WKT committee reviews test questions at NCRA headquarters

From left to right: Amy Davidson (NCRA) Allison Kimmel (Co-Chair), Lynette Mueller, Laura Brewer, Geanell Adams, Cindy Cheng (Pearson VUE), Wade Garner (Co-Chair), Angie Starbuck

On May 4 and 5, members of NCRA’s Written Knowledge Test (WKT) Committee worked with Cindy Cheng from Pearson VUE to update questions in the Association’s item bank for the RPR and RDR certifications. Six of the committee members met at NCRA’s headquarters in Reston, Va.

Committee members who gathered at NCRA’s headquarters to update questions included:

  • Geanell C. Adams, RMR, CRR, CRI, Raymond, Miss.
  • Laura P. Brewer, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, Los Altos, Calif.
  • co-chair Wade S. Garner, RPR, CPE, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • co-chair Allison Kimmel, RDR, CRR, CRC, Marysville, Ohio
  • Lynette L. Mueller, RDR, CRR, Germantown, Tenn.
  • Angela R. Starbuck, RDR, CRR, CRC, Columbus, Ohio
  • Susan Veres, RMR, CRR, CRC, Viroqua, Wis. (attended remotely)

Over the course of the meeting members reviewed, reworked, reworded, or completely revamped over 423 questions. Committee members also worked remotely prior to the meeting reviewing hundreds of items in the bank in preparation for the group review.

NCRA also thanks those committee members who were unable to attend but who have contributed remotely throughout the year:

  • Vonni Rae Bray, RDR, CRR, Laurel, Mont.
  • Jessica Lynn Davis, RPR, Brandon, Miss.
  • Carrie Marbut Robinson, RPR, CRR, CRI, Hokes Bluff, Ala.
  • Katherine Schilling, RPR, Richmond, Va.
  • Sheri Smargon, RDR, CRR, CRC, Riverview, Fla.

NCRA’s premier certifications rely on the hard work of our volunteer subject matter experts. Please join us in thanking the WKT Committee and consider volunteering your time and expertise for an NCRA committee.

 

NCRA member’s certification noted

The Sun-Sentinel reported on May 9 that NCRA member Mairelys Albo, a freelance court reporter from North Bay Village, Fla., recently earned the Registered Professional Reporter certification. The brief was generated by an NCRA press release issued on Albo’s behalf.

Read more.

Registration is open for 2018 NCRA Convention & Expo

Registration is now open for the NCRA 2018 Convention & Expo taking place Aug. 2-5 at the Hyatt Regency in New Orleans, La. The 2018 event coincides with the celebration of the Tricentennial of New Orleans, which carries the theme “One Time in New Orleans” and encourages residents and visitors to write their stories about their time in the city.

The Convention Keynote speaker is Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honoré (U.S. Army, Ret.). Honoré, a 37-year veteran of active service, served as the commander of Joint Task Force Katrina, during which time he became known as the “Category 5 General” for his striking leadership style in coordinating military relief efforts in post-hurricane New Orleans.

This year’s convention also features a lineup of sessions presented by top leaders in the court reporting, captioning, and legal videography fields. Some of those include the CLVS Certification Workshop, featuring the Intro to CLVS and CLVS Hands-on Training, the Punctuation Workshop, and the ever-popular CRR Boot Camp. Throughout the Convention attendees can earn up to 2.3 CEUs.

Other exciting events that are expected to sell out quickly include the CRC Workshop, the annual Realtime and Speed Contests, and the new Member Recognition Gala that promises a wonderful night of dinner, drinks, dancing, and celebrating NCRA members.

In addition, this year’s VIP upgrade registration includes a ticket to a VIP reception being hosted by 2018-2019 President Sue A. Terry, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC, from Springfield, Ohio, and VIP seating at the Member Recognition Gala.

As always, there will be a number of networking opportunities, including receptions, luncheons, and special events on the Expo floor, where vendors will showcase the latest in products and services for the court reporting, captioning, and legal videography professions.

“One of the biggest reasons I attend the Convention is for the opportunity to meet and talk to reporters from around the country,” said Susan M. Hora, RDR, CRR, an official court reporter from Columbus, Ohio. “I have learned that we experience the same issues and we can strategize together on overcoming those issues. It reminds me that I am not alone in this profession. It reinvigorates my spirit.”

Join other court reporting professionals from around the country and abroad for the 2018 NCRA Annual Convention & Expo. The NCRA Convention & Expo is the largest annual gathering of court reporters, captioners, scopists, legal videographers, trial presenters, students, and other legal services professionals.

For more information about the NCRA 2018 Convention & Expo, or to register, visit NCRA.org/Convention. Register before July 20 to avoid late fees. Attendees are also encouraged to reserve hotel rooms for the Convention at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans.

For sponsorship information please contact Mary Petto, Senior Director of External Affairs, at mpetto@ncra.org

Refresh your CLVS skills before taking the Production Exam this June

The next testing dates to take the CLVS Production Exam will be June 8-9 at NCRA headquarters in Reston, Va. Registration is now through May 31. Space is limited, so candidates are encouraged to sign up early.

Something new this year: We are providing candidates an opportunity to do a Hands-On Training session prior to the production exam. Register now to get another step closer to earning your CLVS certification.

The Certified Legal Video Specialist (CLVS) program sets and enforces standards for competency in the capture, use, and retention of legal video and promotes awareness of these standards within the legal marketplace.

“The CLVS certification is the gold standard for identifying competent and vetted legal videographers and sets them apart from the rest of the field,” said Jason Levin, CLVS, Chair of the CLVS Council. The CLVS Council leads the CLVS Seminar and administers the Production Exam.

The cost of the exam is $325 for NCRA members and $425 for nonmembers.

During the Production Exam, candidates will run the show at a staged deposition and be graded on their ability to follow video deposition guidelines and to produce a usable, high-quality video of the deposition. Candidates must have taken the mandatory CLVS Certification Workshop first, available online through InReach. Candidates must complete the educational components prior to taking the CLVS Production exam. Candidates can take the CLVS WKT at any time, but we strongly encourage candidates to complete the educational components first as questions on the WKT are developed from the education provided.  Learn more about the CLVS program at NCRA.org/CLVS.

The CLVS Production Exam is administered two times a year: spring and fall (depending on interest). Please contact NCRA by calling 800-272-NCRA (6272) for more information, or contact the CLVS Staff.

NCRA members who hold another credential, such as the RPR, can earn 0.25 PDC each after passing the CLVS Written Knowledge Test and the CLVS Production exam.

 

One-time offer in honor of Celebrate Certification Month

Online Skills Tests

In honor of NCRA’s first Celebrate Certification Month being observed in May, the cost for students and members to take the online Skills Tests for the RPR, RMR, CRR, or CRC has been reduced.

The discounts are valid only from May 2 through May 16. Students taking the RPR Skills Tests will pay $60 for each leg, and members taking the RPR or RMR will pay $75 for each leg. In addition, students can take advantage of a discounted price of $145 for the CRC Skills Test, while members will pay only $175 for either the CRR or CRC skills test.

NCRA Store

Additional weekly specials can be found in the NCRA Store during Celebrate Certification Month. During the first week of May, NCRA’s RPR Study Guide is 20 percent off. Other discounts include:

  • May 8-14 – 10% off P-336 Deposition Handbook
  • May 15-21 – 20% off all downloads
  • May 22-28 – 10% off entire store
  • May 29-31 – 10% off P-133 Morson’s Guide
Webinars and E-seminars

NCRA has also lowered the prices on its webinars and e-seminars, which members can take advantage of during Celebrate Certification Month. For a 60-minute webinar or e-seminar, NCRA members now pay $55 compared to a nonmember price of $79. In addition, the price for a 90-minute webinar or e-seminar has been lowered to $75 for NCRA members. Nonmembers pay $99 for the same 90-minute products.

Find out more about NCRA’s webinars and e-seminars and be sure to visit the Celebrate Certification Month page for resources you can use to mark the month-long campaign.

PROFILE: Jeseca C. Eddington, RDR, CRR, CRC

Jeseca Eddington, RDR, CRR, CRC

Jeseca Eddington, RDR, CRR, CRC

Official court reporter
Currently resides in: Detroit, Mich.
Member since: 2002
Graduated from: Academy of Court Reporting
Theory: Realtime compatible

JCR | Why was it important for you to earn the RDR certification?
EDDINGTON | I made it my personal goal to become a part of this exclusive club that only welcomes the best of the best. Being a Registered Diplomate Reporter means that I have attained the highest level of excellence in the field of court reporting and it commands respect from my peers. I have obtained many certifications that have helped advance my career and I have remained humble. But when I passed the RDR, I shouted from the rooftops and let the world know! Most importantly, those letters look great behind my name.

JCR | Why do you think professional certification is important?
EDDINGTON | NCRA certifications separate the wheat from the chaff. When it comes to employment, certifications let potential employers know that I am qualified for the job even before opening my mouth to speak. So the only thing left for me to do during an interview process is to focus on my experience and wow them with my winning personality.

JCR | What has been your best work experience so far in your career?
EDDINGTON | Yes, I have corralled upwards of 75 attorneys and taken charge during those court proceedings to make sure the record remained accurate and uncompromised. Yes, I have earned in two weeks what is equal to a half year’s salary for some. Yes, I have earned a litany of certifications. But the most rewarding part of my career thus far has been teaching! In the 18 years I have been in this wonderful field, the most fulfilling part of my job is when I am able to help others – be it teaching, mentoring, or the occasional pro bono work.

JCR | Is there something else you would like to share about yourself?
EDDINGTON | Outside of my demanding job, I love to spend quality time with my husband and our tween and toddler daughters. I have even calendared events such as Meatless Mondays where we try different vegetarian recipes; Workout Wednesdays where we do a physical activity together as a family; and Family Fridays, which can include anything from board games to movie night. In addition, I enjoy vegetable gardening and creating artwork.

PROFILE: James Pence-Aviles, RMR, CRR

James Pence-Aviles, RMR, CRR

James Pence-Aviles, RMR, CRR

Official court reporter
Currently resides in: Imperial Beach, Calif.
Member since: 2005
Graduated from: Court Reporting Institute
Theory: Phoenix Theory

JCR | Why did you decide to earn an NCRA certification?
PENCE-AVILES | I decided to test for the RPR because it was being offered a month before the California CSR exam. I thought it would be good practice for the CSR. I actually thought the RPR was even harder than the CSR! Looking back, it was probably the best career decision I ever made, because I’m now an official in federal court, which requires that you at least have your RPR.

JCR | You competed a few years ago in the Speed Contest. Did that factor in your decision to earn additional certifications?
PENCE-AVILES | It didn’t because I never thought I would be good enough to compete in the Speed Contest. I listened to a few Speed Contest tapes when I was a brand-new reporter, and they blew me away. I never thought I would be able to write at 280 wpm. It wasn’t until I began working in federal court that I seriously began thinking about giving it a shot. People in federal court tend to speak really fast, so it was good practice for the Speed Contest. In 2014, the NCRA convention was being held in San Francisco, not far from where I was working at the time, and my coworker and mentor Jo Ann Bryce, RMR, CRR, encouraged me to give the contest a shot. So I did, and it turned out to be one of the most memorable experiences of my career. It turned out to be a very pleasant and fun experience. It helped that I knew people who were taking it, too. Compared to the CSR, RMR, or CRR, it was a piece of cake! Placing fourth in the 220 Literary and seventh overall was just icing on the cake.

JCR | Have you gotten a job specifically as a result of your certification?
PENCE-AVILES | Yes. In 2014, I applied for a position in the United States District Court in San Francisco, and the CRR was mandatory for that position. In 2015, I transferred to the Federal Court in San Diego, which also requires those certifications.

JCR | Why do you think professional certification is important?
PENCE-AVILES | It’s important because you never know where your career may take you. In 2012, I was laid off from the San Diego Superior Court due to statewide budget cuts, and from there, I did independent contract work in Florida and then ended up in Federal Court in San Francisco, then transferred back home to San Diego a year later. That wouldn’t have been possible without my national certifications. It also helps you stand out from other reporters, and it can lead to better and more lucrative work, especially if you have the realtime certification.

JCR | What would you say to encourage others considering professional certification?
PENCE-AVILES | Get as many certifications as possible. If your state has a CSR, get that CSR and never let it lapse. Also, get as many NCRA certifications as you can, no matter what career path you take, whether it’s an official, freelancer, captioner, teacher, etc. Most importantly, never give up. If it takes you a few tries to get your certs, keep at it. The end result is absolutely worth it.

JCR | What do you consider your greatest professional accomplishment?
PENCE-AVILES | Besides the Speed Contest, I would consider my current assignment in federal court to be my greatest professional accomplishment. I’m currently assigned to the chief judge, who suffers from a rare neurological disorder that affects his speech. I’ve worked for him since 2015, and I’m one of two reporters in our district who is able to understand him. Since 2017, a fellow court reporter and I have been providing realtime of the judge’s statements for the court staff, the attorneys, and the public pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act, so everyone can follow along and understand the proceedings. It helps the judge, the attorneys, and the public. It’s a difficult and challenging assignment, but it’s also a very important job and one that I’m proud to do.

PROFILE: Laura Ohman, RPR

Laura Ohman, RPR

Laura Ohman, RPR

Freelance court reporter
Currently resides in: Tacoma, Wash.
Member since: 2008
Graduated from: Bates Technical College
Theory: Phoenix Theory

JCR | Why did you decide to earn an NCRA certification?
OHMAN | After a few years working as a court reporter, I really hit my stride and had a lot of confidence in my ability. I wanted my credentials to reflect that! I passed the RPR in 2014 and, to this day, when I look at my business card and see my credential, I have such a sense of accomplishment! It was also important to me to get my NCRA certification so my peers and firms knew that I was competent and that they could trust me to do a great job for them.

JCR | How has certification helped you professionally?
OHMAN | Obtaining my RPR gave me personal confidence to take on more complex cases. I remember being asked to take on a pharmaceutical case with around 15 attorneys. My immediate response was to run for the hills. Then I paused, remembered I am not only state-certified but nationally certified. I said yes, I did great, and I was happy I did it. I’ve gained so much more experience by remembering that I’m an RPR, I’m capable, and I am just saying yes to the complex cases.

JCR | Have you gotten a job specifically as a result of your certification?
OHMAN | Absolutely! Before my RPR credential, I got assigned and asked to do a lot of personal injury and family law work, which I actually really enjoy. But it’s easier work. After my RPR, that’s when I started getting into medical malpractice, maritime, asbestos, and so on! Yes, it’s more challenging, but it’s usually much more lucrative. I think having an NCRA certification definitely puts you at the top of the list when firms are looking for reporters to represent their company.

JCR | What would you say to encourage others considering  professional certification?
OHMAN | Go for it! You will never regret getting a new certification. We are professionals, and we have a serious job to do. Getting those credentials and doing your CEUs will only help you learn, achieve, and ultimately make more money!

JCR | What has been your best work experience so far in your career?
OHMAN | I’ve had the chance to meet a few famous folks, which was of course so fun! I’ve had the chance to travel out of the country, which was of course so fun! But I think my best moment was when I did a five-hour doctor asbestos deposition only to learn at the end they wanted a rough draft and I didn’t panic. I said, “No problem,” and I was able to hand it over right then and there. That was my “wow” moment, that I’d become the court reporter I had always looked up to.

JCR | What surprised you about your career?
OHMAN | Oh, the things you learn! It’s really neat to get to hear about a veteran’s experience in Vietnam one day and then hear about how high-rises are constructed the next and then the next day you learn about how to start a franchise. You get to peek into so many worlds and learn about so many different topics. It fascinates me!

JCR | Is there something else you would like to share about yourself?
OHMAN | I would just say that I love this job because it has enabled me to create a life that works for me. I am a mom to two young children, and having the ability to be flexible on the hours I work has made my life so easy and usually so balanced. There’s not a lot of jobs in the world where you can be a professional and a parent and feel like you’re giving your best to both. I love my job. After 10 years, I’m still so thankful I do what I do.

PROFILE: Teri C. Gibson, RPR, CRR, CRC, CRI

Teri C. Gibson, RPR, CRR, CRC, CRI

Teri C. Gibson, RPR, CRR, CRC, CRI

Freelance court reporter and CART captioner
Currently resides in: Boston, Mass.
Member since: 1986
Graduated from: Chicago College of Commerce
Theory: Stenographic Theory and Computer Compatible Stenography Theory

JCR | Why did you decide to earn an NCRA certification?
GIBSON | When I was a student in college in Chicago, Ill., to work in Illinois, you had to become certified. So I took the NCRA test back in 1981.

JCR | Why did you decide to freelance?
GIBSON | In the beginning of my career, I wanted to become an official court reporter.
That doesn’t happen right away. You have to get experience.  After six months as a freelance court reporter, I was married and moved to Massachusetts. I worked as a freelance court reporter for many years. I was a hearings stenographer with the Department of Industrial Accidents. I found that job didn’t give me the challenge that I enjoyed as a freelance reporter, so I went back to working as a freelance reporter. Through time, I developed my realtime skills. I worked as a federal official for almost 10 years. I went back to freelance, but this time I went into CART captioning because I loved writing realtime and there was a great need for CART captioners.

JCR | Why was it important for you to earn so many different certifications?
GIBSON | Certifications verify your skill level. As a CART captioner, I wanted that certification because it gives prospective clients the assurance that I am certified and can provide the service.

JCR | Have you gotten a job specifically as a result of your certification?
GIBSON | As a freelancer in Illinois, it was required to become certified. Without it, I would not have been able to work at all. In Massachusetts, I don’t believe it’s required, but having my certification when I did move to Boston, I had no trouble getting work.

JCR | Why do you think professional certification is important?
GIBSON | This allows whoever hires you to know that you have the knowledge and skills to perform the work as a court reporter or as a CART captioner.

JCR | What would you say to others considering professional certification?
GIBSON | Certification is only a baseline for the professional starting their career. Through time as you work as a court reporter or CART captioner, you will improve your knowledge and skill level. I would like to encourage all court reporters to get the CSR or RPR and all CART captioners get the CRR. This allows you to have the basic skills needed to start working as a court reporter or CART captioner.

When writing on the steno machine, there are times we are confronted with really hard-working environments that can cause us to doubt that we have what it takes. When you have difficult working environments and situations, you can handle the stress better and continue to write on the steno machine.

I would also encourage new working court reporters to transcribe their own work and use a proofreader in the beginning so that they can continue to build their stenographic skills and knowledge base. Also, if you are able, take classes or seminars and learn about things that interest you or set a goal for something you may want to do in the future and get ready. Have something that you are passionate about or that you can enjoy outside of court reporting. I say this because court reporting exposes us to the experiences of people who have experienced trauma, broken the law, and very stressful situations; it’s important to have positive and joyful experiences to counterbalance.

JCR | What has been your best work experience so far in your career?
GIBSON | I love working as a court reporter and CART captioner. When working as a CART captioner, the consumers are more appreciative of your skills.

JCR | Is there something else you would like to share?
GIBSON | I am a woman with many talents besides being a stenographer. I am a teacher at heart. I was a Sunday School teacher for more than 25 years. Now I am developing my skills for teaching as a Christian Life Coach, and I am an authorized trainer of the Total Eclipse Software. Through the years, I worked as a fitness instructor. I taught aerobics, step, and spinning. I love to swim, knit, read, listen to audiobooks, and writing. I have four books to complete to publish.

PROFILE: Catherine J. Phillips, FAPR, RMR, CMRS

Catherine Phillips, FAPR, RMR, CMRS

Catherine Phillips, FAPR, RMR, CMRS

Freelance court reporter
Currently resides in: Ocala, Fla.
Member since: 1988
Graduated from: Jones Business College, Orlando, Fla.
Theory: I truly do not remember, but after reporting for over 36 years, I call it “Cathy’s Theory”

JCR | Why did you decide to earn an NCRA certification?
PHILLIPS | Personal satisfaction, plus I had just opened a freelance firm and my
business partner and I felt it would help market our firm being certified.

JCR | You have been involved with some of NCRA’s committees. Can you tell us a
little about what you’ve done and how it affects your perspective about the profession?
PHILLIPS | I have chaired NCRA’s National Committee of State Associations; chaired Constitution & Bylaws Committee; chaired the Committee on Professional Ethics; been a member of the Council of the Academy of Professional Reporters (or CAPR); and served on the Nominating Committee. I have learned from every committee I have ever served on within NCRA. I have never been just a dues-paying type member. I am one to always be involved. Being involved helps you to become a better advocate for this profession. It keeps you current on the changes in the industry and how to keep yourself viable within the industry. It has also allowed me to network with a lot of reporters, and I have made many lifelong friends.

JCR | Do you have any advice for students in school and people who are just getting out of school?
PHILLIPS | My one piece of advice I cannot stress more to students and new reporters is to learn time management. If you are not an organized person, get organized. This business will provide enough chaos, and if you are organized (if only in your professional life), you will be ahead of the game.

JCR | Why was it important for you to earn the RMR certification?
PHILLIPS | After receiving my RPR, the next natural progression was to attempt the RMR. It is important to me to challenge myself to improve my craft and aim for the next level.

JCR | Why do you think professional certification is important?
PHILLIPS | I believe it’s important to keep achieving the next level. Even if your clients don’t know what your certifications mean, other reporters definitely will, and they respect your level of achievement.

JCR | What would you say to encourage others considering professional certification?
PHILLIPS | I received my RPR 10 years after I started reporting and received my RMR 9 years after that, so 19 years after I first started reporting. I encourage reporters that you don’t have to have just finished school to attain these advanced certifications. Just practice, and you will reach your goals.

JCR | What has been your best work experience so far in your career?
PHILLIPS | What I love about court reporting is my work experiences change every single day. We are exposed to so many different things that I never even knew existed; or if I did know about them, I’ve learned more about them. Some days are more interesting than others, but it’s always interesting.

JCR | What surprised you about your career?
PHILLIPS | In 1996 I took a leave of absence to do a home therapy program with our son. Before then, I went to work every day and pretty much was just going through the motions. During my leave, I realized how much I loved reporting and how much I missed it when I couldn’t do it. After my leave is when I got involved in my state association in Florida and then NCRA. It was then that I realized I didn’t just have a job, I had a career. I had a renewed love for court reporting.

JCR | What do you consider your greatest professional accomplishment?
PHILLIPS | In 2015, I was awarded the Emily Mann Distinguished Service Award from the Florida Court Reporters Association, and I also became an NCRA Fellow of the Academy of Professional Reporters (or FAPR). Receiving these two distinctions from one’s peers was very humbling. For them to acknowledge all I had contributed to the profession — that was very rewarding. Of course, I haven’t done all I have done for both associations for the recognition; I do it because I have enjoyed and continue to enjoy doing it.