Court reporters and legal videographers

jcr-publications_high-resJD Supra Business Advisor posted a blog by Kramm Court Reporting on Jan. 19 that discusses what legal videographers can do to help the court reporters they work with succeed.

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NCRA’s CLVS Council plans launch of online seminar content

VideographyBy Natalie Dippenaar

In conjunction with the Certified Legal Video Specialist (CLVS) Fall Event, held at the NCRA offices in Reston, Va., NCRA’s CLVS Council launched an exciting and long-planned project. Rather than offering training to prospective CLVS candidates, NCRA and the council members opted to spend the weekend capturing the contents of the seminar with the goal of bringing the majority of the three-day program online. Typically, the CLVS Council travels two or three times a year to offer the three-day seminar and production exam testing required for the CLVS certification.

With this in mind, the National Court Reporters Foundation offered space in NCRA headquarters as a production studio. Brian Clune, CLVS; Jason Levin, CLVS; Gene Betler, Jr., CLVS; and Bruce Balmer, CLVS, presented and captured topics as diverse as what it means to be a legal videographer, the components of a deposition recording system, the CLVS Code of Ethics, and the CLVS Standards for Video Depositions, as well as applicable Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The project is still in its infancy, but NCRA plans to make the online version available by early to mid-2017.

The weekend concluded with a number of candidates taking the production exam. For some, it was the culmination of their studies and will result in them becoming newly certified, while for others it was the second step as they prepare to take the Written Knowledge Test in January 2017.

Natalie Dippenaar is NCRA’s Professional Development Program Manager. She can be reached at ndippenaar@ncra.org.

NCRA Kindle Fire winner announced

By Jennifer Late

More prizes available for membership renewal

A record number of members have renewed their 2017 membership in October. These renewals were driven in part by a chance to win a Kindle Fire.

NCRA membership renewal Kindle Fire winner

The lucky winner for October 2016 is Karla Jagusch, RPR, of Overland Park, Kan. She has been a court reporter for over 38 years, 36 of which she has been an official court reporter for the First and Tenth Judicial Districts of the State of Kansas. Karla explains why she renewed her membership: “I feel it is important and my obligation to support the association that supports me as a court reporter.”

Click here to renew now!

Photo by: Erik Araujo. Used and adapted with permission via Creative Commons

Renew before Dec. 1 and be entered to win

Members still have a chance to be rewarded for renewing before Dec. 1. NCRA will give away an upgraded Premium Plus listing on the online NCRA Sourcebook. Any Registered, Participating, or Associate member who has renewed before Dec. 1 will have their name entered into a drawing for this upgraded listing for January through December 2017.

NCRA continues to work for its members

  • Online skills testing: Whether you are just starting testing for your RPR or going for your CRC or another advanced certification, you can now complete your skills tests from the comfort of your own home. With more opportunities to test, you will be able to achieve your certification goals faster and increase your earning potential.
  • CRC Workshop & Certification: Based on member demand for more training in the field, NCRA created the new Certified Realtime Captioner program designed just for captioners.
  • FCC Captioning Quality Standards: NCRA’s Government Relations team has been working with the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Alliance and the Federal Communications Commission to develop new captioning quality standards.
  • Increased online education opportunities: NCRA has expanded its first-class educational programming via webinars and e-seminars vetted to ensure they meet the needs of the marketplace. New online webinars and e-seminars are added each month for members to purchase, view, and earn CEUs.
  • Exhibiting at the ABA TechShow: NCRA has been advocating for you with judges, attorneys, paralegals, clerks, and other legal professionals. With a focus on what your certifications mean and the value of realtime, NCRA is raising the overall awareness of the profession with the people who matter.
  • For CLVS members: A stronger CLVS emphasis was added to the NCRA Convention & Expo, helping videographers network directly with the court reporting membership. By popular demand, new seminars and webinars were created to help CLVSs stay on the cutting edge of technology.

NCRA membership cards

In an effort to embrace technology, NCRA will continue our practice of sending only electronic membership cards to members via email. Members can expect to receive their membership card within approximately four weeks of renewing if they have a valid email address and have not previously opted out of Constant Contact email messaging.

Jennifer Late is NCRA’s Membership & Marketing Manager. She can be reached at jlate@ncra.org.

NCRA’s CLVS Fall Event is filling fast

VideographySpace is filling up for NCRA’s 2016 CLVS Fall Event at the Association’s headquarters in Reston, Va., November 5-6. Only twelve slots remain for the Production Examination, invigilated by NCRA’s CLVS Council. The Council is made up of a group of experienced legal videographers who volunteer their time and share their real-world experience when leading the CLVS Seminar and overseeing the exam. Their vast experience provides a huge benefit to candidates.

Candidates for NCRA’s CLVS certification must complete a three-step process: attend the CLVS Seminar, pass a written knowledge test, and pass a hands-on production examination. Steps two and three can be taken in any order once step one is completed. The Fall Event is an opportunity to complete step three, which for many will be the final step on their path to the legal video profession.

The production exam not only tests the candidate’s grasp of what they have learned but is also a fantastic opportunity for candidates to experience a real-world scenario. During the exam, candidates run the show at a staged deposition and are graded on their ability to follow video deposition guidelines and produce a usable, high-quality video of the deposition. Two members of the Council observe proceedings and two additional members review the video recording and observations noted before giving a final grade. The passing grade of 70% is not easily given, so passing and gaining the CLVS certification is a true achievement.

Having this certification opens the doors to becoming a legal videographer. It demonstrates proven ability tested under real world conditions by expert legal videographers. It proves to any employer the candidate’s sincere desire to achieve. What better way to start the new future that lies ahead once this certification is achieved.

For more information about NCRA’s CLVS certification or to register for the upcoming production exam, visit NCRA.org/clvs or contact clvs@ncra.org.

Natalie Dippenaar is NCRA’s Professional Development Program Manager. She can be reached at ndippenaar@ncra.org.

Videography and court reporting

While much of the focus of court reporters is on capturing the spoken word through writing, there is another NCRA certified group that strongly complements the work of stenographers – certified legal videographers. As the name suggests, they focus on capturing proceedings through video. What better partnership could there be to provide the complete record.

What

The court reporting profession is very important to the legal process because it creates an exact record of what happened and what was said. Transcripts from a deposition or trial serve as a permanent record of the proceedings. With the need for an accurate and complete record, a legal videographer is sometimes included to capture the event. The use of video adds the opportunity to record facial expressions, long pauses, and nuances of personality and character that cannot be captured in writing.

The use of video in the legal environment is growing. Legal videographers can freelance or work directly for a court reporting firm. They can record depositions, the signing of legal documentation such as wills or real estate transfers, and courtroom cases. Occasionally evidence that has not been introduced as an exhibit might need to be captured, for example, the state of immovable property. Opportunities are unlimited, and job growth is predicted to be above average through 2024.

Who

Legal videographers come from any number of backgrounds, but typically they have an appreciation of technology and are comfortable using video equipment and software. They might be new to the field, perhaps career changers, or experienced videographers comfortable capturing a wedding or producing a documentary. While the skills employed will differ, the ability to use a professional camera, an understanding of the importance of capturing the event first time, and an interest in maintaining their skills is paramount.

Why

Attorneys, judges, and litigants will use details from the transcripts, so it is of absolute importance that the visual record is accurate. While tertiary education is always attractive to employers, being hired requires technical proficiency and an understanding of what is required, as well as the ability to interact professionally. Because of the importance of quality work, in most cases, certification is required to secure employment. Being certified proves that you have the knowledge and skills to produce a quality record. Certified Legal Video Specialist (CLVS) is the main certification used for this type of work. There are three steps to becoming certified, and they are shown below.

The three steps to certification

The first step requires attendance at a three-day seminar that is offered twice a year – in either spring or fall at the National Court Reporters Association headquarters in Reston, Va., and in summer at the annual NCRA Convention & Expo. The next opportunity will be March 2017.

The seminar provides detailed training and hands-on demonstrations, as well as a textbook to help you prepare for the written exam. The first day is an introduction to the profession, discussing the use of video in a deposition, and reviewing the different kinds of equipment used. The second day focuses on the CLVS Code of Ethics, the CLVS Standards for Video Depositions,  and the applicable Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The final day provides time for a hands-on workshop, either at an introductory level or at a more advanced level.

The second and third steps are the written test and production exam. Many chose to do the written test first to be sure they have covered all the basics. Written tests must be taken at Pearson Vue testing centers during one of four testing periods (January, April, July, and October) annually. The test includes 100 multiple-choice questions and at least 70 of them must be correctly answered in order to pass. The areas being tested cover video recording production, legal and judicial procedures, post production, office procedures, operating practices and professional development, and ethics.

The production exam is a staged deposition in order to test your ability to take a deposition. You are allowed 30 minutes in the room. Candidates can take some time to become familiar with the equipment that has been provided and then must document a brief mock deposition. The candidates are graded on their ability to provide a quality videotape of the deposition proceedings. Registration for the production exam in November 2016 is open through October 28.

Explore the world of CLVS on the CLVS Community page.

For more information about the CLVS certification program: Visit the NCRA Web page: Certified Legal Video Specialist (CLVS).

Natalie Dippenaar is NCRA’s  Professional Development Program Manager. She can be reached at ndippenaar@ncra.org.

 

 

Recognize innovative business strategies with the JCR Awards

JCR Awards - TheJCR comThe JCR Awards are a way to tell compelling stories that bring to life innovative and successful business strategies from the past year. Originally conceived as a way to recognize and highlight the exemplary professionalism, community service, and business practices of NCRA members, the JCR Awards seek nominations for several subcategories, such as best-in-class stories for: Marketing and customer service; Leadership, teambuilding, and mentoring; Use of technology; Community outreach; Service in a nonlegal setting; and Court Reporting & Captioning Week (2016) initiative. In addition, NCRA is looking for a firm and an individual who show excellence in more than one category for an overall “Best of the Year” award.

Any current NCRA member in good standing, with the exception of students, may be nominated for these awards. Court reporters, captioners, videographers, scopists, teachers and school administrators, and court reporting managers are all eligible for nomination. Nominate a noteworthy court reporter, captioner, videographer, scopist, teacher, school administrator, or court reporting manager or a group, such as firms, courthouses, or court reporting programs. Self-nominations are accepted. More information about specific criteria for each of the categories is available on the JCR Awards Entry Form.

To enter, submit a written entry to the JCR between 300 and 1,000 words explaining the strategies implemented and why they were successful. Ancillary materials, such as photos, may also be submitted with the nomination. Nominations will be considered based on the best fact-based story. Please be prepared to offer documentation, verifiable sources, or other assistance as needed to be considered for these awards. The stories of the finalists will be published as featured articles in the March JCR.

Nominations are due by Oct. 31Read more about the JCR Awards.

See last year’s winners. 

JCR Awards nominations open through Oct. 31

Nominate yourself or a noteworthy court reporter, captioner, videographer, scopist, teacher, school administrator, or court reporting manager for recognition through the JCR Awards. Conceived as a way to recognize and highlight the exemplary professionalism, community service, and business practices of NCRA members, the JCR Awards is a way to tell compelling stories that bring to life innovative and successful business strategies from the past year. In addition to nominations for several subcategories, NCRA is looking for a firm and an individual who show excellence in more than one category for an overall “Best of the Year” award.

Any current NCRA member in good standing, with the exception of students, may be nominated for these awards. Court reporters, captioners, videographers, scopists, teachers and school administrators, and court reporting managers are all eligible for nomination. Self-nominations are accepted. Firms, courthouses, or court reporting programs may be nominated as a group as long as they meet the criteria for membership for one of the definitions in the JCR Awards Entry Form.

To nominate yourself or someone else, submit a written entry to the JCR between 300 and 1,000 words explaining the strategies you implemented and why they were successful. Ancillary materials, such as photos, may also be submitted with the nomination. Nominations will be considered by the JCR editorial team based on the best fact-based story. Please be prepared to offer documentation, verifiable sources, or other assistance as needed to be considered for these awards. The stories of the finalists will be published as featured articles in the March JCR.

Nominations are due by Oct. 31. Read more about the JCR Awards.

NCRA launched redesigned online NCRA Sourcebook

A newly redesigned online NCRA Sourcebook is now available through the National Court Reporters Association’s website. As the newly redesigned membership search site integrates directly with each record,  members can update their information online and see those changes in effect immediately. In addition, members can also add photos to their records.

NCRA’s 2016 Convention & Expo: Something for everyone

Convention-JCRcom-BoxAdOnline registration for NCRA 2016 Convention & Expo happening at the Hilton Chicago, Chicago, Ill., Aug. 4-7, closes July 29, so hurry and register now to participate in the vast array of continuing education sessions, networking opportunities, certification preparation workshops for the Certified Realtime Reporter and the Realtime Systems Administrator, and, of course, all that’s new on the Expo floor.

Whether you are an official, freelancer, broadcast or CART captioner, legal videographer, educator, student, or legal services provider, this year’s schedule has something to help you be the architect of your future. Plus attendees who need CEUs can earn up to 2.45 of them with a full registration and optional workshops.

Among the educational session highlights are:

Freelancer business 101. Presenters: Lisa DiMonte, RMR, CMRS; Jan Ballman, RPR, CMRS; Marjorie Peters, RMR, CRR; and Dave Tackla, CLVS

Compassion fatigue and job stress. Presenter: April Kopp, LCSW, MFA

Your cloud-based office. Presenters: Nancy Bistany, RPR and Kim Neeson, RPR, CRR, CRC

The secret business of court reporting. Presenter: Debbie Bridges Duffy, RPR

Beyond the captions:  Captioner roundtable. Presenters: Merilee Johnson, RMR, CRR, CRC; Bill Graham; and Deanna Baker, FAPR, RMR

90 apps in 90 minutes. Presenter: Sara Wood, CAE

Tax tips for court reporters. Presenter: Charlotte Ogorek

Best practices for realtime reporting. Presenters: Jason Meadors, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC; Christine Phipps, RPR; and Sandy VanderPol, FAPR, RMR, CRR

Anywhere, anytime:  Online testing. Presenter: Marybeth Everhart, RPR, CRI, CPE

Are you an independent contractor or an employee? Presenter: Chris Wojcicki

Video equipment configuration:  Real world equipment setups. Presenters: Richard Hayden, CLVS, and Jason Levin, CLVS

In addition, students, educators, and school administrators will enjoy a selection of sessions tailored specifically to their interests and needs.

Other highlights for the 2016 NCRA Convention & Expo include professional speaker and humorist John Wagner, who will address the topic of “Pride in the Profession” when he takes the stage as the keynote presenter during the Premier Session; the national Speed and Realtime Contests; the installation of NCRA’s 2016-2017 Officers and Board of Directors; and the presentation of the Distinguished Service Award, the highest award bestowed by NCRA. Networking opportunities will include receptions, the annual awards and NCRF Angels luncheons, and the President’s Party.

Remember, the deadline for online registration is July 29. For more information and to register for the 2016 NCRA Convention & Expo, visit NCRA.org/Convention.

CLVS: (L)earning your ABCs

By Robin Cassidy-Duran

After 25 years as a court reporter, I decided to branch out into the video world. Prior to January 2014 my video production experience consisted of borrowing a friend’s camera twice — maybe three times — over the last 30 years as my kids were growing up just to catch those special moments.

In high school, I had enjoyed photography class immensely, but that was long before video cameras became a household item. Still subjects were fairly easy to capture, and we learned the process of developing prints in the darkroom.

Ten years ago, I became a partner in a court reporting firm, and the demands on my time made it more difficult to remain a reporter in the field, produce transcripts, and manage an office. A few years ago, I made the decision to focus on the office, using my reporting skills perhaps once a week. Of course, as my time spent on my machine dwindled, it became more challenging to keep my writing skills up.

As a court reporter, I had observed many videographers over the years, and I sometimes envied their job as I struggled to get every word down on my machine. Although some videographers appeared more attentive than others, there were the few that sat in the back of the room reading emails, playing solitaire, or catching a few winks (or so I thought).

Granted, my knowledge of F stops and depth of field was a little rusty when I decided to pursue a career in legal videography, but everyone assured me that it was so easy. “I mean, really, how difficult could it be?” they said. “You can borrow my home video camera and try it out. Don’t worry about those lapel mics, lighting, or backdrops — that’s overkill.”

I decided that if I was going to do it, I wanted to do it right. I wanted to be taken seriously when I walked into the deposition. I wanted to know what I was doing — or at least have that appearance — so I started looking at the legal video certification process and earning the alphabet letters — CLVS, CDVS, etc.

Since I was already a member of NCRA, I decided to begin with their Certified Legal Video Specialist program. It consists of a two-day seminar followed by a Written Knowledge Test and a hands-on Production Exam. At the same time I signed up for the seminar in Atlanta, I noticed that they were offering the written test the week following the seminar. I thought, “How convenient! I can take that knowledge I’ve gained the weekend before and pass the written portion lickety-split.”

And then I arrived in Atlanta. I was handed the CLVS Guide to Video Depositions. And I opened the book and read and read and read and began to think, “What have I gotten myself into? This is going to be so embarrassing. I’m never going to be able to cram all of this knowledge into my pea-sized brain in three days in time for the written exam. What data can I purge so that I can implant this information in my head? Everyone has told me how easy this is going to be, but it’s not!”

I am not a natural born test taker. I’m sure you’ve all met a reporter who sailed through the test and exclaimed, “Wasn’t that a great test?” I exceeded the average of three tries to pass the RPR. As Benjamin Franklin said, “I didn’t fail the test; I just found 100 ways to do it wrong.”

I have to say that the instructors were fantastic, and they were able to teach a novice like myself what I should be doing out in the field. Taking that training with the fact that I studied like I haven’t in years and, miracle of miracles, I passed the written test three days later.

Fast forward one year: I attended NCRA’s TechCon 2015 in Denver, to attempt to pass the Production Exam. This consists of setting up a mock video deposition in a room of practicing videographers filming you while you are attempting to film them. I was informed ahead of time by well-meaning CLVSs that there were no tricks to this test. Take a deep breath. I’ve been doing this for a year. Right?

Well, as a reporter we all remember the famous words, “Ready? Begin.” What I should have replied was, “Nope. Stop everything.”

With heart pounding and lead-filled legs, I entered the test room. I proceeded toward the equipment to run through the various sound and camera tests before my deposition participants entered the room. I succeeded in turning the mixer off (no, it is supposed to be on) and back on and set the camera to my satisfaction.

Then the participants for the mock deposition entered the room (“Oh, dear. That can’t be him. I know that person. Why is he here? Why is he smiling?”) and the real fun began. After struggling to get refocused on what I was there to accomplish, I think I gave the proper admonitions to the parties. I say think of course because it is all pretty much a blur. What I do remember next is, “Is everyone ready? One moment please.” And I turned the power to the camera off.

Seriously. I turned the camera off. How much worse could this get?

Breathe. The power to the camera was restored, and we moved forward. The deposition began and I couldn’t wait for it to end. But it got worse – really.

I needed to zoom in on an exhibit and back out again. Normally this is not a difficult task but my arms felt like sandbags. My mind was saying I could do it, but my hands were not cooperating. I did some facsimile of zooming. All I could think of was, “Please beam me up, Scotty. Please!”

Well, it eventually ended. I passed. It wasn’t a pretty pass, but I’ll take it.

CSR, RPR, RMR, CRR, CRI, CLVS, CRC, etc. — in our reporting world, all of these letters demonstrate a level of competency. But they are more than that. These individuals who earn these letters are striving to improve and perfect their skills, stepping outside of their comfort zone and making changes in their lives that can lead to personal and professional growth.

Enjoying our comfort zone, of course, is fine unless we get so complacent that we hold ourselves back instead of challenging ourselves to improve and try new things.

I’d like to encourage you to continue striving to improve and perfect your skills even when it might seem or be difficult. Step outside of your comfort zone and make changes in your life that can lead to personal and professional growth. I’m sure glad I did.

Robin Cassidy-Duran, RPR, CLVS, is a freelancer and firm owner in Eugene, Ore.