NCRA celebrates the Best. Friday. Ever.

NCRA members can kick off their holiday shopping season on Nov. 24 by taking advantage of Black Friday discounts and giveaways being offered with the purchase of membership renewals, store items, educational sessions, and more.

NCRA members who renew their membership or join on Nov. 24 will be entered into a drawing to win a free registration to the 2018 NCRA Convention & Expo. Registered members who renew on Black Friday will automatically be entered into a drawing to win a free registration for the Speed or Realtime Contests held at the 2018 NCRA Convention & Expo. Members who renew their membership on Nov. 24 will also be eligible to win one of two Kindle Fires. That means the members who qualify may have three opportunities to win!

Other Best Friday Ever specials include a 20 percent discount on all NCRA Store items purchased using the promotional code FRIDAY at checkout. In addition, members who register for the 2018 NCRA Firm Owners Executive Conference and book their stay at The Don CeSar will be entered into a drawing for a free spouse registration for the event.

Members who purchase an NCRA e-seminar on Nov. 24 will be entered into a drawing to win a free e-seminar while members who purchase a Skills Test on Black Friday will be entered into a drawing to win one of two free Skills Test registrations.

Members are urged to mark their calendars to be sure they don’t miss the discounts and giveaways being offered only on Nov. 24.

What can you do in a month to earn CEUs?

A middle-aged white woman listens attentively during a workshop while taking notes.The Sept. 30 deadline for this year’s CEU cycle is coming up quickly, but there’s still time to earn a few more last-minute credits, both in person and online. Even if your CEU cycle isn’t ending this year, these ideas can help you stay on track and possibly even get that requirement done early.

Attend a webinar or e-seminar

Webinars and e-seminars are a great way to learn some new skills in the comfort of your own home and, in terms of e-seminars, on your own schedule. There are three 90-minute live webinars scheduled for this September:

If none of these webinars fit your schedule, check out the NCRA e-seminar library for 60- and 90-minute sessions on topics that include business, CART and captioning, ethics, grammar and language, history, official reporting, personal development, realtime, technology, and more.

Attend a pre-approved event, including state association conferences

Many state associations and other court reporter–related organizations are hosting conferences and seminars in September. In-person events give you the opportunity to network with other reporters and captioners while earning CEUs. Most events are one to three days, and several of them are in the first half of the month. Events are scheduled in Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Montana/Wyoming/Idaho, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Washington, and Wisconsin, as well as Alberta, Canada, this month. Check out the full calendar of pre-approved events here, which includes the dates, location (geographic or online), and number of CEUs.

Learn CPR or first aid

The American Heart Association, the American Red Cross, and other organizations often host seminars on CPR or first aid. Perhaps you can organize a few colleagues from your firm, court, or even your local area to team up for an event nearby. Court reporters and captioners have to be prepared for anything, so why not add safety to your list of skills? Learn more about the requirements for earning CEUs by learning CPR or first aid on NCRA.org/WaysToEarn.

Transcribe oral histories

Members who participate in the Oral Histories Program through the National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF) may earn Professional Development Credits for their time. Members can apply up to 1.0 PDC to their CEU requirement per cycle. Transcribe a 30- to 90-minute pre-recorded interview of an American veteran, Holocaust survivor, or attorney who has provided pro bono services through Legal Aid. Many people find participating in the Oral Histories Program to be especially rewarding. “As court reporters, we sometimes are too focused on the financial side of what we do, but (volunteering) is giving back. Anyone thinking of participating in one of these events should just jump right in and do it. It’s well worth it,” said Kimberly Xavier, RDR, CRR, CRC, CMRS, CRI, an official court reporter from Arlington, Texas, and a U.S. Air Force veteran, who recently volunteered at NCRF’s third Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project initiative at the 86th Military Order of the Purple Heart 2017 Convention held in Dallas. Learn more at NCRA.org/NCRF/OralHistories.

Get credit for past events

You may have already participated in activities that have helped you earn CEUs or PDCs during the last year, and the only thing you need to do is fill out the proper form to get credit. If you promoted the profession at a career fair, law school, or other event; provided pro bono services; served on a state association board or committee (including the United States Court Reporting Association); or participated in a formal mentoring program, you may qualify for credit for your volunteerism. You can submit these CEUs and PDCs here.

Cycle extensions

If you need a four-month cycle extension (to Jan. 31) to finish those last CEUs, you can fill out the CEU extension request form by Sept. 30. Note that the deadline to complete CEUs or to request an extension is the same date.

View the full list of qualified continuing education activities at NCRA.org/WaysToEarn. View other continuing education forms here or view your current transcript here. If you have any questions, please contact the NCRA credentialing coordinator.

NCRA Kindle Fire winner announced

By Jennifer Late

More prizes available for membership renewal

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

NCRA membership renewal Kindle Fire winner

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

Click here to renew now!

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

Renew before Dec. 1 and be entered to win

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

NCRA continues to work for its members

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

NCRA membership cards

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

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

Submitting CEU forms is easier with NCRA’s online system

computer keyboard

Photo by: Anonymous Account

NCRA members can save money and time by submitting their Continuing Education and Professional Development forms online via the Association’s online submission system.

Submitting CEU forms using the online system is fast, secure, and costs only $45 dollars for members and $75 for nonmembers. As of Feb. 1, forms submitted via fax, regular mail, or email will incur an additional $25 processing fee in addition to the fees noted above.

NCRA’s certification page provides all the necessary information about the required CEUs and PDCs, as well as the necessary forms to verify units, cycle extensions, missing credits, seminar preapproval, and more.

The field of court reporting and captioning demands that its practitioners acquire and maintain a broad base of knowledge. For more information and to learn how to submit your education and professional development activities online, visit NCRA.org/CEUforms.

Save the date for great NCRA learning opportunities

calendar

Photo by: Dafne Cholet

NCRA staff members are planning great ways for members to earn CEUs this year. NCRA members can also earn CEUs by passing the skills or written portion of certain tests, such as the RMR, RDR, CRR, or CLVS exams. Here is a short selection of dates and events (dates are subject to change).

Jan. 31             Cycle extension deadline

March 11-13   CLVS Seminar and CLVS production skills test, Reston, Va.

March 19-20   NCRA Board of Directors Meeting, Reston, Va.

March 20-22   2016 NCRA Legislative Boot Camp, Reston, Va.

April 4-20        RPR, RDR, CRC, and CLVS written knowledge test dates

April 17-19      2016 Firm Owners Executive Conference, San Juan, P.R.

July 9-21          RPR and CLVS written knowledge test dates

Aug. 4-7           2016 NCRA Convention & Expo, Chicago, Ill. (includes the Legal Video Conference, the CRC Workshop, and the National Speed and Realtime Contests)

Sept. 30           Submission deadline for CEUs and PDCs for members with a 9/30/16 cycle ending

Oct. 7-19         RPR, RDR, CRC, and CLVS written knowledge tests

Court Reporting & Captioning Week (Feb. 14-20), Memorial  Day (May 30), and Veterans Day (Nov. 11) are also all good opportunities to schedule Veterans History Project Days to earn PDCs. And don’t forget that online skills testing is available year round.

In addition, NCRA is planning webinars throughout the year, which will be announced in the JCR Weekly and on NCRA social media as they are available. Watch for more information in the JCR, the JCR Weekly, and on TheJCR.com for registration, deadlines, and other ideas to earn continuing education.

Help NCRF meet its goal: 3,500 completed veterans’ histories by Veterans Day!

Back in the spring, the National Court Reporters Foundation set a goal — yes, an ambitious goal — to have 3,500 veterans’ history transcripts submitted to the Library of Congress by Veterans Day 2014, and you are making it happen.

Thanks to court reporters around the country, NCRF has submitted almost 3,400 to the Library of Congress as of the end of August 2014. We’re so close! Furthermore, transcribing a 60-90 minute veteran’s history from a streaming audio or video file earns 0.25 Professional Development Credits per interview (a maximum of four interviews for 1.0 PDC in your three-year CEU cycle).

Help us meet our goal:

  • Volunteer to transcribe recorded interviews.
  • Interview a veteran in your community and transcribe the history.
  • Host a VHP day in your school, firm, or courthouse.

Why?

  • Earn free PDCs, if you’re a certified court reporter.
  • Get a free NCRA student membership, if you’re a student and transcribe two histories.
  • Experience a veteran’s story firsthand.
  • Feel humbled and gratified.
  • Help preserve America’s history.

It’s more rewarding than you can imagine!

Just go to NCRA.org/vets for all of the information you’ll need on how to participate in the Veterans History Project.

Remember: 3,500 by Veterans Day! We can do it together.

NCRA offers e-seminars produced by College of William & Mary

NCRA has added CLCT Evidentiary Topics for Non-lawyers, three new 90-minute e-seminars, to its catalog of continuing education sessions. The sessions are geared specifically toward court reporters who want a better understanding of the cases they take and the law and procedure that surround them.

The content and videos of the sessions were created by the College of William and Mary Law School’s Center for Legal and Court Technology, while NCRA had them converted into e-seminar format. Each of the e-seminars in the series features Fredric I. Lederer, chancellor professor of law and director of the Center for Legal and Court Technology (CLCT).

Read more.

NCRA continuing education program re-accredited through 2019

NCRA recently earned re-accreditation for its continuing education program for another five years. NCRA’s continuing education program requires that NCRA certification holders complete a certain number of continuing education credits every three years, and the program’s independent accreditation ensures that it remains current, relevant, and educationally sound.

NCRA’s continuing education program is established and administered by the authority of the Council of the Academy of Professional Reporters. The program has been independently accredited since 1982 by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education & Training, a national organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a “reliable authority” on the quality of education and training.

Online Courting Disaster game continues to draw players

Since its launch in September 2012, more than 3,000 people have logged onto NCRA’s online game Courting Disaster, where players can earn CEUs by participating in a fun, professional development opportunity based on challenges reporters face each day. The game presents players with a number of quests or scenarios and requires them to interactively choose how to best proceed. Players must balance their desire to serve their clients while maintaining, according to the NCRA Code, “their profession at the highest level.”

The game has been well received by players. Comments on its Facebook page include: “This game is really fun and educational,” “How cool is this,” and “This (game) is really great! It was a blast to play.”

The game is free to play and can be played as often as the player desires. In addition, each gaming session presents the player with six of 12 possible quests, and because these quests appear randomly, players have the chance to see new content and enjoy a unique experience each time they play. The quests featured include: Dial D for Depo; Depo-tism; Put it on my Tab; Remote Control; Angry Words; and Averting Courtastrophy. Players can also earn CEU credit by purchasing a follow-up e-seminar that explores, in greater detail, the issues encountered in the game.

For more information or to play Courting Disaster, visit www.ncra.org/courtingdisaster.

Court reporters are an important part of the equation

24-25Brian DiGiovanna, RPR, began his career as a freelance reporter in 1979. In the early 1980s, he joined the New York Supreme Court as an official court reporter and still holds that position. DiGiovanna also holds the position of president for the Association of Supreme Court Re­porters in New York City. He has been president for the past eight years and, in his role, represents 340 Supreme Court court reporters. In addition, Di­Giovanna regularly travels to Albany to meet with legislators to discuss issues that affect court reporters. DiGiovanna sits down with the JCR to tell us more about his role as president and what it takes to be successful in the courtroom.

 

As president, what are your main responsibilities?

My main responsibility is to repre­sent my members. Their jobs and their livelihoods are my main concerns. If problems arise involving the court re­porter, I try to resolve them. I negoti­ate contracts, represent people who get into trouble, and file complaints on the union’s behalf if administration breaks agreements. I also deal with benefits for members, negotiating new agreements and modifying old ones.

I am politically active. I go to Al­bany, New York’s capital, every two to three weeks during the session, attend­ing political events such as fundraisers and meeting with various legislators to discuss different issues that affect court reporters. One of the issues I am deal­ing with right now is limiting the use of electronic recording in lower court, keeping it out of Supreme Court, and working on an agreement with Chief Administrative Judge, Judge Prudenti. If we broker this deal, it will limit the use of ER in lower court and keep ER out of Supreme Court. One of the important as­pects of going to Albany is to develop re­lationships with the politicians. You cannot do this in one meeting; it takes time to de­velop.

What have been the challenges of your role?

In the beginning of my career as a union president, it was learning how to deal with all of the various issues that come your way. It takes about two years to become com­fortable in this role.

What you learn quickly is you cannot know everything. When you learn that it is okay not to know everything, and you rec­ognize the importance of reaching out for help and bringing in the people who can perform a certain role to get a job done, I believe you have reached the right aspect of the job. Giving credit where credit is due is very important. I do not care about getting the credit; I care about getting a job done.

What have been the rewards?

The reward is knowing that we work together, my officers and my executive board, to achieve our common goal: Keeping court reporters relevant in an ever-changing environment.

What does it mean to be successful in the courtroom?

Success in the courtroom has changed dramatically from when I first started in the late 1970s. One thing that remains the same is producing a good record, which, at the end of the day, is what people want.

The dramatic change is realtime and CART. When I first began to offer real­time, very few people were interested in providing it. Today, we are working on a program offering realtime to one judge in every courthouse in every borough with the city of New York for an 18-month pe­riod. We have three courthouses up and running, and we expect to have two more on board by the end of the summer. Re­altime is what needs to be done to ensure we have jobs in three, five, and 10 years. Change will always take place, and it is us, the court reporters, who can accept the ever-changing workplace and make the changes work for us.

Electronic recording, without trained operators, does a poor job in recording the testimony. Too many er­rors are produced as a result of no op­erators. But when operators are added to the cost equating, the costs increase and may make it less attractive to replace the stenographic court reporter.

Can you talk about how you went about setting up and running a very technologically advanced courtroom?

Creating the courtroom of the future in New York provided me with a way of speaking to the Bar and judges about why court reporters are an important part of the equation. Providing realtime enables the attorneys and the judges to see what was said without stopping the proceed­ings, which, at times, could be an issue for attorneys. Judges sometimes will not stop the proceedings to have something read back. But with realtime, it is right in front of them.

The set-up for the high-tech court­room is as simple as a projector and digi­tal document camera, such as the Wolfvi­sion units. The more sophisticated units have monitors at counsel table and in front of the jury, and the ability to plug your computer into the system to show evidence. The witness and the judge have monitors. The witness and counsel could have a touch screen with the ability to circle sections of information for visual display with different colors to differenti­ate between the speakers.

On cases where money can be spent on hiring companies to provide a digital presentation, companies such as Doar, Trial Graphics, and others, they will come in and work with you to create a presentation of your evidence from their computers, using colors, displays, larger fonts, and pull outs, which have been placed into software, allowing the dis­player the ability to focus on specific in­formation of a document, compare side-by-side documents, and so on.

How important are credentials and continued education in becoming successful?

Credentials are an essential part of our business. Credentials show that someone has achieved a minimum expertise. With each credential you get, you will want to achieve a higher standard and a greater expertise. Continued education allows you to learn new technologies and new ideas. It allows someone to talk about an idea that may go nowhere or grow to something that person never thought would have gone anywhere. It’s very im­portant to keep abreast of the field you work in.

What would be the best advice you could give a student who is about to enter the field?

Practice, practice, and practice more. It is a great job for those who have what it takes to get through school, make it through the couple of years it takes to get experience, and begin to get a good sense of what it takes to be a court reporter. It is not only making a record. It is also about learning technology, learning the software you use, and how to incorporate viewers of what you are writing, whether it is CART, captioning, or realtime.

What are the most important things a court reporter should know about work­ing with the courts and court adminis­trative staff when it comes to everyday dealings, as well as promoting the court reporting profession?

Working with the courts is a little differ­ent than freelancing. You have admin­istrators who do not care about court reporters; they care about running the system. You have bosses, if you are lucky, who are or were court reporters.

With that said, if you are in a loca­tion where all of your bosses have no idea what the job entails, it could make for a difficult job. It is unfortunate that many people think the job is easy, just sitting there and writing all day long, with few or no breaks, when, in fact, writing all day puts stress on your arms, neck, back, and hands. People need to understand that breaks are important to court reporters, just as they are to the court officers, court clerk, bailiff, and even the judge.

Where do you see the court report­ing profession going in the future? And what do reporters need to do to prepare for that?

As long as we, the court reporting profes­sion, continue to push to learn, whether it is CART, captioning, or realtime, we will have a profession. Administrators will look at the bottom line. It is up to us to show them that we add expertise and value to the bottom line. Providing realtime to a judge will make the judge want a court reporter and fight for a court reporter. If something new is not provided to judges, they may think ER is something new and better. And even though it may not be, not providing new technology – realtime – may be all that is necessary for a court to say, “Let’s try ER.” Take realtime courses, become realtime certified, and promote the profession.