Lake Oswego resident receives national certification for court reporting
Jacqueline Butler's professional world just expanded a little larger — if she chooses.
The Lake Oswego resident received the Registered Professional Reporter certification — a nationally recognized certification for producing high-quality verbatim records — earlier this month.
"It's proof that I can do it. It's kind of like a badge of honor," said Butler, adding that it allows her to work in most states and in the federal court if she wanted. "It gives you a lot more accessibility."
The National Court Reporters Association, which represents stenographic court reporters, captioners and legal videographers, announced the news about Butler — who is also a member of the association — Monday, July 26, in a press release.
"Earning RPR credentials is quite an accomplishment given the amount of preparation and knowledge that successful candidates must possess to pass," the press release read. "Those who hold RPR credentials are not only among the top stenographic court reporters in the profession, but they also embark on a path of lifetime learning with continuing education requirements."
Butler also holds two other certifications: The Washington Certified Court Reporter and the Oregon Certified Shorthand Reporter.
There is a high demand for jobs in this industry, which doesn't require a typical four-year degree.
"There is currently an increasing demand for more reporters and captioners to meet the growing number of employment opportunities available nationwide and abroad," the press release read. "Court reporters and captioners rely on the latest in technology to use stenographic machines to capture the spoken word and translate it into written text in real time. These professionals work both in and out of the courtroom recording legal cases and depositions, providing live captioning of events, and assisting members of the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities with gaining access to information, entertainment, educational opportunities, and more."
Butler graduated from a court reporting program in 1999 and has been involved with the industry as a freelance court reporter for 22 years.
Her work is primarily focused on reporting for depositions, though she took a 12-year hiatus from deposition work to be involved with other aspects of the industry before returning to deposition reporting in 2017.
"It's interesting. Everything is different. You never have the same day," Butler said. "It's a really unique skill … It's not easy. It takes a while to get through (the program) but you're learning basically a foregin language and it comes out through your fingers."
For years, Butler had the goal of obtaining this certification. She had to pass a four-leg test which included a written test and three five-minute skill tests that required at least 95% accuracy and a specific speed.
The first was a question and answer test, and the other two were a literary test and a jury charge — which means reporting anything a judge says. She had to complete those tests with 225 words per minute, 180 words per minute and 200 words per minute, respectively.
Butler said there are opportunities down the road to expand her career if she wants, but for now she plans to continue freelance court reporting.
"There's no lack of work," she said. "There's never a dull moment."
She also recently started getting into the classroom setting as a Communication Access Realtime Translation provider, where she reports what an instructor or speaker says. The words are then projected on a screen so people like those who are hard of hearing can participate real-time.
"I think it's fascinating," Butler said. "I'm in awe of all the people who do it. It's been a great profession so far for me."
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