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December 10, 2012

Calling All Court Reporters – Let the World Know How Great is Our Profession

John Wenclawski, president of Stenograph, LLC, wrote a letter to firm owners across the USA and Canada asking everyone to spread the word to young people about how great court reporting is as a profession.  I asked John if I could post his letter because I agree with everythng he says.  If it weren’t for my Helix High School typing teacher suggesting I become a court reporter, I might be living a boring existence without the excitement of being a court reporter.

I understand that courtrooms are laying off court reporters, but they still need reporters.  I know the worlds of CART and captioning are exploding.  As long as there are talented, thard working, accurate, writers, there is going to be a job available for them.  The great realtime writers are being flown all over the world to report high-tech, patent, and complex business litigation.

John’s letter is heartfelt.  Let’s support our industry and get young people into school.  The online programs give people a chance to become court reporters everywhere.

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SUBJECT: The Future of Court Reporting

For the past 29 years, I have enjoyed a challenging and rewarding career within the court reporting profession.  Even though I was never trained as a reporter, the years of participating in the technological revolution within this market, as well as the many acquaintances that I’ve had the pleasure of working with has me feeling that I am part of this profession. As I look around and visit with many of the friends I’ve established through the years, I feel a concern for the future of this very important and wonderful career.

We all have opinions on the factors that are impacting reporting.  There is a misconception in the market of the value of a court reporter, the economy, and public awareness of the future of reporting that have all played a role in reducing the number of court reporters, but in the end, the profession has changed.  Today the average age of a court reporter is over 48 years old.  The projected number of professional reporters has dropped from 40,000 plus to approximately 35,000.  It was not that long ago when there were well over 10,000 students in court reporting school graduating over 1,000 annually.  Today the 83 schools have about 7,200 students and graduate 350-400 new court reporters.  The court reporting population is shrinking.

I have spoken to many professionals over the years and have heard numerous success stories.  I know it is a very demanding profession, but also quite rewarding.  Many have experienced financial rewards, but beyond the lucrative lifestyle, it has been a career that has made a difference in society. The transparency a court reporter creates in the courtroom is a freedom we should not take for granted.

At some point in the future, I will step out of this profession and turn the reins of Stenograph over to the next generation.  To help ensure Stenograph has a place in this market, we need to ensure there are court reporters in the future.  Stenograph has made difficult and significant financial decisions to help ensure this future with the establishment of our three Prince Institute campuses.  One of the things that have been quickly reinforced is the difficulty in the recruitment of new students, but more importantly the value of a strong referral from a successful reporter.  58% of those students that are referred by a professional reporter to our schools enroll.  I ask each of you to remember what this profession has done for you and try to help ensure the future.  Please reach out to those people searching for career direction and promote a career in court reporting.  With over 60% of our students online, we would be appreciative of a referral from any location to our schools. Prince has a wonderful curriculum supported by the latest technology and programs.  Our graduation rate is twice the industry average.

CART, closed captioning, and court reporting have made a huge difference in many people’s lives, both the providers and the recipients.  Let’s share those achievements of this profession, because without the word of mouth, it will disappear.  I would like you to promote Prince Institute, but more importantly, let’s promote a career in court reporting.  Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts.

John Wenclawski

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