Longtime court reporter looks back on time spent in historical building

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyThe Tulsa Business & Legal News posted an article on Dec. 5 that features former NCRA member Glenn Dorrough, a retired U.S. District Court Northern District of Oklahoma court reporter, reflecting on a 30-year career.

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Changes to Retired Status go into effect Jan. 1

During the NCRA Business Meeting, NCRA members voted to approve changes to the membership categories for retired members. The changes go into effect Jan. 1, 2018.

NCRA’s past membership structure included a membership category for Retired Lifetime Member, which allowed those who had been members for 30 consecutive years and who no longer practice as verbatim stenographic reporters to become Retired Lifetime Members and no longer pay dues. This membership category has been growing every year and increasing faster than the Association is gaining new members. The financial impact for the Association is unsustainable.

To come up with alternatives, the Board of Directors formed a Retired Member Task Force to evaluate the current structure and make recommendations. The Task Force recommended two changes to the current category: The first is to clarify the definition of a retired member within the Bylaws, and the second is to sunset the current Retired Lifetime Member category and replace it with a fee-based membership.

The changes in Retired Member status will not affect current Retired Lifetime Members. NCRA will continue to honor the agreement with Retired Lifetime Members and not require them to pay dues.

Effective Jan. 1, to claim retired status, members must be truly retired and no longer derive any income from the profession. In addition, Retired Members will pay dues at half the rate of Participating or Registered Members. This is a best and current practice among many associations. This will shore up some of the financial losses sustained from covering free memberships for a large group of members for an extended period of time.

Jim Woitalla’s legacy continues with student scholarships

By Jennifer Sati

As we all cherish our memories of Jim Woitalla and relish every single moment we spent with him, his legacy continues through his scholarships for judicial reporting students at Anoka Technical College in Anoka, Minn.

Callie Sajdera, Anoka Tech student, and Peter Gravett, Anoka Tech Foundation director

Three $1,000 scholarships were awarded this past summer semester to students. All three of the recipients had Jim as their technology instructor, which made the award all the more special. The recipients were Jennifer Brama, who has since graduated; Callie Sajdera, a 200 wpm student; and Jamie Ward, a 180 wpm student.

The scholarships were presented on Oct. 5 at the Anoka Technical College fall scholarship dinner and ceremony. It was a privilege and blessing to have Jim’s mother and two of his sisters attend the scholarship ceremony and be a part of awarding the very first Woitalla scholarships. Callie Sajdera, the student speaker at the foundation ceremony, shared heartfelt stories of Jim as her instructor.

The judicial reporting program would like to thank everyone who has generously donated toward Jim Woitalla’s scholarship fund. Please know that the students are very appreciative of the thoughtfulness of others and that the money has made a difference in their education. We at Anoka Tech will keep Jim’s passion for this amazing profession thriving by continuing to graduate students who share his same passion and enthusiasm for technology and excellence.

Court reporting students Callie Sajdera (far left) and Jamie Ward (far right) pose with members of Jim Woitalla’s family

Since the inception of the scholarship fund, a total of $8,500 has been donated. We are hopeful we can keep Jim’s scholarship fund active with continued donations and use the funds to award two $1,000 scholarships annually. The family discerningly suggested that more funds be given out this first year or two so that students who learned from Jim could receive the most benefit.

Jim was loved and respected by countless reporters and captioners around the country, and it is a great privilege to be able to continue to share his legacy with students, our future! Learn more about how to get involved with the Anoka Tech Foundation and the “Judicial Reporting Program/Woitalla Scholarship Fund.”

Jennifer Sati, RMR, CRR, CRC, CRI, is a captioner and an instructor at Anoka Tech. She is also on NCRA’s Board of Directors. She can be reached at jsati@anokatech.edu.

Recognize a peer’s dedication with a 2018 Fellows nomination

Members of the 2017 class of Fellows of the Academy of Professional Reporters was recognized at the 2017 Convention & Expo. Nominations for 2018 Fellows are due Dec. 31.

NCRA’s Council of the Academy of Professional Reporters (CAPR) is seeking nominations for its Fellows of the Academy of Professional Reporters (FAPR). The deadline to nominate a candidate is Dec. 31.

Membership in the Academy symbolizes excellence among NCRA members. The designation of FAPR represents an individual’s dedication to the court reporting and captioning professions and expresses the highest level of professional ethics.

“When I received the FAPR, it was a complete surprise, but the icing on the cake was that my wife, Mary, was also made a Fellow at the same time. It caused us to reflect on our contribution to the profession and, more than that, the realization that our peers recognized our contribution as well,” said Kevin Daniel, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, who was inducted into the Academy in 2012.

“NCRA members should view the nomination process as an opportunity to recognize some overachieving, non-Board members who have contributed to the profession in many different ways, from serving on committees to promoting court reporting and captioning in mainstream and social media,” added Daniel, a freelance court reporter from Las Vegas, Nev.

To be nominated for membership in the Academy, candidates must be a Registered Member of NCRA with at least 10 years of professional experience and have attained distinction as measured by performance in at least three of the five performance categories. This performance could include publication of important papers, creative contributions, service on committees or boards, teaching, and more.

“By bestowing the FAPR on a colleague, you not only recognize the past contributions of your fellow member, but you also often inspire them to continue and even redouble their commitment to the profession,” Daniel added.

To nominate an individual, view the full criteria and download a nomination form at NCRA.org/Fellows. For more information, contact Cynthia Bruce Andrews at candrews@ncra.org.

Get insight from top business leaders at the 2018 NCRA Firm Owners Executive Conference


Time is running out to save on registration for the 2018 NCRA Firm Owners Executive Conference in St. Pete Beach, Fla. After Dec. 15, there is a $100 late fee on registration.

This business-focused event promises attendees the opportunity to connect, learn, and energize when they network and participate in invigorating and motivating sessions. The event is from Jan. 28-30 at the luxurious Don Cesar hotel.

The NCRA Firm Owners Executive Conference is the foremost event dedicated to owners of firms of all sizes — including freelancers — to help them increase their business savvy, make new connections, and take home the latest in best practices and strategies for ensuring the continued success of their firms.

“The biggest benefit for me is the opportunity to meet and get to know the respected firm owners from across the country and to see how they address and deal with the same business issues I face every day. Getting to know the colleagues and forging lasting relationships is very special as well,” said Rick Levy, RPR, a freelancer and owner of First Choice Reporting & Video in Miami, Fla. Levy has attended Firm Owners almost every year since 2012. “Networking with the firm owners allows me to feel more comfortable when I must find affiliates to refer my clients to for out of state depositions,” he added.

The 2018 agenda features an array of innovative, interactive, and inspiring sessions led by some of the best leaders in today’s business world. 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 business to determine exactly where their strengths and weaknesses are. The workshop will also help participants create a focused plan for how to succeed at a higher level in the marketplace. To learn more about Spence, view his video.

For more than 22 years, Spence has traveled worldwide to help people and businesses be more successful. He is the author of five books and co-author of several more, a business consultant, workshop facilitator, and executive coach with a client list that includes numerous Fortune 500 firms. His areas of expertise include leadership, high-performance teams, managing change, organizational culture, consultative selling, strategic planning, strategy execution, and the future of business.

He has also been recognized as one of the Top 100 Small Business Influencers in America, one of the Top 50 Small Business Experts in America, and one of the top 500 Leadership Development Experts in the World. In addition, the American Management Association named him one of America’s Top 50 Leaders to Watch. He has been a guest lecturer at more than 90 colleges and universities, including MIT, Stanford, Cornell, and the Wharton School of Business.

Building on John Spence’s sessions on developing business excellence and strategic planning, Chris Hearing and Greg Laubach will present a session entitled “Managing to Maximize Business Value.” This interactive 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. Hearing has 30 years of experience as an executive leader, during which he has helped organizations successfully face complex market challenges head-on by identifying and implementing opportunities for revenue growth and operational improvements. Laubach has experience in both the legal and corporate sector. A skilled negotiator and deal closer, Laubach has sourced, negotiated, and closed countless acquisitions, joint ventures, and other business relationships as platforms for growth.

SEO strategist, internet marketing educator, and owner of the Tampa SEO Training Academy, Steve Scott is also scheduled to 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 opportunities are also scheduled including the “Build-It, Mix-It, Who Will Win It” opening event followed by a reception and dinner on Jan. 28. Also on the agenda are a networking power half hour, free time during lunch, and a closing reception. Attendees will also enjoy education events during breakfast sessions and a special welcome and meet-and-greet with NCRA’s new CEO and Executive Director Marcia Ferranto.

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. “This coming year, I hope to take away ideas on what new technologies other firms are using and how they are dealing with the court reporter shortage across the country,” said Levy.

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, no matter what size your company may be. Don’t miss your chance to register and save by Dec. 15. Special hotel rates for the event will also expire on Jan. 5, 2018.

What to provide the court reporter for hearings or a trial

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyA Nov. 28 post on JD Supra by Kramm Court Reporting provides a list of the documents that an attorney should give to a reporter before a hearing or trial. The post explains that the reporter will use the information to create a caption and appearance page as well as build a steno dictionary.

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2018 nominations sought; deadlines near

Nominations are now being accepted for the Fellows of the Academy of Professional Reporters, the NCRA Board of Directors, and the Distinguished Service Award. Now is the perfect time to step up and nominate yourself or a colleague to serve or be recognized for his or her commitment to the profession and to NCRA.

Fellows of the Academy of Professional Reporters

Members of the 2017 class of Fellows of the Academy of Professional Reporters was recognized at the 2017 Convention & Expo. Nominations for 2018 Fellows are due Dec. 31.

NCRA’s Council of the Academy of Professional Reporters is seeking nominations for its Fellows of the Academy of Professional Reporters (FAPR). The deadline to nominate a candidate is Dec. 31.

Membership in the Academy symbolizes excellence among NCRA members. The designation of FAPR represents an individual’s dedication to the court reporting and captioning professions and expresses the highest level of professional ethics. Candidates must have been actively reporting for at least 10 years and have attained distinction as measured by performance. This performance could include publication of important papers, creative contributions, service on committees or boards, teaching, and more.

“It is an honor to carry the distinction as a Fellow in my profession’s national association. Much of the time and energy devoted to my beloved profession and association has been behind the scenes; when I learned I had been awarded the Fellow, it let me know that my hard work and dedication had been not only noticed but appreciated,” said Sarah Nageotte, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, an official court reporter from Jefferson, Ohio. Nageotte was inducted as a Fellow in 2017.

“There’s a quote that says, ‘Volunteers are not paid — not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless.’ Taking the time to recognize a colleague through a nomination is one way to say thank you for always giving for the betterment of all. If you don’t nominate someone deserving, who will?” added Nageotte, who is also an NCRA Past President.

To nominate an individual, view the full criteria and download a nomination form at NCRA.org/Fellows. For more information, contact Cynthia Bruce Andrews at candrews@ncra.org.

Board of Directors

Serving on the Board of Directors is an excellent opportunity to use your leadership skills to help advance the premier organization that continues to empower the court reporting profession. As a Director, you will serve with others as fiduciaries to steer the organization towards a sustainable future by adopting sound, ethical, and legal governance and financial management policies as well as by making sure NCRA has adequate resources to advance its mission.

The 2017-2018 NCRA Board of Directors

“After serving on NCRA committees and task forces, observing and respecting NCRA’s leaders, as well as holding several offices with my state association, I decided to challenge myself and seek a position on NCRA’s Board,” said R. Douglas Friend, FAPR, RDR, CRR, a freelance reporter an agency owner from Vancouver, Wash., and a Past President of NCRA.

“A joy of serving on the NCRA Board is attending state conventions and making presentations. Besides meeting reporters who became friends around North America, I also gathered confidence in public speaking. As a firm owner, this helped in speaking to groups of attorneys, legal assistants, and paralegals,” added Friend.

Nominations and recommendations can be submitted to boardnominations@ncra.org by Jan. 19, 2018. As a courtesy, please contact your candidate directly prior to submitting his or her name.

Anyone interested in seeking future Board service can attend a no-obligation orientation webinar on Jan. 10 at 8 p.m. ET. This webinar will help you gain a better understanding of the process and expectations of serving on the Board. For more information about the orientation, contact lbutler@ncra.org.

Distinguished Service Award

Nancy Varallo recognized with NCRA Distinguished Service Award

Nancy Varallo recognized with the 2017 NCRA Distinguished Service Award

NCRA’s Distinguished Service Award is often viewed as the pinnacle of a member’s career. It recognizes the distinguished work and service by an individual member for the benefit of the court reporting profession, including service to NCRA as a member, a committee member, a director, or an officer of the Association. Other displays of distinguished work include contributing to the JCR or service at a state court reporters association or in the field of public relations or public affairs. Award winners are recognized at the NCRA Convention & Expo.

“In 2015, at the NCRA Convention & Expo in New York City, I was humbled that I had been nominated and had been chosen to receive the DSA,” said Sandy VanderPol, FAPR, RMR, CRR, a freelancer and firm owner from Lotus, Calif.

“This award was such an honor, and I will always remember the ceremony and the many emotions that passed over me when my name was called. I tell you this because I want each of you to take the time to reflect upon what this award means to the recipient. Nominate a person you consider worthy, and be proud that you have been a part of the process,” she added.

Voting members of NCRA or of recognized court reporting associations may submit nominations through an online form, by email to dsa@ncra.org, or by mail to NCRA, Attn: DSA, 12030 Sunrise Valley Dr., Reston, VA 20191. Nominations must include information supporting why the nominee should be considered. DSA candidates cannot be an active member of the DSA Committee or the NCRA Board of Directors. The deadline to nominate a member for NCRA’s 56th Distinguished Service Award is Feb. 9.

Get organized – Time saving tips for your firm

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyAn Oct. 25 blog post from Depo International focuses on time-saving tips for business owners, including subtracting rather than adding to the daily to-do list, keeping things simple, and prioritizing.

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From my heart: It is a privilege to serve you!

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyIn a Nov. 28 post on the Paradigm Reporting blog, Jan Ballman, FAPR, RPR, CMRS, reflects on how a trip with fellow firm owner Lisa DiMonte, RDR, CMRS, provided lessons on “overdelivering on high expectations.”

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MANAGING: Inspiring your team

By Judy Stevens

If any of you have heard Anissa R. Nierenberger, RPR, CRR, CRC, CRI, speak at either a state or national conference, you know the value in her wisdom and the easy manner in which she delivers that wisdom. Years ago, I invited her to speak at a Colorado Court Reporters Association symposium, and even then I was impressed by the way she captivated the audience of freelance and official court reporters when she has never, herself, edited and finalized a deposition or trial transcript. However, the techniques and tips of shorter and cleaner writing are, indeed, the same as those she’s mastered in her CART career. After having watched her work her magic in that room, I knew I had to reach out to her when I wanted to provide additional training to my reporting staff.

Before doing that, though, I talked to a few reporting firm owners with whom I’m associated and told them about my desire to provide additional training in-house to my employee reporters. I was told by one that (1) it wasn’t my responsibility to provide training to them; it was their own responsibility to get their own training, and (2) no one would come to training on a Saturday that wasn’t mandatory.

With those viewpoints, which were almost 180 degrees opposing to mine, I called Anissa. “Anissa,” I asked, “what would you think about offering your ‘Tackle Transcript Turmoil’ program to my staff on a Saturday via teleconference?” We discussed many of the logistics then set a date. I sent out an e-blast to my staff and almost immediately had 13 people who RSVP’d. All of them showed up on Sat., June 17, to hear Anissa and to improve their writing style so transcript preparation became easier and more streamlined through better dictionary entries.

Now, these aren’t new reporters. Some of these reporters have been with my firm for five or more years, and some have been reporting for more than 15 years. They each learned something through the training, all stayed after the conference was over to discuss ways to make highly functional new dictionary entries based on their individual software programs, and they bonded with each other on a Saturday morning. Now, does it really get any better than that?

My point in sharing this information is to suggest that you look outside the box for assisting your staff. Gather clues on what they might need from conversations with them. I noticed that one reporter was taking one day off for every one-day assignment so she could edit that assignment. One day to edit one day? Having been a reporter, I knew that there had to be ways to assist her, short of getting her a scopist, so that she didn’t spend that much time on editing. Another reporter wasn’t using locking suffixes and prefixes to her advantage, and her rough drafts had words which, although they should be readable by most attorneys, had things like in-form-ation because she hadn’t appropriately entered each of those syllables in her dictionary. Yes, they tranned correctly, but didn’t attach correctly to make the appropriate and complete word. These were two women who I recognized immediately could benefit from Anissa’s dictionary wizardry!

Don’t think that it’s the reporter’s sole responsibility to get additional training. They don’t know what they don’t know. This was more in-depth than their previous training with their software had been and also more personalized. Anissa asked them to ask questions — specific questions to their situation — and then answered them one by one. Yes, it is their responsibility to get the training they need, but it’s your job to listen to them and to hear what’s keeping them from absolutely loving what they do. If that one thing happens to be editing, then pick up the phone and call Anissa or whoever else you might think might benefit them. Talk with your team, and you might be totally surprised at how willing they are to learn if you’re willing to make it happen for them.

What it cost me was a catered breakfast, orange juice and champagne (for mimosas, of course), a very reasonable fee for Anissa’s time, and access through our video-conferencing system. What it brought me was a team of reporters who learned something from Anissa and from each other, who might just have cleaner strokes in their files, and who might, just might, quit spending so much time editing. They shared ideas and thoughts, exchanged some phone numbers, and discussed Facebook and additional “groups” for software-specific information.

I love and value the closeness within our team. I wish all the reporters could have attended, but it was a Saturday, and it was the middle of June –one of those amazingly beautiful days that can happen in Denver.

I also wish more firm owners felt connected to their staff on a one-on-one basis to the point that they hear their transcript struggles and they feel their writing pain. I often can see it on their faces after a job. When they left this 1.5-hour training, I saw smiles and laughter and heard comments about spending the rest of that afternoon making some of the changes to their dictionaries. Now, tell me. What is that worth to you as a firm owner? Step up and be their leader.

Judy Stevens RPR, CMRS, CPE, owns Stevens-Koenig Reporting in Denver, Colo. She can be reached at Judy@skreporting.com.