INTERSTENO: Registration for Internet Keyboarding Competition closes April 22

Intersteno’s 2018 Internet Keyboarding Competition being held April 23 through May 9 via its website allows steno machine writers and other keyboarders to test their skills and find out how they rate worldwide. Registration for Intersteno’s Internet Keyboarding Competition closes April 22. NCRA members who place in the contest will be listed in upcoming issues of the JCR and JCR Weekly.

“Please participate. It’s fun and only 10 minutes of your time,” said Tori Pittman, FAPR, RDR CRI, a longtime participant of the contest and chair of NCRA’s Intersteno Task Force. “You can write in steno or just type on a 101-key standard keyboard.”

Pittman is a 2017 Intersteno Bronze Medalist in the category of overall Speech Capture and a three-time Intersteno Gold Medalist in the category of voice Speech Capture. She is a freelance court reporter and agency owner from Wake Forest, N.C.

Competitors will use the Taki software, which is a free download on the Intersteno website, and can participate on a day of their own choosing between April 23 and May 9. It’s up to the individual to decide how they want to enter the competition.

Court reporting programs can register groups of students and host a competition for a class or entire school in conjunction with the event. Court reporting students who are interested in participating should contact their instructor about registering.

For more information about the competition or to register as an individual contestant, contact NCRA at intersteno@ncra.org.

More information on the contest is available at Intersteno.org.

Interested in the Intersteno Internet Contest? Check out these stories:

Get a taste of international competition without leaving your office

NCRA’s Intersteno Task Force interviews the winners of the Intersteno Internet Keyboarding Contest

 

NCRA member shows off realtime skills during high school courthouse visit

A story posted by the Tacoma [Wash.] Weekly on March 27 noted that NCRA member Kim O’Neill, an official court reporter from Tacoma, demonstrated her realtime skills to local high school students visiting the courthouse.

Read more.

CLVS certification process now more accessible and less expensive

NCRA members and others interested in earning the Certified Legal Video Specialist (CLVS) certification can now take the CLVS Mandatory Workshop online, making the certification process more accessible and reducing travel time and expenses incurred to certify as a CLVS. Registration fees for achieving the CLVS are also reduced with further savings for NCRA members.

In addition, the Introduction to CLVS education portion of the certification requirement will move to an online format after the NCRA 2018 Convention & Expo, which is scheduled for Aug. 2-5 in New Orleans, La.

Hands-on training and the Production Exam components are scheduled for June 8-9 at NCRA’s headquarters in Reston, Va. Following the hands-on training component of the certification process that will be offered at the NCRA 2018 Convention & Expo, all future hands-on training will be held at the Association’s headquarters in Reston, Va., and will be offered twice a year.

Jason Levin, CLVS, Washington, D.C., who chairs the NCRA CLVS Council will host a live webinar on April 16 for experienced individuals who have completed the new CLVS Mandatory Workshop online that will provide participants with the opportunity to ask questions about earning the CLVS certification and working as a professional legal videographer.

For more information about earning the CLVS certification, visit NCRA.org.

TAKE-AWAYS: How Firm Owners Executive Conference led two companies to a merger success

Following one of the NCRA Firm Owners Executive Conferences, attendee Robin Smith decided to take steps on an idea she had earlier brushed aside. Encouraged by a comment, she decided to approach a second court reporting firm to see if the owners were interested in merging. The JCR asked Smith and business partner Gail McLucas, RPR, to take us through their process.

Smith, although not a court reporter herself, grew up in a court reporting family. She found the business side of court reporting fascinating, and with a degree in business management, became an integral part of her family’s business.

JCR | How long have you been going to the NCRA Firm Owners Executive Conference?

SMITH | I attended two Firm Owners conferences, one in Sarasota, Fla., and one in Dana Point, Calif. They were several years ago; and while I don’t remember anything specific, I do remember appreciating the opportunity to meet other firm owners and realizing that we all face similar challenges.

I attended the conference in Arizona last year, and Gail and I both attended this year’s conference in St. Pete Beach. I found the conference this year very worthwhile — lots of opportunities to network as well as practical and useful business knowledge. We came away with the realization of two things that we can do better and have begun to take action on them.

MCLUCAS | This year’s Firm Owners convention in St. Pete, Fla., was the first Firm Owners convention I’ve attended.

JCR | What was the impetus for the merger of your two firms?

SMITH | The economic surveys were what started everything. I’ve never been one for completing surveys, but I have completed every one of the economic surveys, maybe because of my experiences at the conferences. When you complete the survey, you receive the survey reports. And this quote from the 2011 report is what started us on this journey: “When asked about economic indicators and what he or she looks for to gauge whether business is about to pick up, he/she responded this way: ‘I am merging with another small company to create a larger company based on the Firm Owners results reported in February 2011.’”

MCLUCAS | It was spring of 2013 when Robin called me and asked me to have lunch with her. The purpose of the lunch was ultimately to discuss the possibility of merging our firms; and upon hearing it, I considered it a wonderful idea.

JCR | Can you give a little bit of history about your firm as well as the history of the firm you eventually merged with?

SMITH | Geiger Loria Reporting was started in 1950 by George Geiger (my stepfather). He was an official for Dauphin County in Harrisburg, Pa., and started a freelance firm as well. Virginia Loria (my mother) joined him in the early 1970s, and so we are a court reporting family. Both my sisters, Helena Bowes and Sherry Bryant, are court reporters. Except for me. I’ve always done the business side of things.

MCLUCAS | I graduated with an Associate’s Degree in Court Reporting in June of 1974. From then until the end of 1980, I worked as an official at York County Courthouse. I started working for Geiger Loria in January of 1981. My former business partner, Joyce Filius, and I both worked together at Geiger Loria Reporting Service from 1981 until 1983. We were both from the York area, which is about 40 miles south of Harrisburg, and at the time we saw a need for a court reporting service in the York area. So Filius & McLucas Reporting began in August of 1983.

JCR | Robin, how did you approach Gail with your idea?

SMITH | You know how you have an idea and you think it’s great at first and then you talk yourself out of it? That’s exactly what I did: I talked myself out of it. It wasn’t until I was working with a business consultant and mentioned that I had this idea once and dismissed it. Well, he didn’t. He encouraged me to set up a meeting with Filius and McLucas and, as scared as I was, I did.

MCLUCAS | I was kind of curious about the call for lunch from Robin; however, we would see each other every so often at PCRA luncheons or events. But there was never an ongoing meeting with each other outside of that. But when the idea of a merger was presented to me, I was absolutely thrilled about the whole idea. I knew my business partner, Joyce Filius, was looking to retire and I certainly wasn’t ready to make that move in my life. I, too, have always been a firm believer in there’s force in numbers. So the idea of bringing two firms of comparable size together seemed to be a wonderful idea to me.

JCR | What were some of the issues that you had to work out to make the merger happen?

SMITH | Everything! After a lot of discussion, we decided to start from scratch, create a whole new company with the four of us as owners (myself, Gail, Helena Bowes, RPR, and Sherry J. Bryant, RPR, CRR) and wind down operations of our current companies. Then things became easier to figure out. There are so many things to consider and so many things you didn’t think to consider. It was a very hectic time.

MCLUCAS | I think the initial decision that needed to be worked out was whether there was actually going to be a purchase of assets by one company or the other or a mere “merger” of the firms without the exchange of purchase money. When we discussed the assets that each company had accumulated over the years, we found that we had enough to put together two “households.” After all, a merger is almost like a marriage. We had enough to comfortably supply two office spaces (one in Harrisburg and one in York). Each partner put a small amount of capital into the firm to get it up and running and applied for a line of credit to initially cover payroll and some of our start-up costs. Of course, a name for the new venture is always a consideration. And although it’s a mouthful, we decided to keep the two names of the firms and just run them together because they were well-recognized in the area for over 30 years.

JCR | How long did it take to merge the two firms?

MCLUCAS | We started talking in the spring of 2013 and were hopefully going to have it culminate in September 2013. At first, we had a business consultant involved. But we were not getting answers very quickly from him, so we took it upon ourselves to make the merger happen on our own. That, of course, involved a little more time, and we actually began the merged company, Geiger Loria Filius McLucas Reporting, LLC, on January 1, 2014.

SMITH | From that point, I feel it took two years until everything started to gel. The first year is just a blur. We had to put out a lot of fires and just hang on for dear life. The second year, things started to even out, and we could begin to focus on the bigger picture. 2018 will be our fifth year together, and it’s gone really, really fast.

JCR | What are some of the benefits of merging?

MCLUCAS | I feel the benefits of merging were immense, although scary at first. We were bringing the reporters of the two firms together for the first time, who had been with each of us for 15 to 20 years. Like a marriage, we weren’t too sure how all of our “children” were going to get along. But the benefits have outweighed our fright, and overall the merger has given us a bigger and stronger firm than we both had separately. Also, because I’ve always been “just a reporter,” I really appreciate Robin’s business acumen and her contribution in that respect to the newly-formed company. I always enjoyed the client contact and reporting aspect of the business, but not so much the financial side and forethought that it takes to run a truly successful business.

SMITH | We are stronger together. Together we have more resources, and that helps us to handle the ups and downs of not only day-to-day things but the ups and downs that are inherent in any business and industry.

JCR | Were there any obstacles that you had to deal with after the merger was completed? Were those things that you knew about in advance and had been prepared for, or did they take you by surprise?

MCLUCAS | As with any new business, there are always obstacles that you are presented with and have to deal with on a daily basis. The biggest initial obstacle was we moved not only the Harrisburg office, but we moved the York office (and may I say three times) before we were finally settled in. We were lucky enough to keep the office manager that was with F&M for 22 plus years, and that was sincerely a stabilizing factor for both of us. The building we moved into in January of 2014 didn’t have a permanent space for us until the middle of February. So we moved in February to a space, only to find that within a year we quickly outgrew that space and needed to move to a larger suite in the same building that we have been in since.

The other big hurdle that I think every new business faces is finances. We had a substantial amount of start-up costs; and until all our clients settled back into working with us together, it was a little rough at first. But I don’t think any of this took us by surprise; it was just learning how best to deal with the circumstances we were dealt. And as they say, if it doesn’t kill you, it will only make you stronger – and stronger I feel we are today!

SMITH | I wholeheartedly agree. Because we chose to start from scratch, the financial side of things probably was our biggest obstacle. We were spending money before we even opened our doors; and that took longer to recover from than we had anticipated or planned for.

JCR | Was there something specific about the situation that made it seem like a good idea to merge? Are there conditions that you could describe for someone else so that they might recognize a similar situation?

SMITH | The way we operated our firms on a day-to-day basis was very similar, our values and commitment were closely aligned, and we were in different regional markets so we each brought a different client base to the new firm.

MCLUCAS | I think the main thing that made it seem like it was a really good idea was when we compared financial information. It was like holding two identical companies side by side. But as in running two households, running two businesses is always more expensive than one good, strong one together. For me, that is what really made the situation seem real and that it was a good decision to be made.

I think the partners also have to recognize whether they will be able to work together amicably and not have one be so overpowering as to not consider the other’s opinion. As partners we’ve been able to communicate openly about all things involving the business, and there are no secrets kept from anyone about anything. I think an open and informed relationship is the only kind to have.

JCR | Is there any advice that you would offer to someone who is interested in merging two firms?

SMITH | I think it’s important if you’re going to be essentially handing over your business to someone and they are handing theirs to you and you’re going to be working together, that you like, respect, and trust that person. I’m not sure that’s something that I consciously thought of before we started down this path, and I realize now how important that was and still is.

MCLUCAS | I would say the most important factor is getting to know your potential partner as well as possible. Robin and I set regularly scheduled meetings with each other over the course of nine months before we finally made the merger happen. I hate to keep likening this merger to a marriage; but if you don’t have common goals and ideas as the person you’re going into business with, it could turn out to be a disastrous idea and will only cause heartache and failure. However, 2018 will be our fifth year in this merged company together and I couldn’t be happier with how everything has turned out for the two firms. I’m almost positive [that we] would not have been as successful if we had stayed two separate firms for this period of time.

New Legislative Boot Camp Experience inspires attendees to take action

Enlightening, enriching, insightful, and inspiring are just some of the adjectives representatives from 28 state court reporter associations used to describe their experiences at NCRA’s 2018 Legislative Boot Camp held March 11-13 in Reston, Va.

With a lineup of top speakers that addressed issues ranging from how to stop overthinking, why certification is important to state associations, how to support successful grassroots lobbying efforts, and how to implement effective programs at the state level, attendees of the NCRA 2018 Legislative Boot Camp were given access to an impressive learning opportunity. Attendees also participated in mock trials as they prepared to take new skills and insights they learned during the sessions to advocate for the court reporting and captioning professions during visits with lawmakers and their staff members on Capitol Hill.

Carolyn Coronado, RPR, and Keith Johnson, RDR, CRR, CRC, visit Rep. Pete Sessions office

“There was a lot of information shared during this event. It was enlightening, and I have some great ideas to take back to my state association, as well as some really good points I can use when I meet with my legislators,” said Carolyn Coronado, RPR, an official court reporter from Houston, Texas, and first-time boot camp attendee.

“For me personally, I can see how I can use the information I learned to address my judges as well on certain issues. I came here to learn, and now thinking ahead, I may become more involved with NCRA and committee work,” added Coronado, a past board member of the Texas Court Reporters Association.

Shelley Row, speaker, consultant, and author, led an insightful session laced with humor and personal stories in her presentation “Go with Your Gut: Effective Decision-Making in an Overthinking World.” The self-proclaimed recovering overthinker shared with attendees how she used infotuition – the combination of intuition and information – to learn to recognize the signs that made her an overthinker. She shared her cognition-intuition balance model that is based on understanding what constitutes a no-brainer decision versus a knee-jerk decision and how to leave room in our thinking to allow the “Aha!” moments. She also shared how important it is to remove yourself from heated situations before reacting, the positive impact of taking brain breaks, and recognizing body markers.

“Thinking and acting is not enough. You have to think, feel, and act. Taken together, the brain, gut, and the body’s neurological system create embodied intelligence that supports infotuitive decision-making. Understand in advance what triggers launch what reactions in you when faced with making good decisions. Learn ways that you can return to calm, and take brain breaks to allow all parts of the brain to work together to make decisions,” Row told attendees.

“Everything we talked about here are skills. They take practice. You are always practicing; every minute of every day is practice. It is likely that between today and tomorrow you will encounter a triggering event. You can make the decision to do what you’ve always done, or choose to slow it down and think about it differently. Either way is practice. Are you practicing the behavior that serves you best to make decisions from your gut?”

Row left attendees with one final thought: “A good message to take with you is that a lot of people go through life and don’t take a breath or don’t realize what affects them. You need to breathe. As court reporter you need to stop and do that.”

Attorney James Cool presented a session that discussed how to implement effective programs at the state level by understanding the moral philosophy framework for political persuasion. His presentation was focused on the five oral axes as explained in the book, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, written by Jonathan Haidt, which explains how moral underlining philosophies drive our decision-making. The five moral axes that trigger our morality he touched on included:

  • Care/harm
  • Fairness/cheating
  • Loyalty/betrayal
  • Authority/ subversion
  • Sanctity/ degradation

Other sessions presented during boot camp that armed attendees with more insight and skills before heading to Capitol Hill to meet with lawmakers and their staffs on the last day included:

  • “The State of Court Reporting” by NCRA President Chris Willette, RDR, CRR, CRC, and Matthew Barusch, NCRA State Government Relations Manager
  • “Grassroots Lobbying” by Jacqueline Sly, former state representative for South Dakota
  • “A Lesson on the Importance of Certification” with John Brandon, interim president of the Connecticut Court Reporters Association
  • “Certification: An Important Issue in the States” presented by Barusch and Cynthia Bruce Andrews, NCRA Senior Director of Certification and Education, about why certification is an important issue for the states.

Rob Jones interviewed by NCRA President Chris Willette as Tricia Rosate, RDR, CRR, transcribes and Joe Donahoe videos

Other highlights of the 2018 boot camp experience included traveling into Washington, D.C., to Capitol Hill via the Metro, lunch in the Dirksen Senate Dining Room, and a special wrap-up reception at the Library of Congress in honor of the Veterans History Project (VHP). The reception also included an interview for the VHP by Willette with retired U.S. Marine Sgt. Rob Jones, a double above-the-knee amputee who has been inspiring fellow veterans with his 31 marathons in 31 days in 31 different cities and bike trip across the United States. Jones also holds a Bronze medal in rowing from the U.S. Paralympics. Planet Depos provided their top-notch videography services for the event and captured the entire interview for the National Court Reporters Foundation.

“I really enjoyed the networking sessions. I learned a lot. I liked the in-depth discussions of critical issues. These conversations are important. My biggest takeaway from Boot Camp is that I see there are people in virtually every state that care deeply about our profession and are willing to work together to address these issues,” said Joshua Edwards, RDR, CRR, a captioner from New York, N.Y., and president-elect of the New York State Court Reporters Association.

“You can have a bigger impact working together than alone in many areas. Court reporting and captioning as a field depends on the passion of our members,” he added.

 

INTERSTENO: Internet keyboarding competition showcases ability around the world

Intersteno’s Internet Keyboarding Competition, held April 23 through May 9 via its website, allows steno machine writers and other keyboarders to test their skills and find out how they rate worldwide. Registration for Intersteno’s Internet Keyboarding Competition is open from March 19 through April 22. NCRA members who place in the contest will be listed in upcoming issues of the JCR and JCR Weekly.

Competitors will use the Taki software, which is a free download on the Intersteno website, and can participate on a day of their own choosing between April 23 and May 9. It’s up to the individual to decide how they want to enter the contest — whether using a steno machine or a regular keyboard.

Court reporting programs can register groups of students and host a competition for a class or entire school in conjunction with the event. Court reporting students who are interested in participating should contact their instructors about registering.

To enter, competitors should provide the following information:

  1. full name and address
  2. year of birth
  3. technology to be used (keyboard, stenotype machine)
  4. language: choose mother-tongue or multilingual
  5. the date they plan to take the test

Send the above information to intersteno@ncra.org. The cost of the contest in U.S. dollars is:

■ $6 for participation only in the mother tongue
■ $8 for competitors writing in two or more languages

Checks must be received by NCRA no later than April 22. Participants will be registered once the check is received. Checks should be made payable to NCRA and mailed to:

NCRA
Attention: Internet Competition
12030 Sunrise Valley Dr., Suite 400
Reston, VA 20191

More information on the contest is available at intersteno.org/intersteno-internet-contests.

Two NCRA Members Tie for First Place in 2018 NCSA Challenge

For the first time in the past four years, the National Committee of State Associations (NCSA) friendly challenge among state associations and individuals to spread the word about the benefits of a career in court reporting or captioning has ended with a tie for first place. Earning first place honors were Cindy Isaacsen, RPR, an official from Olathe, Kan., and Kristen Wurgler, RPR, a captioner from Cottage Grove, Wis. Isaacsen and Wurgler will receive free webinars from NCRA. The challenge ended with the culmination of NCRA’s 2018 Court Reporting & Captioning Week, which was celebrated Feb. 10-17.

NCRA member Lisa Wagner, RPR, an official court reporter from Highlands Ranch, Colo., earned top honors in this year’s challenge. She hosted 10 school career fairs. As grand prize winner, Wagner has earned a complimentary registration to the NCRA Convention & Expo being held Aug. 2-5 in New Orleans, La.

The JCR Weekly reached out to learn more about what motivates this year’s first prize winners to promote the profession.

Build a network

To help promote the profession, Isaacsen attended a number of career fairs in the Kansas City metro area and was interviewed by her local television station.

“I have been attending career fairs and talking about court reporting for a long time, so a lot of the same schools I have been working with contact me yearly to attend their fairs,” she said.

“The television interview is an interesting story. The TV anchor of our local station was a victim in a criminal case, and I was one of the reporters assigned to the case. I made contact with her. We built a relationship through that contact and we have stayed in touch. So when Court Reporting & Captioning Week came around, I asked her about doing a television spot about the shortage of reporters.”

The news reporter also noted in the interview that Isaacsen was offered a freelance job as a result of the research she was doing in preparation for the story about the number of openings available for court reporters in Kansas and Missouri.

Another added benefit of Isaacsen’s television appearance was that, once the piece aired, participants in the local A to Z Intro to Machine Steno program jumped from three participants to more than 20, and a second television station also aired a piece about the shortage of court reporters. That story was filmed at the local courthouse, Isaacsen added.

To help round up volunteers to staff career fairs and step into media interviews, Isaacsen said you need to just keep asking people around you. She also advises taking a friend as well as your computer and steno machine so you can feel comfortable just talking about what you do and demonstrating how you do it.  Students love to see their words come up on the court reporter’s laptop, and while they will pick up handouts and candy from your table, they really like to just touch the keyboard on the steno machine, she said.

“Teenagers need to have another option when it comes to careers. The idea of attending a four-year college and walking away with huge debt and a low-paying job is scary to them and their parents. They need options and they need to know that there are other jobs available, and I think court reporting provides them so many opportunities. I always hear students saying, that is so cool, when they see what I do. They also say they have never heard of court reporting or if they have, that they didn’t realize it was the computer doing all the work,” she said.

One of the school career fairs Isaacsen attended this year was held at a middle school. To help students feel more comfortable, she ditched the traditional suit for a younger look.

“I get so excited about what I do, and it shows. The last career day I did was at a middle school, and I decided that they would listen better if I looked more like them. So I wore Converse sneakers, skinny jeans, and a sweatshirt that said ‘Court Reporters always get the last word.’ And they asked more questions, approached me more, and were more interested in what I had to say when I looked like them,” Isaacsen said.

As for the future, Isaacsen said she would like to reach out to more high school students since they are the group beginning to research their future. She’d also like to spend more time getting in contact with high school counselors and making an impact with them.

“Counselors have a lot of challenges these days, but I would really like to get in with the local counselors’ organizations and have them identify some specific students who they feel would be perfect for this career,” said Isaacsen.

Showing off captioning

Wurgler, who tied Isaacsen for first place in the NCSA Challenge, is one of several staff CART captioners at the McBurney Disability Resource Center at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. She and coworkers hosted a CART trivia contest, among other activities. Each day a different question was posted on a whiteboard, along with several hints regarding the answers. The McBurney staff member with the most points on the scoreboard at the end of the week won a gift card to a specialty grocery store on the school’s campus.

During the week, Wurgler also gave a brown bag presentation to the Division of Student Life entitled “What is CART at UW-Madison?” The topics discussed in the presentation included delineating broadcast captioning from CART, some information about the student population who receives CART services on campus, a tour of the machinery including all hands on the steno keyboard for participants as they learned how to stroke ‘Bucky,’ staff qualifications, and when CART should be provided for a division event.

“Overall, our staff and division felt a greater understanding and appreciation for the complexity of CART here at UW-Madison. So even though we were not directly involved in enticing new students into the court reporting, broadcast captioning, or CART professions directly, it was an educational moment that drew attention to how CART can benefit an entire campus community.  Even more important, we all had fun while learning how CART benefits students at our beautiful campus,” Wurgler added.

Wurgler said her goal for next year during Court Reporting & Captioning Week is to ensure that captioning is always turned on at every television on the campus, including in the dining halls, the residence halls, and the educational buildings. The captions, she said, will not only benefit the school’s deaf and hard-of-hearing students but also the many international students on the campus whose first language is not English and who may find reading English captions easier than hearing the language initially.

“Imagine an extraordinarily loud environment like a dining hall on a college campus of 50,000 students with glassware, silverware, and trays clanking all the time, let alone the conversation levels. You can imagine the important safety messages that students will have the benefit of seeing on the TVs even before they can hear them. Unfortunately, receiving these important safety messages is a vital issue for schools of every level in our country during these sad times in our country,” Wurgler said.

NCSA 2018 challenge winners named

For the past four years, the National Committee of State Associations (NCSA) has issued a friendly challenge among state associations and individuals to spread the word about the benefits of a career in court reporting or captioning. Participants had the chance to win complimentary registrations to NCRA events or vouchers for webinars for continuing education. NCRA member Lisa Wagner, RPR, an official court reporter from Highlands Ranch, Colo., earned top honors in this year’s challenge by hosting 10 school career fairs. As grand prize winner, Wagner has earned a complimentary registration to the NCRA Convention & Expo being held Aug. 2-5 in New Orleans, La.

In a tie for first place were NCRA members Cindy Isaacsen, RPR, an official from Olathe, Kan., and Kristen Wurgler, RPR, a captioner from Cottage Grove, Wis. Isaacsen and Wurgler will receive free webinars from NCRA.

The JCR Weekly reached out to learn more about what motivates this year’s grand prize winner to promote the profession. First prize winners, Isaacsen and Wurgler, will be profiled in next week’s issue of the JCR Weekly.

JCR | What were the activities you were involved in to promote the profession?

Wagner | Most of the activities were career fairs, but one was the Colorado School Counselor Association annual conference, which we have participated in for three years now, and I also was involved with a couple presentations. I participated in five career fairs: Three of them were high school career fairs, and two of them were middle school. 

 JCR | How did you identify events to participate in?

Wagner | The biggest majority of events we participate in come from requests by counselors who have had contact with us at their annual conference.

JCR | How did you recruit volunteers to help?

Wagner | The Colorado Court Reporters Association sends out what it calls eBlasts to the members. I also put articles in our publication, The Ramblings. We also have volunteer forms and rely on word of mouth. We couldn’t have participated in all these events without the volunteers, and I so appreciate everyone.

JCR | What is the biggest factor motivating you to reach out to participate in so many career day events?

Wagner | The reason I participate is to let counselors and students know of our wonderful profession and the opportunities we have. I am continually amazed that they either don’t know anything about court reporters or, if they do know something, it’s not the full extent of the areas we can work in. 

 JCR | What have some of the responses been from students learning about court reporting for the first time?

Wagner | Students are absolutely in awe of realtime! We always demonstrate realtime, and the biggest response is “That’s so cool!” I just have so much fun and really enjoy showing students what we do. 

 JCR | Do you serve as a mentor for current court reporting students?

Wagner | I have in the past, but I do not currently serve as a mentor. I just recently volunteered to be a mentor through the A to Z program in our state. 

 JCR | I am assuming you have fun participating in these events. What is the best part of participating for you?

Wagner | Yes, I do have fun. Also, it is extremely energizing for me to attend these and go back to work thinking this really is a very unique ability that we have and I am so proud to be in this profession!

 JCR | What is your goal for next year’s NCSA challenge?

Wagner | See if we can keep up this pace! 

JCR | The grand prize is a convention registration. What is the best part of attending a national convention?

Wagner | I have never been to a convention, so I think it would be to meet new people and reconnect with others I haven’t seen in a while. Also, the classes and workshops always look awesome, so I would be looking forward to that. 

 JCR | What advice would you give to other reporters thinking of participating in career fairs?

Wagner | I know it’s a commitment to take time away from our daily work, but it is so worth it even if you do it just once. One of the reasons I do this is that I feel very strongly that if we as a profession aren’t more proactive in promoting ourselves, we are not going to have the future reporters to fill some of these positions that already aren’t being filled in many states. 

 

 

 

NCRA’s Firm Owners Conference draws record attendance and praise

The 2018 NCRA Firm Owners Executive Conference drew a record number of attendees as well as high praise for the speakers and overall program from those who attended. The event was held Jan. 28-30 in St. Pete Beach, Fla.

Among the biggest takeaways were the “7 C’s to Build a Winning Team” offered by keynote speaker John Spence: coaching, character, communication, commitment, contagious energy, caring, and consistency. He also presented his most intensive business improvement workshop, specifically created to help management teams take a hard, honest look at their businesses to determine exactly where their strengths and weaknesses are. Participants then created a focused plan for how to succeed at a higher level in the marketplace.

Other speakers who motivated attendees with their presentations included Chris Hearing and Greg Laubach, who presented an interactive session entitled “Managing to Maximize Business Value.” This session focused on creating short-term profits and business value. Another speaker, Steve Scott, lead a session dedicated to business marketing on the Web. Scott is a SEO strategist, internet marketing educator, and the owner of the Tampa SEO Training Academy.

“This year was the best Firm Owners convention I have been to yet,” said Christine Phipps, RPR, a firm owner from West Palm Beach, Fla., and a member of NCRA’s Board of Directors.

“The opening reception with team building  of tiki huts, music, custom drink, and dance really set the tone for the whole conference,” she said.

The schedule also provided numerous networking opportunities, including receptions, dinners, dedicated networking time between sessions, free time during lunch, and a closing reception.

Even though Phipps said the event was the largest attended, she was able to talk to more people and make more friends than she has at past events. She attributes this to the schedule with its many networking opportunities.

“John Spence was an excellent speaker; he related the conversation to not only our industry specifically but our businesses specifically — more like a coaching session with an overall individual business analysis. Spending time with these firm owners makes me even more proud to be part of this great profession,” said Phipps. “I cannot wait for next year!”

Court Reporting & Captioning Week celebrated big across the nation

NCRA’s Board of Directors kicked off the seventh National Court Reporting & Captioning Week with a video encouraging everyone to celebrate and showcase the profession by sharing with the public what they do. The video was taken during a development meeting held earlier this month at the Association’s headquarters in Reston, Va., and was posted on NCRA’s Facebook page and other social media outlets, where it earned more than 3,200 views.

The South Dakota Court Reporters Association posted this photo of South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard and Chief Justice David Gilbertson proclaiming Court Reporting & Captioning Week

Also at the national level, the 2018 weeklong celebration marked the first time two U.S. representatives recognized the event with official proclamations. The first was made on the floor of the U.S. House by Rep. Bradley Byrne from Alabama, who delivered a one-minute floor speech recognizing Court Reporting & Captioning Week on Feb. 15 at 9 a.m. ET. In addition, longtime supporter U.S. Rep. Ron Kind from Wisconsin also proclaimed the week in a statement he submitted for the official record. Rep. Kind’s wife, Tawni Kind, RMR, CRR, CRC, is an official court reporter and a member of NCRA.

Official proclamations were also reported at the state and local levels, including in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Texas, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

“Wouldn’t it be great if every week was Court Reporting & Captioning Week? Wow! What an incredible display of the pride we have for our professions. From proclamations to radio and television interviews to demonstrations and more, it was a fantastic week from beginning to end,” said NCRA President Christine J. Willette, RDR, CRR, CRC, a firm owner from Wausau, Wis.

“Each year, I am in awe of the dedication and creativity of those who participate. Congratulations on our success, and thank you all for sharing your passion! Don’t let it end now. Let’s keep it alive,” she added.

Social media was abuzz

Jeaninn Alexis shows off the Court Reporting & Captioning Week photo frame

Throughout the week, members and students took to social media to help spread the word about the opportunities a career in court reporting or captioning can offer using the hashtag #DiscoverSteno. Among the many posts were a number of videos showcasing the profession, including one that explains what stenography is by writing on a white board, which was posted by NCRA Director Christine Phipps, RPR, a firm owner from West Palm Beach, Fla. NCRA Director Max Curry, RPR, CRI, a firm owner from Franklin, Tenn., also posted a video celebrating the profession on social media created by students at Gadsden State Community College’s court reporting program.

For the last day of the weeklong celebration, NCRA member Richard Scire, RPR, an official court reporter from Sarasota, Fla., posted a video tour of the courtroom where he works.

Michael Hensley says hello to NCRA’s Instagram followers during his takeover

On Feb. 13 and Feb. 14, NCRA’s Instagram was taken over by members Mike Hensley, RPR, a freelance reporter from Evanston, Ill., and Chase Frazier, RMR, CRR, CRC, a captioner from Murrieta, Calif., respectively. The two posted photos, shared their favorite gadgets, hosted live videos, and more.

Also recognizing the week on social media was Leah M. Willersdorf, president of the British Institute of Verbatim Reporters. “It’s okay to love what you do and shout about it from the rooftops,” she said.

Several members posted blogs about their profession and shared why the career choice was a meaningful one to them, including Lynette Mueller, FAPR, RDR, CRR, a freelance reporter from Memphis, Tenn., who penned Lessons Court Reporters can Learn From Olympians. Another blog post explained Why Court Reporters are the Backbone of Courtrooms and was written by the firm OrangeLegal, based in Orlando, Fla.

School visits

Students from Humphreys University participated in NCRA’s Olympic-themed speed competition

Members and court reporting students also took time during the week to participate in career fairs to talk about the many opportunities the profession offers as well as provide demonstrations of realtime. In addition to launching its first A to Z Machine Steno Writing program, several members of the Minnesota Association of Verbatim Reporters & Captioners represented court reporting and captioning at several high school career fairs and at a state homeschoolers association career fair. Nicole Bulldis, RPR, an official court reporter from Pasco, Wash., took the opportunity to visit an elementary school and introduce students to the steno machine.

Other career days where court reporting and captioning were showcased took place in San Antonio, Texas; Scranton, Pa.; and Olathe, Kan. On Feb. 16, court reporting students from the Madison Area Technical College in Wisconsin traveled to two local high schools to share with students more about how the steno machine works and why a career in the court reporting or captioning fields is attractive.

Students from the Des Moines Area Community College toured the Polk County Courthouse in Des Moines, Iowa

Court reporting students also received visitors to their own programs. Those attending San Antonio College in Texas were able to meet Melinda Walker, RPR, CMRS, chief reporter for the U.S. House of Representatives. In addition, former president of the Florida Court Reporters Association Rosa Naccarato, from Hollywood, and president-elect Sharon Pell Velazco, RPR, from Miami Lakes, spent the day with students at Atlantic Technical College.

And of course, there was media coverage

As always, national and local outreach generated an increase in media attention covering the court reporting and captioning professions. Among those stories were:

NCRA wants to thank everyone who participated in the 2018 Court Reporting & Captioning Week and encourages everyone to begin planning now for the 2019 Court Reporting & Captioning Week, which is scheduled for Feb. 10-16.