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.

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.

Queens native takes final exam, begins career next day

In February, “Daniel Joseph took his final stenotype exam, demonstrating his ability to type at a speed of at least 225 words per minute on a stenotype machine,” reported a story sponsored by Plaza College, based in Queens, N.Y. “The next day, Mr. Joseph began his career as a court reporter at American Stenographic.”

The article relates how Joseph learned about the profession, progressed through school, and met the challenges of learning to write at 225 words per minute. The story also related details about his internship with American Stenographic, where he eventually was given a permanent position.

Asked if he would recommend the career to family and friends, Joseph replied: “Absolutely!”

Arlington Career Institute salutes newly certified alumni

Arlington Career Institute instructor Judy Brownlow reported that three graduates of the Grand Prairie, Texas, program recently passed the Oklahoma certification tests. “Congratulations to Amy Cummings, Karen Gonzalez, and Trulia Taylor,” says Brownlow. “Nice job, ladies. We are proud of you. See you in court!”

 

Court reporting students see their future in tour and remote presentation

Students in the court reporting and captioning club at the Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio, sponsored “The Write Future” Bus Tour on Monday, April 30. The full-day event took 24 students to visit court reporters at work.

The tour began with a visit to the Medina County courthouse where the students observed the morning docket and participated in a Q&A session with the presiding judge and court reporter.

Students then traveled to a freelance court reporting office in the area. After a visit with the firm owner and one of her reporters, students were then invited to ask questions.

Students returned to the Western Campus to have a catered lunch and then completed their day with a remote presentation by a CART/captioning provider. This was held via Web conferencing to allow online students to participate in this event as well.

The success of the event was evident by the enthusiasm of those students who participated. Students expressed that visiting with court reporters and captioners in their workplace was both informative and motivational.

 

Cuyahoga Community College holds open house for court reporting

More than 60 people attended the Open House at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio. The opening comments were captioned remotely by one of their graduates and displayed on two large monitors. Professionals, faculty, staff, graduates, and current students addressed attendees in  “speed networking” format. Each speaker had a specific assigned topic and moved from table to table in five-minute increments to provide the attendees with valuable information about the profession and program.

Steno machines were available for people to try out, and a current student provided a voice demonstration. Positive feedback has been received on the format of the evening along with the value of the topics that were shared in order to make an informed decision on this career path. Since the Open House, many have met with Kelly Moranz, CRI, either by phone or in person to put together a schedule to get started in the program or are already enrolled in summer courses.

NCRA mentors pay it forward

“I think it is very important to encourage students as much as we can. Court reporting is difficult, and not everyone picks up the skill easily. I am grateful for those who helped me when I was in school and all along the way to where I am now.” Buffy Topper, RPR, CRR

The NCRA Virtual Mentor Program (VMP) is another way for court reporting and captioning students to get the encouragement they may need as they work towards their next speed. Mentors can share their own experiences and offer advice on speedbuilding, overcoming plateaus, and maintaining a practice schedule. “I think students have a ton of questions, insecurities, or just curiosity about the field, the excitement, the pros and cons,” says Amy Rosato, RPR, an official court reporter from Oriskany, N.Y. “I love that the field still exists and that students are still interested. I love to give answers and give a different perspective.”

In the past year, more than 125 students have been matched with a mentor through the Virtual Mentor Program. Some of the VMP mentors are recent graduates, who can easily recall the challenges of managing stress in school.

“I’ve been out of school for five years, but still remember its immediate struggles and concerns,” says Kendra Oechsner, RMR, an official court reporter from Oakfield, Wis. “I love this career and want to promote it in any way I can. I feel the most crucial way to do this is to provide the support that I wasn’t lucky enough to receive during school. I want to help a student know that the grass is greener on the other side and that the stress and anxiety are worth it for this career.”

Other mentors bring decades of experience, like Cathy Wood, RDR, CRR, a freelance court reporter from Laguna Niguel, Calif., who has been a court reporter for more than 40 years. “I still love being a court reporter and am very motivated to introduce young students to this amazing career. Court reporting is a challenging educational and training pursuit. I feel my longevity in this profession and positive attitude about my job make me a good mentor to court reporting students.”

Veteran reporters such as Wood can also serve as role models for mentees, someone to give them firsthand insight into the real world of court reporting. Many NCRA mentors also assist their mentees with job shadowing and internships.

Mentors in the VMP are eager to see their profession thrive. Brook Nunn, CRC, a captioner from Boise, Idaho, chose to be a mentor because: “Being a young captioner myself, it’s important to me that the profession continues to be viable for many years. For that to happen, we need to do everything we can to get more writers in the field. I’d like to share my knowledge and experience with new writers.”

By encouraging their newer colleagues to succeed, and offering their years of knowledge and expertise, mentors are continuing a tradition of service to their community. Deanna Dean, RDR, CRR, a freelance court reporter from Bedford, N.H., volunteers to mentor for the “opportunity to give back to the profession and pay forward the help I was given when I was a newbie. I was so grateful for that assistance back then and never forgot the person who was generous enough to offer it to me.”

Students who are interested can learn more about the NCRA Virtual Mentor Program and can sign up to be assigned to a mentor. For more information, contact VMP@ncra.org.

Don’t miss out on Convention this year

Need a reason to attend the 2018 NCRA Convention & Expo this year? Read what previous attendees have to say about their experiences, what they’ve learned, and why convention is the one event you don’t want to miss this year.

Members of NCRA’s Student/Teacher Committee, Callie Sajdera, a student at Anoka Technical College in Anoka, Minn., Gayl Hardeman, RDR, CRR, CRC, CRI, instructor at Hardeman School, Kay Moody, MCRI, CPE, instructor at College of Court Reporting in Valparaiso, Ind., Len Sperling, CRI, instructor at Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Alberta, Canada, Whitney Berndt, a student at Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland, Wis., and Shaunise Day, a student at West Valley College in Oakland, Calif., offer their thoughts and advice for attending convention.

JCR | Did you attend an NCRA convention as a student? What was that experience like?

Callie | I did attend conventions as a student, and I am still a student. My experiences have been nothing short of amazing. It is a great way for students and professionals to start creating their “webs” and growing connections all across the Unites States.

Whitney | Yes. It was an experience unlike any other. I truly wish I would have gone sooner into my time as a student. Everyone was so encouraging, willing to answer any questions, and sincere. I was lucky that a reporter from my home state, Chris Willette, was becoming the President of NCRA. This made the experience even more memorable. Watching someone so near and dear to your state organization receive one of the greatest honors in a reporter’s career was something I will never forget.

Shaunise | Yes. I have attended several conventions as a student and each time has been amazing. The experience has allowed me to get out of my comfort zone when it comes to networking. Prior to my first convention, when it came to meeting new people, I would be somewhat shy and nervous. The convention held in San Francisco, Calif. allowed me to make a change and take the limits off when it came to making new connections. This has been one of the best social decisions I could have made for myself.

JCR | If you are planning to go to convention this year, what do you hope to get out of it?

Callie | This year I hope I will be out of school and into my professional career. I hope I can attend more software seminars and workshops, along with meeting new people and continuing to grow my contacts for the future.

Kay | I love seeing our students. They’re all over the country and being an online program, we have the opportunity to meet present and past students face-to-face for the first time!

Whitney | Yes. I hope to be attending this year’s convention as my first as a working reporter. I hope to gain some confidence and insight into what my first year will be like.

Shaunise | After every convention I walk away feeling inspired and motivated. I’m sure this year’s convention will provide the same exact thing.

JCR | Is there anything else about convention you would like to share with the students?

Callie | Going to the convention as a student was something I looked forward to every year, and will continue to do so as a professional. The convention always gave me a rejuvenating feeling and motivated me to push myself through school. Whenever I am running low on motivation, it seems to be just around convention time!

Gayl | GO! Meet the stars. Be inspired. Network. Take cards, even if it’s only your name and email address and area of the country. Gosh, years ago we used to call them “calling cards.” Be creative! Attend every seminar you can and take notes. Be the knowledge sponge! Hope to meet you there next year!

Kay | When you go to convention, network. Of course, you’ll meet other students; be sure to keep in contact with them. Make a point to meet the officers, board members, agency owners, CART reporters, captioners, etc.—all the people you read about in the Journal of Court Reporting! Meet and talk to as many people as possible. Be sure to tell them you’re a student, when you anticipate you’ll be finished with school, and that you’d like to keep in contact with them and visit with the ones near you. You will meet reporters who want to be your mentor, receive job offers, and get lots of great advice. Be sure to get everyone’s business card, and make notes of your conversations with them. Talk to ALL of the vendors and have them demonstrate their products. Go to as many sessions as possible, even the ones that aren’t part of the student seminar, and definitely attend all the social events. New Orleans is a great city, but go sightseeing before and after the convention—don’t miss a single thing at the convention!

Len | If you have the opportunity to attend, please do so. Every time I attend an NCRA event I get inspired and it refreshes me. I am sure it will do the same for you as a student.

Whitney | Go! Register! Make the leap. It is one, I promise, you won’t regret. The connections you make and friendships you gain are unlike any others. It will give you a new sense of drive when it comes to finishing school.

Shaunise | Yes. Be sure to attend all of the student sessions, make business cards, network, and be ready to have a good time!