Shana at BerkeleyLaw for website5The increased use of voice-activated technology, artificial intelligence (AI), and automated speech recognition (ASR) has led the general public and some legal professionals to believe that court reporters are on the verge of extinction. But savvy judges and litigators know that no machine, device, or app can replace the highly skilled live court reporter.

There are myriad reasons why certified shorthand reporters are needed. As guardians of the record, they ensure:

  1. Impartiality
  2. Accuracy
  3. Confidentiality
  4. Accountability

In 2008, I discovered that law firms and other organizations offer mock depositions to train their attorneys in the art of taking and defending a deposition. Since then, in collaboration with law professors, law firm administrators and litigators, I have provided advanced court reporting students and newly licensed court reporters at mock depositions and mock trials throughout the greater San Francisco Bay Area. 

At these mock events, as in real life, court reporters offer an invaluable service. Litigators, law professors and their students appreciate court reporters’ involvement because their presence contributes a sense of solemnity to the mock experience and serves participants in two crucial ways:

  • Interrupting as needed to ensure the integrity of the record.
    • This provides a “reality check” to law students and litigators to be more mindful that every word is being transcribed into a permanent record and to avoid speaking too fast, talking over one another, or incoherently.
  • Producing a rough draft or final transcript.
    • Participants learn how to improve their performance when presenting their case, questioning and defending witnesses, or testifying as expert witnesses. 

In real life, some litigators and judges do not like to be interrupted and may question a court reporter’s competence. Yet it is a court reporter’s legal and ethical duty to capture and protect the record and produce a verbatim transcript of the proceedings. If a reporter is unable to hear or understand what participants are saying — i.e., when they speak over one another, incoherently, or too fast — it is his/her duty to interrupt.  Most importantly, if a professional who has spent thousands of hours perfecting his/her craft and developing deep listening skills cannot hear what is said, neither will a judge or jury.

The Court Reporters Board of California (CRB), the licensing and disciplinary body of all court reporters in California (akin to the California Bar Association), published its first four Best Practice pointers in 2015. Best Practice Pointer No. 1:  How to Interrupt Proceedings states clearly in the first sentence:  

“The fundamental duty of a court reporter is to protect the record, including interrupting if the accuracy of the record is jeopardized.”

Coincidental with the CRB’s Best Practice #1, I wrote The Court Reporter’s Dilemma: Interrupt or Drop in June 2015. Five years later, I wrote the related article Silent No More: Court Reporters Speak Up for the Record. These and other articles related to court reporting have been published by the Bar Association of San Francisco in its monthly Bulletin print newsletter and Legal by the Bay blog page and other legal magazines, newsletters, e-zines, and media. (More articles can be found on my Career page).


— Berkeley Law

— San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association

— Golden Gate University School Law

— John F. Kennedy College of Law

  • Mock deposition skills training courses with law students

— U.C. Hastings College of the Law

  • Mock deposition skills training courses with law students

— Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati (2008-2017)

  • Litigation skills training courses for 2nd-year associates


The above featured photo was taken at a mock trial at BerkeleyLaw on November 2015, in collaboration with Adjunct Professor and Alameda County Public Defender Charles Mandeville Denton, III (wearing the light blue jacket). The court reporting student is California CSR candidate Shana Ray, who has been legally blind since birth. Learn more about Shana and this event here.

Copyright Ana Fatima Costa. All rights reserved.