When hiring a qualified court reporter, here's what you should know:

Are Florida Court Reporters Required To Be Certified?

Most attorneys are surprised to learn that court reporters do not need to be certified to work in the state of Florida. It is FCRA’s position that there should be mandatory certification for court reporters in order to protect the record and all who utilize court reporting services.  FCRA has worked for many years to bring certification to fruition.

In 1965, the Florida legislature enacted Chapter 457 of the Florida Statutes entitled the “Certified Shorthand Reporter Statute” that established a voluntary certification of court reporters through the Department of Professional Regulation.  On July 22, 1978, the statute was repealed by the legislature.  Thus began FCRA’s campaign to have certification reinstituted in the state of Florida.

FCRA introduced legislation in 1990 which resulted in the enactment of Florida Statute 29.025 (now recodified as Section 25.383), directing the Florida Supreme Court to establish minimum standards and procedures for qualifications, certification, discipline, and training for court reporters, and giving the court authority to set fees for the program to offset the costs of administration.  Since that time, FCRA has continued to work towards having certification implemented and funded, which, to this day, has not happened.

FCRA continues to work in its endeavor to have certification implemented.  To that end, in 2006, FCRA created the voluntary certification known as the Florida Professional Reporter (FPR), which consists of a mandatory 6-hour seminar, followed by a written exam.  This seminar is geared toward educating reporters of all methodologies in the federal and state rules and statutes regarding court reporting.

Although court reporters are not required to be certified in Florida, there are things attorneys can do to help ensure that they are hiring a competent, qualified court reporter.  

How To Ensure You Are Hiring A Qualified Court Reporter.

Even though Florida does not require its court reporters to be certified, there are many qualified and experienced court reporters throughout the state who voluntarily choose to become certified through the Florida Court Reporters Association and/or the National Court Reporters Association.  Unfortunately, there are court reporters who also choose to come to work in Florida because there is no certification requirement, thus making it all the more important that attorneys know who they are hiring. By asking a few simple questions, attorneys can ensure they are hiring a qualified reporter.

Two important pieces of information to know when hiring a court reporter are:

Do they hold any professional certifications? 

Are they a member of the Florida Court Reporters Association?

Professional Certifications - What Do Those Initials Mean?

As an attorney, you look at transcripts all day long.  Have you ever paid attention to the court reporter’s name on the transcript?  If the reporter holds any professional certifications, those will be designated after the court reporter’s name on their transcripts and business cards.  Being aware of what these designations signify will allow you to choose a court reporter with the right skill level for your particular job.  Following are the most common designations you will see:

FPR - Florida Professional Reporter

Florida Professional Reporter is a state certification obtained through the Florida Court Reporters Association.  FPRs have passed a knowledge test on Florida Rules of Court and Federal Rules of Court and their application to the court reporter’s role and responsibilities in all types of proceedings, as well as appellate procedures, transcript production, and ethical obligations.  FPRs are required to complete 3.0 continuing education units every three years to maintain their certification.  See What is the FPR Certification?

RPR - Registered Professional Reporter

Registered Professional Reporter is a national certification obtained through the National Court Reporters Association.  RPRs have passed a skills test on literary, Q&A, and jury charge material up to 225 words per minute and have passed a knowledge test focusing on technology, reporting practices, and professional practices.  RPRs are required to complete 3.0 continuing education units every three years and maintain membership in the National Court Reporters Association.

RMR – Registered Merit Reporter

Registered Merit Reporter is a national certification obtained through the National Court Reporters.  RMRs are the same as RPRs, with exception that RMRs have passed a skills tests at speeds up to 240 words per minute.

CRR - Certified Realtime Reporter

Certified Realtime Reporter is a national certification obtained through the National Court Reporters Association.  CRRs have passed a skills test demonstrating they have mastered an advanced skill set to deliver accurate instant voice-to-text (realtime) reporting at speeds up to 200 words per minute.  CRRs are required to complete 3.0 continuing education units every three years and must maintain membership in the National Court Reporters Association.

CCP (Certified CART Provider)

Certified CART Provider is a national certification obtained through the National Court Reporters Association.  CCPs have passed a skills test demonstrating they have mastered an advanced skill set to deliver accurate instant voice-to-text (realtime) reporting of speeds from 180-225 words per minute.  The ADA recognizes CART as an assistive technology that affords deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals access to the spoken word in real time.  CCPs are required to complete 3.0 continuing education units every three years and must maintain membership in the National Court Reporters Association.

Professional Associations - Is Your Reporter a Member of FCRA?

The Florida Court Reporters Association, along with its national affiliate, the National Court Reporters Association, works to educate members in an effort to maintain a high standard of excellence in service to the legal community; establish professional standards of tested competence; and set ethical standards that ensure the integrity and impartiality of the profession of court reporting.

Why hire a court reporter who is an FCRA member?

Court reporters who are members of the Florida Court Reporters Association are interested in staying engaged and current in their professions.  Their membership allows them to stay apprised of the latest technology, best business practices, and statewide developments in the court reporting and legal communities so they can deliver an excellent product to their clients.  FCRA members take advantage of many continuing education opportunities to keep their certifications up-to-date.

All FCRA members agree to abide by the FCRA Code of Professional Ethics, which states:  A Member shall:

Conduct oneself professionally to serve the best interests of the Bench, Bar, and public, and to provide the highest standard of practice.

Have knowledge of and follow local, state, and federal court rules applicable to court reporting and the protection and production of the record.

Be truthful and accurate when making public statements or when advertising the Member’s qualifications or the services provided.  The Member shall accurately represent qualifications regarding level of knowledge, skill, or competence of court reporting services required.

Ensure all litigants are treated impartially, equally, and fairly, and promptly offer to provide comparable services to all parties.

Preserve the confidentiality and ensure the security of information entrusted to the Member by any of the parties.

Accept no assignment that may represent or give the appearance of a conflict of interest.  A Member shall disclose any conflict or potential conflict that may arise.

Refrain from giving, directly or indirectly, any gift or anything of value to attorneys or their staff, other clients or their staff, or any other persons or entities associated with any litigation, which exceeds $100 in the aggregate per recipient each year.  Nothing offered in exchange for future work is permissible, regardless of its value.

Guard against not only the fact but the appearance of impropriety.

Maintain the integrity of the reporting profession.

When you insist on hiring an FCRA member, you strengthen FCRA and help us continue to improve the quality of court reporting in the state of Florida.