Bartelt | Nix Reporting partners with BizIQ

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyIn a press release issued Feb. 2, Bartelt | Nix Reporting, Phoenix, Ariz., announced that it has entered into a business partnership with BizIQ, a digital marketing agency based in Phoenix that serves North American small-business clients across a variety of industries.

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Court reporting firm Steno Services announces expansion

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyIn a press release issued Feb. 1, Steno Services, Oklahoma City, Okla., announced that it has expanded into the Tulsa market and has promoted Erica Schutte to senior administrative assistant.

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United States Department of Labor OSHA deposition guidelines

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyA blog posted on Kramm Reporting’s website on Jan. 17 provides an overview of the U.S. Department of Labor’s OSHA guidelines regarding depositions.

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COPE: Gift giving when a client is running for office

By Cassy Kerr

In 2017, an eighth scenario under Advisory Opinion 46, Further Guidance on Gift Giving, was added. Please refer to it as you contemplate future donations to a client’s campaign.

Scenario: A client of a reporter has decided to run for public office. The reporter makes a $500 donation to the client’s campaign.

Questions: Is the donation a violation of Provision No. 8? Would it make a difference if the donation was a $100 donation?

Provision 8 of the Code of Professional Ethics reads, “Refrain from giving, directly or indirectly, any gift or anything of value to attorneys or their staff, other clients or their staff, or any other persons or entities associated with any litigation, which exceeds $150 in the aggregate per recipient each year. Nothing offered in exchange for future work is permissible, regardless of its value. Pro bono services as defined by the NCRA Guidelines for Professional Practice or by applicable state and local laws, rules and regulations are permissible in any amount.”

NCRA’s Ethics Committee has concluded political contributions are not considered gifts under the Code of Professional Ethics and, therefore, are not governed by Provision 8 of the Code.

Because the contribution is not made directly to the client for the client’s own purposes but rather to the campaign or the committee to be used for political purposes, it is determined that political donations are not considered gifts to clients for purposes of Provision 8 and, therefore, are not governed by Provision 8 of the Code regardless of the amount of the gift.

This opinion should be read in conjunction with Advisory Opinion No. 45, Guidance on Gift Giving Rules, which discusses such issues as the definition of a gift, the value of gifts, and the $150 aggregate gift limit.

Cassy Kerr, RPR, CRR, CRC, is a freelancer and agency owner in Tulsa, Okla. She is a member of the Committee on Professional Ethics. Questions about NCRA’s Code of Professional Ethics can be sent to NCRA’s Ethics Counsel Mona Savino at msavino@ncra.org.

2017 U.S. Court Reporting & Stenotype Services Industry report

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyThe 2017 U.S. Court Reporting & Stenotype Services Industry & Market Report, which provides industry statistics, forecasts, and demographics, was released on Jan. 16. The report is published annually by Business and Finance Market Reports.

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Veritext acquires David Feldman Worldwide Court Reporting

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyIn a press release issued Jan. 16, Veritext, a nationwide court reporting services provider, announced its acquisition of David Feldman Worldwide (DFW) Court Reporting.

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Depo International announces 2018 Quality of Service Initiative

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyIn a press release issued Jan. 17, Depo International, Minneapolis, Minn., announced the 2018 Quality of Service Initiative, which is focused on the firm’s mission to deliver exceptional litigation support while maintaining a consistently high level of customer value.

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On-site registration available for NCRA Firm Owners Executive Conference

“The networking opportunities were great. I also learned a lot of good marketing strategies, which I am already employing in my business.” –Beth Fein, CLVS, BWA Video, Houston, TXIf you missed the deadline for online registration to attend the only NCRA event designed exclusively for owners and managers of court reporting and captioning firms, on-site registration is still available. You can still take advantage of the opportunity to network with many of the profession’s top firm owners and managers in beautiful St. Pete Beach, Fla., at the NCRA Firm Owners Executive Conference, Jan. 28–31 at the Don CeSar hotel.

On-site registration will be available in the foyer of the Grand Ballroom at the Don CeSar hotel all three days of the events, beginning Jan. 28, 3:30-7 p.m.

Attendees, including freelancers and owners of firms of all sizes, can expect an agenda rich with innovative, interactive, and inspiring sessions led by some of the best leaders in today’s business world.

Inspiring speakers

Keynote speaker John Spence, one of the top 100 business thought leaders in the nation, will share his insights into achieving business excellence. He will also present his most intensive business improvement workshop, specifically created to help management teams take a hard, honest look at their businesses to determine exactly what their strengths and weaknesses are. The workshop will also help participants create focused plans for how to succeed at a higher level in the marketplace. Watch Spence’s personal invitation to Firm Owners.

Chris Hearing and Greg Laubach will present an interactive session entitled “Managing to Maximize Business Value.” The presentation will focus on creating short-term profits and business value so attendees can learn how to plan as if they will run their business forever but act as if they’ll sell it tomorrow.

SEO strategist, internet marketing educator, and owner of the Tampa SEO Training Academy, Steve Scott will lead a session dedicated to business marketing on the Web. He will touch on the secrets to search engine optimization (SEO) success, tactics and techniques for online marketing, and social media marketing, among other topics.

Ample networking

Numerous networking opportunities include the “Build-It, Mix-It, Who Will Win It” opening event, reception, and dinner, a networking power half-hour, free time during lunch, and a closing reception. Also on the schedule are educational events during breakfast sessions and a special welcome and meet-and-greet with NCRA’s new CEO and Executive Director Marcia Ferranto.

Industry outlook

The annual NCRA State of the Industry 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.

Come join the 2018 NCRA Firm Owners Executive Conference this week and discover what connection or tip will be the one that makes 2018 your best business year yet, no matter what size your company may be.

Update on the GOP tax plan: What’s in it, and how does it affect me?

By Matt Barusch

In the Dec. 13 issue of the JCR Weekly, NCRA’s Government Relations Department analyzed the tax reform legislation making its way through Congress. Since then, Congress passed its comprehensive tax reform package just before the end of the year. This update covers the final form of the legislation and how it will affect your wallets in the years to come.

In the past 31 years, Congress has tinkered with and tweaked small components of the overall tax code but has failed to achieve comprehensive reform. With the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the Republican-led Congress has achieved one of its most coveted agenda items.

The final version of the bill, signed by President Donald Trump, reduces individual tax rates across all seven brackets, reductions that expire after the year 2025. The highest tax rate is reduced from 39.6 percent to 37 percent, and the threshold at which the top rate kicks in is raised to $500,000 for individuals and $600,000 for married couples. This change brings significant tax breaks to wealthy taxpayers. The standard deduction is nearly doubled to $12,000, and personal exemptions are eliminated. Many other itemized deductions are affected by this legislation as well. State and local tax deductions are limited to $10,000, and medical expense deductions have been expanded by reducing the threshold to 7.5 percent of annual income. This deduction will be particularly important for low-income families with large medical expenses. Also, the new law doubles the child tax credit to $2,000, and it has a larger refundable portion that would allow more lower-income families to benefit. Benefits to middle-class Americans have been preserved in the bill, such as the student loan interest deduction and graduate student tuition waivers. This bill doesn’t make changes to retirement accounts like 401(k) plans.

Concerning corporate taxes, the new law lowers the top corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. This is the largest tax cut in the bill, the largest corporate tax rate cut in U.S. history, and the permanent rate of taxation for corporations. Business interest deductions would be capped at 30 percent of income. Pass-through entities get a 20 percent deduction of their income tax-free, changes that expire after 2025. The term pass-through companies refers to business income that is passed through to the business owner’s individual tax return. These companies include S corporations, LLCs, partnerships, and sole proprietorships. The new law also repeals, by 2019, the individual mandate penalty for purchasing health insurance created by the Affordable Care Act.

Matt Barusch is NCRA’s Manager of State Government Relations. He can be reached at mbarusch@ncra.org.

WORKING TOGETHER: How’s your audio?

By Mindy Sindiong

Part of a CLVS’s training is to provide great video and audio for our clients. However, we have two clients: the attorney(s) and the court reporter. Yes, I said court reporter. Part of our job is to offer the court reporter some form of audio, whether it be a live feed from our audio mixer or a digital computer file recorded onto an SD card. The better audio we provide, the more court reporters will want and request to work with a CLVS. I’ll get more into the relationship between a CLVS videographer and a court reporter in a moment. First, I want to discuss the importance of the audio.

The CLVS program teaches a CLVS the audio chain, meaning audio should come from wired microphones to the mixer, from the mixer to the video recording devices, and, from there, into a monitoring device, otherwise known as headphones. Unfortunately, many videographers seem to forget the importance of audio in video. We are sometimes swayed by the technical specs of that new camera that just came out. We want the video aspect of it to look great on that new 4K video monitor. Can we see every line on someone’s face? And, in the process, audio sometimes falls to the wayside. This is a shame because, in reality, the audio is of utmost importance, especially in video depositions. The testimony is the deposition. Try an experiment. Turn on the TV with the sound turned down and watch for a few minutes. Turn the sound up and turn your eyes away from the TV and just listen. In most cases, you will get a better understanding of what is happening by listening rather than watching. Now, mind you, I am not disregarding the importance of the video portion of a recorded deposition. Studies have shown that much of how we communicate is through body language, but that would be a different article.

A good audio recording will also capture the nuances of the spoken word. Is the voice changing in pitch? Is the speech speeding up or slowing down? How long was that pause before the answer? Did that question seem to come out right? These telltale signs are all an important part of communication. If the video-recorded deposition has audio that has a lot of distracting noise, noise that can come from a bad connection, poor quality microphones, an audio mixer that introduces a bad hum sound, and so on, then the spoken voice starts losing its relevance to the listener. That is why the CLVS training stresses the importance of setting up, monitoring, and troubleshooting your audio chain.

Back to the relationship with the court reporter. As I said before, we also teach a CLVS to offer the court reporter some sort of way to monitor the audio, whether it be a live feed or a recording. Court reporters should also be prepared for working with a CLVS and may need to know how to make some audio adjustments on their end and be able turn up or down the input levels on their laptops. Being prepared to make these minor adjustments has huge payoffs in the quality of the audio for scoping and proofing later.

Being able to offer a high-quality live feed to the reporter can have other benefits. I can’t tell you how many times we have done depositions during which one of the participants was extremely soft spoken. Having a microphone on the witness and being able to boost that audio signal through the mixer can make all the difference in the world. The court reporter will be very thankful to be able to hear that witness loud and clear using a headset. I’ve always felt that if you take care of the court reporter, he or she will take care of you. In this business, I believe the court reporter is my most valued partner and friend.

Mindy Sindiong, CLVS, of Lawrenceberg, Ind., is a member of NCRA’s Certified Legal Video Specialist Council. She can be reached at Mindy@DeBeneEsseMedia.com.