U.S. Legal Support acquires Bienenstock Nationwide Court Reporting & Video

U.S. Legal Support, Inc., announced in a press release issued Sept. 12 that it has completed the acquisition of Bienenstock Nationwide Court Reporting & Video, headquartered in Bingham Farms, Mich.

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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’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.

TechLinks: Keeping your information secure

NCRA’s Technology Committee rounded up a group of tech-related articles about keeping your computer files and other information secure, an ever-increasing concern in a world where privacy and security are becoming more and more important. Two articles explain what to look for in scams and the remainder offer suggestions for keeping your devices and information secure.

A tech sector employee explains her vishing – voice phishing — experience and how such scams can threaten the information security of a business. The YouTube video also gives information on how to recognize and how to avoid such scams. See video.

How to recognize a risky email was the topic of a June 16 post on lawyerist.com. Whether avoiding viruses or phishing scams, this article offers the basics for keeping your computer safe. Read more.

A July 4 post on Gizmo’s Freeware, a community website for reviewing free software, suggested Safepad as a simple Windows notepad replacement that uses encryption. Read more.

Bringing the above together, also check out an ABA article on building strong passwords to protect your information from its June issue. The suggestions include using longer words, using both letters – a mix of upper and lowercase – and numbers, and other tricks to make your devices more secure. Read more.

An article in PC Magazine about encrypting data on external drives is a reminder to protect clients’ confidential information as well.  Read more.

Come see what’s new on the exhibit hall floor at the 2016 NCRA Convention & Expo

Dozens of vendors will be on site at NCRA’s 2016 Convention & Expo, Aug. 4-7 in Chicago, Ill., at the Hilton Chicago, to showcase the latest in new products and services specifically for the court reporting profession. Vendors will be offering products ranging from software to equipment to support services and more. Vendors sponsoring events at this year’s Convention & Expo include AristoCAT, Esquire Deposition Solutions, Mercer, Realtime Coach, StenEd, and Streamtext.net.

Below is a glimpse of some of the new and exciting products and services Convention & Expo attendees can expect to experience:

ProCAT, a proud industry supporter and partner for 34 years, will be showcasing the new ProCAT Xpression writer and ProCAT Winner 2016.  The new ProCAT Xpression promises to offer unsurpassed comfort and technology, which includes Internet access. The company invites attendees to visit their booth and try out the touch and feel of the new ProCAT Xpression. Also on display will be the popular Impression writer, as well as the Blaze writer for students and CART writers. Representatives will also be on hand to demonstrate its captioning software, CaptiVision, and attorney viewer, CasePad.

YesLaw, which provides software to official and freelance court reporters, court reporting firms, and legal videographers to produce transcripts and video for delivery, will showcase software it has developed for text-to-video synchronization, and transcript production software for hyperlinked PDF transcripts. Also on display will be YesLaw Online, which provides secure, HIPAA-compliant access to cloud delivery of deposition content.

Stenovations will showcase products that include the new LightSpeed Zenith keyboard, with a new feel and keys that flex. According to the company, the Zenith has 121 sensors, which will greatly enhance accuracy. The all-new powerful Zenith software allows the incorporation of a question or answer bank into any steno stroke without adding any new dictionary entries. Also on display will be the company’s StenAudio, an Android smartphone app that receives steno from any writer via Bluetooth. The app captures and time stamps the steno and also records and time stamps audio. The files can then be moved to a computer for translation and editing.

MacCormac College, which offers Chicago’s only NCRA-certified and Higher Learning Commission-accredited court reporting program, will have representatives available to answer questions about its flexible evening and dual degree tracks, as well as its engaging mentorship program that offers trainee reporters an opportunity-filled academic experience. As the nation’s oldest court reporting school in the country, MacCormac not only trains future court reporters but also caters to working reporters with its CART and captioning program, which is designed for those interested in boosting earning potential and bolstering their credentials. Founded in 1904, MacCormac College is the premier two-year, private, non-profit, accredited court reporting institution in the state of Illinois. The college will also be holding a trivia contest at its booth.

DirectDep will showcase an innovative cloud-based technology platform for law firm professionals to instantly book court reporters for depositions in real time, 24 hours a day. Visitors to the company’s booth will learn more about the platform, which delivers seamless online and mobile scheduling to help agencies grow their business without sign-up or subscription fees. DirectDep features customized profiles highlighting individual reporter’s certifications and experience, areas of specialty, and verified ratings/reviews given by attorneys. According to the company, its products and services can help strengthen and expand agencies’ national networks, enabling them to attract new bookings and maximize their business both locally and nationally with the top tier law firms engaged in complex litigation.

Pengad, a supplier to legal professionals worldwide that offers an extensive line of court reporter supplies, will have on hand a wide range of transcript covers, stationery, index tabs, laser printer paper, exhibit labels, laptop trays, laptop skins, microphones, and mailing and notary products available for fast delivery. NCRA Convention & Expo attendees will have the opportunity to learn more about these products and services as well as the company’s full line of promotional products and its in-house graphics department that can provide personalized products. Visitors are encouraged to stop by the Pengad booth to learn more about the special convention sale prices being offered.

EV360 will be presenting EV360 Ultimate: Ultimate Realtime Speed Adjustment Technology.  EV360 Ultimate is the ultimate results-driven speed and accuracy advancement personalized training tool in the market, according to a company representative. Users can build realtime speed and skills through a patent-pending innovation that adjusts dictation speed based on the user’s accuracy while maintaining the natural sound of the speaker.

Visitors should be sure to stop by the Dictionary Jumpstart booth to learn more about the company’s array of more than 55 vocabulary updates designed to further enhance realtime services. Dictionary Jumpstart, which offers a new update each month, will showcase its Terminate Transcript Turmoil and Terminate Transcript Turmoil 2, both designed to aid in reducing transcript production time.

NCRA Convention & Expo attendees who stop by the Dictionary Jumpstart booth can also learn more about the one-on-one realtime and CART training offered by EduCAPTION through its Caption Masters Broadcast Captioning course, which will be offered in September, January 2017, and May 2017.

Advantage Software will be demonstrating its all-new Eclipse V8, with more than 100 new features and improvements that make it faster, smarter, and more versatile than ever before, according to the company. Visitors will also learn more about the company’s Portable Proofreading, which allows users the ability to proofread anytime, anywhere on any phone, tablet, or computer. Other products and services that will be showcased include Eclipse’s customizable artificial intelligence features that let users reflect their personal preferences, as well allowing multiple users to work on the same job from different locations. Also on display will be the patented StenoMagic keys on the Passport Touch.

Caption First will be on the expo floor with opportunities for certified and uncertified realtime writers for CART, captioning, transcription, and more. According to the company, both new professionals and seasoned veterans can benefit from its realtime modules designed to help users improve their speed, accuracy, testing strategies, and income. The Caption First modules include a skills evaluation, conflict resolution, numbers, punctuation, word boundary issues, and more.

Realtime Coach will be available to demonstrate new features on that myRealtimeCoach.com can help boost a steno writer’s speed, accuracy, including games, favorites, and learning paths. In addition, Realtime Coach has a new feature for teachers that allows them to assess transfer students.

Stenograph will be introducing a new dimension in CATalyst, which includes a new approach to an everyday problem will make reporters’ work easier and more efficient. In addition to demonstrating this at the booth, Stenograph will show off the new features during the Stenograph Showcase Seminar.

Below is the complete list of vendors exhibiting at this year’s NCRA Convention & Expo:

  • Advantage Software
  • Caption First, Inc.
  • Classique Creations
  • College of Court Reporting/ev360
  • Deposition Destinations & Resources
  • Dictionary Jumpstart, Inc.
  • Direct Dep
  • EduCaption LLC
  • Esquire Deposition Solutions
  • Excelsior College
  • FirstLease, Inc.
  • Huseby, Inc
  • Illinois Court Reporters Association
  • KusarGlobal
  • Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority
  • LiveDeposition.com
  • MacCormac College
  • Mercer
  • Pengad, Inc.
  • PohlmanUSA Court Reporting
  • ProCAT
  • Realtime Learning Systems/Realtime Coach
  • Remote Counsel
  • Revolutionary Text
  • StenEd
  • Stenograph, LLC
  • Stenovations
  • StenoWorks
  • StreamText.net
  • Thomson Reuters
  • TransPerfect Legal Solutions
  • ViVi Jewelry
  • YesLaw

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; an array of educational sessions and workshops designed specifically for court reporters, captioners, CART providers, legal videographers, students; and educators; 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.

The event will include an array of networking opportunities, receptions, the annual awards and NCRF Angels luncheon, the President’s Party, and a celebration of National Purple Heart Day, which will be marked with a special Veterans History Project event.

For more information and to register for the 2016 NCRA Convention & Expo, visit NCRA.org/Convention.

Windows 10: To switch or not to switch — that is the question

TechLinks_logoBy Christine Phipps

Is Microsoft continually peppering you with requests to upgrade to Windows 10? Luring you with free offers? Strong-arming you with automatic downloads? With this article, I hope to help you better decide when switching to Windows 10 is right for you.

Every Windows product has a life cycle that begins when a product is released and ends when it’s no longer supported. According to the Microsoft website, end of support is the date when the company stops providing automatic fixes, updates, or online technical assistance for a product. Windows 7, which was deemed more popular than Windows 8, ended its mainstream (free) support in January 2015. Support for Windows 8.1, if you use that system, is currently set to end Jan. 9, 2018.

Although each operating system has its own life cycle, the computer-buying public seems to have specific opinions about which are really great operating systems and which are not so great, and many computer users will hop over one to get to the other. So it looks like many will hop from Windows 7 to 10, and Windows 10 will be the next major operating system that everyone will be on eventually.

The determining factor of why some operating systems seem to go by the wayside and some stay is due in part to enterprise systems switching to a particular operating system. Enterprise systems are servers, storage, and associated software used by large companies as their IT infrastructure. A company’s operations will run off this system, so switching to an enterprise system is a major undertaking. All or most of the security issues had to have been dealt with, so as not to risk the breakdown of an entire company. Currently, Windows 10 has issues with drive mappings, which will randomly fall off. Mapping is a very important function as it’s the individual mapping of where and how the data will travel from the workhorse computers. This is why there has not been a complete move to Windows 10, as it is not yet good enough for enterprise level.

Microsoft is pulling out all the stops this month before its free upgrade to Windows 10 ends July 29. How do you know whether to accept the update that Microsoft wants to force you into? If your computer was built within two years, you are safe to proceed with the upgrade. The easiest way to find the hardware assembly date is to look up the computer serial number on the manufacturer’s support website.

A computer that is older than two years and upgrades to Windows 10 may miss out on some things, like the biometric reader. To acquire these tools, you may need to download some drivers and even that doesn’t guarantee they will work. Some cameras also may not work correctly. However, for CAT software, email, and some data processing — what reporters typically use their computers for — Windows 10 should be fine.

I believe in always having computers on auto updates, and I set my computer to make updates in the middle of the night, like 3 a.m. If you have a computer older than two years and believe it will be detrimental to upgrade, you can change the auto update settings. Go into Control Panel, then Windows Update, then Change settings, and change the setting from “auto” to “check for updates but let me choose when to install them.”

I would further suggest that if your computer is older than two years that you start looking into buying a new computer. Windows 10 is optimized for use on Intel microprocessors based on the Skylake architecture. These are Intel Core processors that have been manufactured since August 2015. Look for a computer with the Windows 10 operating system if it contains a processor based on the Skylake architecture.

I cannot stress the importance of staying current on software and firmware. I hope that understanding upgrades to operating systems and what to look for will help you make the right decisions for you and prevent any unnecessary hassle or loss of data.

 

Christine Phipps, RPR, of North Palm Beach, Fla., is co-chair of NCRA’s Technology Committee. She can be reached at christine@phippsreporting.com.

Advancements in court reporting technology: Synchronized video depositions

By Todd Mobley

As experienced litigators know, there is no substitute for thorough trial preparation. Knowing which details to present, and when to present them, are key to successfully making a case or impeaching the testimony of opposition witnesses.

At the same time, recalling those details, especially from hours of accumulated depositions compiled over the course of months, or years, can be difficult at best. But with the help of ongoing advances in court reporting technology, attorneys now have options that can help them prepare cases more efficiently, create a more polished presentation, and thoroughly control the cross examination.

Among the best of these advanced court reporting technologies are synchronized video depositions. Potentially game-changing, synchronized video depositions feature built-in software that synchronizes video with the written transcription provided by the court reporter and legal videographer team. The benefit of this system is that attorneys can not only read the transcript on screen while watching the deposition or trial video footage, but they can also search the video record for key words and phrases at any point. This gives them the ability to quickly find important testimony or review hours of testimony for key excerpts. At trial, a litigation team can use the system to immediately locate and play back passages of important testimony to the entire court at a moment’s notice.

Linda Weber, a partner at the trial presentation service company Visual Evidence, says that synchronized depositions can help with the retention of information, especially when a jury is asked to watch a video.

“If you just put the talking head up there, it can be difficult for juries to retain the information,” said Weber. “But when you scroll the text across the bottom, they can see it and they can hear it. It really helps the jury.”

Weber has found this to be a huge advantage in business and medical malpractice litigation where the jury may be unfamiliar with terminology. In many cases, her clients will ask her to highlight specific terms or quotes so that the jury understands the importance of what was said.

Along with helping jurors retain information, synchronized video depositions are also powerful tools to impeach opposing witnesses.

“I use (synchronized video) in every trial,” said Marc Pera, a partner in the Cincinnati law firm Crandall, Pera & Wilt. “Nothing is more useful in trial than having an opposing witness impeach themselves.”

A plaintiff’s attorney specializing in medical malpractice, Pera has found synchronized video testimony to have a much greater impact on jurors than a traditional read back. The reason, he says, is that even the most compelling testimony loses its effectiveness when shared as a stenographic transcript.

As any juror would confirm, a passage read aloud from a prior deposition or testimony is often abstract and more difficult to remember. On the other hand, a video is much easier to recall, in both the short-term and the long-term when it comes time for a jury to begin deliberations.

Another drawback to the traditional read back is that it leaves room for interpretation, Pera said.

“If you’re using paper, it’s easier for a witness to say that they didn’t understand what was asked with the question,” Pera said. A video, he added, leaves little doubt.

For Pera, synchronized video depositions have become an indispensable tool, and he can point to specific cases where synchronized video depositions helped him to win cases for clients. One example in particular, he said, was a medical malpractice case in which a client underwent a surgical procedure and the doctor perforated his client’s bowel without realizing it. Afterwards, Pera’s client became septic. Over the course of depositions and at trial, Pera said the doctor changed his story multiple times. But by impeaching the doctor with his own video testimony, Pera said the jury was convinced.

“In another case, I was able to impeach a surgeon several times during his first day of testimony,” Pera said. “His team settled the next day.”

The benefits of synchronized video depositions extend beyond the courtroom, too. A powerful tool for case preparation, it offers the ability to quickly reference testimony when preparing for examination of witnesses.

Whether for trial preparation or in trial, Pera says the results synchronized video depositions offer should not be discounted.

Said Pera, “I think it’s an invaluable tool. I have no doubt that it helps.”

Todd Mobley is president of Mike Mobley Reporting in Dayton, Ohio. He can be reached at Todd@MobleyReporting.com.

 

Alert: Adobe Flash users should download emergency patch

TechLinks_logoBy Christine Phipps

Adobe issued an alert that Flash users need to update to the latest version as hackers took advantage of a security flaw to install ransomware on computers.

Adobe Flash is a software platform that runs video, animation, and games inside of Web pages. Flash was born when the Web began in 1996 and quickly became the standard for Web video, especially after a little startup called YouTube began using it in 2005. Now it’s largely obsolete, as most websites and apps use different technologies for the same purpose. In fact, in July 2015, Google and Mozilla (Firefox) each announced that their Web browsers will be dropping default support for Adobe Flash, citing the plug-in software’s newly discovered vulnerabilities to cyberattacks. Those moves came only a few days after Facebook’s chief of security called for Adobe to set an “end of life” date for the often exploited 20-year-old platform.

That being said, pretty much everyone that uses the Internet still uses Flash. If the sites you go to do not use Flash, uninstall it. Flash is a program, so uninstall it like you would any other program.

Ransomware has been becoming increasingly popular, hitting law firms and organizations as well as individuals. After visiting an infected website, your computer will install ransomware, which locks you out of your computer until you pay hackers a specified amount of money.

I know we say it over and over again and present it in some form at every convention, but I’m going to say it again because it obviously bears repeating: Back up all of your data. If you do get a ransomware attack, you will have your information saved and you won’t be scrambling to come up with the ransom money to get your important files back — and that’s if they even do uphold their end of the deal.  I recommend a cloud backup and local firmware back up.

You can find the current version number of flash: adobe.com/software/flash/about/.  After you locate which browser you use, write down the number. Then go to your browser and look in your gear icon or something similar, or you can go to install/uninstall programs and look for Adobe Flash and match each one as there are different programs for different browsers. You should also update your software as soon as a new version is released or have set to auto update because there are often security and bug fixes included within them. You should absolutely be running antivirus software as well.

Protect yourself by staying up-to-date with backups and current versions of your particular OS service pack releases and programs.

Christine Phipps, RPR, of North Palm Beach, Fla., is co-chair of NCRA’s Technology Committee. She can be reached at christine@phippsreporting.com.

TECHNOLOGY: The benefits of early adoption

By David Ward

Because concentration is paramount for their job, court reporters don’t like disruptions — and that often extends to the equipment and other technology they use during work. Once reporters are comfortable with their writers and other gear, many are loathe not only to try to try new hardware, but often even to update some of the software that supports their equipment. This reliance on the tried and true can help a reporter stay in their comfort zone, but it also comes with a cost.

Foregoing the opportunity to be an early technology adopter means that at least some reporters may end up missing out on trends that can help them do their job better and also grow their business.

“There are so many great new tools now with reporting,” says Robin Nodland, RDR, CRR, a principal with LNS Court Reporting based in Portland, Ore. “From where it was when I started in 1980, it almost feels like we’re cheating now thanks to software that can, for example, remember complex medical terms, so if you write it two or three times, it will start to suggest it.” Though it does require both a financial investment and a willingness to learn the ins and outs of the latest hardware and technology, Nodland says being an early tech adopter has more than paid off by helping her firm generate new business.

“Being tech-savvy really resonates with our client base,” she explains. “Every single time we’ve given a five-minute tour of our technology to a client, they are beside themselves. It’s usually the assistants — the attorneys don’t want to deal with it — who are just delighted because it makes their job easier. If they go home and are not sure if they have scheduled a videographer for the next day, they can log in and double check.”

One of the main reasons LNS embraces new technology is because it now does a lot more than reporting and videography. “We are tech heavy because we have both court reporting and captioning and video conferencing over IP, so we need a real robust infrastructure,” Nodland says.

LNS has an IT person on monthly retainer to oversee and maintain the company’s servers and website. “We use ReporterBase for the calendaring, invoicing, and the repository with 24/7 access to transcripts — and it’s our IT person’s job is to makes sure it’s all running properly. He also makes sure there are backups to all our reporters’ notes and files, even though that’s really the reporters’ responsibility.”

The cost-effective early tech adopter

Not every firm or individual reporter will have the resources to invest in an array of on-site servers, let alone hire a tech guy to manage it all.

But Sue Terry, RPR, CRR, an NCRA director and freelance reporter based in Dayton, Ohio, notes there are still cost-effective ways to be an early tech adopting reporter. Terry notes that even little things like upgrading laptops and home PCs to the new Microsoft Windows 10 operating system can make a huge difference.

“I know many reporters are afraid to make that switch for fear of messing up their laptop,” she explains. “But most of the upgrades are taking place on the software side, and many reporters don’t realize how powerful they can be and how effective they can be when streaming a deposition. Once you have your router in place, no matter what CAT system you’re on, it’s easier to get the hookup when all your software is up to date.”

Being an early tech adopter also requires reporters to understand what type of new tech can truly make a difference in their business.

Dianne Cromwell, RPR, is an official reporter in Boise, Idaho, as well as the owner of the Boise reporting firm Tucker & Associates. Cromwell says that virtually every reporter can help their business with relatively low-cost investments such iPads. “Compared with the old days when you had to deal with all different kinds of laptops and other repeaters, the iPad is much easier,” she says. “The freelancers that work for our company all have their own iPads, which they provide clients.”

Asking the right tech questions

Many small business owners — and not just those in the court reporting field — may understand the importance of staying on top of technology but often don’t know how to start that process.

Terry notes that people don’t have to be all that tech conversant to be early adopters; they just have to know the right people and ask the right questions.

“Many reporters buy a new laptop or other equipment, and the settings are not optimized for their job, which is the recording of proceedings,” Terry explains. “So they think they have a crappy laptop and they go out and buy another one.”

Asking other court reporters for advice is one way to get up to speed on new technology, but Terry says reporters also can’t be shy about asking the very people they’re buying the equipment from for their input. “These are professionals, and to me what they’re also selling me is support,” she says. “It really doesn’t do you any good to get a microphone that picks up the sound in a room great if you don’t know how to set the settings to make that happen.”

Most tech and software vendors say they want those questions from court reporters. Jason Yee, marketing director with OMTI, makers of the ReporterBase line of software, notes his company routinely handles queries from their hundreds of firm clients.

“We find their interest in new technology ranges from very conservative to eager early adopters,” he explains. “We view it as our job, as software developers, to be up on what is happening technology-wise and use our experience from 30 years of developing for this industry — plus insights from our clients — to decide which technologies to incorporate into ReporterBase. Then we teach our clients why they have these new abilities and what they can do with them.”

Yee says OMTI upgrades its two main court reporting products, RB8 office management software and RB Web online office, twice annually, keeping firm owners abreast of any new features through online content as well as its annual conference.

“We have found that often clients who describe themselves as not technically savvy will embrace these foreign new concepts and abilities when they understand the benefits and learn how to use the new features properly,” he adds.

Reporting technology for a rich future

The right technology can not only assist individual reporters and court reporting firms with their current work, it can also ready them for what could massive new opportunities over the next decade.

Jason Primuth, executive vice president for NextGen Reporting, points out that remote reporting — where the reporter is far from the witness being deposed — has not really taken off in many parts of the country.

“However, we’ve seen a strong growth in the demand for remote depositions where the parties are in multiple locations, and the court reporter is generally with the deponent,” he adds. “Forward-thinking corporations and insurance companies have found significant savings in time and money by conducting remote depositions.”

Primuth has also seen a surge in the use of video technology in legal proceedings, noting, “Some of our cases require the high-quality video that only traditional videographers and a professional camera can provide. But there’s a massively underserved market for video in smaller cases with smaller budgets. Other options, such as remote streaming, make video affordable to a much broader range of cases.”

Rhonda Jensen, RDR, CRR, CMRS, president of Jensen Litigation Solutions, based in Chicago, Ill., says her firm is rapidly adding new video equipment, including HD cameras, to take advantage of the growing popularity of video.

“We’ve expanded dramatically,” she explains. “We now do promotional videos for attorneys to post on their websites, and we’re very active in the local bar associations here in Illinois where we’ve done things like ‘Women in the Legal World’ videos for them.”

Jensen adds video is already influencing many parts of civil litigation. For example, her company now works with law firms to put together day-in-the-life videos used in personal injury suits.

“If someone is injured, the attorneys often want the jury to know what it’s like to be in their shoes by showing their daily life,” she explains. “We’ve also just invested in our first GoPro camera, which can be put on the injured person to show directly what life is like from their side.”

As much as video is affecting litigation, the huge growth in video outside of the legal arena has been a real technological trigger for the court reporting industry along with the need to caption much of that content.

A report last year from Cisco’s Visual Networking Index predicted that 80 percent of all Internet traffic will be video by 2019.

Carol Studenmund, RDR, CRC, and co-founder (along with Nodland) of LNS Reporting in Portland, Ore., agrees that the surge in video, both online and off, could have a profound effect on the captioning community – but only for reporters willing to step outside their comfort zone.

Studenmund explains that over the past five years, captioning prices in the network television affiliate world have dropped, adding, “But I still see reporters who only want to do network affiliate news, and they’re willing to take less money to just do that. In the meantime, there’s all this new work.”

One area where Studenmund is seeing growth is areas affected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

“The world of people with hearing disabilities are finally beginning to ask for what they’re allowed to have through ADA,” she says. “And it’s booming. One example is stadiums. How many stadiums now have to provide captions? Another is in the workplace as people are realizing that in order to participate in a workplace webinar, they need captions.”

If that’s not opportunity enough, consider the vast amounts of old videotape that could soon be converted to digital and posted online.

“There’s so much content, not just current videos being produced, but archived content from years back when they still had VHS,” Terry says. “These are sitting at colleges and universities, and they’re dying to make that content digital and searchable.”

In addition to possessing their traditional captioning skills, Terry says court reporters should start thinking and talking like early tech adopters when it comes to video.

“You have to explain to people looking to post videos to YouTube that most search engines can’t index that content unless it’s captioned and there are keywords to pull up,” she says. “We have so much video history right now that if I was just entering the business, I would be marketing video captioning as strongly as I would depositions and hearings. If you can learn to caption videos, you really have an unlimited market.”

The good news for court reporters looking to be on the cutting edge of video is that it doesn’t require that much new tech.

Studenmund, who does captioning at stadiums, including high-profile events like the Super Bowl, remotely from her home office, says other than a great high-speed Internet connection, all you really need are great earpieces.

“I indulge in nice headphones,” she adds. “When working remotely, it all comes down to hearing clearly.”

Like most early tech adopters, Studenmund says the real key is to embrace any new technology as an opportunity rather than distraction, adding, “Everything changes all the time, so you just need to be ready for that.”

David Ward is a journalist in Carrboro, N.C. Comments on this article can be sent to jcrfeedback@ncra.org.

This article was suggested by NCRA’s Technology Committee.

 

LiveDeposition to speak at STARtech conference

In a press release issued March 9, LiveDeposition, a provider of local and remote litigation event technology, announced that Vice President of Sales Jason Richmond will be speaking on the New Video & Exhibits Technology panel during the STARtech16 conference being co-hosted by the Illinois Court Reporters Association, March 11-13 in Chicago, Ill. Richmond will discuss new technologies in the video and paperless exhibit arenas, including picture-in-picture video conferencing, the newest paperless exhibit products, and how these technologies interact.

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