The Facebook message arrived to me during dinner, not long after we had launched the Speech to Text Institute: “Just reaching out to let you know that my low, low opinion of you and your character still stands. Every cent wasted on your NCRA salary was two cents too much. Gawd you are just pathetic.”
It was early June of 2012. I was sitting in the Elmhurst, Illinois office of Stenograph CEO John Wenclawski. I’d picked the right day to visit. Stenograph was having its company picnic, so there was a barbecue taking place in the parking lot. John and I had a long conversation about the state of the court reporting industry. He had a lot of ideas.
Well after the recession of 2008 to 2010 began to relent, some court reporting firms noticed that cost-containment functions at law firms that had emerged out of necessity during the downturn had remained in place. Something similar occurred within state and federal courts where severe cost scrutiny continued long after the grip of the recession had loosened.
Let’s begin with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which calculated in May 2018 that the number of court reporters had declined by almost 20 percent over three years to 14,500. I will tell you that I have always been dubious of BLS numbers in this industry because when I worked at NCRA, we always felt the BLS number for court reporters was too high.
Recent news that the Brown College of Court Reporting would be shutting down its program after nearly 50 years was indeed a shock, at least until you consider that the list of court reporting programs that have closed their doors over the past two decades is much longer than the list of programs that now exist.