Watch for information about voting

On Thursday, Aug. 2, all eligible voting NCRA members will have the ability to vote online for the proposed Constitution & Bylaws amendments.

The online vote will start within two hours of the end of the Annual Business Meeting and will be open for 12 hours. The Annual Business Meeting will begin at 8:30 a.m. CT (9:30 ET).

When voting begins, an email will be sent to all eligible voting members for whom NCRA has a valid address. Members will be sent a link to a secure voting website. The email gives detailed instructions on how to log in to the system to cast a vote.

Members can vote on their phones, tablets, or computers.

NCRA headquarters hosts TAC Committee meeting

Members of NCRA’s Test Advisory Committee (TAC) met at the Association’s headquarters in Reston, Va., April 6-8 to vet and approve skills exams for the RPR, RMR, CRR, and CRC. They wrote exams from 8:30-5:30 Friday and Saturday and 9-1 on Sunday, before taking time to view area cherry trees and their blossoms, which were in full bloom.

A total of 87 tests were submitted for review by the Skills Committee and TAC over the weekend, resulting in 71 tests being written and 62 being approved.

Test Advisory Committee

The Skills Test Writing Committee writes content for the RPR, RMR, CRR, and CRC exams, while TAC writes and selects the skills tests for the same certifications. TAC also sets the standards for the RPR and RDR Written Knowledge Tests.

Members of TAC who wrote perfect tests were also recognized at the meeting with a Shirley Award. The award was named for Shirley Hall, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, CRI, CPE, an official court reporter from Pittsburgh Pa., and a former TAC member, who commonly wrote perfect tests. Tests are considered perfect when the word count and syllabic density are flawless, and they are written smoothly by the test taker.

Wade Garner receives Shirley Award from Chris Willette

The following members were recognized with a Shirley Award at the April meeting:

  • TAC Co-chair Wade S. Garner, RPR, CPE, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • Anne M. Bowline RMR, CRR, Casper, Wyo., a member of the Skills Content Writing Committee
  • Russell Page, Jr., Washington, D.C., a member of the Skills Content Writing Committee
  • Lisa Reed Wiesman, RDR, CRR, CRC, Fairfield, Ohio, a member of the Skills Content Writing Committee

Other members from TAC who attended the April meeting were:

  • Co-chair Diane L. Sonntag, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, CPE, Oro Valley, Ariz.
  • Robin Cooksey, RMR, Houston, Texas
  • Holly Kapacinskas, RPR, CRR, Debary, Fla.
  • Donna J. Karoscik, RDR, CRR, CRC, Pickerington, Ohio
  • Deborah A. Kriegshauser, FAPR, RMR, CRR, CLVS, St. Louis, Mo.
  • Karyn D. Menck, RDR, CRR, CRC, Nashville, Tenn.
  • Janice Plomp, RDR, CRR, CRC, CRI, St. Albert, Alberta, Canada
  • Kelli Ann Willis, RPR, CRR, Miami, Fla.
  • NCRA President Christine J. Willette, RDR, CRR, CRC, Wausau, Wis., who serves as TAC’s Board liaison.
  • TAC member Rhonda Hall Breuwet, RDR, CRR, Lakeland, Fla., was unable to attend.

CAPTIONING: Seven tips for surviving tornado season

Carol Studenmund, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC

By Carol Studenmund

It’s Tornado Season 2018. Many live captioners live and work in Tornado Alley. People who live in this part of the country know where to go and what to do when the bad weather starts. We should all plan ahead and be ready to work during unstable conditions. You may not get a tornado, but you may experience severe hail or thunderstorms that could interfere with your ability to work. Here are seven things you can do to be ready for whatever Mother Nature throws your way this time of year.

  1. The most important thing you can do is to plan ahead. Don’t wait for the sirens to go off before you figure out you need to run. And if you need to run for safety, run!
  2. Track your weather. Don’t be caught off guard by a storm that’s been headed your way for a few hours or even a few days.
  3. If your employer or the company for whom you’re captioning has a coordinator on duty, let that person know you may become indisposed due to weather as soon as you know. Give them the benefit of a heads up.
  4. If you’re working for your own clients, have an alternate captioner you can call on short notice. Let that person know you might need some help as soon as you see those radar screens lighting up on your weather channel.
  5. It takes really bad weather to knock out telephone land lines. Keep an analog phone handy for your land line, one that does not need electricity to work. Often, land lines will continue to work even if the electricity goes down or your cell phones aren’t working.
  6. Have an uninterrupted power supply on all your equipment – all of it, including digital phones and your router. Test all your equipment in advance, once a year, say, in February. Make sure you’re ready for unstable weather.
  7. Get a hotspot or mifi and keep it charged so you can stay connected to the internet in case your power goes out. Between your hotspot and your battery backup, you may be able to keep working just long enough to get someone to take your show for you.

Stay safe this year! If you plan ahead, you will be well prepared when the storms hit.

 

Carol Studenmund, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, is Owner/President of LNS Captioning in Portland, Ore. She is Co-Chair of NCRA’s Certified Realtime Captioner (CRC) Certification Committee and is a member of the NCRA Nominating Committee. She can be reached at cstudenmund@LNSCaptioning.com.

How to pick the best court reporting services for your clients’ depositions

Newswire.net posted an article on May 19 that offers tips for picking the best court reporting firm for a client’s deposition.

Read more.

Exploring alternatives to the legal life

An article posted May 15 in The Daily Campus, the student newspaper of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, notes that careers in court reporting and as a legal videographer offer two viable options for someone interested in entering the legal profession. The article cites NCRA as a resource to learn more.

Read more.

Alaris reopens downtown St. Louis office

In a press release issued May 14, Alaris Litigation announced the grand reopening of their office located at 711 N. 11th Street in St. Louis, Mo., to celebrate a complete renovation and remodeling of the space.

Read more.

Hit me with your best webinar

Since hitting the scene in the mid-1990s the popularity of webinars to share information has defied all communications trends. Their use has more than rapidly grown, thanks to the platform’s ability to allow presenters a cost-effective mode to reach large and specific groups of online viewers from a single location and offers participants the ability to interact with presenters.

Erminia Uviedo, RDR, CRR

NCRA offers a variety of both live and recorded webinars that members can use to earn continuing education units. But it’s not just the participants who benefit from the value of webinars; the presenters do as well.

“I love webinars,” says Erminia Uviedo, RDR, CRR, a freelance court reporter from San Antonio, Texas, who was tapped by NCRA to present in a webinar about promoting and recruiting for the court reporting and captioning professions. “I think they are so informative and educational. Court reporters’ and captioners’ schedules are so hectic that it is sometimes hard to get away to a convention. Webinars make a very convenient and flexible way to educate and earn continuing education credits,” Uviedo said.

Steve Lubetkin, CLVS

Steve Lubetkin, CLVS, managing partner of Lubetkin Media Companies in Cherry Hill, N.J., said he presented his first webinar for NCRA after a conversation with staff when he finished his CLVS practical test. The conversation, he said, was about how highly he thought of the program. Since then, he has produced and hosted three webinars for NCRA.

“I enjoy being able to share some of the practical experience I’ve gained producing video and managing my business. I’m proud of some of the tricks I’ve learned to streamline the work, and it’s rewarding to have peers say they appreciate the ideas as well,” Lubetkin said.

Uviedo agreed. “Lending your expertise to other reporters is one of the greatest givebacks you can contribute to the profession.  Many of us are self-employed and do not have an employer to guide and/or train us. Training and guidance via webinar is an excellent way to educate our professionals,” said the 23-year veteran of court reporting.

According to Lubetkin, depending on the topic, preparing and creating a webinar can take some work on the presenter’s part. “For my webinar on the deposition audio chain, I think I spent two or three hours shooting the b-roll I used to illustrate part of the one-hour program. For the others, I spent several hours each on screen shots and display materials,” he noted.

Uviedo encourages others to volunteer to host webinars for NCRA to help increase educational opportunities. “I would say that your webinar is imperative for the busy working reporters who are unable to attend conventions and also reporters who are looking for guidance on information throughout the year. You can just go to NCRA’s webinar website and look for the topic you need training on, and voila! It’s a win-win for both the reporter and NCRA,” she said.

“Webinars are great when people can dedicate the specific time period for the live learning, and engage in interaction with the instructor and participants, but they are also valuable as on-demand recorded programs that people can go back to over and over to review concepts and techniques,” added Lubetkin, who has been a legal videographer since 2014 and earned his CLVS in 2016.

NCRA is always looking for professionals to share their expertise with our membership. Presenting a webinar is a great way to build your résumé, gain a platform for your ideas, and contribute your knowledge to the NCRA Continuing Education library. Presenters may advertise their business at the end of their presentations and will be compensated. For more information, contact egoff@ncra.org.

2018 NCRA Convention & Expo student track sessions

Read the presenters bios here.

Steno Speed Dating

Steno Speed Dating (noun): An organized social activity in which students seeking information and networking opportunities have a series of short conversations with working reporters and captioners. This is a great opportunity to sit down and talk with professionals in a round of “Speed Dating.” You will have 10-15 minutes with each reporter or captioner to ask all the questions you have always wondered about. Find out what keeps these professionals motivated and passionate about their careers.

Presenters:  Ron Cook, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, Rich Germosen, RMR, CRR, Karla Sommer, RMR, CRR, CRC, Melanie Humphrey-Sonntag, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, Kathryn Thomas, RDR, CRR, CRC, Karen Tyler, RDR, CRR, CRC, Donna Urlaub, RMR, CRR, Doug Zweizig, RDR, CRR

Ron Cook, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC

Rich Germosen, RMR, CRR

Melanie Humphrey-Sonntag, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC

Kathryn Thomas photographed with Sen. Tom Harkin

Kathryn Thomas, RDR, CRR, CRC, photographed with Sen. Tom Harkin

Karen Tyler, RDR, CRR, CRC

Donna Urlaub, RMR, CRR

Doug Zweizig, RDR, CRR

 


What I didn’t learn in School: From the New Professionals’ Perspective – Do’s and Don’ts
You’ve just graduated from Court Reporting School and now you’re certified. Reality kicks in and you aren’t sure about the necessary steps for landing your first deposition or applying for an officialship. Does your resume stand out? Should you commit to one firm only? Is venting on social media a good idea? Come hear from a panel of stellar new professionals to learn all you need to know before entering the real world of reporting.

Presenters:  Aimee Edwards-Altadonna, Michael Hensley, RPR, Celeste Poppe, RPR, Isaiah Roberts, RPR, Katherine Schilling, RPR

Aimee Edwards-Altadonna

Michael Hensley, RPR

Celeste Poppe, RPR

Isaiah Roberts, RPR

Katherine Schilling, RPR

 


Good Reporter/Bad Reporter
This audience-participation skit touches on professional etiquette and mannerisms in conducting oneself at work. Learn the tools of the trade to win over clientele for freelance or get hired for overflow work in a judicial proceeding. Why some people “have it” and others just simply don’t. Be prepared to laugh!

Presenters:  Debbie Kriegshauser, FAPR, RMR, CRR, CLVS, CRC, Susan Moran, RMR

Deborah Kriegshauser, FAPR, RMR, CRR, CLVS

Susan Moran, RMR

 

 


Online Skills Testing

In this seminar, Marybeth Everhart will review the entire online testing process, from registration to completion – soup to nuts, you might say. What equipment will you need? Where can you test, and when? Who is ProctorU and how are they involved? For answers to these questions and more, you’ll want to attend this seminar!

Presenter:  Mary Beth Everhart, RPR, CRI, CPE

Marybeth Everhart, RPR, CRI, CPE

Top 10 tips for students attending the NCRA Convention & Expo

  1. Find a reporter who you can pair up with if you are by yourself.
  2. Load the NCRA app before attending to get an overview of the Convention.
  3. If you are in higher speeds, sit in on some of the regular (not student) seminars.
  4. Court reporters love students! So be prepared to mingle with reporters who come up to you.
  5. Attend Convention as a group with other students to maximize your experience.
  6. It can be very overwhelming at times, so make sure you slow down and try to relax.
  7. Be on time to all student seminars, and sit in front.
  8. Make student business cards.
  9. Every single day at the convention has something new. Try to get as much knowledge as possible with everything being offered.
  10. Talk to as many people as you can.

2018 NCRA Convention & Expo student track speaker bios

The following reporters and captioners will be speaking as part of the student track at the 2018 NCRA Convention & Expo. The event will run Aug. 2-5 in New Orleans, La.

Read the session descriptions here.

Ron Cook, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC

Ron Cook is a veteran deposition reporter who owns his own agency in Seattle, Wash. He won the 2016 NCRA Realtime Contest Q&A leg and was one error away from being crowned the 2016 NCRA Realtime Champion.

 

Aimee Edwards-Altadonna

Aimee Edwards-Altadonna holds a Bachelor of Arts in Human Communications from California State University, Monterey Bay. She has been working as a freelance reporter covering Northern California since the fall of 2014. She has participated in state and national conventions as well as in software user groups for a number of years. She is proud to be involved as part of the volunteer leadership of California Court Reporters Association representing freelance reporters throughout the state.

 Marybeth Everhart, RPR, CRI, CPE

Marybeth Everhart has been reporting since 1980 and writing realtime since 1992. She has been a freelance reporter in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. area; an official reporter in Brisbane, Australia; has provided CART services to such organizations as Self Help for Hard of Hearing People and the Neurofibromatosis Foundation; captioned for Gallaudet University; managed a large, multi-office freelance firm; taught court reporting at all levels; and trained on numerous CAT systems over the years. Everhart is now the national marketing manager for Realtime Coach and works closely with reporting schools, firms, and court systems to increase speed and improve accuracy for students and working reporters. Everhart is as a contributing editor to the JCR (Journal of Court Reporting) and the Eclipse Users Group Newscache.

 Rich Germosen, RMR, CRR

Rich Germosen is a Certified Realtime Reporter with more than 24 years of experience covering high-end realtime assignments nationwide, especially in New York City, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. He holds the NCRA Realtime Systems Administrator certificate. Hehas consistently qualified in the NCRA National Speed and Realtime Competitions from 2012 through 2016, and in 2016, he received a 3rd place medal in the Deposition Reporters Association Realtime Contest in the 190 wpm Q&A.

Michael Hensley, RPR

Michael Hensley joined the profession of court reporting in a somewhat unique way. His schooling was done entirely online. Not once did he set foot in a classroom at a brick-and-mortar facility. His education provided him with a unique perspective relating to the court reporting education process that allows him to embrace technology in every aspect of his career. In his experience as a reporter, he has covered various types of proceedings including depositions for cases involving wrongful death, patent law, medical practice, and technical expert testimony. Hensley is a member of NCRA’s New Professionals Advisory Committee, which advocates for involvement in local and national associations as well as certification and professional development. He finds joy in giving back to the profession of court reporting by encouraging other reporters to continually sharpen their skills and by offering guidance and education for various technologies available to professional court reporters and students alike.

Melanie Humphrey-Sonntag, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC

Melanie Humphrey-Sonntag has lived and breathed reporting since she discovered the profession as a junior in high school. It is the only career she has ever had, and in her more than 35 years of reporting she has worked as an official, freelancer, firm owner, and occasional CART captioner. She has served on many committees and boards, including as president of the Wyoming, Colorado, and National Court Reporter Associations. She is a perennial contestant in state and national speed and realtime contests, having placed as high as 2nd in NCRA’s Speed Contest twice. She has also won the Colorado and Illinois contests numerous times. She has given seminars to students, reporters, vendors, and the public since 1993. She currently serves on the Advisory Board for MacCormac College, in Chicago, Ill., the nation’s oldest reporting program. In 2015, Humphrey-Sonntag transitioned to Planet Depos, an international reporting firm. She is now a full-time realtime reporter in the firm’s Chicagoland branch, where she loves interacting with attorneys in the field and reporting varied and interesting cases.

Debbie Kriegshauser, FAPR, RMR, CRR, CLVS, CRC

Debbie Kriegshauser is currently a federal official reporter with the U.S. District Court in St. Louis, Mo. She has been a reporter since 1980 and has worked in all phases of the reporting profession. She also has served on numerous national and state committees, including her current service on NCRA’s Test Advisory Council.

 

Susan Moran, RMR

Susan Moran has been a federal official in St. Louis, Mo. for 20 years. Prior to that, she worked as a freelancer for four years. She received her RPR in 1992 and her RMR in 1999. In 2005, Moran received the FCRR (Federal Realtime Reporter) designation.

 

Celeste Poppe, RPR

Celeste Poppe is a freelance deposition reporter in California. She received her California license in February  2017 and received her RPR shortly after that in April 2017. Before becoming licensed, Poppe was an office manager at a small CSR-owned agency that gave her great insight into what agencies expect out of reporters and also what drives them crazy. She volunteers her time to students and new professionals in guiding them to be successful reporters. She also serves on event committees for the California Deposition Reporters Association and volunteers as a subject matter expert for the written exams with the California Court Reporters Board. She has also been published in the JCR (Journal of Court Reporting).

Isaiah Roberts, RPR

Isaiah Roberts is currently an official reporter in the 11th Judicial Circuit of Illinois. After obtaining his Bachelor’s degree in Business Marketing from Illinois State University in 2013, Roberts attended the Mark Kislingbury Academy of Court Reporting before starting his job as an official in April of 2016. He currently serves as the Legislative Representative for the Illinois Court Reporters Association and is an avid member of NCRA.

Katherine Schilling, RPR

Court reporting is Katherine Schilling’s second career, after having spent seven years as a translator of Japanese comics and video games in Los Angeles, Calif., and the Silicon Valley. After three years at West Valley College’s court reporting program and still with her qualifier to pass, Katherine opted instead to work under a one-year contract across the country in Richmond, Va., where a few months of experience under her belt helped her to pass the RPR, followed shortly thereafter by the California CSR. Schilling loved working in the Washington, D.C., area where she considered every day on the job to be a “waking dream.” At her two-year anniversary as a working reporter, she had the opportunity to marry her love of court reporting and Japanese culture by relocating to Tokyo, Japan – a lifelong dream of hers. There she has been taking realtime depositions in Japan and throughout Asia.

Karla Sommer, RMR, CRR, CRC

Karla Sommer has been a court reporter in the Wausau, Wis. area for the past 32 years. She began her career as a freelance reporter. After five years of freelancing, Sommer was appointed as an official reporter for the state of Wisconsin, a position she has held for 27 years. She has also worked as a part-time captioner, and she continues to provide CART services when needed. Sommer holds the Registered Merit Reporter, Certified Realtime Reporter, and Certified Realtime Captioner certifications. She is currently the past president of the Wisconsin Court Reporters Association and is serving on NCRA’s Nominating Committee as well as the Association’s Skills Writing Committee.

Kathryn Thomas, RDR, CRR, CRC

Kathryn A. Thomas is a captioner in the greater St. Louis, Mo., area and is currently president of the Illinois Court Reporters Association. She provides captioning to individuals, stadiums, webcasts, conventions, and wherever it’s needed.

Karen Tyler, RDR, CRR, CRC

Karen Tyler has worked as an official court reporter in state and federal courts in Shreveport, La., and as a freelance reporter. She became a firm owner in 1994 and then transitioned to the Western District of Louisiana. Tyler assisted in setting up the first paperless and realtime-ready courtroom in northern Louisiana in 1998. After bombing the infamous NCRA Speed and Realtime Contests held in Dallas, Texas, she garnered her courage and competed again in 2013, where she qualified in all three legs, and won second in the Q&A, and also qualified in both legs of the realtime contest. In 2014, she qualified in all three legs of the speed contest, won third in the literary, and qualified in both legs of the realtime contest. In 2015, she qualified in all three legs of the speed contest, and in 2016, she won third overall in the speed contest, second place in the Q&A, and qualified in realtime Q&A. Tyler is the owner of Karen Tyler Reporting in Shreveport, La.

Donna Urlaub, RMR, CRR

Donna Urlaub has been working as a court reporter for 49 years and also owns her own agency. She was an Illinois speed and realtime champion in 2013, 2015, and in 2017. She has been a perennial medalist in NCRA’s speed and realtime contests and won third place at Intersteno in 2015. Urlaub has been a presenter at NCRA, the Illinois Court Reporters Association, and STAR.

Doug J. Zweizig, RDR, CRR

Douglas J. Zweizig is a 1989 graduate of Central Pennsylvania Business School (now Central Pennsylvania College). Zweizig earned his Associate’s degree and moved from a small town to Philadelphia, Pa., where he began work as a freelance court reporter. Initially covering car accidents and workers’ compensation matters, he worked his way up to medical malpractice, public hearings, and more. A limited amount of CART work was interspersed in those years, something he found most rewarding. In 2001, Zweizig began as an official court reporter in the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia. He covered a wide range of work including drug cases, assaults, and especially homicide trials. On the civil side, he covered medical malpractice, mass tort pharmaceutical cases, construction, and discrimination. After many rewarding years there, he accepted a position in the U. S. District Court for the District of Maryland, where he’s currently working. There he handles criminal matters, including large drug conspiracies, racketeering, bank fraud, and occasionally a murder trial. On the civil side, he covers patent cases, maritime, discrimination, and more. Zweizig has several medals in speed and realtime contests, winning NCRA’s Realtime Contest in 2006 and 2015.