Brad Benjamin is a new freelance court reporter in Chicago, Ill. A graduate of MacCormac College, he covers various types of work including court hearings, municipal board meetings, and depositions.
JCR | How did you become interested in becoming a court reporter?
BB | Court reporting always fascinated me. I remember watching the movie Drop Dead Fred when I was a teenager. Phoebe Cates plays a court reporter who gets fired in one of the first scenes. The judge fires her right before a hearing because she is late to court. I remember thinking, ‘Well, who will they find to replace her on such short notice?’
It wasn’t until I was 33 and looking for a career change that I came up with the idea to pursue court reporting during a brainstorming session with a friend. He had recently become a bailiff and encouraged me to consider the legal or law enforcement fields.
After researching a few programs, I concluded that I would complete the whole court reporting curriculum in about six months. I was wrong. But that’s another story.
JCR | Where did you first start working once you graduated/certified?
BB | I started working at Sullivan Reporting Co., a Chicago court reporting agency that has been around since 1937. Although Sullivan is no longer run by court reporters, they are extremely supportive of their reporters, and I feel I could not have thrived as a reporter had I gone a different direction when starting out. In addition to a few other agencies, I am happy to say I am still working with Sullivan today.
JCR | What do you love most about being a court reporter so far?
BB | Despite some pretty long hours, nothing compares to being my own boss. Nothing.
JCR | What advice do you have for students who are near the end of their education?
BB | Get out there and shadow professional reporters. Pretend like you are the reporter hired for the job and accountable for producing a transcript. I shadowed reporters and scoped their transcripts for over a year while in my higher-speed classes. It kept me engaged and enthused about the industry I was about to enter and, more importantly, not intimidated by my options when I reached the end of my education.
JCR | What’s your favorite gadget that you bring with you to every job?
BB | I always have my jump drive with me, and I’m always backing up.
JCR | How has certification helped you in your career thus far?
BB | I have my Illinois CSR and am planning to earn NCRA certifications in the future. My CSR has enabled me to work in a state where there is a massive demand for court reporters and desirable jobs are widely available.
JCR | Any other thoughts?
BB | Well, ok. If you insist, I will admit my education took a while, not the six months I deliriously envisioned at the outset. However, I do not regret a single day of it and would do it all over again to have the career that I have.
Michael Hensley, RDR, a freelance reporter in Dublin, Calif., is the chair of the NCRA New Professionals Committee. He can be reached email@example.com.