after I called him a fraud. So by continuing to publish this information, in my view, Esquire has effectively joined the fraud.
Viewing this through the lens of advertisement, the top left paints attorneys as slow to adopt new things and sets the stage: “Attorneys, things will have to change.” This takes the heat off a business that is, in actuality, trying to get consumers to accept something they do not want, and places it on the consumer themselves. “If you do not change, you are unrealistic.” It’s a neat trick I’ve seen played on court reporters. Companies drilled it into us that “you must have the most updated technology or be left behind.” Then when they were done making money off of us, their new product line for digital became the new technology. It was so effective that we had court reporters shaming other court reporters for not keeping support contracts.
The bottom left uses the same numbers from the JD Supra Article I linked in the Victoria Hudgins post in February 2022. It’s a simple stat trick. Those numbers are extrapolated from the Ducker Report, which is long outdated. But it’s worse than that. By their calculation, one would eventually have negative stenographers (2038 – 2048). That’s mathematically impossible if 200 new stenographers are entering the market each year. It’s a lie by omission. Even in the worst of circumstances, according to available data, that pattern would only continue until about 2033, at which point the numbers would start improving, and that’s assuming no intervention by the multimillion dollar corporations facing this shortage. Even more than that, this is all internally inconsistent. Let’s assume there were zero new entrants into the field and we were bleeding 1,120 reporters every single year since the forecasted 2018 shortage until the forecasted 2033 end point. That’s 16,800 reporters over 15 years, about 62% of the field, 8% short of the forecast. If we add the 200 new entrants a year, that’s 13,800 reporters lost over 15 years, 51%. Yeah, that would still be bad, but it’s not 70%. What am I saying? The multimillion dollar corporation is publishing something that, upon the most gentle criticism, falls to pieces under its own weight. I suspect this is why the corps don’t sue me. They’d have to go under oath and be like “yeah, a guy with an AOS in court reporting figured out that this didn’t make sense mathematically, but we had no idea, honest. Please trust us with your business.” Maybe we’d get Rockstar Attorney Amber Les to read the deposition transcripts on TikTok and give her iconic “Ka-Chow.”
But there’s a lot more to page 4. On the top right, it shares the old STTI graphic I love to hate. I’ve said this a million times. A gap of 11,000 in 2023 is a huge percentage of the field and inconsistent with not only reality, but the graphic on the bottom left. If we’re losing an average of 1,120 a year, the loss by 2023 should be 6,720. They’re pretty close to doubling that number. The worst of the shortage would actually be behind us according to these numbers. It’s a big “WTF” if you think about it. Most of us don’t think about it.
The bottom right is where they talk about a survey where 25% to 31% of stenographers said they would not return in person. I don’t have much to say about this. If it’s true, and I do not have reason at this time to believe that it is not, we shoot ourselves in the foot with our own unwillingness to do what the job requires. I will say this, though, it is extremely surprising to see Esquire say, and I’m paraphrasing heavily, “there will be fewer remote proceedings and stenographers will not go back.” Esquire was previously a leader in pushing for remote proceedings to cover the shortage. What changed? Did you guys start colluding with the Speech-to-Text Institute gang or what?
The last note is about our shortage delaying access to justice, and to that, I’m just going to point out that digital and AI is a far greater threat to access to justice. Perhaps if the time and effort put into making this advertisement and others like it was put into making advertisements for recruiting stenographers, there would be no shortage at all.
Page 5 is mostly just advertising how great digital court reporting is. The biggest trick here seems to be the comparison box. A lot of businesses do this, so it’s fair game, but the heart of it is that it has more “checks” (the x) for the product they want you to buy. “This must be better, it has more stuff!” I will say this, page 5 talks about confidence monitoring. Confidence monitoring is best practices. I read an AAERT manual years ago. I don’t remember much except that I remember being highly impressed. I believe if best practices were followed 100% of the time, digital could be a halfway decent solution for some cases. The problem here is theoretical versus practice. We’re in an imperfect world with imperfect circumstances. Best practices don’t get followed 100% of the time. Look at the years of education by the National Court Reporters Association on gifting and the tax implications of it, and the materials that came from that. You think any of these big companies were following best practices? Nope. Ethics are for court reporters. Litigation support firms can do whatever they want.
Page 6 and 7 are just more of the same, making digital court reporting look good. Page 6 starts with how digital court reporters are ideal when stenographers are not available. It’s a real shock that a company like Esquire would say that when there are realtime voice writers available. It goes through the same song and dance of brainwashing attorneys on how they should word their deposition notices that Veritext did. Despite the really good marketing pitch for digital, I’ll just put it out there that when a former digital reporter came onto one of my ad campaigns, she said they were “trained to obfuscate.” Digital won’t be long for this world when attorneys see that.
The rest of the pages are dedicated to a state-by-state listing of the rules. I have nothing to say about that beyond the fact that there was a lot of time and energy put into selling digital here when they could’ve been supporting the stenographers that everybody is so quick to throw away.
Attorneys, what should you know about digital court reporting?
These folks are collectively spending a lot of time, money, and energy to get you to use it, and profits for them go up if you do. They’ll tell you that we’re all equal, it’s all the same product, and have you paying the same high prices while pocketing any savings. Maybe a lot of you don’t care about the money because your clients are paying. But maybe working with corporations that are actively trying to fool you is a bad idea for your business and clients.
But what do I know? I’m just a stenographer.