Court Reporter Versus Legal Transcriptionist: What’s the Difference?

There are many career options available for transcription Boston MA, especially in the legal field. When many people think of legal transcription, they think of the court reporters typically present during proceedings. There are some superficial similarities between the two professions, but a legal transcriptionist actually performs a very different job than a court reporter.


Both court reporters and legal transcriptionists need to undergo specialized training to be employable in their chosen professions. However, because the equipment used in each type of work is different, trainees for each profession have to learn that specific piece of equipment. A court reporter uses a steno machine that allows him or her to accurately render discussions taking place in court in real time. This is the reason why a court reporter is also known as a stenographer. A legal transcriptionist uses a transcription machine, or sometimes a computer equipped with transcription software. In either case, the equipment is different enough that training on a steno machine is not transferable to legal transcription.


The skill sets required for both court reporting and transcription are not as similar as they might seem at first. Both require speed and acute listening skills. However, a court reporter has to transcribe oral arguments, testimony, etc., as they happen in the courtroom. On the other hand, a legal transcriptionist works from pre-recorded dictations that he or she can rewind as needed if something was missed.


By definition, a court reporter does most of his or her work in the courtroom. By contrast, a legal transcriptionist is almost never present in the courtroom during proceedings. The work of a legal transcriptionist can take place in many different places, such as a law office or the transcriptionist’s home.

Though different, the services provided by both court reporters and legal transcriptionists are vital to producing accurate legal records. The career prospects for each are currently good and expected to get even better.