Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Origins of Court Reporting Shorthand

With our society at the most litigious time during any point in its history, court reporters are more in demand than ever. Court reporters provide a valuable service to the legal community, creating an official written record of everything that is spoken during trials, motions and depositions.

But where did the court reporting industry start? And more importantly, what are the origins of the equipment and shorthand systems used today around the world?

In order to track down the first official court reporter, one must go back to ancient time – 63 B.C. to be exact. It was in this year that a slave named Marcus Tullius Tiro, the property of the great Cicero became the world’s first shorthand reporter. Tiro first known transcription was of a speech by Cato. To help him copy every word of the speech accurately, Tiro used a series of shorthand notes and symbols. Tiro’s system was simple but groundbreaking. He used single symbols to represents full sentences, and did not record smaller, common words that he knew could be entered into the official record at a later time.

As a result of Tiro’s work, the art and science of stenography was born, and although most of the symbols he used are no longer with us, the ampersand (&) still exists and is a part of hundreds of languages around the world.

The John of Tilbury, a monk, developed the first English shorthand sometime around the year 1180. His system remained the standard in England until the 16th century when a doctor named Timothie Bright created a 500 character shorthand symbol system that would replace it.

Dr. Bright’s system was accepted throughout England until the year 1772 when it was replaced by a new shorthand system developed Thomas Gurney. Gurney worked for the government and his new, easy-to-use system of transcription and note-taking became the official shorthand of Parliament. The final switch in England’s shorthand system came in 1837 when Isaac Pittman developed a phonetics-based shorthand system that is still in use by many British court reporters today.

Across the pond, Gregg’s system was used in the courts of the United States until the invention of the shorthand machine later in the century. In 1879, a man by the name of Miles Bartholomew, who was part of what was already a growing number of professional court reports working in the American legal system, received a patent for what would become the modern typewriter. It had a single keystroke for each letter and would become a major tool of business in the decades that followed.

But for the purposes of modern court reporting, things needed to work more quickly. During the post-war era of the 1950’s the United States Military and IBM developed groundbreaking machines and software that would translate foreign languages directly into English. After this project was complete, the same team of engineers used this technology to create shorthand translation machines.

It was out of this technology that the modern shorthand machine, used today by tens of thousands of court reporters was born.

How to Hire a Court Reporter for your Next Deposition

In the course of a busy day, it is easy to forget that you need a court reporter for your upcoming deposition. With that in mind, we offer the following helpful tips for making sure that you get an accurate written record of everything that transpires during the proceedings.

1. Confirm the dates of your deposition. If the actual date of your deposition is still up in the air, then you are not quite ready to hire a court reporter. In order to avoid cancellation fees, or inconvenience the reporter herself, it is best to get the time and date set in stone before placing a call.

2. Reserve your conference room. Inside many law firms the biggest fight isn’t over who will be made partner, but rather over valuable conference room space. Make sure that you’ve got one reserved for the specific date and time of the scheduled deposition.

3. Ask for recommendations. If you are unsure about who to call to get a court reporter to work your deposition, ask other attorneys for a recommendation.

4. Determine if your deposition will take place over more than one day. In order to insure that a qualified court reporter is available for the entire deposition, be sure to determine beforehand whether or not the deposition will conclude in the span of a single day.

5. Ask about bi-lingual court reporters. If there will be languages other than English spoken at the deposition, ask the court reporter (or their service) about the availability of bi-lingual court reporters. If a bilingual reporter is not available for the deposition, you can also hire a translator after the fact to convert the record into another language.

6. Contact a court reporting service. The beauty of a court reporting service is that it takes all the guesswork out of hiring someone to transcribe your deposition. The process couldn’t be easier. Simply contact the service online or over the phone and let them know the details of your upcoming deposition. They will let you know who is available, what their experience level is and what you fee will be.

7. Be mindful of the court reporter’s time. Try not to keep the court reporter waiting around for long stretches of time before or after the deposition. Just like you, their time is valuable and always needs to be accounted for.
With these tips in mind, the scheduling and execution of your next deposition should go smoothly. Remember that although most court reporting services can send someone to you on short notice, it is always better to book ahead whenever possible.

For court reporters for your next deposition, plus a WHOLE lot more, visit is the one-stop source for all your Court Reporting, videography and Transcription needs. Powered by innovative technologies, and a professional customer support staff, is sure to meet your complete satisfaction. The court reporters of are currently available in New York, California, Florida, Chicago and other areas throughout the United States.


court reporting agency said...

Thanks for sharing the history of court reporting agency. I am glad that you find time to give out this article. I'm following your blogs and it is a pleasure to read your articles. Thanks.

Daniel Langlois said...

'Across the pond, Gregg’s system was used in the courts of the United States until the invention of the shorthand machine later in the century. In 1879, a man by the name of Miles Bartholomew.'

One might gather from this, that Gregg's system was in use in the U.S. in the 19th century. Gregg shorthand was invented in 1888, was first published in book form in 1897.

Mark Riets said...

Great. One of the best pieces of information I've read in a long time. Nice to know about the history of what you do, we are Court Reporters Tampa Bay Florida

Mark Riets said...
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sheila olson said...

Truly said, I have recently dealt with the court reporter at Florida who have provided me a good court reporting service.
Meeting Rooms For Depositions In Philadelphia

Rietz Worldwide said...

The blog states the fact about the court reporting agency, I have worked with Court reporters that are located in Hong Kong

janice said...
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janice said...
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janice said...

Thanks for the information.I would like to add that Its too easy now with Magna Ls .The Magna Legal Services provides end-to-end litigation support services including court reporting & transcription services. They also offer nationwide coverage & 24-hour scheduling to meet your needs.

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