Mike Mobley Reporting opens downtown Columbus location

In a press release issued Sept. 20, Mike Mobley Reporting, with offices in Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio, announced the opening of a new location in Columbus.

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Get noticed, find jobs, and start networking!

Did you know that the NCRA Online Sourcebook, the premier resource for finding professional court reporters, captioners, legal videographers, scopists, and instructors, receives 900 visits per day from peers, attorneys, firm owners, academics, and paralegals?

Log in and upgrade your listing today!

Stand out with Additional, Premium, and Premium Plus listings!

Registered, Participating, and Associate members receive a complimentary Basic Listing included with their NCRA membership. These NCRA members also have three options for upgrading their NCRA Online Sourcebook listings to stand out from the crowd.

  1. Additional Basic Listing: Purchase an Additional Basic Listing to showcase other services or your other locations. ($99)
  2. Premium Listing: Upgrade your complimentary Basic Listing for a separate dedicated detail page providing additional information about you, such as company name, alternate phone number, and services offered. ($250)
  3. Premium Plus Listing: Upgrade your complimentary Basic Listing for a separate dedicated detail page providing everything in the Premium listing, plus more, such as street address, company description, company website, Google map, and forward to a f riend. ($395)

 

Additional Basic Listing
$99.00
Premium Listing
$250.00
Premium Plus Listing
$395.00
All NCRA members receive a complimentary Basic listing for their individual profile as part of their membership. Members may purchase an additional Basic listing to showcase another address or other services for that member's individual profile.

(Note: Only personal images may be used for Basic listings. Company logos can be used for upgraded Premium and Premium Plus listings only.) Please visit the FAQ section for specific details on what information is included in each Sourcebook listing.
The Premium listing upgrades your complimentary Basic listing. It provides access to a separate dedicated detail page providing additional information about you.The Premium Plus listing includes all features of the Basic and Premium Listing, plus additional information including social links, 'about me'/company description, additional contact information and more.
• First and last name
• Professional designation
• Primary reporter type (court reporters only)
• Secondary reporter type (court reporters only)
• Primary employment type (non-court reporters only)
• City, state, ZIP
• Primary phone
• Fax
• Email
• First and last name
• Professional designation
• Primary reporter type (court reporters only)
• Secondary reporter type (court reporters only)
• Primary employment type (non-court reporters only)
• Company name
• City, state, ZIP
• Primary phone
• Alternate phone
• Fax
• Email
In More Details
• Services offered
• First and last name
• Professional designation
• Primary reporter type (court reporters only)
• Secondary reporter type (court reporters only)
• Primary employment type (non-court reporters only)
• Company name
• Street address
• City, state, ZIP
• Primary phone
• Alternate phone
• Fax
• Email
• Website
• Google map
In More Details
• Services offered
• Company description
• Forward to a friend

NOTES: To upgrade to a Premium listing you must:

  • Upgrade your existing complimentary Basic listing; or
  • To have multiple listings, (one Basic and one Premium level listing), you must first purchase an Additional Basic Listing, and then upgrade this listing to the Premium level

Here’s how to upgrade Your Online NCRA Sourcebook listing!

1. Log in to the NCRA member portal to access your profile

2. If you have a single Basic listing, access the “My Main Profile” to update your social media profiles, your profile picture, and your Services. NOTE: Remember to “Save.”

NOTES:

  • One image is used for all of your Sourcebook listings.
  • Only certain information will display, based on your listing level. (e.g. your social media profiles will ONLY display at the Premium Plus level.)

3. Select the “My Sourcebook listings” tab to see a list of your available Sourcebook listing(s).

4. Select the pencil to the left of the listing to make edits to that specific listing.

5. Click on a listing row to access options to either purchase an Additional Basic listing, upgrade to Premium, or upgrade to Premium Plus. (The yellow background in the preview indicates which listing you are currently viewing—assuming you have multiple listings.)

 

6. Use the button link above each listing preview to either purchase an additional “basic listing” or upgrade your basic listing to the Premium or Premium Plus levels.

7. Follow the system prompts to complete the purchase/upgrade transaction.

 

Newspaper offers tips on surviving a deposition

An article posted Sept. 15 by the Baltimore Post-Examiner explains what a deposition is, its purpose, and whether or not you can refuse to give one.

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Stenograph’s 80 years in business gets attention in Chicago newspaper

The Daily Herald posted a feature article on Sept. 17 about Stenograph, based in Chicago, Ill., and the company’s dominant presence in the shorthand industry. The article notes that the firm, which is a NCRA Corporate Sponsor, supports the NCRA A to Z™ Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program.

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Disaster Preparedness and Evacuation Tech Essentials

By Christine Phipps

Were you prepared for last year’s emergencies? Hurricanes Harvey and Irma may now be behind us for the most part, California has started to rebuild from their wildfires, and innumerable other areas have worked through dangerous weather conditions, and during that time many of us discovered how ready – or not – we were to deal with these impending crises.

A disaster tech kit that you can get ready in advance will help you be prepared in the event catastrophe strikes — be that rioting, terrorist threat, breakdown somewhere, or natural disaster.  Your mission in preparing your tech kit is to ensure that your basic needs are met if you’re forced to evacuate your home or leave a dwelling or abandon a vehicle. The kit should include nutrition, water, medical supplies, and some way to communicate with loved ones and stay up-to-date on crisis alerts. Of course, your smartphone is the number one piece of technology to help with the latter, but the following apps and gadgets are also essential for a bug-out bag should you ever need to cut and run.

Motorola Consumer Radios MT352R
Should phone networks get overloaded with cities full of people trying to reach each other, a long-range walkie-talkie set could help you connect with your loved ones. The Motorola MT352R walkie-talkies can work over a 2-mile range in an urban setting through buildings, 6 miles over water, and up to 35 miles if nothing is in the way. $74.99 at Amazon.

 

Kaito KA550 emergency radio
If phones, internet, and electricity are all down, you’ll be glad you have this hand-crank multifunction AM/FM and shortwave radio to get updates on breaking situations and access to the Emergency Alert System. It doubles as a portable lamp with a 5-LED reading light, a flashlight, and an SOS beacon mode. It can be charged by a NiMH rechargeable battery pack, 3 AA batteries (not included), hand-crank generator, solar panel, or AC/DC wall adapter/charger (not included), should you have access to power; the radio also has a USB port to charge other mobile devices when you’re on the move. $49.99 from Amazon.

Gerber Bear Grylls Fire Starter
“Society is three square meals away from complete anarchy” suggest researchers — but with the Gerber Bear Grylls Fire Starter, you can hold off hunger-fueled rioting by rubbing together a ferrocerium rod and metal striker to make a nice big meat- (or portobello)-grilling fire. It comes with a waterproof storage compartment for tinder, as well as an emergency whistle and a pocket survival booklet with instructions on attracting rescuers’ attention. $13.30 from Amazon.

 

GRAYL Ultralight Water Purifier and Bottle
If ‘they’ have gotten to the water supply, filtering your H20 will be crucial for survival until order is restored. Fill up the GRAYL with water from any fresh or tap water source, then push the purifier like a French press to remove 99.9999 percent of viruses and bacteria, and filter out particulates, chemicals and heavy metals. Bonus: It’s also handy for travelers who want to avoid the eco-impact of buying bottled water. $59.50 from Amazon.

 

ThermaCell Heated Insoles
In addition to the head, the feet are one of the greatest areas of heat loss in the body. Should a freak heavy rain or snowstorm come your way, these rechargeable heated insoles will keep your toes toasty, saving your energy for figuring out an escape plan. From $60.21 at Amazon.

 

 

Luci EMRG solar-powered light
You can’t overestimate the fundamental human need for light. In disaster scenarios, reliable, solar-powered and portable lighting like the Luci EMRG can reduce stress simply by providing illumination for your community to come together. The EMRG has long-lasting, solar-powered LEDs that can be used in four intensity settings, including flashing SOS alert. It’s also inflatable and collapsible, so you can pack several into your bug-out bag. $14.95 from Amazon.

 

VividLed rechargeable headlamp
If you have to brave a flooded cellar when the power’s out, this rechargeable headlamp keeps both your hands free for fussing with the fuse box. There are five light modes, including a strobe for getting attention and a red light, which helps you see your surroundings while keeping your eyes adjusted to the dark — handy to avoid feeling temporarily blinded when you look away from the lighted area. $12.97 (on sale from $29.99) from Amazon.

 

ThruNite TN4A LED Flashlight
A flashlight is an essential for any emergency kit, so pick a long-lasting LED one like the ThruNite TN4A, which has a lifespan of over 20 years. You can use it in one of five brightness settings, going up to a hyper-bright 1150 lumens with a range of up to 450 meters, or put it in strobe mode to attract attention. It’s also waterproof to 1.5 meters and impact resistant to 2 meters. $49.95 from Amazon.

 

Gold Armour Camping Lanterns
Brightest LED lantern for its size: Latest technology Chip-On-Board LED technology illuminates more area with more light than the commonly found 30 LED camping lanterns. Its light is also warmer in color than the competition’s 30 LED lanterns, eliminating that cold, harsh feel. The warm light also leaves your sleep rhythm intact, helping you to avoid the insomnia that other brands might cause. Dependable build: Each of our premium LED Camping Lanterns are hand-built with military-grade, water-resistant plastic — making them extra durable wherever you may be. The lantern is built for both the indoors and outdoors. Advanced collapsible design: Superior design and construction allows our lantern to be super lightweight and compact. It is also collapsible with a simple push. $35.99 on Amazon.

Portable battery pack
Murphy’s law dictates that when you need your smartphone most, its battery will be nearly empty. Sidestep this by keeping a charged-up portable battery pack in your bug-out bag, and you’ll be good for at least 72 hours. We like the Anker PowerCore, which can fast-charge an iPhone 7 or Galaxy S8 around three times from its 10000mAh battery. Or if you need more power, try the three-USB RavPower Portable Charger, whose 22000mAh, can hold about a week’s worth of power (or charge an iPhone eight times). Anker PowerCore $25.99 (currently on sale from $49.99) from Amazon. RavPower Portable Charger $39.99 (currently on sale from $109.99) from Amazon.

Birksun solar backpacks
Get maximum use out of your bug-out bag itself by using a solar-powered, charge-packing backpack. Bags in the Birksun range cannot only store all of the above survival essentials, but also charge up your gadgets so you can access critical updates and communicate with others. Every two minutes of sunlight provides enough energy to charge your phone battery another 1 percent. The waterproof, scratch-resistant solar panel can juice up your tech for up to 20 years, with a 3000mAh battery that stores around one full charge for a new-ish smartphone. When you get back to civilization and power sockets, you can also charge the bag from the mains. From $109 at Birksun or from $99 on Amazon.

For your smartphone

First Aid app by American Red Cross
This app has step-by-step advice for everyday first aid for issues from asthma attacks to strains and sprains, as well as instructions on handling out-of-the-ordinary scenarios such as hazardous chemicals. It’s integrated with 911, so you can call emergency services directly from the app. It also has safety tips for dealing with extreme weather, from severe cold to hurricanes and tornadoes, and includes addresses of the nearest hospitals. And in case of a power loss or evacuation off-grid, all this content is available offline. Free, Android, iOS.

Life360 Family Location app
In the event of a disaster, it can be a vast relief just to know where your family members are. Get your loved ones to download this app, and you’ll be able to view their location on a map — either whenever they make it available or continuously if they so allow. You can add emergency contacts to alert others on behalf of anyone in your family group, or press a panic button in the app to alert each member of a group that you’re in trouble. Other handy features include the ability to save “Places” so you can be notified when one of your group arrives at home, school, or another designated location. The paid-for Plus service lets you save unlimited places, while the Driver Protect add-on can detect a car accident, then call for an ambulance, and raise the alarm within the app. Free, Android, iOS; from $2.99/month for Plus; $4.99/month for Driver Protect.

bSafe
An app designed for personal safety can be well-suited for emergency use. bSafe lets out an audible alarm that can aid in rescue attempts and will also broadcast video of your surroundings, along with your GPS location. Outside of emergency situations, the Follow Me Timer can automatically send an SOS message to your chosen contacts if you don’t check in before a preset time — handy for staying safe if traveling alone. To receive this info, however, friends and family also need to download the app.

 

Dropbox
Dropbox truly is the easiest way to back up your entire life, from court reporting note and wav files to pictures of generations of family members.  This was probably the number one thing I heard during these disasters: massive scanning going on and putting pictures into Ziplocs. Endeavor to get all those pictures scanned. (Perhaps the court reporting firm you work with would work out a financial arrangement to have their production department perform the scanning for you.) Make sure you have your most important documents that you keep in a safe like birth certificates, estate planning documents, and insurance policies scanned to a folder stored on Dropbox also.  Be sure to download the app to your phone so that you can easily access the documents as well.

As we begin hurricane season, take advance precautions while there are no threats to protect your loved ones and the irreplaceable photos and documents.

Christine Phipps, RPR, is CEO of Phipps Reporting in North Palm Beach, Fla., and Vice President of the NCRA Board of Directors.

Statement from the NCRA CEO: Sinclair Broadcast Group

By Marcia Ferranto

NCRA exists to represent, protect, and advocate for the stenographic professions of court reporting and captioning. Here at NCRA, everything we do, everything we fight for, and the very reason we fight are founded by the core belief that stenography is the most effective and efficient means of capturing the spoken word, the best way of providing speech-to-text services in any forum, and the only way to satisfy the needs and protect the integrity of the institutions and consumers who rely on it. This belief has been borne out by the facts time and time again: Stenographic court reporting and captioning is faster, more accurate, and more dependable than artificial intelligence-based alternatives and other alternatives solely based on technology, and, in addition, it is largely preferred by the consumers of these services. Stenographic court reporting is the backbone of the American court system, and stenographic captioning is an invaluable accessibility service to people who are deaf or who have hearing loss.

Recently, Sinclair Broadcast Group has made public their decision to abandon the use of stenographic captions in favor of the cost-cutting measure of implementing the automatic speech recognition (ASR) platform using IBM Watson. This decision is likely to impact hundreds of local news stations and affect millions of captioning consumers and providers. In a message to the public, IBM claims that Watson makes live programming “more accessible to local viewers, including the Deaf community, senior citizens, and anyone experiencing hearing loss.” We strongly disagree with the decision to abandon the human element of captioning in favor of automation, which invariably produces subpar captioning and will negatively affect accessibility to local news for millions of Americans.

NCRA’s Government Relations Department and Captioning Regulatory Policy Committee, our own member-formed Federal Communications Commission (FCC) watchdog, are working hard to address this issue, to register our concerns with the FCC, and to implore them to uphold important captioning quality standards in light of this new transition to ASR captioning.

But the FCC needs to hear from you, too!

  1. Complain online here about subpar captions.
  2. Sign our petition and tell Sinclair you want live captioners.
  3. If you have evidence of captioning failures, photos or videos of terrible captioning, we want to see it. You can send them to Matt Barusch, NCRA’s Government Relations Manager.

With your help, together we can ensure that live programming utilizes the best captioning that can be offered: Captioning by a live, trained, and certified captioner.

Marcia Ferranto is CEO and Executive Director of the National Court Reporters Association. 

O’Brien & Levine earns top ratings for second consecutive year

O’Brien & Levine was voted the #1 best court reporting and video deposition company for the second consecutive year by readers of the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly.

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California ruling on independent contractor v. employee status has implications for court reporters and firms

By Matthew Barusch

Recently, the California Supreme Court handed down a decision in the case Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court that will make it more difficult for employers to classify workers as independent contractors. This case established an “ABC test” for employers, creating a new standard in California that must be successfully applied for a worker to be classified as an independent contractor. Under the test, a worker is only properly considered an independent contractor if:

(A) They are “free from the control and direction” of the company that hired them when they perform their work.

(B) The work they perform falls “outside the usual course” of the hiring company’s business.

(C) They have their own independent business or trade beyond the job for which they were hired.

This ruling was opposed by the California business community, which is now lobbying the California Legislature to suspend the court ruling and address this issue. Organized labor claims this as a win for workers in an economic environment not friendly to labor. Regardless of the arguments of proponent and opponents of this ruling, it has established completely new legal precedent in California and could take years of litigation to sort through all the implications for many California workers, including professional court reporters and the firms that work with them.

A NATIONAL ISSUE

While this decision sent shock waves throughout California, the ABC test is not a new phenomenon in the states. New Jersey is another state that has instituted an ABC test to determine employment status. In 2010, New Jersey passed a law that exempted court reporters from being classified as employees. But in the wake of the debate around misclassification, this law is being challenged. As a result, freelance firms in the state of New Jersey are being targeted with audits in order to change employment status of court reporters. In May 2018, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed an executive order to create a task force to investigate employers who used independent contractors on the grounds that misclassification allows employers to avoid paying for employees’ taxes and benefits.

This issue is clearly picking up steam in the states. The ruling in the Dynamex case further establishes a precedent in the form of the ABC test that could conceivably be adopted by states examining misclassification.

IMPLICATIONS FOR REPORTERS AND FIRMS

So what would happen if you, as an independent contractor, were eventually to be reclassified as an employee of your firm? How would your compensation change? And why would anyone try to do that?

As the Dynamex case is the most recent example of this issue being addressed in the states, let’s use this as an example. Freelance reporters and court reporting firms in California must now examine their business relationships with each other and assess whether or not they meet the criteria set out by the ABC test. Court reporting firms and freelancers may find themselves having less flexibility in deciding who, when, and even where they want to work. This ruling may even create implications for reporters who contract with the California courts, as some of them have moved to changed their status to work on an as-necessary basis.

Another important issue that arises out of this debate is how or whether court reporters will be compensated for their transcripts. Transcripts take time to produce and can be a significant portion of a freelancer’s income. This has been seen as one of the motivating factors of opposition behind reclassification. Transcript income can be dubbed as ‘outside income’ by court administration; and because of their classification as independent contractors, court reporters are exempt from policies that prevent employees from doing work for ‘outside income’ during office hours. By being reclassified as an employee, freelancers may be prevented from working on transcripts during office hours, which, of course, is a labor-intensive and time-consuming process.

While no federal policy currently addresses this issue for freelancers, federal legislation addresses this issue for official court reporters as employees of the federal government. In 1995, Congress passed exemptions to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) called the Court Reporter Fair Labor Amendments Act that created an exemption from FLSA requirements for official court reporters for time spent on transcript preparation. This law was meant to allow officials to keep their transcript income by giving up overtime if those extra hours were used on transcript preparation. Unfortunately, this law does not govern the freelance sector. The language was very specific and pertained only to official court reporters. However, some states continue to argue that misclassification indeed violates federal law. In May 2018, the same month New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy created his task force, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal joined 11 other state Attorneys General in a legal brief urging the National Labor Relations Board to rule that misclassification violates federal labor laws.

For now, it is unclear how this will play out in the federal or state governments. Misclassification can change the way that reporters are compensated for their work, which can threaten a reporter’s livelihood. At the end of the day, it should be up to you, the court reporter, and the firms you do business with as to which situation best suits your need. The National Court Reporters Association is committed to supporting our members’ freedom to decide what business relationship they wish to pursue, based on their own assessment of what is most suitable for their situation. Efforts to address misclassification may be well-intentioned but may have unintended consequences for the court reporting profession that could see court reporters working less and being paid less for their work.

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

This material is intended  for general information purposes only and should not be considered as if it were legal advice.

NCRA member earns grant to teach workshops

Kathy Cortopassi

NCRA member Kathy Cortopassi, RMR, CRR, a captioner, court reporter, and firm owner from Chester, S.C., recently received a $500 marketing grant from her local chamber of commerce, Small Business Development Center, and the local technical college. The grant will fund a series of workshops to introduce the public to the court reporting and captioning professions using the NCRA A to ZTM Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program.

Cortopassi’s firm, Voice to Print Captioning, was one of three local firms to win a $500 grant. To be eligible to apply for the funding, Cortopassi participated in a special series entitled “Strengthening Your Business Foundation,” a program created by the Small Business Development Center based at Winthrop University, York Technical College Chester Center, and the Chester County Chamber of Commerce. She and a number of other local business owners committed to attending evening classes that spanned five months and that covered topics such as market research, human resources best practices, marketing, accounting, and financing one’s business. The courses were taught by experts in their related fields. In addition to earning a certificate of completion of the course, participants that completed the series were able to apply for one of three grants offered.

Cortopassi cited in her grant application that there is a growing need for professionals in the court reporting and captioning fields and that she would use the grant money to help support workshops in the area to recruit potential students to the career.

“Through this grant, we can have a county-wide impact. I can create a buzz about the profession and the need for more professionals by using this money,” said Cortopassi, who was a court reporter for 10 years before becoming a captioner some 25 years ago. She re-entered the freelance court reporting field a year ago. Cortopassi said she became involved with the local chamber of commerce because it was a good way to meet people in the business community.

“I recently pitched the idea of offering court reporting and captioning workshops to the economic development director of our city, and he would very much like me to open a school. We plan to start with offering an NCRA A to Z Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program first,” she added.

Cortopassi said that her firm, Voice to Print Captioning, is partnering with Every Word, Inc., a South Carolina-based court reporting firm, to host a meet-and-greet event with prospective reporting students on Sept. 29 in Rock Hill, S.C. Part of the grant’s marketing funds will be used to attract students to the event so they can meet court reporters from around the state and ask questions about the profession and be encouraged to join the NCRA A to Z program.

In addition, Every Word’s reporters are being encouraged to bring the steno machines they no longer use to donate to the NCRA A to Z Program, Cortopassi noted.

For more information about the meet-and-greet or to donate an unused machine to the program, please contact Kathy Cortopassi at kathycort@voicetoprint.onmicrosoft.com or at 866-523-5359.

Lexitas included in Inc. magazine’s Top 5000

Lexitas, a legal services firm based in Houston, Texas, and an NCRA Corporate Partner, was ranked 712 in Inc. magazine’s 5,000 fastest growing companies in America. It is the fourth consecutive time the company has been included in the magazine’s top 5000 list. In 2017, the company was ranked 1,073 on the list.

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