Lake County veterans share experiences at annual oral history project

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyThe Lake County News-Sun posted an article on Nov. 13 about the sixth annual Veterans History Project held at the Lake County Courthouse, Ill. NCRA member Kathy Fennell, RMR, an official court reporter from Matteson, Ill., was on hand to transcribe.

Read more.

Learn how to make 2018 your best business year yet

Lisa Colston, RPR, a freelancer and owner of Sworn Testimony, PLLC, in Lexington, Ky., is already registered to attend the 2018 NCRA Firm Owners Executive Conference, saying she’s looking forward to “getting my creative juices flowing and thinking outside the box.” The 2018 event is Jan. 28-30 at The Don CeSar in St. Pete Beach, Fla. This business-focused conference is designed with two key elements in mind: 1) giving attendees real-world educational sessions with pragmatic tips they can take back and implement into their business immediately and 2) providing lots of time to network with a friendly, open community of like-minded professionals.

This year, attendees will work with John Spence, one of the top 100 business thought leaders in the nation. During his keynote address, Spence will focus on what he does best: making complex business ideas “awesomely simple.” Later that afternoon, he will lead an in-depth, two-part workshop focused first on business planning and execution and then on strategic thinking and planning. Since Firm Owners is a smaller, more intimate event, attendees will have the opportunity to address their specific individual business challenges during this workshop.

Colston said that marketing tips and tricks are some of the most valuable things she’s learned at past conferences. And 2018 will continue that trend with Steve Scott’s session, “Marketing your Business on the Web.” Scott brings longtime experience with search engine optimization (SEO) and website design, fields he’s been working in since 1998. SEO is one of the current buzzwords in online marketing, and attendees will come away with greater insight on how to use SEO to get their name in front of potential clients.

Colston said that the most enjoyable part of attending Firm Owners is “the feeling of community and friendship” and that she’s been able to “develop business relationships that are built on the foundation of confidence and trust.” Furthermore, “the ability to collaborate on business strategies to help grow and strengthen” her business are why she keeps coming back. Plenty of networking time is built into the schedule, including a fun “Build-it, Mix-it, Who Will Win-it Networking Event” that will kick off the conference.

Freelancers and firm owners who are thinking of attending this conference for the first time will find a warm and welcoming community. “As a first-time attendee, I fully anticipated feeling like an outsider or fifth wheel. I was so sure that I would have to insert myself into conversations and wedge myself into long-forged friendships. I’m happy to say I was completely wrong,” said Constance Lee, RPR, a freelancer and owner of Constance Lee & Company in Baden, Pa. Lee attended for the first time in 2016 and then returned the very next year.

Finally, attendees will get access to the annual NCRA State of the Industry. This session will look at how the court reporting and captioning industry is doing now, what areas firms are developing, and what successes they’re finding – all based on solid, current data. Having a real-world sense of what the industry looks like nationwide will help attendees know where their individual businesses fit into the big picture.

The motto for the 2018 event is “Connect. Learn. Energize.” for good reason. “A network of professionals that you can rely on through the year will make running a small business effortless,” said Colston. “We are one united group of professionals working together to maintain a professional court reporting industry overall.” Come join the 2018 NCRA Firm Owners Executive Conference in January and discover what connection or tip will be the one that makes 2018 your best business year yet.

Don’t miss your chance to register

The NCRA website will be running routine maintenance on Thursday, Nov. 16, but attendees can download the registration form and register by phone or mail. In addition, members who register for the event and book their stay at The Don CeSar on Nov. 24 will be entered into a drawing for a free spouse registration for the event as part of NCRA’s Best. Friday. Ever. on Black Friday. Don’t wait – registration prices increase on Dec. 16.

NCRA celebrates the Best. Friday. Ever.

NCRA members can kick off their holiday shopping season on Nov. 24 by taking advantage of Black Friday discounts and giveaways being offered with the purchase of membership renewals, store items, educational sessions, and more.

NCRA members who renew their membership or join on Nov. 24 will be entered into a drawing to win a free registration to the 2018 NCRA Convention & Expo. Registered members who renew on Black Friday will automatically be entered into a drawing to win a free registration for the Speed or Realtime Contests held at the 2018 NCRA Convention & Expo. Members who renew their membership on Nov. 24 will also be eligible to win one of two Kindle Fires. That means the members who qualify may have three opportunities to win!

Other Best Friday Ever specials include a 20 percent discount on all NCRA Store items purchased using the promotional code FRIDAY at checkout. In addition, members who register for the 2018 NCRA Firm Owners Executive Conference and book their stay at The Don CeSar will be entered into a drawing for a free spouse registration for the event.

Members who purchase an NCRA e-seminar on Nov. 24 will be entered into a drawing to win a free e-seminar while members who purchase a Skills Test on Black Friday will be entered into a drawing to win one of two free Skills Test registrations.

Members are urged to mark their calendars to be sure they don’t miss the discounts and giveaways being offered only on Nov. 24.

8 questions for the winner of the Kindle Fire 8

Amanda Marvin, RPR, CRC, from Tomahawk, Wis., won the drawing for a Kindle Fire 8 by renewing her membership in October. A new professional, Marvin graduated from court reporting school in 2015 and has been working as a captioner for nine months, currently doing remote CART work “for several different college classes including biology, statistics, psychology, criminal justice, and commercial irrigation.”

“CART captioning was always my ultimate goal, and I am so happy that with the help of the Certified Realtime Captioner certification, I was able to start my career helping others and doing what I wanted to do,” she says. “I continue my membership in NCRA because it has given me a big advantage in employment for companies who hire captioners. They consider the certification as a standard of professionalism and proof of the skills needed to do a quality job.”

The JCR reached out to Marvin with eight questions to get to know her a little better.

  1. What is your favorite thing about doing remote captioning?

My favorite thing about doing remote captioning is the fact that I can stay at home and have a flexible schedule that allows me to get my kids to school and their after-school activities.

  1. What is the most interesting thing you’ve learned while captioning for college classes?

I have learned that there are an enormous amount of biology terms that can be pronounced several different ways. I learn something new in that class every single day.

  1. What is your most memorable moment from court reporting school?

My most memorable moment from court reporting school was probably when I passed my first 225 test. School was a long, hard road, and that was a very exhilarating experience.

  1. What was the biggest challenge you’ve overcome so far as a working professional, and how did you do so?

One of my biggest challenges is numbers and fingerspelling. Practicing, along with writing a statistics course and fingerspelling pop-up biology terms, has made me a better overall writer.

  1. What do you always include in your “elevator pitch” when you tell people what you do for a living?

I tell them I do CART, which most people aren’t familiar with. So then I tell them that it’s captioning what the professor says for students who are deaf and hard of hearing. I also make sure to tell them how there are many more people needed in the field, so if they know anyone who may be interested to let them know about it.

  1. What is your favorite benefit of being an NCRA member?

My favorite benefit of being an NCRA member is reading JCRs and the great wealth of information that is included in them as well as being able to list my certifications on my résumé.

  1. Before I became one, I never knew that captioners …

… had to put so much research and prep into doing a good job.

  1. What is your dream reporting or captioning assignment?

I would love to caption somewhere locally so people can see and understand what I do for a living.

 

Haven’t renewed yet? Members can take advantage of Black Friday discounts and giveaways, including purchase of membership renewals. Mark your calendars for Nov. 24.

ICYMI: More popular posts from NCRA social media

Two of NCRA’s main goals on social media are to connect with our members and to share important and interesting information. Sometimes these are more serious posts, but sometimes they’re fun, too. ICYMI (in case you missed it), below are a few highlights of popular posts on NCRA social media over the past month.

Facebook


We are always looking for stories from around the internet that our members would enjoy and find valuable, including this article from Inc. magazine. The topic of focus resonated with court reporters and captioners – almost a dozen followers (including several state associations) shared it with their audiences as well.

Twitter

It’s always exciting to hear from court reporting students and get their perspective. This article, which originally ran in the student newsletter Up-to-Speed before appearing on social media, revealed what students saw as the highlights of the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo. Shaunise Day and Stan Sakai, CRC, pose in the photo (which was supplied by Sakai). Day, a student at West Valley College in Saratoga, Calif., served on the 2016-2017 NCRA Student Committee, and Sakai, a captioner in New York, N.Y., participated in the “Steno Speed Dating” session.

LinkedIn


This post served as our first announcement to the beginnings of a new cross-cultural friendship with the Court Reporters Association of Zambia. We appreciated the encouragement from our members in the comments as well.

Instagram

#captioning #captioner #network #workingtogether #buildingrelationships #Chicago

A post shared by National Court Reporters Assn. (@ncraofficial) on

LeAnn Hibler, RMR, CRR, CRC, a captioner from Joliet, Ill., talked about the increased need for captioning and the admiration she has for disability rights leaders. She also appreciates the support that the captioning community in Chicago gives each other. Her full article is on TheJCR.com, but we shared a few particularly lovely quotes on Instagram.

Cross platform


Nothing like a good #TBT post to give you a blast from the past. Followers on both Facebook and Twitter liked this post and, on Facebook especially, chimed in with memories, including:

  • “That’s a gem!” said l.e.e.l.e.e.c on Instagram.
  • “Absolutely! What an upgrade this was from the blue cardboard box!” said @BarbaraWCash on Twitter.
  • “Yes, it was great when the sleek plastic model came along to replace the clunky wood model. One of my wood ones was built from scratch by my great-grandfather for my great-aunt. And was there anyone who did not have an electric eraser? The one in the top right of the link below was my favorite model. It had a mercury switch, so it started rotating when you picked it up. That was the sort of stuff that was ‘high-tech’ back in the day (And don’t get me started on the Steno-Mark, responsible for green and red spots on law firm carpets everywhere),” said John Wissenbach on Facebook.
  • “I had a beautiful wooden one thanks to Bev Herring-Black and my judge, David Sohr, called me Speedy Gonzales because he said he could hear me in my office spitting out words like bullets as I dictated,” said Lynn Donnelly Clark on Facebook.

Best hashtag


The Friday following the shooting in Las Vegas, we all needed some good news. So NCRA asked our followers to #TellMeSomethingGood. And you warmed our hearts with happy news, both personal and professional. We encourage you to click on the comments in the post above to read them all. Look for another #TellMeSomethingGood post around Thanksgiving – we love hearing your happy stories!

Members give back: Honoring U.S. veterans

A family of four dressed for chilly weather pose outside in front of a suburban house

Michelle Keegan with her two sons and her husband, who served in the infantry in Operation Desert Storm

By Michelle Keegan

Over the years, I have transcribed many interviews of veterans through the Library of Congress Veterans History Project and the National Court Reporters Foundation. I feel honored to be able to take part in such a worthwhile program. Every interview brings a new understanding of the sacrifices that our veterans have made. Often I am left in awe by the courage that these men and women showed at such a young age when called to defend our nation. More times than not, after I finish transcribing an interview, I immediately want to transcribe another. I find that as the veteran recounts his or her story, I become mesmerized. I often find that I’m laughing along with the veteran to the funny stories that are remembered, and I get teary eyed along with the veteran when he or she relates some of the more difficult memories.

One memory that was recounted recently was by a veteran of the Air Force. He said that a bunch of guys got together and decided to go into town, and they bought a kitchen sink. And they took the kitchen sink with them. They had tipped off the photographers who went along that when they got to the target, they were going to dump the kitchen sink down on the target so the headlines would read in the paper that the Nazis got hit with everything and the kitchen sink. That’s a true story.

I have recently met with the head of the local Veterans Administration to start a Veterans History Project that will interview our city’s veterans. It is my hope that the veterans of our city will share their stories through the Veterans History Project so that we as a society may gain a better understanding of what their experiences in wars were like, what they did as they integrated back into society, and how they are able to cope with and overcome some of the difficult memories that they have. I hope that by hearing these stories, we as a society will not forget that throughout our history, our country has needed protection, and these men and women bravely answered the call. And many of them are our neighbors.

Veterans Day may have come and gone this year, but one way that we as court reporters can give back is by volunteering to transcribe the stories of a veteran. NCRA and, through it, NCRA members have been working with the Library of Congress since 2003 both to record and transcribe the stories of the diverse group of men and women who have served our nation.

Michelle Keegan, RMR, CRR, is a freelance reporter from Quincy, Mass. She can be reached at michellekeegan2010@hotmail.com.

For more information about the Veterans History Project, please visit NCRA.org/NCRF, or contact April Weiner, Foundation Manager, at aweiner@ncra.org.

Northwoods court reporters training next generation through free classes

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyA Nov. 8 story on WJFW Newswatch 12 (Rhinelander, Wis.) highlights an A to Z program at the Oneida County Courthouse. The story quotes Jean Wood, RMR, CRR, an official in Lake Tomahawk, and NCRA President Chris Willette, RDR, CRR, CRC, a freelancer and firm owner in Wausau, as well as a couple of participants in the program.

Read more and watch the video.

CHECKLIST: What to bring on a reporting assignment

By Robin Nodland

Long-time NCRA member and 2016-2017 Technology Committee chair offered her personal checklist for what she brings to the job. She suggests adapting this for your own purposes.

Professionalism:

  • Professional appearance
  • Professional demeanor
  • State and national association memberships
  • State and national certifications

Equipment:

  • Stenowriter w/Bluetooth connection with tripod
  • Writer cable (when Bluetooth fails)
  • Manual for writer
  • Support contract for writer
  • Laptop with sticker re: recording
  • Sound card
  • CAT software key
  • CAT software manual
  • CAT software support contract w/800 phone number
  • 2 microphones
  • Laptop stand with tripod
  • Coolpad
  • Power strip w/long cord
  • DepoBook or notebook
  • Exhibit stickers
  • Business cards
  • Pens
  • 2 USB jump drives
  • Extra tote for exhibits
  • Worksheet for assignment
  • Notice of deposition, if available
  • Directions to assignment, if needed
  • Smartphone

Extras:

  • Post-its
  • Granola/protein bars
  • Lunch money
  • Parking money
  • Cough drops
  • Kleenex
  • Water bottle and/or coffee
  • Mints
  • Highlighter
  • Red pen
  • Pill box with: acetaminophen, ibuprofen, aspirin, allergy meds
  • Spare smartphone charger (grateful attorneys used it to charge up more than once)

Realtime jobs:

  • Stenocast
  • Router
  • Netbook(s) with realtime software
  • iPad with MyView
  • RSA shortcut book
  • Realtime/rough draft disclaimer

Court:

  • Form for “court reporter is the official record”

 

Robin Nodland, RDR-CRR, is  a firm owner based in Oregon. She holds NCRA’s Realtime Systems Administrator certificate and can be reached at RNodland@lnscourtreporting.comNodland was the co-chair of NCRA’s 2016-2017 Technology Committee.

 

Aptus Court Reporting expands Bay Area team with two new directors

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyIn a press release issued Nov. 5, Aptus Court Reporting announced the addition of industry veterans Brandon Wai and Marika Pickles as directors of business development for the company’s San Francisco, Calif., office.

Read more.

The online student experience: Interview with Mike Hensley

Mike Hensley, RPR, is an unusual reporter in that he completed court reporting school entirely online. He is a 2015 graduate of Sage College and currently works as a freelance reporter in Evanston, Ill. (although he will be moving to the San Francisco, Calif., area by the end of 2017). Hensley is also in his second year as a member of the NCRA New Professionals Committee.

Why did you decide to go to court reporting school online? What factors went into your decision to choose your school?

I went online primarily because the school I was interested in was based in California, and I was facing an upcoming cross-country move to Chicago. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to attend school with the facility I found; so online schooling was the best available option to meet my needs. I also wanted the flexibility to complete school on my terms and on my schedule since I was an independent adult working full time.

How did you fit classes and practice time into your schedule?

I worked a full-time job, and even at one point, I had a full-time and part-time job while attending school. I had to be very creative in finding time for fitting in school. Luckily, my full-time job was a graveyard shift, Friday-Monday job. The job also had a lot of dead time where my boss encouraged me to bring something to do. He himself mentioned that he completed a master’s degree program while working my particular shift; so it seemed like a good fit to allow me to complete my own schoolwork. As far as practice time, I really had to push myself to forego personal activities and use my non-work time to practice as often as I could. I had to remind myself that sacrifices during school would only be temporary, and it would pay off later when I achieved my new career.

What did you do, if anything, to find a court reporting support network without having in-person classes?

I found Facebook to be a great resource for networking with court reporters. Along with that, my school provided a good source for coaches and mentors through the school staff as part of the online program. As I joined more court reporter groups through Facebook, I developed a presence among court reporters and was able to connect with several individuals who offered to become mentors and eventual friends.

Who or where did you go to for advice on steno theory, selecting software, speedbuilding, and so on?

My school primarily had a good plan of direction for guiding us with software and speedbuilding materials through their online program. As I progressed through school, I kept my eyes open for other sources of material. I obtained a large amount of information through word of mouth from other reporters and online students. Online students sharing with one another can be a great resource because we’re all looking for the most efficient and cost-effective (i.e. free) tools for practice.

What was the biggest challenge you faced about studying online? How did you overcome that challenge?

My biggest challenge was time management initially. The first two years of school were a combination of academics and speedbuilding; so I had to balance both practice time and homework time along with my work schedule. Once I completed academics, I was able to focus solely on speedbuilding, and things became less complicated. As an online student, you have to be your own coach at times. I had to really dig deep and find the drive to push myself to make time in my schedule for practice. It really helped to surround myself with things that reminded me of my goal. At one point, I kept a vision board with pictures of things I wanted as a result of my new career: things like my steno machine, vacation destinations, etc.

What advantages did you find to attending school online?

I was able to complete schoolwork at times that were most advantageous to me so that I could still maintain my full-time job. I was also able to tackle as much or as little as I wanted. Usually, I leaned towards tackling more because I wanted to finish as soon as possible. Personally, I wanted to attend school and focus on the program without any distractions, and knowing my personality, if I had gone to a brick-and-mortar school, I would have found myself distracted by the social environment. But that’s just my personal observation. I think one of the strongest advantages to online schooling is that when you know yourself and you know that you are dedicated enough to buckle down and do the work that you need to do, then it can be a very suitable option to complete school.

Describe the transition from school to working – were there any factors from having been an online student that make you think this transition was slightly easier or slightly harder?

I do admit, when I started as a reporter, it felt strange to set up my equipment in someone’s office as opposed to setting up in my living room. However, that adjustment was minor and was easily overcome. I think that being an online student made it easier for me to transition because I didn’t become accustomed to going to a school facility and being in that environment before entering the working world. In my mind, whenever I sat down at my machine, I was already in the working world. By the time I entered the field, I already felt like I had been a court reporter because I had spent so much time envisioning it during my education.

What do you think firms and courthouses should keep in mind when hiring students who graduated from an online program?

Firms should bear in mind that they may need to spend a small amount of time discussing professional etiquette with an online student, especially if for some reason the online student didn’t have the opportunity to shadow a working reporter. If that did not occur, I would highly recommend that the firm arrange for the online graduate to shadow a reporter to see what it looks like to do the job. Firms and courthouses can expect that online students are well versed in using technology to complete tasks, and therefore they are more likely to communicate through methods like email and/or text message. Online students may also be more adept at submitting work product through electronic means such as email, an online portal, or a cloud-based system.

What do you think working reporters can do to help online students specifically?

I find that a large number of online students really need a mentor  to develop the mental fortitude necessary to become a court reporter. I was very fortunate to find several mentors who gave me some fantastic advice that helped me reach the finish line. Words of a professional reporter carry a lot of weight with students. Any professional reporter who can offer even a small amount of time as a mentor can really be a huge influence on the future generation. Being a mentor doesn’t mean you’re a babysitter. It can be something as simple as being willing to have a weekly or even monthly phone call to check in and say: “Hey, how are you doing?”

Do you have any final thoughts to share?

I feel that my online education prepared me to be a new breed of court reporter. When I began working in the field, I was not afraid of jobs that involved videoconferencing or telephonic participants because I had dealt with these sorts of issues to complete my education. Online schooling also gave me an awareness of many forms of technology available to me as a future professional. When I began working, I was comfortable with completing paperwork electronically and submitting it to whomever requested it. This allows me to be comfortable in working with out-of-state agencies when coverage is needed in my home area. Online schooling also made me strongly accustomed to being realtime-ready. I was connected to a computer 24/7 through my education. Now that I’m a professional reporter, I embrace various technologies to help me do my job as best as I can. With the uncertainty of many brick-and-mortar programs, I feel that online education is truly a wonderful option to keep the education of court reporters alive and well for the years to come.