Oh, the agony of being perfect in a less than perfect world. Court Reporters must produce a product that’s, well, perfect. Names spelled correctly, punctuation in agreement with the MLA Stylebook or
The Elements of Style make the difference between a transcribed account and an excellent work product worthy of being a legal transcript. Attention to detail breeds a perfectionist. Philosophical, scientific and spiritual concepts all agree that perfection is not achievable by human beings, and there’s lots of reasons as to why we should avoid the pursuit and accompanying strife. When society’s so forgiving of a few mistakes…why can’t a reporter have the same absolution as the rest of the world? Simply, it’s what you signed up for.
If you’ve noticed, there’s a prevailing acceptance of mistakes. Seems like our society accepts mediocre results with a shrug and “guess we’ll have to live with it” attitude. Things like a misspelled name on your insurance ID, wrong address on pizza delivery or failure to post your payment are commonalities rather than exceptions. The court reporter cannot backslide along with other businesses.
For our court reporting colleagues, we’ve identified 10 tips, quotes and suggestions to help you create a perfect record, and maybe develop patience for those who aren’t required to produce perfection.
Grasping Perfection: 10 ideas on how, when and why to strive for perfection.
- How do we make perfect an imperfect record? FACT: Witnesses and attorneys do not speak grammatically correct. Your job is to perfectly punctuate and spell. The great journalist and author William Safire says, “Only in grammar can you be more than perfect.”
- Hire a proof reader or “scopist”. Scopists are what court reporters call proof readers. They’re detail-oriented types who understand punctuation and spelling. They know the difference between sight, site, your, you’re, etc.
- Great court reporters use scopists. Period.
- A speech disfluency or dysfluency is common. “Um” “uh” “k” are correct spellings, and will probably be uttered 1000’s of times. These must be included in your transcript.
- It is not fair to ask your significant other or spouse to embrace your attention to detail regarding laundry, dishes and general cleaning responsibilities. That your work must be perfect doesn’t mean your home, yard or relationship has to be.
- Creating the perfect record is critical because it’s what the legal community expects. Mistakes can lose cases.
- Creating the perfect record will earn and retain longtime clients. Longtime clients = a fulfilling, satisfying, lucrative career.
- Accept that you, personally, are not perfect. You are unique and wonderful with all your quirks.
- Decide that you are dedicated to producing a perfect transcript. When it’s perfect, you won’t hear about it. This is good!
- “Is ‘anal-retentive’ hyphenated?” You decide!