Definition of Success

My favorite inspirational message regarding the Definition of Success includes:         

SUCCESS

HARD WORK

PERSISTENCE

LATE NIGHTS

REJECTIONS

SACRIFICES

DISCIPLINE

CRITICISM

DOUBTS

FAILURE

RISKS

The background picture to these words is an iceberg, with hundreds of feet of ice below the surface and the tip of the iceberg at the top. 

Success has many definitions, in my opinion.  For some it could be achieving financial stability.  For some it could be love, family…  The definitions are endless.

For myself, personal success is, first, good health; my family; and my business.  Without any one of those I would not identify life as being successful.  Personally, without health, I cannot succeed; without family, I would be empty; and without financial stability I cannot provide.

The words have the following meaning for me:

Hard Work:  My parents taught me about true grit that hard work produces, day in, day out!

Persistence:  I never give up!  Persistence always pays off.

Late Nights:  I have stayed up all night to finish work.  I have stayed up all night for someone I love.

Rejections:  I have lost some battles and I have been hurt by many.    The loss business to others is a constant reminder of rejection.

Sacrifices:  I go without so that others can have, and I never look back or feel sorry for myself.

Discipline:  My discipline started at a very early age working alongside my parents on a dairy farm, and working through learning difficulties in school.  As I grew older, discipline became even more important to keep up with changing times and the high demands of court reporting and running a household and family.

Criticism:  I have experienced much criticism from bullies at school and from ignorant people.  And that’s what I have to remember; they are ignorant.

Doubts:  In court reporting, I feared and had doubt about my ability to finish my degree and attain my certificate in court reporting.  But I pushed my doubts aside and now I own Marcus Deposition Reporting and I appreciate being financially independent.  

Failure:  I experienced failure on many levels, including with family and business.  Failures have befallen on me with slamming doors and losing clients to court reporting companies that cut corners and operate unethically.  I have experienced failures personally with struggles in school and struggles from a failed marriage; something I will never forget, but a failure I consider to be a blessing in disguise.

Risks: My family immigrated to the United States and started a new life.  In 1993 I started my own business.  I continue to take risks every day just by leaving my home.  We live in a dangerous world and we must go forward and succeed. 

Success has many definitions and comes in many measures and it applies to all.

Important Documents

How Long Do We Have To Save Important Documents

By Rosalie Kramm

 I was reading a great article put out by Consumer Reports on March 8 about how long and why certain documents need to be kept and thought it would be beneficial to court reporters, attorneys, and really all legal professionals. It is suggested that you categorize your documents in four ways: Papers you need to keep for a calendar year or less; papers you can destroy when you no longer own the item; tax records; and papers you need indefinitely.

Category 1– papers to keep for the current calendar year (or less):
1. ATM, credit card, and bank deposit records – reconcile with monthly statement and then shred.
2. Keep insurance policies and investment statements until new ones arrive.

Category 2 – Papers to keep for a year or more:
1. Keep loan documents until the loan is paid off
2. Hold on to vehicle titles until the vehicle is sold
3. For stocks/bonds, keep investment purchase confirmation until you sell the investments unless that info appears on your statement (in order to establish your cost basis and holding period)
4. Receipts for home improvement (help offset capital gain taxes when the property is sold)

Category 3 – Papers to keep for seven years:
1. Keep tax records for seven years. (if you fail to report more than 25 percent of your gross income on your taxes, the IRS has six years to collect from you.)

Category 4 – Papers to keep indefinitely:
1. Military discharge papers
2. Birth certificate
3. Estate planning documents
4. Life insurance policies
5. Social security card
6. Marriage certificate
7. Inventory of your bank deposit box

Michelle Crouch, who writes about personal finance, states: “The IRS considers electronic documents as good as paper. Just make sure you encrypt the files and store backup copies on a USB flash drive, a CD, a DVD, a portable hard drive or with a web-based storage service.”

Tanza Loudenback, who writes for Business Insider, says: “Anything with an original signature or a raised seal needs to be kept in its original condition”:
• Birth certificates
• Citizenship papers
• Custody agreement
• Deeds and titles
• Divorce certificate
• Loan/mortgage paperwork
• Major debt repayment records
• Marriage license
• Military records
• Passport
• Powers of attorney
• Stock certificates
• Wills and living wills

One of my personal goals for 2018 is being more organized than ever. And knowing what documents I need to physically keep, what I am allowed to save in an electronic format, and what I can throw away eases my mind so that I don’t worry about not doing the right thing in saving important papers.

Rosalie Kramm, RPR, CRR, is a court reporter and firm owner in San Diego, Calif. You can follow her blog at www.kramm.com/blog

Court Reporting Technology

SPEAK UP ABOUT WHAT WE CAN DO FOR YOU

SPEAK UP ABOUT WHAT WE CAN DO FOR YOU

By Sandy Bunch VanderPol

Every day, day after day, when we set up our steno machine, we do what we are trained to do: report the proceedings; create a verbatim record; and provide the record to the client. We are the “Guardians of the Record”; we are often the only neutral, disinterested person in the proceeding; we are trusted by all parties to be a professional in the room, a protector of their record. This is our job. We all understand the importance of our job and why we are an integral part of the judicial process. But what if there’s more to our job? Is there even more to our job? I think there is, and this other part of the job is truly why I’m passionate about court reporting.

In the 1980s, doing my job every day, I became restless and even bored. Boredom with the job and uncertainty about the future of court reporting became a part of my thoughts every day.

Today, 35 years later, I’m still reporting and passionate about court reporting. What changed? The purpose of my job changed. Opportunities abounded with the introduction of technology into our profession. This was a chance to market something new to my clients, value-added services that, I was hoping, all of my clients would certainly be desirous of and be eager to pay for. This was a chance to speak up about what I could do for the attorneys, what I could add to the litigation process beyond the creation of the verbatim record. I was super-excited and rejuvenated in my job, stoked about the prospect of adding value to the litigation process, becoming an integral part of the “team” in the litigation process—not just the silent person at the end of the table.

Now the hard part – moving forward with the marketing, first, of rough draft transcripts, which would soon include interactive realtime reporting, remote realtime streaming, litigation support programs, videotaping of proceedings, synching the videotapes, transcript repositories, electronic delivery of transcripts, hyperlinking exhibits to the transcripts, marking and distributing exhibits electronically at depositions, and on and on. This is a new world of court reporting, I thought, and I wanted to be the first in my area to market this technology. I had to learn to market to attorneys. Without any education beyond high school and court reporting, I wasn’t sure what to do. I guess you could say I was a bit tongue-tied.

My plan was a simple one at the time, a three-step process, a plan to educate, demonstrate, and sell my clients and potential clients on the new technology. At every job, every day, there was an opportunity for me to implement my plan. At each deposition I was reporting, I took the time to set up the equipment for realtime, electronic exhibits, or whatever value-added service I was marketing. At the appropriate time, the education process began with a simple explanation of the service I was selling, the time and dollars it would save the attorney/litigant, and a free demo day of the service. I’m sure many of you are thinking: “I can’t speak up and have this kind of conversation with attorneys. I’m too nervous. It’s not my job, it’s the firm owner’s job to market. I might not have the answers to all the questions. I don’t entirely understand the nuances of the technology to market it.” All of these concerns are legitimate and concerns that I personally had. Don’t let the concerns or fears stop you from implementing your plan. Your reward is just around the corner.

I want to share some of my tips for success in marketing our value-add services. Hopefully they may be of help to many of you. I’m sure some of you may have other tips to share, and I would encourage you to write to our NCRA editor, share them with her, so we can all benefit from them.

PREPARATION: Have a plan for each day you market your technology. What technology are you marketing? Who is the audience (corporate counsel, IP counsel, workers comp)? An example of my preparation for interactive realtime usually includes bringing my iPads to the deposition, setting them up before counsel arrive, outputting my CAT software in the “realtime output options” to my remote streaming account (in case there are attendees appearing remotely via telephone, I can send them the link and session code/password to the stream), and creating a job dictionary for the deposition.

IMPLEMENTATION: When counsel enters the room, confidence and professionalism should exude from you. Some reminders to ensure this professionalism are to stand when counsel enter, shake their hands, introduce yourself and the firm you are representing. Always dress in a professional manner. I like to be one of the best-dressed people in the room. Once the introductions are made and the lawyers now have a feeling of trust, I’ve found this may be the best time to state to them that you have realtime set up and ask if they would like to use the service. My experience has been that more than 50 percent of the time they do decide to use the service. Most counsel nowadays know what realtime reporting is, so the educational process may not be necessary, other than to quickly show them the few needed features of the realtime viewing software they would need to browse and restart realtime. Have a document prepared for those who are not familiar with realtime, touting its benefits to the litigation process.

After the deposition/proceedings has concluded, the opportunity arises for you to sell a rough draft transcript. Attorneys in our current time want information now, including our transcripts. Use this time, at the end of the deposition, to announce that a rough draft is available upon request and can be delivered within 15 minutes, or whatever time you can get it to them. If one side orders a rough, it is likely the other side will too.

I would highly recommend attending the seminar on “creating the Demand for Drafts (Life in the Fast Lane)” by Ed Varallo, FAPR, RMR, CRR. Varallo has a wealth of knowledge on this topic and has had a great success in selling rough drafts at his depositions. You can find his PowerPoint on this topic at: //www.ncra.org/docs/default-source/uploadedfiles/jcr-file/creating-demand-for-drafts_cv2013.pdf

In my marketing to attorneys of the last three-plus decades, I have found some things are consistent in what attorneys are looking for:
• Focus your marketing on what attorneys need: saving them time and money.
• Information now! Sell your value-added service(s) with this slogan.
• Continuing education: Set up brown bag lunches with continuing legal education credits to educate attorneys on your services.
• Professionalism: You are a part of the “team”, and professionalism ensures that trust you deserve.
• A sense of humor: Make ‘em laugh with an anecdotal story when promoting a technology. We all have those “funny” stories about our technology.
• Attorneys usually follow what others have done. Share the success stories of the attorneys who have taken advantage of the services you offer.

Remember, if you don’t speak up about your value-added services, they won’t know about it. Step out of your comfort zone and be the marketer you can be.

Sandy Bunch VanderPol, FAPR, RMR, CPR is a freelancer in Lotus, California. She also holds NCRA’s Realtime Systems Administrator credential. She can be reached at realtimecsr@calweb.com.

Court Reporter's Perspective

Helter Skelter Trial Memoir from Court Reporter’s Perspective

By Early Langley

By the time I became a court reporting student, the evil of Charles Manson had become legend. Chapter after chapter of Helter Skelter few by, dictated at high speeds. My teacher was right: Better to hear the worst of the worst now. Any reaction to testimony that inflames the mind might influence a jury.

Perhaps that is why, again as a student, I was able to sit quietly and listen to the gut-wrenching and brutal testimony the four defendants “zebra murders” that terrorized San Francisco in the 1970’s. Police named the case “Zebra” after the special police radio band they assigned for the investigation. Years later, I met the dispatcher who sent out that radio call and named it “zebra.” She is now a San Francisco Superior Court Clerk. She described how terrifying it was to walk to work. She once alarmed fellow coworkers by thumbing a ride at night. The car was filled with plainclothes officers in an unmarked car. She knew that, but her coworkers didn’t. In total, 16 people had been murdered, although some authorities thought the defendants might have killed as many as 73 people or more.

The trial started on March 3, 1975, and lasted close to a year-and-a-half, the longest criminal trial in California history at that time. I was only there towards the end. One juror conceived and delivered during the trial. After 18 hours of jury deliberation, based on testimony filling 8,000 pages of transcripts and of 108 witnesses, all four defendants were convicted of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first degree murder. They were sentenced to life imprisonment, and all convictions were affirmed on appeal. Judge Joseph Karesh, who presided over the trial, was an exceedingly patient jurist. In spite of the heinous crimes and the helter-skelter nature of the trial, not one defendant was placed in shackles. There were no glass bulletproof barriers and no metal detectors. Clinton W. White, the defense attorney who led them, was elevated to the California Court of Appeal. Robert L. Dondero, the deputy district attorney, was also elevated to the California Court of Appeal.
Tensions mounted during that trial, as they do in all trials. One defense attorney got palsy from the stress. Joe ament was both my teacher and the official court reporter for the entire trial. His relief court reporter came close to a nervous breakdown at the end. Both retired soon afterwards.

I guess it wasn’t enough of a deterrent to keep me away from reporting trials, though I haven’t done a criminal trial since I was an official many years ago. My trials are civil now. I hear stories of great love and great despair, deep pain and deep gratitude.I have a front row seat to courtroom drama. Good trial lawyers have a sixth sense of anticipating the next move. Their eyes circulate the landscape: the judge, the jury, the witness, the audience, and the staff—including you!
The tension for me is just as nerve-racking. Everyone’s looking at my iPads. Everyone’s getting the rough pretty close t immediately after the day ends, the final in the evening, and sometimes late into the evening. Here’s my list of to-do items: indexes, exhibits, witnesses’ testimony and even sometimes keeping track of time.

Now I have students come in and sit. There’s nothing like the real thing. They marvel at it all. Through my UC Berkeley Alumni Externship Program, I even take college students to court. They go behind the scenes and meet the judge. We discuss the importance of law, public policy, and a court reporter’s record.

I love it when court reporting students can sit in for as long as possible. It teaches them endurance and speed, procedure and decorum, and the anatomy of a trial. If I were to pin down one of the most important assets to have, it’s speed. Trials move fast and furious. Once the judge announces the jury’s deliberation date, it’s a race to the finish line. Rates of speed get high and sustained.

Trials have a helter-skelter nature of their own. And you just gotta love it. Yes, it can be exhausting. Yes, you need to anticipate the unexpected and have backup plans. Yes, you need to do your homework on the technological terms that you’ll hear. Yes, you need to get your realtime and all of your files running. Once that’s set up, you can manage any helter-skelter moment!

Early Langley, RMR, B.A., is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of California at Berkeley. She is a member of the NCRA Education Content Committee. She is a past president of the California Court Reporters Board Association and a senior staff reporter with Aiken Welch Court Reporters.

School Transition

Three Things To Do As You Transition From School By Kelley Simpson

I started reporting in 1986. Those days were so much different. We were just embarking on computers. We still used carbon copy paper and dot matrix printers and dictated and looked up facts and spellings in books! We read back actual steno notes and not translated verbiage on screens. I hate to say that you have it so much better, but you sure have it so much … different.

Well, and maybe not.

Now you are up against very computer-savvy lawyers and judges; information and transcripts are more instantaneous; and real-time writing is an expected skillset. That is a much different stressor than I encountered.

But some of the nuances of the career of court reporting remain the same. The professional relationships with clients and agencies, the juggling of schedules, the production of transcripts, the bookkeeping, citing of cases, and the research are all still very prevalent in every court reporter’s world. And learning how to mange all of that has just begun. I hope I can help you with a few tips to begin this amazing career on the right foot.

First things first: Find a mentor. Find a reporter who has the time and the willingness to answer your questions, who has connections, but better yet, a reporter who will give you answers before you even know to ask the question. Now is the time for you to learn to keep records and stay organized, to produce transcripts accurately and efficiently. But this is also the time where you enter boardrooms and deposition rooms and courtrooms, and you must do this with confidence. That only comes from feeling in control and calm, and that feeling will make all the difference in your ability to keep a good, clean record. You must be professional and trustworthy for both the agency and the clients. If you are with a specific firm, a mentor will be much easier to access. If you have decided to work for many firms, you must find someone whom you can trust and turn to. There are Facebook groups you can tap into if you prefer a mentor online, but you must learn the ropes daily, and a reliable guide is your first step to achieving success.

Next, find an experienced and reliable proofreader… or three! The best thin you can do for yourself and your clients is to have another set of eyes on your transcripts. Proofreaders with life experience and transcript experience are worth every cent you spend, the value being in the accuracy of your product, the time saved, and your ability to now tap into the education and years of hands-on knowledge from the proofreader. Most experienced reporters use proofreaders because of the time saved and the accuracy if affords; but in terms of experience, you can’t buy a better education than that of a good proofreader. You will need more than one proofreader as you get busy. Remember, you are not the only reporter they work for, so they will have a caseload to deal with, and they may not want to work seven days a week. Ask your mentor and your office manager for recommendations. With a good proofreader, you will learn more about the reporting world than school can ever teach you, and it will free you up to keep your hands on your machine. After all, that is really where your skill is, right? And believe me, that is also where you value is. The more time you spend on your machine, the more money you will make.

The last tip I have for now is never take on more than you can handle. I mean this in terms of time and ability. Some assignments are not meant for new reporters. Protect yourself from situations and workload issues that will put you in a position of failure. Learn to say no. Ask questions about the job. Don’t let money take over better judgment and misguide you. Take your time and do this right. You are building a reputation with every encounter, and an important factor in the career of court reporting is about being able to keep a balance so that your work is complete, accurate and timely. This leads to happy clients and happy agencies and a very happy reporter.

Life is hard enough; don’t make court reporting harder than it has to be. You will plenty of time to build your confidence, build your experience and build your reputation. With just a few tips and some life experience under your belt, court reporting will be an amazing and fulfilling career! Your success depends on you taking care of you. Be diligent, be committed and be happy. Good luck!

Kelley Simpson, RPR, is a freelance reporter based in St. Petersburg, Fla. She can be reached a t h3mom@tampabay.rr.com.

Sexual Harassment in the Work Place

Today the phrase “sexual harassment” may have different meanings to different people. It is real and it needs to stop. Also, it can be a phrase that is misunderstood, misused and abused.

In my 27-year career as a court reporter, I have been exposed to countless sexual harassment lawsuits. I have listened to countless witnesses testify under oath about sexual harassment. There were many instances where the harassment was legitimate and unacceptable. Unfortunately, there were also many instances where the harassment was merely flirtatious behavior by both parties and/or instances where people behaved immaturely.

I have been subjected to many episodes of what is now termed as sexual harassment. However, when it occurred, I chalked it up to aggressive flirting and/or immature behavior on the part of my male friends and colleagues. I did not feel threatened or ridiculed by any of the incidents. Did they anger me? Sometimes. Did they physically or emotionally harm me? No. Was I responsible for same? Yes, many times.

What I experienced and what I feel is exactly that; my experiences and my feelings. Having experienced sexual harassment and having heard countless cases has provided me with an acute awareness of how sensitive and reckless our society has become in this regard. When situations such as this come to the media’s attention, everything gets blown out of proportion such that society tends to label and point fingers excessively, bringing panic and discord to many people’s lives who do not deserve it. Perhaps this is necessary in order to “right the ship” again, so that it will end up where it needs to be. I don’t know. In the meantime, it is a slippery slope we must navigate when it comes to proclaiming anything these days.

For help regarding sexual harassment and to speak with someone who is trained to help, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) or chat online at online.rainn.org.

An Anonymous Opinion:

“In our current society the lines between inappropriate behavior and sexual harassment are becoming murky. One person’s viewpoint of sexual harassment may be another’s bad choice of humor. Our societies growing sensitivity to this topic is one to be noticed. So many times individuals falsely claim sexual harassment which destroys the assailant’s livelihood. Even if the assailant is “cleared” of the charges, life does not go back to normal for that individual or their families. It hangs over them for years to follow like a dark cloud. Then on the flip side, individuals who are truly being sexually harassed are often not heard, either from embarrassment and not coming forward or the fact that money talks. The assailant pays off whomever they need to keeps the matter from becoming public. Both scenarios are a real and current problem in today’s society. Even though our legal system always has room for improvement, the best mode of action for a victim of sexual harassment is to come forward at whatever the cost. Stop the harassment legally and move on with life!”

Brain Fog – Overcoming the Effects

“Brain fog, also commonly known as brain fatigue, can be a mild to severe episode of mental confusion that can strike without warning. When this occurs, it is common to experience a lack of focus, poor memory recall and reduced mental acuity.”

I didn’t know what it was, but now I know what brain fog is all about and how it can affect my performance as a court reporter, especially during real-time depositions and/or trials. While the causes are vast and abundant, I really couldn’t care less! I simply hate brain fog and wish it didn’t exist. It holds me back on so many levels and in so many aspects of my everyday life.

If I don’t sleep well, I get brain fog. If I don’t work out, I get brain fog. If I don’t eat right, I get brain fog. If I’m stressed, I get brain fog. Is there anything that doesn’t cause brain fog? Of course there is, and that would be a perfect life; good sleep, exercise, healthy diet and NO STRESS. Yeah, right. Excuse me while I laugh out loud.

How do I battle brain fog and how do I function as efficiently and as effectively as I can? I work hard every day to do all the above recommendations and I don’t give up. I do my best to get quality sleep. I work out at least 3 days a week. And I have a healthy diet. However, when I am not functioning at my fullest potential and capability, I rely on perseverance, experience and my ability to withstand anything that comes my way and to dredge through the weeds of brain fog.

While it may be physically and mentally challenging, I know I have the ability to power through and overcome. Yes, it’s difficult. Yes, my work product suffers because of the effects of brain fog, but I can get through it. I can work through it. I can still produce a good transcript under any circumstance, even while suffering from brain fog. I may have to concentrate twice as hard and remind myself to breathe more often, but I can do it, as I’ve done it many times before.

And finally, as much as I hate to admit it, because I do hate doing it, drinking lots of water helps! It helps keep me awake. It helps clear my mind and it helps my body function better, not only during times of stress but every day. It’s true what all the trainers and nutritionists say, that drinking plenty of water every day is of great benefit to our health.

If nothing else, remember to breathe and drink plenty of water.

Third-Party Contracting

Third-Party Contracting

I am a certified court reporter and the owner and operator of Marcus Deposition Reporting, a certified court reporting firm. It is extremely important that I bring awareness to some critical differences between firms like mine, a real court reporting firm that is owned and operated by a court reporter, versus litigation support companies, which are not owned and operated by court reporters; rather, they are owned and operated by investors and individuals that are not court reporters.

One of many controversies surrounding the use of litigation support firms is that they engage in third-party contracts. Pursuant to Civil Code of Procedure 2026, court reporters are not allowed to enter into third-party contracts because we are uninterested, unrelated and unbiased parties.

Court reporters are hired directly by law firms to perform reporting services. A contract between a court reporting agency and an insurance company is a third-party contract. The insurance company is the third party. Insurance companies hire attorneys to represent their interests. Insurance companies pay attorneys. Litigation support agencies will enter into contracts with the insurance company, thereby forcing the law firms, which work for the insurance companies, to use the contracted litigation support agency, diminishing any chance that a legitimate, law-abiding court reporting company may have had to work for said law firm.

By entering into a third-party contract, the litigation support agency offers cost savings to their client, the insurance agency. To make up for the lost revenue, they pass the additional and inflated costs onto opposing counsel or the party that is not affiliated with the litigation support company. This conduct threatens the legitimate court reporting industry because they advertise that their rates are lower, but in reality, they’re just shifting the burden onto others.

In addition to entering into third-party contracting, these litigation support companies also engage in excessive gift-giving. Again, due to the laws that govern our business, CCP 2026, court reporters and court reporting agencies are precluded from and are not allowed to engage in any form of gift-giving over and above $100.

Gift-giving is a method used by litigation support agencies to lure clients to use their services, giving them a false sense of getting a great deal, but it’s quite the opposite — their gifts are not free. NOTHING IS FREE. As a matter of fact, it’s a “smoke and mirrors” game followed by the “bait and switch.” It is known throughout the industry that these third-party contracting companies engage in higher billing, hidden fees and cost shifting.

• Cost-Shifting: Offering low original transcript page rate to noticing party and shifting the cost of the services to other parties in the matter by charging higher page rates for certified transcript copies, thereby shifting cost of the litigation from one party to others to make up for lost revenue.

Cost shifting violates the following code.

• CCP 2025.220(5): “Any party or attorney requesting the provision of the instant visual display of testimony, or rough draft transcripts, shall pay the reasonable cost of those services, which may not be greater than the costs charged to any other party or attorney.”

New Legislation (January 2016):

• Law firms must disclose in a Deposition Notice any financial agreements they have with the reporting agency. Sponsored AB-1197 (Bonilla), allowing attorneys to object to the use of a contracted reporting firm up to three days before the onset of the deposition.

• Higher Billing and Hidden Fees:

Higher Page Rates
Higher Certification Fees
Higher Processing and Handling Fees
Higher Exhibit Fees
Parking
Mileage
Lodging
Wait Time
Overhead
After-Hours Fee
Extra Equipment Fee
Filing Fees
Emailing Fees
Formatting Fees….

For the past 30 years, California Court Reporters Association (CCRA) has opposed contracting by reporting firms who give favorable rates and terms to one party, shifting the actual costs to the non-noticing party. As a result, these firms drive compensation for court reporters downward because these large reporting corporations force their competitors, CSR-owned deposition firms, out of business and become the only employer in town in some areas. Our industry has long warned that this contracting practice violated the reporter’s ethical obligation to be fair and impartial to all parties. These court reporting agencies that are not owned and operated by licensed certified court reporters cannot be mandated by the Court Reporters Board (CRB), and they do not follow Code of Civil Procedure.

Court reporting companies that are owned and operated by licensed certified court reporters provide you with excellent, fair and unbiased service without inflating costs to you or anyone else. Court reporting companies that are owned and operated by licensed certified court reporters are the safest and surest bet for meeting your court reporting needs.

control

Taking Control – My Job as a Court Reporter

We can only control what we can control.

Today, it seems, we have been faced with more than our share of tragedies that are beyond our comprehension and control. Hurricanes, fires, earthquakes, terrorist attacks. We are helpless while in the throes of such events, doing whatever it takes to regain control of our lives again.

With the many things in life I have no control over, I know I have control over many aspects of my job as a real-time court reporter and firm owner.

I can control the environment and mood in the room during a real-time proceeding or deposition just by my demeanor alone. If I am rude and unprofessional, I can expect an unfavorable reaction from people I work with, such as my reporters, counsel, the witness and the office staff.  When I am unprofessional, I risk of losing control by losing respect of others and losing business.

During proceedings, I can speak up and advise counsel and/or witnesses that they need to speak up, slow down or stop talking over one another.  The integrity of the record is my responsibility.  If I can’t control the proceedings, then I can’t produce a clean and accurate record.

I can showcase my skills by offering real-time or providing real-time to multiple attorneys. I can showcase my skills by reading back, without error or pause. And when I mark exhibits, I announce the number and marking of said exhibit; thereby, confirming the accuracy of identification and further displaying for the attorneys how it should be done.

When counsel raises their voices and get into heated debates, I remain cool, calm and collected. I can continue to write and showcase my ability to report every word at a rate of speed exceeding 250 words per minute and higher, or I can raise my hands away from my machine and advise them to stop. I take control of the situation so as not to allow things to further escalate and spiral out of control.

When an attorney calls to argue about an invoice, I remain calm and explain our billing.  After I have gone over the invoice and explained our rates and how the billing process works, I can make adjustments or I can stand firm.

When an attorney questions our methods of operation pertaining to the Codes of Civil Procedure, I am more than happy to educate on the laws of my trade.

When I control situations with ease and confidence, it elicits the confidence of the people I am working for, thereby proving to them that I have the ability to conduct myself in a professional and capable manner, ensuring that the integrity of the written word is intact and in good hands.

I have proven again and again that I have the ability to maintain control and to do a good job as a court reporter and firm owner, even while under pressure.  Every day is a new opportunity for me to be a better court reporter, a better firm owner, a better person.

I know what to do; I know how to do it… I am in control.

Inner Strength

I Remember – Inner Strength in Real-Time Court Reporting

Every day I would go to school with a sick feeling in my stomach, with a crippling fear of the cruelties my teacher would subject me to that day. Quite frequently, I felt sick in class. When I would approach her with my hand on my stomach and request to go to the restroom, she’d call me a “rotten egg” and direct me to the sink inside the classroom so I could get sick in front of all my classmates. What a concept this woman had; if she didn’t excuse me, maybe I wouldn’t get sick in front of the entire class. She was wrong.

But before sending me to get sick at the sink, she called me horrible names. She’d say it loud enough for all to hear. Everyone would have to stop what they were doing to watch me. I could feel all eyes on me. It was complete torture every day!

The preceding excerpt is a true story, one that I lived through my kindergarten year. The abuse I took from that teacher, however, made me a stronger person. Rather than allowing her to turn my world upside down, I simply remembered. I remember what she said. I remember how I felt. I remember well enough to NEVER do the same to anyone else. I remembered well enough to know how to talk to people that experience such horror. I remembered well enough to help myself through other difficult situations in the future. Instead of a victim, I am a fighter. It taught me that I can survive.

I’m not just a court reporter; I’m a real-time court reporter.   Real-time reporting is a specialized skill. Real-time is when the testimony that is being taken down on a steno machine is also displayed on the attorneys’ computers, laptops or iPads in real-time. Not an easy task. You have to be accurate so they can read the testimony and you have to be fast and capable of writing 260 words per minute and keep it clean. And when you make a mistake, the attorneys can see it. That’s a short and simple explanation of real-time reporting. In addition to the spoken word being displayed on all devices, one also needs to be able to trouble shoot when problems occur with such devices and the broadcasting of testimony gets interrupted or stopped.

As a court reporter, when I have to take a real-time deposition or trial, many times I get that same sick feeling in my stomach as when I was five years old. I have a difficult time sleeping the night before. I can’t eat, and I definitely can’t drink caffeine.

Finally, when I arrive at my job (usually 1 hour ahead of schedule) my nerves are on heightened alert until the attorneys walk into the room. Before they arrive for the proceedings, I set up my equipment and their equipment. I’ve got all my notes about the case at hand. I practice memorizing the attorneys’ names so that I properly identify them on the record.   I Premark all my exhibit stickers so that I have them ready upon demand. There’s a long list of things to do before the proceedings start and I check them all off. I’m ready to go.

Once the proceedings start, the first words spoken by counsel are inevitably jumbled and a little messy. I soon catch my composure, calm down and gain control of the situation and it’s all good.

The initial shot of adrenaline actually helps me to write better. It’s usually smooth sailing after the first 10 minutes. Throughout the day’s proceedings, the attorneys will talk about all aspects of the case and I’ll hit some rough patches, especially when they exceed 260 words per minute. When it’s experts that are being examined, the terminology they use and the speed at which they speak always makes my job difficult, but I get it done and I can do it well. That’s when I shine. When the attorneys see the fast and dense testimony coming up on their screen, it never ceases to amaze. And when I can read it back, it further proves to them that I am performing at my best and they’re getting the best service available in the industry.

After a real-time proceeding, I feel a great sense of accomplishment and pride, as I have just provided a specialized service to a group of people, made a good day’s pay and, most importantly, I survived.