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The Huseby Journal

What Are Scopists and Should Court Reporters Use Them

One of the people behind the scenes of a court reporter’s world is the scopist. Not every court reporter uses one, but those that do, do so with gratitude. They may be used regularly or only when things get very busy. The idea behind it is to allow the reporter to take down more jobs as the scopist works on the transcription of what has already been done.

Since our court reporters record everything phonetically in stenotype, the job must be translated by a computer program into English. Each syllable is combined with the next to create words and sentences. Scopists help with this part of the process.

Scopists were originally used to edit court reporting transcripts on early computer screens with diode scopes. The term scopist evolved, as did the professional’s job. Excelling in the interpretation of stenotype notes, spelling and grammar, scopists are usually independent contractors that work for individual stenographers, rather than court reporting agencies.

They are well-versed in finding obscure spellings, using proper legal and medical terms, meeting deadlines and detecting the correct transcription. They enjoy reading for long hours at a stretch and don’t mind sitting in front of computer screen for several hours a day with few breaks. As computers have advanced, court reporting software and programs used by scopists have as well.

Training and certification programs can be completed both online and in person. Most schools that have a court reporting program have some type of scopist program, as well. There are some schools dedicated strictly to scoping. There is currently not a national certification exam for scopists, but those who are well-trained can find work. While not all reporters use scopists, the present ratio is about one scopist to every 500 court reporters.

In times of economic downturn, there are statistically more lawsuits filed in court. The more lawsuits, the more legal transcription services are needed. As the court reporting profession becomes busier, more reporters need scopists to keep up with their ever-growing workload.

There are some reporters that use a scopist regularly. Others use them when they are very busy. It is up to individual reporters at Huseby whether they use this service or not. Either way, it is the reporter’s ultimate responsibility to make sure the transcript is accurate and on time.