Save the date for great NCRA learning opportunities

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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.

Thirty ways to give back to the profession

10 ways Infographic_logo_2015Giving back to the profession does not require a significant investment of time or money. You might pen a simple post to your Facebook page telling the world what you love about your job or make a short presentation at your child’s school on career day. Take the opportunity where it presents itself. A friendly chat with a neighbor over the backyard fence or at a cocktail party could showcase our unique profession and perhaps become a life-altering encounter for a man or woman whose curiosity you’ve piqued.

Here are thirty ways that anyone can do to give back to the profession. Acting on just one or two is bound to create a lasting impression that will benefit our profession and all of us in it.

  1. Tell someone new what you do for a living. Be enthusiastic! Court reporters, captioners, and legal videographers do interesting stuff. It’s great cocktail party conversation.
  2. Point out the TV captions in a public place, say at your gym, a bar, a hotel lobby. Ask your friends, do you know how those captions get there? They won’t know – but they’ll be curious to find out!
  3. Write to your city council or town government, thanking them for having transcripts of public meetings. (And if they don’t provide that public service, ask them why not.)
  4. Tell the attorney you’re working with why a court reporter’s impartiality matters. It’s part of what makes us special.
  5. While you’re at it, tell the nice attorney how realtime services can help him or her.
  6. Sponsor a student member in your state or national association.
  7. Give a Career Day presentation at your local high school. Bring your steno machine and write to an iPad.
  8. Mentor a court reporting student.
  9. Offer to talk to a court reporting class about what life after school looks like. Give them good advice. Alert them to some just-out-of-school pitfalls to avoid. Be encouraging.
  10. Thank your Congressional representatives for supporting legislation that supports realtime, court reporting, and captioning.
  11. Talk to a class of law school students about the nuts and bolts of making the record. (Nobody else is going to tell them!) NCRF has materials to help you with this outreach.
  12. Thank the attorneys for hiring you, a certified court reporter, and tell them why certification matters, for court reporters as well as legal videographers. Certified means professional.
  13. Team up with a court reporter friend or two and put together a short primer of do’s and don’ts of making the record. Your local bar association will be grateful to you for the educational opportunity. Maybe your favorite law firm would like you to come in and address their young associates. Get bonus points for offering CLEs!
  14. Transcribe an interview with a veteran for the Library of Congress Veterans History Project. You can earn PDCs. And it is a very satisfying thing to do.
  15. Host a Veterans History Project event for veterans in your area. Do it at a court reporting firm or court reporting school. Get your community involved! People like to honor our veterans.
  16. Get involved with students on the NCRA Student Facebook page or other student networking sites. They’ll love it! An excellent way to motivate students.
  17. Sponsor a student’s attendance at an NCRA event.
  18. Write an article for the local ABA newsletter about what to look for in a court reporter. Or write a letter to a local community organization about the importance of accessibility for all citizens, especially our fellow citizens who are deaf and hard of hearing.
  19. Pass along your experience. Write an article for your state association newsletter or the JCR about a valuable lesson learned. Your readers will appreciate the heads up.
  20. Volunteer your services (or find volunteers) for your neighbors who are deaf or hard of hearing. They might love to have CART for church or local meetings.
  21. Volunteer for a state association or NCRA committee. A great way to meet people!
  22. Attend a TRAIN event, upgrade your realtime skills — and then help others do the same.
  23. Share your expertise with your peers; put on a seminar at a court reporting event. Sound scary? Okay, sign up to learn something new yourself!
  24. Send NCRA membership forms to court reporters you know who are not members, and tell them why they should be. Size matters. There’s power in numbers!
  25. Send a testimonial (written or video) to NCRA to support NCRA’s efforts to inform people about the benefits of court reporting as a career.
  26. Write an op-ed for your local newspaper advocating for the use of stenographic court reporters in the courts; explain the value of captioning at community events.
  27. Become involved with your state CSR board. They need your expertise. And you’ll be surprised how much you will learn!
  28. Pay it forward. Remember to thank the people who’ve helped you along the way.
  29. Donate to the National Court Reporters Foundation, which will put your money to good use.
  30. Social media — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn — are great venues to tell people what you love about your job. No need to vent about rush transcripts and fast-talking lawyers. Create some positive buzz! Celebrate your profession, your career, the unique job you do where you are the expert. Be proud of your role as a court reporter, legal videographer, captioner, or CART provider. You are part of a long and proud history of service to the bench, the bar, and the public at large.

For the record: The secret world of the court stenographer

The Irish Times posted an article on Oct. 16 showcasing the important role stenographers play in capturing the record, as well as the skills needed to focus only on hearing what is being said. Gwen Malone, the court reporter in Ireland who is featured in the piece, said, tongue-in-cheek, “a stenographer is meant to be seen and not heard, like a young lady.”

Read more.

Meeting court reporting professionals

The Sept. 2 edition of Word of Mouth, a show on New Hampshire Public Radio, interviewed Gavin Jenkins, a freelance writer for Vice who wrote about his experience attending the NCRA Convention & Expo. Jenkins shared his impressions of the professionals he met and talked about the need for people to fill the impending shortage. He also explained how realtime works and the need for both speed and accuracy.

Listen to the story.

Court reporting certainly a different ‘type’ of job

Television station CBS 21, New Cumberland, Pa., aired a story about the court reporting profession on Mon., Aug. 31, that featured NCRA President-Elect Tiva Wood, RDR, CMRS, and NCRA member Ann Wetmore, from Henderson, Kashmere, Wetmore, LLC, in Mechanicsburg, Pa. The story included a demonstration of how a steno machine works and cited NCRA statistics about the job outlook. According to the news reporter, the piece has received a huge response on Facebook.

Read more and watch the video.

Career spotlight: What I do as a court reporter

NCRA member Cassandra Caldarella was interviewed about her career as an official court reporter in Orange County, Calif., in an article posted Aug. 26 on Lifehacker.com. Caldarella discussed her current position, how she chose court reporting as a career, misconceptions people have about her job, and more. The article also included information about NCRA’s certifications.

Read more.

In awe of court reporters

In an opinion piece posted by the Thomaston Times on Aug. 15, Scott Ballard, a district attorney who represents the Fayette, Pike, Spalding, and Upson counties in Georgia, appreciates the work of court reporters after his service as the secretary/treasurer for the District Attorneys Association of Georgia.

Read more.

The court reporter’s dilemma: Interrupt or drop

On July 28, a question-and-answer style post on Legal by the Bay, the Bar Association of San Francisco’s blog, written by Ana Fatima Costa, shows why attorneys should not be annoyed when interrupted by the court reporter. “No reporter wants to break the flow and momentarily stop the proceedings, especially during an intense volley of questions and answers and/or colloquy. Yet as officers of the court and guardians of the record, they have a legal and ethical duty to prepare a full, impartial and verbatim transcript of the proceedings,” said Costa.

Read more.

Seven tips for court reporters

By Ariel I. Rayman

Before I entered the court reporting industry, I was a practicing attorney. My experience with court reporters was mixed. Some were outstanding and others would show up late, frazzled, unprepared for the proceeding, or worse. For an attorney, the relationship with the court reporter and agency should be seamless. Attorneys expect their court reporters to be punctual, presentable, professional, and polished. If the reporter fails to meet any of these standards, it is highly unlikely the agency — let alone the court reporter — will be requested again. Attorneys and firms typically request the same reporter and agency because attorneys like consistency.

By following these seven steps, you will not only be doing your part in upholding professionalism for the industry, but you will ensure repeat business:

  • Tardiness/no-shows: Nothing will frustrate a room full of attorneys more than being late or failing to appear for a deposition. Make sure you know where you are going and how you are going to get there, and manage your schedule. If you are unable to make it or you anticipate you will be late, notify your agency immediately.
  • Take charge: You are the neutral party in the room, and you can remind everyone in the room that your job is to accurately preserve a word-for-word transcript, therefore everyone in the room needs to listen to your instructions. If an attorney or witness is talking over someone, say something. If an attorney is being rude or unprofessional, say something. If an attorney is speaking too fast or is reading from a piece of paper, it is perfectly acceptable to remind the speaker to slow down. If an attorney is going through exhibits, make sure you mark them and tell the attorney to slow down to allow yourself time to properly label each exhibit so you are not labeling as the witness or attorney is speaking. But please, this is not a license to complain; rather it is an opportunity for you to take charge of the deposition from the beginning.
  • Control your emotions: A court reporter is tasked with preserving the record in a fair and impartial manner. Sensitive topics may be discussed that can be very emotional to the parties and/or the witness. As a court reporter, you must remain neutral while preserving the record. It is unprofessional, not to mention distracting, if you show emotion during a deposition. Please be aware that everyone in the room can hear you laugh and see you cry. Controlling your emotions and your body language is one of the many keys to being an exceptional court reporter.
  • Do not eat during a proceeding: Before the deposition commences, it may be in your best interest to ask if it will run through the lunch hour. If so, be prepared and eat beforehand. If you have an absolute need or a medical condition (i.e., hypoglycemia), then let the attorneys know in advance that you may need to eat a small snack during the deposition. Also, you can remind attorneys that a short 15-minute break during the course of a deposition is good for everyone.
  • Mobile phones/PDAs: Depositions can be dry and a bit dull, but do not be tempted to surf the web or do other tasks. Even if you are an expert at multi-tasking, checking your mobile phone or playing with your PDA shows you are not paying full attention and gives the impression that you are not accurately transcribing what is being said.
  • Technology: It is imperative that you have technology that not only looks like it is from this generation but also functions properly. Time is precious to you and all parties involved. Waiting for a computer to reboot, load, or update is frustrating for all.
  • Sloppy transcripts: Deposition content can be technical in nature. If it is a medical malpractice, intellectual property, pharmaceutical matter, or any other highly specialized topic, you will be faced with numerous acronyms and unusual terms. You can always ask for a spreadsheet of terms to ensure accuracy — especially if a party wants a rough draft or next-day delivery. Study and familiarize yourself with these terms and pay close attention to what is being said. Do not rush to finish a job. You should put care into your work and take time to research terms and abbreviations that are new to you. Attorneys read and rely on your transcript, and they need to be assured that the record is properly preserved.

This is not an exhaustive list, but if you follow these simple tips, it will make your job easier and the attorneys will appreciate you and request you again for future depositions.

Ariel Rayman, Esq., is the executive director of Alderson Court Reporting. He can be reached at ariel.rayman@aldersonreporting.

Why stenographic court reporters are indispensable

A post on the Guy J. Renzi & Associates firm blog explained that technological advances have made contemporary stenographic court reporters the strongest method for an efficient and accurate legal record. The post points out that even budget-constrained courts prefer stenographic court reporters because of their unmatched skills.

Read more.