Government agencies on all levels are making drastic cuts to their budgets to adjust to reduced revenue. The nation’s court systems are not exempt and functions such as litigation support services are at risk.
Eliminating Non-Essential Functions
As courts are being handed budget cuts, they are scrambling to find programs they can reduce or eliminate. This is not as easy as it might be in other organizations. Many court functions are mandated by rules ranging from local statutes to the US Constitution, leaving court administrators with only a few functions that are optional.
Litigation support services are being scaled back in many areas. In most cases these are services not directly related to legal proceedings. For example, programs designed to help the public navigate and understand the court systems are often first on the chopping block.
Key positions such as judges, interpreters and security are safe but the court reporting industry wonders how much they will be affected. Courts may start using fewer court reporters in favor of digital recordings, a move that historically has only led to more problems.
A Rise In Demand
As courts are cutting back on litigation support services, the need for those services increases. In bad economies, it is normal to see an upswing in criminal cases. Criminal defendants are guaranteed the right to speedy trial so these cases take priority over civil cases, but still threaten to overwhelm the court system. Experts predict an increase in plea agreements and a rise in unsupervised probation since probation funding is also falling.
Civil cases such as domestic violence, divorce and many financial disputes have also seen an increase as the economy has worsened. These cases are low on a court’s list of priorities, taking a back seat to criminal and juvenile cases. When possible, involved parties are being encouraged to seek third party mediation rather than filing civil court cases.
What Does This Mean For The Court Reporting Industry?
This is a time for court reporters and other litigation support services to expand their career horizons. The courtroom is not the only environment that demands these kinds of services.
Court reporters are striking out on their own and seeking employment outside the traditional courtroom environment. Attorneys still need deposition services. Civil mediators require documentation of agreements reached in disputes. Private companies are seeing the advantage of creating transcripts of company meetings and conferences. There is a growing demand for court reporters in closed captioning of television and web broadcasts.
In any industry, professionals must be open to new opportunities. Just because traditional venues for litigation support services are shrinking, that doesn’t mean that employment opportunities aren’t there. Court reporters who embrace new opportunities will not only stay employed but may discover exciting new career options unlike anything they experienced in a courtroom setting.
Article Source: Nation's Courts Cut Litigation Support Services