45-Year Retrospective as a Court Reporter…and a Few Tidbits of Advice


Mary BWBy:  Mary P. Mitchell – RPR, RMR, RDR, CRR, CCP, AE, CLR, DSA-MN

I’ll start at the end of my 45 years as a court reporter and say that I feel nothing but gratitude for this great profession and all the many opportunities, experiences and great people that have enhanced my “journey” along the way.

That sentiment could prevail for any profession.  I’m sure that each of you reading this blog who has either chosen your career path as a stenographic court reporter, CART provider, captioner, or peripheral staff, knows how unique you are having entered the realm of the rarely understood world of the verbatim record and all that it entails.

Were it not for the brave leaders and innovators within our industry who dared to challenge the mentality of “you’re in a dying profession and are going to be replaced by tape recorders,” we would not today be providing the impressive services of real-time instant transcripts at depositions and hearings and trials, nor live text and video streaming of witnesses across the globe, nor providing the words that cannot be heard but are read via CART and captioning … oh, what an exciting world court reporting and all its related offshoots have become!  And you’re in it!  Lucky you.

Now that I’m retired, I’m not in it anymore.  Lucky me.  Oh, wait – yes, I am still in it.  I’m in it because it’s in my blood.  I will continue to be interested in all things court reporting, and I will continue to keep pace with the exciting changes via the Journal of Court Reporting, the excellent Paradigm website blogs and news features, social activities with friends and former colleagues, and maybe even occasionally taking on some part-time work in the field.

My greatest memories from my 45-year career are really the result of accepting challenging opportunities, such as:

– Reporting depos in London, England

– Teaching and developing curriculum in the court reporting and later in the CART/captioning fields, and the many wonderful students who, over the years, have  become peers and friends

– Learning about the CART/captioning segment of our industry and having the opportunities of captioning the Minnesota Legislature and providing CART (Communications Access Real Time) for deaf and hard-of-hearing clients

– 30+ years as the Hennepin County Grand Jury court reporter

– Pro Bono reporting services that varied from depos for indigent clients to military veterans’ oral histories, to citizens testifying about war-torn Liberia who were displaced from their country

– Serving as both reporter and manager of the reporting team producing real-time/daily transcripts of a seven-week trial being nationally watched as one of the first class action lawsuits of private citizens versus a leader in the IT industry

–  Volunteering frequently at the committee level, then joining the board as an officer of our state court reporting association

– Setting goals and attaining higher certifications that resulted in peer recognition and exciting job opportunities

– Growing and developing as a business owner that ultimately evolved into what is Paradigm Reporting & Captioning … a legacy of which I am very, very proud

So what are my “tidbits of advice” to you?  I heard the sentiment “I’m so jealous of you” from multiple reporters/captioners at my retirement soiree.  Don’t be jealous.  Embrace your amazing talent and the many opportunities that come along – because you’re still in the game.  That’s exciting.  Don’t stop learning and being open to new ways of doing your job – you might surprise yourself that you’ll be working “smarter” instead of “harder.”  I encourage you to set goals to attain higher certifications.  Continue to strive for improved accuracy in your skill.  Don’t be afraid to make yourself available for work assignments that may feel a little challenging or out of your comfort zone – I promise you it will increase your self-confidence tenfold and likely result in  more prosperous opportunities.

Continue to support your local and national professional associations.  Again, if it weren’t for those who have volunteered to organize and lead this great profession, you wouldn’t be where you are today.

Mentor court reporting students/new reporters.  They need you and you need them.  Believe it or not, mentoring made me a better reporter because I continued to study English and grammar rules in order to provide documented backup for the feedback I was giving.  And the students will be forever grateful to you for your taking the time to share your expertise.

Best wishes to you all in your individual journeys, both professionally and personally.  I will miss working with so many wonderful judges, attorneys, clients, law firm support staff and, last but not least, court reporter friends and colleagues.   Feel free to stay in touch via text or e-mail.  I look forward to hearing from you.