Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Scoping Overview

(Please note: Blogger is having major problems with their system, and my original post, nicely formatted, and with links to a video, has been "zapped." With much frustration, I ask that you read through this report in its "raw" form, as the information is here, although it doesn't look "pretty"!

I am unable to tell if the sign-up form I placed here will work, so if you are not able to register for the scoping webcast at the bottom of this report, please just get in touch with me by phone or e-mail to request the link to that webcast. Be sure to put "Webcast Requested" in your e-mails.

This information will soon appear on a new web site. For now, I appreciate your patience in reading this in-depth report, and look forward to furnishing further information to you about this exciting in-residence career!

Judy Barrett
Scoping Training Consultant

From the Desk of Judy Barrett
Scoping Careers International
2996 Plaza Azul
Santa Fe, NM 87507
(866) 662-6686

Residence-based careers are a growing phenomenon in these early years of the 21st Century, and finding one that offers both personal satisfaction, flexibility, and above-average income is an exciting challenge. Let me introduce you to a wonderful career called "Scoping" which I have been pursuing from my residence for more than 25 years, and one that I have been training others to do, with great success, for 20 of those years!

Scoping Defined

"Scoping" is in-house jargon in court reporting circles for a residence-based enterprise that is still little known among the uninitiated, but which has been offering great rewards, both personal and financial, to enterprising independent contractors for a long time. This term refers to computerized text-editing of legal transcripts, using software which is specialized for this field, and which requires a thorough reading knowledge of machine shorthand (Stenotype), and familiarity with court and deposition procedures, when working with traditional stenographic reporters. And some court reporters are now working with scopists who use Microsoft Word, or Word Perfect, thus avoiding the necessity of investing in CAT software. Although this is not the norm, it sometimes affords a way to get started.

The introduction of audio recording and videotaping in courtrooms and deposition suites is having an effect on the changing face of modern record-making. In addition to stenographic reporting, other court reporters today rely on a variety of audio and video techniques to record proceedings. No matter how the words are taken down, there is a need for someone to edit and/or proofread the material, for final inclusion into an official transcript.

This video (link below), produced by the National Court Reporters' Association, demonstrates exactly what a stenographic reporter does. Once the reporter records testimony, the resulting transcript requires extensive editing before it can be certified and filed with a court, or delivered to attorneys involved in a case. That's where a professional scopist enters the picture!


Court Reporting Video

This May Be the Career Change You've Been Looking For!

You can have a rewarding career working for just two or three of the 60,000 court reporters in the United States, and it does not take very long to complete your training and begin enjoying the benefits of your new undertaking. I offer a rapid e-learning, video/audio-enhanced distance-learning program featuring comprehensive, self-paced lessons in PowerPoint/Flash, which are supplemented by close personal mentoring and consultation during both study and marketing phases.

This “tried and true” program provides every needed element to prepare you for success in this most rewarding at-home career, including referrals to court reporters seeking editing assistance and/or sources for contacting reporters. Demand for this service is constantly increasing, and rather than being phased out by technology, scopists find themselves in the very desirable position of being able to work for court reporters all over the country, right from their own homes.

With a computer and Internet access, you're in business no matter where you live! And with our overburdened court system, there's always a job for those of us who work in this field. There is a shortage of steno reporters today, making the assistance of scopists more valuable than ever to stressed-out court reporters.

Comprehensive Training

Over the last 20 years, I have trained people for this career from a great variety of backgrounds, and have had a chance to assess the types of prior experience and personal qualities which make for success in this field. In fact, there are no real limitations on the opportunity to be a successful scopist, given a determination to succeed, basic skills in English grammar and punctuation (which are taught in the course), reasonable (but not outstanding) typing skills, a knowledge of steno in its several variations, and the flexibility to adapt to a variety of styles and preferences on the part of court reporters. I extend ongoing personal support to my students, both while they are completing the course and when they are ready to offer their skills to the court reporting community.

My training program includes basic instruction in court and deposition procedures, and transcript production; a thorough grounding in reading stenotype (which has now become a computer language); scoping practice with both generic and CAT-specific transcripts in student scoping software; videotapes of the scoping process (one video is worth 10,000 words); the rules of English for the court reporting field; legal, medical, and technical terminology; marketing practices and business organization; professional skills assessment and membership in the SCI referral program; and private group coaching sessions via tele-web conferencing, to help with practical suggestions for overcoming fear of rejection and making a success of scoping.

In short, I offer all the needed elements to make you a very successful scopist. The future is very bright for those who function as virtual administrative support assistants in the general legal/medical field, and scoping is the creme de la creme in that arena!

More Information

As a first step in assessing this career path, you will find it helpful to read my report about scoping, entitled Scoping: A Legitimate and Lucrative Medical/Legal Career, which you will find just below.

In addition, I have created a video webcast which explains scoping from A to Z, including a demonstration of the specialized CAT software used in this field. You will need to have either cable or DSL for this presentation. If you are using dialup, call me for a different arrangement. The registration web form is at the bottom of this report.

By registering, you will be asked to confirm your request for information, and you will then receive an automated letter with links to the webcast, and followup updates with additional information. Links expire after one week (security and bandwidth considerations), so if you are not able to view the webcast immediately, you will be advised of current links through this automated system.

This new video webcast replaces the live webinars I've been doing for more than two years, which were quite successful. That process, however, meant that I had to make the same presentation over and over, several times a week, and prospective clients had to meet my schedule. Now you can view the webcast at your leisure, and we can then both use our time more effectively in discussing your questions and concerns.

My concerns about transitioning to this new less-personal presentation method have been put to rest by the many rave reviews I've received about the presentation. It won't win an Oscar, but it does the trick (or so I'm told)!

After you have had a chance to view the video webcast, you are eligible for a free 30-minute phone consultation with regard to how a scoping career will fit into your career plans. Please e-mail with a request for a personal phone consultation.

Be sure to put "Consultation Requested" in the subject line.

E-mail me at:
or, as an alternative,

E-mail is wonderful, but not always reliable, so be sure to pick up the phone and call my toll-free number if you feel I am not being responsive! Also, check your junk mail folder, as mail is often misdirected by the spam filters that are saving us all from each other's unsolicited
e-mail! :)

Toll-Free Number: 866 662-6686

Judy Barrett
Legal/Medical Training Consultant
Scoping Careers International
2996 Plaza Azul
Santa Fe, NM 87507
(866) 662-6686

Now, here is the report about scoping I spoke of:

In the court reporting field, the word "scoping" refers to a type of computerized editing, done with specialized computer software designed for this purpose. Prior to the advent of the computer in this field, court reporters dictated their transcript material onto an audiotape for transcription or, as a better alternative, they used "notereaders," people who were trained to read the steno notes from a paper tape, and type the transcript in full.

Computer software now translates the steno language, and a file is produced for text editing after that translation. Do not assume, however, that the computerized translation is sufficiently efficient to put us human beings out of a job; to the contrary, there is a great deal of editing (scoping) to be done after the translation, and reporters simply do not have the time to sit in court or deposition all day, and then edit their own transcripts at night and on the weekends -- although a lot of them try to do that until they reach a breaking point -- and that's why they need us as editors!

The Steno Language

Most of us are familiar with the appearance of a court reporter, either in trial or deposition, taking down testimony using a rather odd-looking little machine. People are often puzzled about how a reporter can possibly take down information at the speed they observe witnesses talking, and usually assume that court reporters are performing as they would with a typewriter, hitting one key at a time to represent one alphabetic letter. In fact, every key on the stenotype keyboard can be hit at the same time, although each key can only print in its own column (like swimmers at a swim meet). So steno reporters write what they hear using a phonetic shorthand system, and can write a whole word, or several words, in abbreviated form, in one stroke of the steno keys (like playing chords on a piano). At the top of this report is a graphic representation of the stenotype keyboard. After noting the layout of the keys, we can write some words in very simplified stenotype, to give you a brief overview of what is involved in reading the steno language.
When writing on the stenotype machine, a record has traditionally been produced on a thin paper strip which looks like cash register tape. Today, with computerized systems (referred to as "CAT" systems, an acronym for "Computer Aided Transcription), data is being recorded on a computer chip as the reporter writes, to be translated later by specialized translation software, and is shown on a digital display on the steno machine, as well as on the paper tape.

This keyboard is set up so that beginning consonants fall on the left side, vowels print in the center of the tape, and ending consonants fall on the right side of the keyboard. Since not all the letters of the English alphabet are represented on the keyboard, and there are repetitions of some letters (note that there are two "R's" on the keyboard), combinations of letters are used to represent the ones which are missing; for example, the letter "I" is represented by the combination "EU," since no "I" appears on the keyboard.

Several simple writing samples will appear below, and the actual order in which the letters print will appear as a guide at the top (for purposes of this explanation only -- this guide does not appear on the actual steno notes), to indicate how words actually look when written out in stenotype (and this will explain the appearance of large spaces between letters, which happens, once again, because the individual characters can only print in a given location).

S T K P W H R A O * E U F R P B L G T S D Z

Above, we have the simple word "that," written out exactly as it is written in English. Again, the only reason for the spaces between the letters is the fact that those characters can only print in a specified column.

S T K P W H R A O * E U F R P B L G T S D Z

This example shows a simple word, "cat," written by phonetic sound. There is no "C" on the keyboard, but stenotype is based on writing by sound, so the hard "K" sound is used.

S T K P W H R A O * E U F R P B L G T S D Z
...T ..P ........A .......................T

Here we have the word "fat"; no "F" appears on the left side of the keyboard, so the combination "TP" is designated to stand for "F."

S T K P W H R A O * E U F R P B L G T S D Z

The sample above is an example of a phrase which includes several "brief forms." (A brief form is simply an abbreviation for a word; we're all familiar with "ASAP" to stand for "as soon as possible" in everyday English.) In the case above, the phrase "TAT" is the designation for the phrase "at that time." It is because of the use of phonetic writing and the use of brief forms and phrases that court reporters are able to write several words at one stroke, rather than one letter at a time, and that accounts for their ability to be writing at high speed, even though their hands appear to be moving rather slowly.

S T K P W H R A O * E U F R P B L G T S D Z
S....K...W...R..........U.....P B L G

This final example is a rather amusing one because there is only one normal letter of the English alphabet represented above in the word "judge," which is written out by sound as "J-U-J." To explain: There is no "J" on the left side of the keyboard, and all the two- and three-letter combinations have been exhausted, so the letter "J" (being used with less frequency) is represented by the four-letter combination of the keyboard, there is no "J," so the four-letter combination "PBLG" is used to represent the final "J" sound.

It is best to end this discussion with an assurance that, although this may appear at first glance to be a difficult subject to master, actually it is not. It simply requires dedication to learning a new phoenetic language, but thankfully it is based on the English we already know. Nationwide, there are a number of differing writing systems, taught at different court reporting schools, but they are all based on the same basic phonetic system.

It is important, however, to find a training program which will give you in-depth exposure to first learning how to read raw steno notes (every word), before moving on to working with documents taken from CAT software. The stenographic language has now become a computer language, and mastering its principles will put you in a category to handle more complicated assignments for court reporters. A relatively new development in the court reporting world has to do with "realtime" production of documents, and involves two basic areas, discussed below.


The steno language being used by all court reporters today is the same basic machine language which was used for the first time in an American courtroom at the Lindbergh trial, sixty years ago. The change which has occurred has to do with today's technology. It is now possible to set up an arrangement in a courtroom or deposition suite where all parties can have their personal notebook computers hooked up to a central translation system, and as the reporter is writing, the material is being translated instantly by the CAT software used, and an *unedited* version of the transcript (I stress "unedited") appears on the computer screen of every attorney, the court reporter, and the judge.

Given the above, it is possible to be in your home, with a modem hookup to a courtroom many miles away, and be doing editing "live" for a court reporter. The term "realtime writing" is now also being applied to reporters who have simply cleaned most of the conflicts out of their writing, requiring less editing, although the actual scoping process takes place after the fact. In that case, a reporter translates the material from the day's work and sends it by e-mail, FTP (File Transfer Protocol) or modem (or occasionally still by overnight mail on a disk) to an editor. There, the editing isn't being done on a "realtime" basis, but the quality of writing produced by the court reporter is good enough to allow for the display of the transcript on a live basis while the proceeding is actually going on. The term in that instance simply denotes a court reporter with pristine writing skills.

The use of the Internet has changed the face of this field considerably. I look back with amusement to the fact that when I started working in this field years ago, I used to wade through dog hair in a dog grooming shop to pick up and deliver the actual paper notes, because the shop was halfway between the reporter and myself, and she knew the owner. What a "Brave New World" we're living in today. Now, you can literally live on any mountaintop, and with Internet access, you can work for court reporters all over the United States and Canada!

While discussing technology, it is best to touch on the subject of recording devices in this field. I immediately began hearing, when I started in this field years ago, that in due time stenographic reporters would be replaced by tape recorders! Although that idea still seems reasonable to many people, the fact is that there has been a major lobby on the part of stenographic reporters, nationally, to keep the steno machine in the courtroom.

Of greater importance, however, is the fact that most of the development money in this field has been put into producing CAT systems which offer the realtime capabilities I have already talked about. There can be problems with recording modalities with regard to trying to capture testimony when more than one person is talking at once. Of course, computerized steno machines can and do fail at times, and because of that many court reporters now run a backup recording for their protection, and the protection of all parties to a lawsuit, whether they do it openly with either a stand-alone digital recorder, or record through their CAT software , or hide a digital recorder in a briefcase!

There has been such a fear in the past of replacement by a tape recorder that many reporters are still a little paranoid about openly taping proceedings. I personally feel that the day may come when there will be a requirement for a backup recording. I will add an addendum here, noting that since this report was first written, the use of audio and /or video as a stand-alone modality, or as a complement to stenographic reporting, has made major inroads, thereby creating more and varied career opportunities for scopists.


At the end of my scoping training program, students are ready to consider purchasing or leasing CAT software, and I am often asked for my opinion about which brand of software to acquire. There are about six or seven major software companies nationwide, all doing the same thing, but differing in the matter of how "state-of-the-art" they are. For a very long time, there has been a problem in this field with regard to sharing of data between differing CAT systems, since none of them were compatible with the others.

Several years ago, an interchange format was introduced which allows scopists to work with reporters on a variety of CAT systems. It is being referred to as "RTF/CRE," and makes use of a Microsoft protocol already in existence, which allows for interchange of data between systems. The "CRE" designation refers to "Court Reporting Extension," which has been added to the original RTF format and allows for importing and exporting of data between CAT systems.

CAT software allows for the display of the steno notes in a separate window, alongside the actual text document. Wherever the cursor is located in the document, the steno notes are highlighted. In some cases, referring to steno notes is quite helpful, in other cases not particularly important.

A few years ago, “Audiosynch” was introduced by CAT software vendors. Reporters now record the proceedings, while writing on the steno machine, creating a .wav file which the scopist can listen to, using a command which synchronizes the cursor point with that place in the audio file! Some court reporters are now furnishing Word (RTF) documents to scopists, along with .wav files, which can be listened to with third-party audio software, making it optional to invest in CAT software. This practice is not the norm, however, and most scopists choose to invest in CAT software because of the speed and convenience it offers in the editing process.
Equipment Requirements

Equipment requirements to work as a scopist include CAT editing software, a PC with generally at least 256 mg. of RAM (although computers are now coming standard with a gig of RAM), Internet access (dial-up works, but broadband is better), and, optionally, a good printer. Although most transcripts are now being delivered through the use of FTP or e-mail, and the reporter does the printing at his/her end after the editing process is completed, for most of us there is a need for a printer, particularly considering the wealth of information we can download and print, to help us in our work.


Although having the latest and greatest technological tools is of importance, it is necessary that a prospective student give strong consideration to the matter of good English skills before undertaking scoping as a profession. My training program covers the rules of English as applied in the court reporting field, but if there are serious deficiencies in language skills, which should have been learned in high school, for example, it will be necessary for a student to make the improvement of English skills a priority, before expecting to become successful as a scopist.

My training program includes a review of the rules of English for the court reporting field. Rather than having to do an English review on your own, using a rather dry textbook, you will receive a "spicier" approach to learning about English punctuation and grammar, specific to this field, through a PowerPoint/Flash e-learning presentation, complemented by periodic interactive quizzes, which allow you to test your skills as you go.

In addition to good basic English skills, the next most important factor for a prospective scopist to consider is acquiring really superior steno reading skills. Looking at a sample document from a computerized translation of a transcript can be deceiving in that at first glance it appears that the file is mostly English already. Sometimes the English has been mistranslated, and there are always a fair number of untranslated stenotype entries which need to be globally changed into English.

In order to function well as a scopist, there is a need for a well-developed ability to read the steno language -- often in order to figure out what the reporter meant to write (from the context of the sentence). My program furnishes in-depth training in this regard.


Earning capability by scopists is determined by a number of factors. Payment is by page rate, not by monthly or yearly salary. Scopists are independent contractors, the majority of whom work from their homes, and their earning rate depends on their own skill levels as far as a highly-developed ability to read steno notes, and on the quality of those notes produced by the reporter.

Page rates generally range from around $1.00 a page for scoping without audio, normal five- to seven-day turnaround time, and depending on the type of case involved; medical and technical transcripts generally pay a higher rate, as do transcripts scoped against an audio reference. Given good clean notes to edit, well-trained scopists are able to produce between 25 and 40 pages per hour. So you can see that it is possible to earn a much higher-than-average income, even working part time at scoping, and enjoy the privilege of setting your own schedule and enjoying more time with your family or pursuing your personal interests.


My rapid e-learning, PowerPoint/flash training program can be done in the privacy of your residence, at your own pace, and covers all the needed elements to assure success in the scoping field. The training covers basic and advanced stenotype theory, grammar and punctuation, as it applies to the legal/medical field, legal and medical terminology, document production using student CAT software, up-to-date information regarding computers and software used in the field , marketing strategies, and continuing support by toll-free phone or e-mail during both your study and marketing phases. A full course description can be found in FAQ below.


There is no requirement for certification or licensing to work as a Scopist, and indeed none exists. Court reporters are required to be certified, and although they depend on scopists to produce a good end product, the reporter is legally responsible for the finished transcript. There was at one time, about ten years ago, a movement to try to introduce some kind of certification for scopists through a “Scopists' Task Force,” in conjunction with the National Court Reporters' Association . That effort proved unsuccessful, for a variety of reasons.

There are many factors which complicate any effort to achieve a meaningful standard for certifying scopists, since standards vary widely from state to state for the performance of court reporters, themselves. In any case, if any sort of “official” certification existed, becoming certified would be an entirely voluntary matter, just as certain certificate programs are for court reporters today -- merit certificates to allegedly show a greater degree of professionalism.

A respected court reporter stated publicly, during a period of debate about scopist certification, that he could see no reason for scopists to voluntarily submit to some kind of certifying procedure imposed from outside their own ranks, and reiterated that it is the court reporter who is ultimately responsible for the content of the transcript, and the court reporter who, therefore, needs to be certified, not the scopist.

A final assessment of skills is required of students of Scoping Careers International . Testing will be done using e-learning software, which will assure uniformity in results. Achieving a passing score will be a prerequisite for inclusion in my referral program to reporters.

Although passing such a test does not constitute “certification,” it will serve to assure the court reporting community that the student has demonstrated competence in the skills needed for success. In the final analysis, court reporters will generally send a prospesctive scopist a small file as a test case. This "trial balloon" also allows the student to assess the quality of the shorthand notes of that reporter, and decide whether it appears likely that the parties can work effectively and harmoniously together. Although we always strive to please reporters, it is gratifying that, as self-employed and independent editors, we can choose our own clients.


I have included a few pages of an actual computerized transcript, in unedited form, so that you can see the type of material produced by court reporters, and translated by CAT software. A much more detailed view of CAT-produced transcripts can be seen at the SCI Scoping Webcast.

2 having been first duly sworn, was
3 examined and testified as follows:

7 Q Would you STAEUT your full name for the
8 record sir.
9 A Leon Sherwood Canson. K-a-p-l-a-n.
10 Q What is your address?
11 A Is my office address is 8055 West Third
12 Street, Los Angeles, 90048.
13 Q And what is your driver's license number?
14 A JO778545.
15 Q And your date of birth?
16 A Seven-20 second-41.
17 Q And UR Social Security number?
18 A 242-58-4238.
19 Q Okay. Have you ever had your deposition
20 taken before?
21 A Yes.
22 Q On how many occasions, AEU PROBGS HRE ?
23 A Approximately five or six.
24 Q Are you familiar with the deposition
1 A Yes.
2 Q Okay. Can I then skip the admonitions in
3 terms of the procedure itself?
4 A I think so.
5 Q Do you TPAOEL comfortable enough?
6 A Yes.
7 Q Okay. I understand that you're here to
8 testify as an expert on behalf of the defendant Ford
9 Motor Company in the case of Hellman versus Ford
10 Motor Company; is that correct?
11 A That's correct.
12 Q And in general what is your understanding
13 of the area or areas that you are going to be
14 testifying to?
15 A The area of the damage that occurred?
16 Q Yes.
17 A As than expert in that department. Is that
18 the question you're asking.
19 Q Yes.
20 A Yes. Okay.
21 Q An expert in what department? As an auto
22 mechanic?
23 A Yes. As an auto mechanic.
24 Q So are you gong to be testifying or
25 offering any opinions in terms of manufacturing or --------
1 design defects in --
2 A I can, if you like.
3 Q Are you an expert in manufacturing and
4 design?
5 A No, I'm not an expert in that. I've had
6 HROTS of experience in that.
7 Q Has your counsel asked you for opinions in
8 regard to manufacture or design of the Ford vehicle
9 that was involved in this accident?
10 A No.
11 MR. SIPPRELLE: SKWRUST so we're clear, we
12 haven't put him up as an experts in those
13 areas if you ask him questions about that,
14 he may or may not offer his EBGS PER TAOES
15 based on his experience.
16 Q Would you be OFRG opinions as to the
17 standards in the auto repair business with regard to
18 custom and practice of mechanics?
19 A Yes.
20 Q Will you testifying as to warnings?
21 A Yes.
22 Q Are there any AO areas that you will be
23 testifying to that I haven't mentioned?
24 A I THEUPBG that's -- that's it.
25 Q Okay.


1. What is the significance of "International" in your company name? Are you outsourcing jobs offshore?
The answer to that question is a resounding No! I have trained, and will continue to train, scopists in other English-speaking countries, to work in their own geographical areas. Our relationship with Canada is a special one, however, and both American and Canadian scopists work across borders for reporters in both countries.

I have no intention of participating in any effort to export our jobs to India or the Philippines, for example. There has been one effort on the part of an American company to set up a scoping bureau in Manila, in cooperation with a scoping trainer in the U.S., but that enterprise was not successful. Few court reporters are willing to send sensitive material out of the continental U.S. in the hope of receiving cut-rate editing help. Most are aware that they must pay for value received, and are quite aware of issues with people in other countries trying to offer their services in this country.

Although I am quite sympathetic to people in other countries simply trying to make a living, I will only train scopists with an eye to their working in their own area of North America. I have seen the negative results of outsourcing in the medical transcription field, and am quite confident that we will not see such a situation occurring in the court reporting field.

2. What materials are contained in your course?
This is an overview of the SCI course description. A more in-depth course syllabus is available after viewing of the SCI scoping webcast, and is incorporated into the enrollment contract for the course.

GENERAL OVERVIEW: Scientific studies have repeatedly shown that we learn more rapidly, and retain what we have learned for much longer periods, through a multi-media approach to learning. This course makes use of state-of-the art rapid e-learning software, incorporating the written word, audio and video enhancement, and periodic quizzes to judge progress, all through the medium of PowerPoint slides in Flash, using the Flash plug-in resident on most computers (or downloadable for free). Written study guides in .pdf format will be provided with each module.









3. How long does it take to complete the training program?
The average time frame for completion is about ten weeks, and that involves around five to seven study hours per week, in general. Some people take six months or longer to complete the program, owing to their own time constraints. Many clients, however, have completed the program in four to six weeks.

Once again, the program is very much self-paced, and there are no penalties for taking too long, nor are there restrictions inherent in the program to prevent your completing it as quickly as you wish. You do not have to adhere to my schedule. If something occurs to cause you to take a longer period of time, you have the comfort of knowing that you have my support for one year, and that can be extended in case of unexpected events.

It is important to note that the SCI program is very comprehensive, and offers a sufficient amount of study material to ensure success for my clients, without "padding" the program with material which takes an unnecessary amount of time for completion. This rapid e-learning program will not waste your time!

4. Do you furnish placement opportunities?
I will very soon be expanding my long-standing reporter/scopist referral program, and the final testing procedure will enhance that process. Court reporters will be able to access a searchable database of SCI clients, with a personal profile for each scopist, including past work experience and career and training completed, along with an optional link to a personal scoping web site. In addition, a job board will allow reporters to post "scopist wanted" ads.

I am sometimes able to "match up" my students with court reporters seeking scoping help. I make it clear, however, in my contract that I do not guarantee a job for you. You should be aware that the greater your participation in creating your own career opportunities, the greater will be your rewards! In addition to the SCI referral site, there are a number of sites online where a scopist can post a resume, and court reporters post ads on those sites, also, indicating a need for a scopist. The marketing training offered by SCI will greatly enhance that activity.

You will only need to work with two or three court reporters to have a very fulfilling and lucrative career experience. And with 60,000 court reporters in the United States alone, the glass is definitely half full!

5. How can I get started as a scopist without prior experience in this field?

Although any court reporter would love to have a scopist with many years of experience, most are willing to give a new person a chance, based largely on the qualities and experience you bring to the situation from your past employment and life experiences. Unlike certain other professions, court reporters all have their own personal preferences which you will need to get used to (and they to you, also), and realize that experience with another court reporter may not necessarily add up to a scopist who can just walk in and do the job without a certain break-in period for both parties. The idea of a "reporter ready" scopist is a grand myth, and one that intimidates new people who feel a reporter may expect perfection from them.

As with any other occupation, it takes a little time to get accustomed to a new reporter, and the seasoned court reporter knows that. A reporter once left a message for me, indicating that she had been using two of my students, both were excellent, but one was ill and she needed another referral. And then she said that she did not care if the scopist had never worked for another reporter because she/he would have to get used to her preferences, anyway. She elaborated that if they had taken my training, they would know the basics of what they needed to know, and that she wanted someone with life experience, good language skills, maturity, and a willingness to work on a partnership basis with her. There's your job description!

This is a far cry from the scenario many newly-trained medical transcribers face when they are told that without a year or two of experience, they cannot be hired. Or, if they do manage to “get a foot in the door,” their compensation is one-third of what they could be earning in the scoping field, particularly in the medical malpractice area. I was a medical transcriber (no, "transcriber" is not just a definition for a machine) years ago, before I found my way to scoping, and in the ensuing years, MT agencies have pretty much taken over the field, and take a cut out of the page rate. In the scoping arena, you can approach the reporters directly and earn at a maximum rate!

6. How would I be paid, and what is the earning capacity for this career?
You are paid by the page, not by the line and not by the hour, in this profession, and earning capacity depends on the quality of the shorthand notes you are dealing with, and your own skills. A typical hourly page output is between 25 and 40 pages per hour, when working with a very skilled reporter. At a base rate of $1.00 per page, you can do the math and see that we are talking about an excellent hourly earning rate. There is a potential for even higher earnings when dealing with cases involving expert witnesses in, for example, medical malpractice or environmental law cases. Many scopists involved in medical malpractice litigation earn $35 per hour, and above.

Added to this earning scenario is the matter of the money you do not have to spend by going out of your home for employment: transportation costs, lunches, clothing, and child care, for example.

7. What can you tell me about the specialized CAT software used in this field?
Student CAT software ($100, refundable) is required while in training with me to allow you to learn the basics of a CAT software program. Generic files are also furnished for your training, which can be imported into Microsoft Word. Once you are trained and ready to begin your career, I will consult with you about the various CAT software programs available, and which choice would be best for your situation.

8. What is the cost of the program?
In view of the fact that people inquiring about my study program come from a wide variety of professional backgrounds, I do not quote exact prices without having talked personally with each person, to determine their eligibility for my program. My fees range from $1,250 at the lower end (for people with prior steno training and court reporting experience) to above $2,000 for those just entering the scoping arena. A year of very personalized consulting and support is included in the course fee.

During our private phone consultation, I will discuss fees with you, and I will also outline for you how my course compares with other programs which have come into being fairly recently. I have been training scopists for 20 years, have worked in this field for more than 25 years, and offer very personalized support as you go through your training, and while you are getting started with your career.

9. Because your program has been around for 20 years, isn't it outdated?
Certain competitors have liked to suggest that, now and again, but in fact my program has always furnished absolutely everything you need to become a successful scopist, including unique material on "old-fashioned" videotapes, before the most recent upgrade to rapid e-learning PowerPoint/flash modules. Otherwise, I wouldn't have stayed in business for these 20 years, and I wouldn't have former, and very recent, students talking about their success!

If you came to this country from another, and needed to learn English, you would have to deal with learning basic principles which are quite "old." Likewise, when learning steno, you will be dealing with a language which was invented back in the '20s or '30s. What I'm teaching is both old and state-of-the-art!

10. How does scoping compare with working in the medical transcription field?
There are some major advantages to a scoping career over working as a medical transcriber. Some people are looking for complete change, while others are simply wanting to add another item to their professional portfolio, to ensure a greater degree of employment security. Existing training and experience in the medical arena will be very appealing to court reporters, many of whom are involved with medical malpractice or environmental law cases.
There are some real advantages, too, when doing scoping instead of (or in addition to) medical transcription. The deadlines are generally more like a week, instead of 24 hours, for most of what we do. We get to set our hours and choose our own clients. No more having to work for a doctor with a strong accent, who is careless about the way he dictates, for example. Scoping involves editing, not intensive typing, so it's not as hard on the body. The earning rate for scoping is much better right from the start, as a new scopist, than it is for most medical transcribers, because there is no middleman to take a cut out of your page rate. So, while MT is a good thing, scoping offers some definite advantages -- such as not being required to prove you've worked for another court reporter before anyone will hire you.

Most reporters take the attitude that you will need to get used to them and their preferences, and your medical background, coupled with formal scoping training, maturity, good English skills, and life experience, are what they are looking for, whether or not you've ever actually worked for another court reporter. For those who do not have prior medical training, I offer instruction in medical terminology in my course materials. Unfortunately, the medical transcription field has been somewhat taken over by corporate agencies now, and it is quite difficult to “get a foot in the door” without being able to prove at least a year of experience in the field. In addition, MT work is being outsourced offshore, and voice recognition software has come into play in that field. That scenario is quite different in the scoping arena. Court reporters value prior experience of all kinds.

11. How can I enroll?
The enrollment process for the SCI program is quite simple. Signatures are done digitally online, and payment is accepted through credit card or by direct deposit from your account to mine.For the occasional client who says, "Can I start today?" the answer is "Yes." Most people need to give the matter consideration for longer than that, but once the decision is made, registration for the training is fast and convenient!

12. How can I contact you?
My toll-free phone number is (866) 662-6686. If I am not in, you can leave a message with your contact information there, or e-mail me the number.

All personal information is kept absolutely confidential. I do not share with anyone! Period!

I hope that this preliminary information has been helpful, and I look forward to discussing this wonderful career opportunity with you.


Below you will find testimonials about the field of scoping from court reporters and scopists who have been working in the court reporting field for many years. It's always nice to hear from people who have "been there and done that," as part of your assessment of a new career opportunity.

1. The following information is taken from an article which appeared in the Los AngelesTimes in 1997, on the subject of scoping (and it's totally relevant today):
"Los Angeles Times Site Search Results Tuesday, April 22, 1997 Home Edition Section: Business Page: D-8 SMALL TALK / KAREN E. KLEIN; SMALL BUSINESS Setting Your Sights on Legal Scoping By: KAREN E. KLEIN
Q: I've heard of medical transcription services, and I want to know whether there are l egal transcription services. If so, how could I start that type of business? I'm in a wheelchair and can't work outside the home, but I have a computer and am very interested in the law. --Jodi Jehning, Temple City
A: Because of the advent of computerization in the courtroom, there is a growing industry of people all over the country who produce legal transcripts as a support service to court reporters. Many, if not most of them, work at home and use the Internet to advertise and deliver their product. These people are called "scopists." They are hired to take the legal testimony that is produced by court reporters in computerized shorthand and, using specialized software, translate the material into English.

They then edit the text that results, inserting proper names and technical words that the computer's dictionary does not catch, proofread the finished result and format it to court specifications. Scopists work for individual reporters or groups of reporters. To be a scopist you must be smart, efficient and have a fabulous command of the English language. You should spell well, be familiar with the jargon of the legal profession and familiar with the format required for documents in a courtroom.

Scopists advertise their services in the publications produced by state court reporting associations and on court reporters' forums on the Internet. They can also do direct mailings from lists of court reporters that are sold by some of the state agencies that license court reporters. -- Gary Cramer Executive director, Los Angeles Municipal Court Reporters Assn."

2. Below are some comments from students who have taken my course over the last few years:

a) This is a very nice note I received from a man who has enrolled in my scoping course, and whose wife has completed court reporting school and is going through the process of obtaining her state licensing:

"Judy, Yes, I've gotten started. After I scanned the books, I scratched my head wondering how and where to start. Then I watched the tape, and it all became clear. I watched the tape with my wife. She said that she could have gotten through the theory with much less agony had she had an instructor like you. She likes your style. She also enjoys watching both my struggle and success in learning to read steno notes.

The prospect of the life we can have when my wife passes a licensing test and when I become a scopist keeps me at it every day. Thanks for the interest. Charles H."

b) Here is a letter from a woman who took my course when I first began teaching scoping, 15 years ago, and has had great success with her career:

"Hello, Judy.
Ijust want to take a moment to say that meeting you and getting into scoping has been a life-changing experience for me. Back in "circa 1985 B.S." (that's "Before Scoping,"), I was working at a pretty good 9 to 5 job, but my daughter was missing me, and I was missing her. Everything changed when I started my scoping career at home. I've been able to raise my daughter in my own way, spend time with her, and now she's in college, and I'm still able to help her out financially, while she's in school, and still have a lot of time for myself.
Succinctly put, scoping is a good thing!
Thanks again, Sharon J."

c) And finally, here is a nice comment from a court reporter I used to work for, before I started training scopists, who has also used the scoping services of several of my students:

"Dear Judy, This is just a short note to say I appreciate you, and what you do. As a very busy court reporter, I could not meet my deadlines *and* have a life, without scoping help. You once said to me that you felt almost (emphasis on the "almost") embarrassed to be paid for scoping for me, because my shorthand notes are so clean. I do know that I'm a good writer and that my work product is very clean, but at the end of a long day, I want to go home and spend time with my husband, and get prepared to do it again the next day.
And besides, even if I had the time to do my own scoping (which I don't), I still need a second set of eyes because if I try to edit the work I've just written, I'll read right through my own mistakes. I don't see how any busy, professional court reporter can survive without a good scopist.

And you do a good job, Judy, in training them. I've used the services of a number of your students and have been very pleased with their work.
Sincerely, Katherine K."

d) Below is a letter from one of my scoping clients to an inquiring prospective scopist who enrolled in my course shortly after receiving it. Carol took my course about two years ago, and is doing very well with her scoping career. She earns $1,500 per month on a very part-time basis. That figure could be doubled, or more, very easily.
Date: Wed, 3 Jul 2002 16:22:15 -0700 > >

Dear Chris, Yes, I would be happy to give you my opinion of Judy's course! I started the course January a year ago, and have been employed since July. I can easily say that the course materials are excellent, and have made me feel prepared to enter this new line of work. I certainly could have completed >the course sooner, but I was in an interim position at that time, so I was "spinning several plates"! Nevertheless, I found the course material to be fascinating, which made it easy to make time for my studies. Steno is like a secret code that is actually fun to decipher!

When I got to the part of the course where I was scoping actual depositions, it was very encouraging to see how much easier it was than I had imagined. This course has also given me a very high regard for the work that court reporters do, and a real appreciation for their clean transcripts since I know I could never do what they do!

As for Judy herself, I have enjoyed getting to know her through our conversations. She is brimming with helpful information and encouragement, and is quick to respond to questions. It is clear that she is a master scopist, and I have enjoyed learning from her.

I understand how scary it is to launch into training for a new career, especially one that you may not have known existed a few weeks ago! I can only tell you that I took the leap, trusted Judy, applied myself, and kept reminding myself how great it will be to work from home.

I also talked with a couple of lawyers in my family, and they assured me that there is a great need for anything that will speed up the wait that lawyers have in getting finished depositions from court reporters. All of my contacts were made over the internet over a couple of weeks. I must have e-mailed several hundred reporters before finding the three with whom I now work. I believe that I have been quite fortunate (it must be Providence!) in quickly finding reporters who are good writers and who are pleased with my work despite my inexperience. One is so busy that he sends me just about all the work I can handle, and the other two reporters I squeeze in occasionally. And yes, once you prove yourself valuable to a reporter, they keep you!

As to time and income, I still don't have a clear idea of how many hours I spend each week, for I have to take frequent breaks from sitting at the computer. Those breaks allow me to keep the house running by doing quick tasks such as throwing in a load of laundry, planning a meal, etc., which is one of the real perks of working at home! I often work at least 6 hours a day, and I know I've worked longer hours, especially when there is a rush on a job.

After a slow start, I gradually increased my income until I began to average about $1500. There are heavy weeks and light weeks, and there is no way to predict that unless your reporter tells you that their vacation is coming up or that the firm is experiencing a lull. Of course, scopists are always free to turn down work if they don't have the time. If I need some time off, I just tell the reporter when I will be out of town or out of pocket. Since I have always worked only part time, I don't hope to increase my hours any, and am satisfied with this level of income. Having a husband with a job certainly helps!

Apparently there are many scopists who support their families on their incomes alone. I guess that they are in situations where they do a lot of expedite work at higher rates, or that they are very experienced and work at a faster rate. I hope these thoughts help you in your decision. (End of letter)

e) Here is a note from another of my clients who took my course several years ago, and has been working happily, and profitably, ever since:

“I took Judy Barrett's scoping course about 10 years ago. Although it was difficult for me to come up with the money at the time, it was well worth it, and has paid for itself many times over through the years!

"Her course is very thorough, with both audiotapes and videotapes, and you work at your own pace. Judy is always available for any questions. She's a terrific lady, too.

"The bottom line for me: Judy prepared me well and I've never regretted one penny of what I spent.”
I could go on because my files are full of letters from court reporters and scopists I've trained. I think this will suffice to give you a good feeling for the reality of scoping as a good and legitimate career.


I recently read an article which discussed the fact that so many people these days are working at more than one job, just to make ends meet. The author of the article spoke of the advisability of having more than one "income center" to diversify and enhance our career possibilities. For some people, "diversification" means leaving their 9-to-5 job in an exhausted state, and reporting to their "evening job," just so that they can meet their financial obligations.

By contrast, many of you who have responded to my advertisements regarding scoping as an independent career path are already working at home in one capacity or another. Others of you are considering "taking the plunge" into residence-based employment, either on a part-time basis, or as a primary career. Because I have been training people in the scoping field for more than 15 years, I have observed that prospective scoping students express both exhilaration at the thought of finally leaving "that darned job," and a bit of fear over expanding their comfort zone and really deciding to embrace self-employment as their only means of making a living.

I like to think of having a career at home as part of the process of making a life, not just making a living. Scoping offers its own means of taking control of our own time and a chance to pursue the things which have meaning in our lives. With this career, we earn an above-average compensation for the time we devote to it, and we are not required to sit in someone else's office, wishing that we were home!

Working as editors for court reporters, once the job is completed, we are free to spend our time with our own concerns, not occupy space until the clock says we have permission to go. Scoping as a career has been around for a long time, but the power of the Internet has changed, dramatically, the way we do our work. Using the Internet, scopists work for court reporters all over the United States, and beyond. I am now training American citizens who are living in other countries, sometimes permanently, sometimes temporarily (such as military dependents living abroad), who work for court reporters in the U.S., and who find the time difference involved in their respective locations to be a great advantage.

Most court reporters are online these days, and are happy to work with scopists in a broad variety of locations. If you're good at what you do, the reporter is not particularly concerned about where you reside. I laughingly say that I do a lot of "psychological counseling without a license" in the course of talking to people about finding the courage to give up a career situation which is not serving their true life purpose (we all have one, beyond just the matter of paying the rent) and taking control of their own lives.

Many people express concerns about whether they have sufficient self-motivation to really be successful in working from home. I will just share with you here that I have worked from home for close to 30 years, and am not an icon of personal organization, but have always found that when a reporter sends an e-mail with 300 pages attached for editing, I get really organized and motivated, really quickly. In short, you can succeed as a scopist, even if you do have a messy desk!

Scoping is a wonderful career that you can pursue in the privacy of your home, either as your primary means of earning money, or as an enhancement to something you are already doing. I hope to talk with you personally very soon.

If you wish to speak to me, please send an e-mail with your phone number and "Consultation Requested" in the subject line to arrange for a personal discussion.

(866) 662-6686

I look forward to talking with you.

Judy Barrett
Scoping Careers International
2996 Plaza AzulSanta Fe, NM 87507USA
Alternative e-mail:

Scoping Webcast Reqest
Please fill out this reservation form for the scoping webcast. I request your contact information to make it convenient to ascertain your prior experience and your reasons for exploring a scoping career. All information is kept strictly confidential.

You will be asked to confirm your request for information about the SCI webcast. Spam laws require it!
I look forward to our personal consultation.


Copyright (c) 2004, 2007 All Rights Reserved, Judy A. Barrett

Please feel free to forward this information to anyone you know who might be interested in scoping as a career, with the proviso that you send this report in its entirety, and that full attribution be given to its authorship. All material in the form of both written and verbal communication is protected under copyright laws of the United States, and may not be used verbatim, or in a manner constituting plagiarized paraphrashing, on any web site, in e-mail, or in any manner without the express permission of Judy Barrett.