NCRA members receive top awards from state association

A press release issued July 4 by First Choice Reporting announced that NCRA members Laura Landerman, RMR, CRR; Cathy Carpenter; Rosa Naccarato; Christy Bradshaw, RPR; and Rick Levy, RPR, were recently recognized by the Florida Court Reporters Association.

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Retiring court reporter describes how a two-year degree led to a 30-year career

The Kinstonnews.com posted an interview with retiring court reporter Ivy Albertson of La Grange, N.C., who shares how a two-year degree in court reporting led to her successful 30-year career.

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Litigation Services acquires Keleher’s Certified Shorthand Reporters

Litigation Services, based in Las Vegas, Nev., announced in a press release issued July 3, that the firm has acquired Keleher’s Certified Shorthand Reporters.

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Local court reporter earns national certification

Shoreline Area News posted a press a release on June 30 announcing that NCRA member Douglas Armstrong earned his RPR. The press release was issued by NCRA on Armstrong’s behalf.

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Court reporting cited as an ideal job for second careers

Court reporting was included in an article posted June 27 by Niagarabuzz.ca about viable second careers.

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The industry supports NCRA to advance the future of court reporting and captioning

NCRA’s newly launched Corporate Partnership Program has drawn the commitment of six organizations serving or representing the court reporting and captioning professions.

NCRA welcomes the following companies as corporate partners:

NCRA’s Corporate Partnership program, which ranges in levels of sponsorship from $10,000 to $100,000, aids in business and workforce development efforts by NCRA and the National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF).

“NCRA’s mission is to deepen the skills and opportunities of the court reporting and captioning professions through certification, mentorship, scholarships, leadership training, and professional development,” said CEO and Executive Director Marcia Ferranto.

“Right now we need to focus on the next generation of captioners and court reporters by illustrating that these professions are viable and lucrative career opportunities. While we recognize that there are various methods being used to capture the spoken word, NCRA’s focus is to ensure that both the general public and the legal industry understand that stenography is by far the most effective and desired method and that NCRA is focused on closing the shortage gap of stenographers nationally. Our Corporate Partners are a key part of the sustainability and growth of these initiatives,” Ferranto said.

A standard development strategy in the trade association industry, the Corporate Partnership program was created to enable NCRA to serve its members and provide value without raising dues, as well as assist NCRA in acquiring the knowledge, resources, and funding needed to advance the professions into the next decade.

A 12-month sponsorship with NCRA provides benefits back to its corporate partners, such as advertising, event tickets, memberships, and publicity. As the drivers of the value proposition of the program, NCRA has created a win-win for everyone.

To learn more about the NCRA Corporate Partnership Program, visit https://www.ncra.org/utility-pages/about-ncra/corporate-partners or contact Mary Petto at mpetto@ncra.org or 703-584-9022.

Proposed name change to bring greater attention to stenography

NCRA members will have the opportunity in August to vote on several amendments to the Association’s bylaws, including approving an amendment to add captioners to the official name.

If approved, the amendment would change the name of the Association to National Captioners and Reporters Association, which would maintain the initials NCRA, a recognized and significant symbol for captioning and court reporting professionals. In addition, the official logo would include a new tagline that underscores the professions NCRA represents — Steno: The standard in capturing the spoken word. The tagline maintains the Association’s focus on stenography and the professions that use a steno machine.

The proposed amendment is the result of lengthy discussion and membership feedback brought forward during the creation of the new three-year strategic plan. In addition to engagement with membership for feedback, NCRA sought the expertise of an outside consultant. The change is expected to bring more attention to stenography and the machine, update the image of stenography, and inform the public that stenography serves many purposes.

Kimberly Shea

“One of the most important things about the name change is that NCRA is recognizing captioners as valued members of this professional organization. It’s an opportunity to say, ‘We are an association made up of stenographers. We value captioners as members. We value your exceptional realtime skills. We value your profession. We represent you on the same level that we represent court reporters,’” said Kimberly A. Shea, CRC, a captioner from Trophy Club, Texas.

“I believe it’s important to acknowledge that, while we are all stenographers, captioners and court reporters possess intricate skill sets unique to their specialty. I have been a member of both professions for many years. They are both amazing communities to be a part of,” Shea added.

Danielle Murray

“My hope is that this name change will assist in the rebranding of our industry,” said Danielle Murray, RPR, CRR, an official court reporter from Olathe, Kan. “The name change encompasses more of what we are now in 2018. We aren’t just court reporters sitting in a court anymore. There are many more things you can do with this skill,” she added.

Murray has been a member of NCRA for 10 years, is immediate past president of the Kansas Court Reporters Association, and currently works for the 10th Judicial District of the State of Kansas.

According to the amendment rationale, the proposed name change would also help bolster the services and value members receive. In addition, it will drive greater recognition for the human component of court reporting and captioning within the profession’s client communities.

Steve Clark

“This name change will recognize the important work that is performed by NCRA members who are court reporters and captioners — and some who work as both reporters and captioners — and will keep the NCRA tag, recognizing NCRA as the stenographic leader in capturing the spoken word,” said Stephen H. Clark, CRC, a manager and realtime captioner for Home Team Captions in Washington, D.C., and a member of NCRA for 33 years.

“As more and more captioning is being performed, both broadcast and CART captioning, it is vital that we recognize the contributions made by captioners and the importance of their membership in NCRA. This profession is changing so quickly, and recognizing all of our professional members is the right thing to do. There is strength in numbers. We are strongest when we work as one, while recognizing the unique talents of all of our members,” he added.

“My hope is that court reporters and captioners will realize that we have a better chance at success if we stand together as stenographers, respecting the skills we all possess and supporting each other in the challenges we face on both sides of the fence by participating in education, awareness, and activism at every opportunity,” said Shea.

“If we can successfully do that, then our membership will flourish and we can encourage and inspire a new, modern generation of stenographers to keep the skill alive, respected, and relevant. There is power in numbers. In order to grow, we have to give people a reason to be here. They have to feel they are represented and that their professional needs are being served. Our organization has the potential to make a difference in not only our professional communities but also the deaf and hard-of-hearing community.

Murray agrees: “There is strength with numbers; and court reporters and captioners have a common interest, which is to be the gold standard for translating the spoken word to text,” Murray added.

The Constitution & Bylaws permits all eligible NCRA voting members to vote through electronic means on Bylaws amendments. Members who are eligible to vote will be able to sign in to the secure website and vote through a private, secure link during the 12-hour voting period, which should open within two hours of the end of the Annual Business Meeting. Members who are interested in voting must have an active email address on file in NCRA’s membership database.

Members attending the Annual Business Meeting will also be voting on new members of the Board. The Annual Business Meeting will take place at 8:30 a.m. CT on Thursday, Aug. 2. The Annual Business Meeting will be held in conjunction with NCRA’s Convention & Expo in New Orleans, La. Eligible voting members will check in and receive a ballot and information starting at 8 a.m.

NCRF announces 2018 Robert H. Clark Scholarship and New Professional Reporter Grant recipients

The National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF) has announced that Sindee Baum, from North Massapequa, N.Y., was named recipient of the 2018 New Professional Reporter Grant. The Foundation also announced that Sydney Lundberg, a student from Des Moines Area Community College in Des Moines, Iowa, is the recipient of the 2018 Robert H. Clark Scholarship.

 

Sindee Baum

New Professional Reporter Grant Winner

Baum said that receiving the New Professional Grant means a lot to her and that she plans to use the funds toward paying off her school loan and to cover the expense of starting out with a professional machine and software.

“For 21 years I was a federal probation officer. I wrote the presentence reports and sentencing recommendations for the judges and had to be present at sentencings. I was always fascinated by the court reporters and always made sure I stood near them to watch them work their magic on their machines,” Baum said.

“When I was getting close to thinking of retiring and what I wanted to do as a second career, the thought of becoming a court reporter popped in my mind one morning. I spoke to Anthony Frisolone, one of the court reporters in my courthouse, who thought the idea was an awesome fit for me. He even offered to be my mentor and helped me through the emotional roller coaster that court reporting school entailed. Well, I’m happy to share that I retired from my career as a federal probation officer as of September 1, 2017, and passed my last mentored exit speed tests that same week and graduated from school,” she added. Frisolone, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, CRI, is an NCRA member, official court reporter, and court reporting instructor.

NCRF awards the annual $2,000 New Professional Reporter Grant to a reporter who is in his or her first year of work, has graduated within a year from an NCRA-approved court reporting program, and meets specific criteria, including a grade point average of 3.5 or above, a letter of recommendation, and active work in any of the career paths of judicial (official/freelance), CART, or captioning. Baum, a graduate of the online program at College of Court Reporting in Valparaiso, Ind., is the 14th recipient of NCRF’s New Professional Reporter Grant. She was recommended by Jessica Vivas, client services manager and reporter liaison for Magna Legal Services based in New York.

“If Magna could only choose one goal, it would be to support and serve our clients to the best of our ability. Sindee Baum embodies this philosophy and is respected by our clients. We consider Sindee to be an asset to our court reporting team, and we look forward to working with her well into the future,” Vivas said.

For court reporting students getting ready to finish their programs and start their professional careers, Baum offers the following advice: “Practice like their life depended on it. Getting those last speed tests passed takes the most work and dedication out of all the tests you will take in school. Also, while completing your internship hours, make sure you are asking lots of questions and gaining as much experience as you can in various settings so that you will be able to hit the ground running at graduation and become a working reporter.”

 

Sydney Lundberg

2018 Robert H. Clark Scholarship Recipient

“Receiving this scholarship means to me that I will be able to finish school and begin working as a reporter even sooner. I am currently in the last part of my program, and this support will allow me to purchase professional equipment that will give me the last boost I need to graduate,” said Lundberg, who added that she heard about court reporting as a career through a family member.

“My aunt is a captioner, and I was inspired by how she was able to capture the spoken word, work from home, and be so successful. After I graduate, my plans include working for a freelance firm in Des Moines, Iowa. I also plan on continuing to learn things about the profession, building my dictionary, and continuing to work on speed,” Lundberg said.

The $2,000 Robert H. Clark Scholarship is named for the late Robert H. (Bob) Clark, a court reporter from Los Angeles, Calif., who was dedicated to preserving the history of the profession. In 2015, Clark’s family made a generous donation to NCRF to honor him, and NCRF created the new Robert H. Clark Scholarship. Lundberg is the fourth recipient of this scholarship.

 

To learn more about NCRF’s scholarships and grants, visit NCRA.org/NCRF/Scholarships.

Speak up about what we can do for our clients

Sandy Bunch VanderPol

By Sandy Bunch VanderPol

Every day, day after day, when we set up our steno machine, we do what we are trained to do: report the proceedings; create a verbatim record; and provide the record to the client. We are the “Guardians of the Record;” we are often the only neutral, disinterested person in the proceeding; we are trusted by all parties to be a professional in the room, a protector of their record. This is our job. We all understand the importance of our job and why we are an integral part of the judicial process. But what if there’s more to our job? Is there even more to our job? I think there is, and this other part of the job is truly why I’m passionate about court reporting.

In the 1980s, doing my job every day, I became restless and even bored. Boredom with the job and uncertainty about the future of court reporting became a part of my thoughts every day.

Today, 35 years later, I’m still reporting and passionate about court reporting. What changed? The purpose of my job changed.

Opportunities abounded with the introduction of technology into our profession. This was a chance to market something new to my clients, value-added services that, I was hoping, all of my clients would certainly be desirous of and be eager to pay for. This was a chance to speak up about what I could do for the attorneys, what I could add to the litigation process beyond the creation of the verbatim record. I was super-excited and rejuvenated in my job, stoked about the prospect of adding value to the litigation process, becoming an integral part of the “team” in the litigation process — not just the silent person at the end of the table.

Now the hard part — moving forward with the marketing, first, of rough draft transcripts, which would soon include interactive realtime reporting, remote realtime streaming, litigation support programs, videotaping of proceedings, syncing the videotapes, transcript repositories, electronic delivery of transcripts, hyperlinking exhibits to the transcripts, marking and distributing exhibits electronically at depositions, and on and on. This is a new world for court reporting, I thought, and I wanted to be the first in my area to market this technology. I had to learn to market to attorneys. Without any education beyond high school and court reporting school, I wasn’t sure what to do. I guess you could say I was a bit tongue-tied.

My plan was a simple one at the time, a three-step process: a plan to educate, demonstrate, and sell my clients and potential clients on the new technology. At every job, every day, there was an opportunity for me to implement my plan. At each deposition I was reporting, I took the time to set up the equipment for realtime, electronic exhibits, or whatever value-added service I was marketing. At the appropriate time, the education process began with a simple explanation of the service I was selling, the time and dollars it would save the attorney/litigant, and a free demo day of the service. I’m sure many of you are thinking: “I can’t speak up and have this kind of conversation with attorneys. I’m too nervous. It’s not my job, it’s the firm owner’s job to market. I might not have the answers to all the questions. I don’t entirely understand the nuances of the technology to market it.” All of these concerns are legitimate and concerns that I personally had. Don’t let the concerns or fears stop you from implementing your plan. Your reward is just around the corner.

I want to share some of my tips for success in marketing our value-added services. Hopefully they may be of help to many of you. I’m sure some of you may have other tips to share, and I would encourage you to write to our NCRA editor, share them with her, so we can all benefit from them. [Ed. Note: Sandy is right; we’re always looking for business tips. Send them to jschmidt@ncra.org.]

PREPARATION: Have a plan for each day you market your technology. What technology are you marketing? Who is the audience (corporate counsel, IP counsel, workers’ comp)? An example of my preparation for interactive realtime usually includes bringing my iPads to the deposition, setting them up before counsel arrive, outputting on my CAT software in the “realtime output options” to my remote streaming account (in case there are attendees appearing remotely via telephone, I can send them the link and session code/password to the stream), and creating a job dictionary for the deposition.

IMPLEMENTATION: When counsel enter the room, confidence and professionalism should exude from you. Some reminders to ensure this professionalism are to stand when counsel enter, shake their hands, introduce yourself and the firm you are representing. Always dress in a professional manner. I like to be one of the best-dressed people in the room. Once the introductions are made and the lawyers now have a feeling of trust, I’ve found this may be the best time to state to them that you have realtime set up and ask if they would like to use the service. My experience has been that more than 50 percent of the time they do decide to use the service. Most counsel nowadays know what realtime reporting is, so the educational process may not be necessary, other than to quickly show them the few needed features of the realtime viewing software they would need to browse and restart realtime. Have a document prepared for those who are not familiar with realtime, touting its benefits to the litigation process.

After the deposition/proceeding has concluded, the opportunity arises for you to sell a rough draft transcript. Attorneys in our current time want information now, including our transcripts. Use this time, at the end of the deposition, to announce that a rough draft is available upon request and can be delivered within 15 minutes, or whatever time you can get it to them. If one side orders a rough, it is likely the other side will too. I would highly recommend attending the seminar on “Creating the Demand for Drafts (Life in the Fast Lane)” by Ed Varallo, FAPR, RMR, CRR. Varallo has a wealth of knowledge on this topic and has had great success in selling rough drafts at his depositions.

In my marketing to attorneys over the last three-plus decades, I have found some things are consistent in what attorneys are looking for:

• Focus your marketing on what attorneys need: saving them time and money.
• Information now! Sell your value-added service(s) with this slogan.
• Continuing education: Set up brown bag lunches with continuing legal education credits to educate attorneys on your services.
• Professionalism: You are a part of the “team,” and professionalism ensures the trust you deserve.
• A sense of humor: Make ‘em laugh with an anecdotal story when promoting a technology. We all have those “funny” stories about our technology.
• Attorneys usually follow what others have done. Share the success stories of the attorneys who have taken advantage of the services you offer.

Remember, if you don’t speak up about your value-added service, they won’t know about it. Step out of your comfort zone and be the marketer you can be.

Sandy Bunch VanderPol, FAPR, RMR, CRR, is a freelancer in Lotus, Calif. She also holds NCRA’s Realtime Systems Administrator credential. She can be reached at realtimecsr@calweb.com.

Sandy VanderPol, who is an NCRF Trustee, wrote this article on behalf of the National Court Reporter Foundation’s Corrinne Clark Professionalism Institute. Established in 2015, the Corrinne Clark Professionalism Institute is dedicated to aiding the education of court reporting students and new professionals about professionalism, branding, and building a successful career. Named for the late Corrinne Clark, wife of the late Robert H. Clark, NCRA’s longest tenured librarian/historian, the Institute was made possible by a generous donation contributed by Donna Hamer, Santa Paula, Calif., Robert’s cousin.

NCRA member transcribes for Veterans History Project

On June 26, The Vindicator, Youngstown, Ohio, posted an article about a Veterans History Project interview that NCRA member Debbie Sabat, RPR, a freelance court reporter from Warren, Ohio, transcribed for a local veteran.

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