In just a few short years, TechCon has become a favorite with NCRA members as the unique event that brings together court reporters, legal videographers, trial presenters, and others to learn about the latest developments in legal technology. TechCon 2014 is officially slated for April 11-13 at the Grand Hyatt Atlanta in the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta, Ga. Along with a new slate of seminars designed to increase your knowledge and comfort level with regard to technology, TechCon 2014 will also feature the return of NCRA’s Ignite session, which has generated laughs and thousands of views at www.ncra.org/ignite. Attendees will also have the opportunity to pursue NCRA’s CRR and CLVS certifications, as well as the Trial Presentation Professional and Realtime Systems Administrator certificates. More details about the event will be coming soon in the JCR and online at www.ncra.org/techcon.
NCRA’s second technology conference offered ample chances for attendees to network and learn more about the profession and the continuing influx of technology in the field.
Providing ample opportunities for attendees to share information, exchange ideas, and expand their professional networks , TechCon 2013 attracted hundreds of legal professionals from different corners of the industry. The event, held April 19-21, combined the best of NCRA’s technology workshops with unique approaches to conference learning, tailored specifically for court reporters, legal videographers, and trial presenters.
In her welcome letter, NCRA’s president Tami Smith Keenan, RPR, CPE, encouraged attendees to not only enjoy the opportunities to network with their peers but to be excited to learn from a dynamic group of expert speakers.
“Get ready to be inspired to envision your future, discover new trends and technology, and advance your skills,” said Smith Keenan.
The program included nearly 30 legal tech labs over the course of the event, and the topics ranged from emerging trends and gadgets, taking your profession mobile, and international depositions, to focus groups and panel discussions that covered various aspects of legal technology.
SHIFTING LEGAL MARKETPLACE
One of the focus groups discussed selling and delivering tech-based services to attorneys. Panelists Mark E. Lassiter, J.D.; Geoffrey Thomas, J.D.; and Steve Crandall, J.D., CLVS; with moderator Christina Lewellen, MBA, NCRA senior director of marketing and communications, led the conversation on the ever-changing legal industry, including the changes in structural make-up of several law firms and how to communicate the value of services to clients.
Lassiter explained that in the current marketplace lawyers are struggling to find work, which is causing many law firm partners to look into restructuring their organizations and how they conduct business. Clients are pressuring attorneys to abandon the long-standing hourly approach to legal services in favor of flat-fee project management, he said, adding that this approach would provide clients with clearer expectations for what pursuing a lawsuit or defending a lawsuit might cost.
He suggested that court reporters and court reporting firms might be asked to consider restructuring their fee arrangement as well, in order to better align with and compete in this shifting environment. Some attendees in the room mentioned that some law firm clients have asked for quotes based on the number of depositions rather than the traditional per-page structure. Lassiter confirmed that this request is likely to increase in frequency for court reporters and court reporting firms. “Everybody, including the lawyers, has to give more and better service at a lower cost,” he said.
Thomas and Crandall weighed in on the importance of court reporters making the extra effort to sell the value of their service in order to ensure business. Crandall suggested offering transcript-synchronized video and maintaining active connections on social media outlets, as well as attaining referrals, as possible ways to increase business. “Explain the other options that are available and be sure to follow up, ask how you did, and encourage feedback from your clients,” he advised.
In addition, Lassiter expressed the importance of leveraging time spent in front of a captive audience. For example, rather than trying to set up a separate appointment in a packed schedule, catching a lawyer during the cleanup of a deposition may be the perfect time to express the value you bring to the table and how it plays an integral role in today’s market. “Know your market, know your customer,” he said.
Another highlight of the conference included a cross-functional panel discussion about what emerging trends mean for the future of the legal technology industry, led by NCRA Executive Director and CEO Jim Cudahy. Referencing more than 6,300 survey responses, the panelists Brian Clune, CLVS, Tim Piganelli, NCRA Trial Presentation Professional, and Robin Nodland, RDR, CRR, discussed what the data indicates about court reporters, legal videographers, and trial presenters.
Other survey results reviewed in significant detail during the session included the popularity of Windows in the legal industry and constructive uses for social media. The importance of how social media is being utilized by the profession was especially brought to light by the fact that more than 40 percent of those surveyed said they access Facebook on a daily basis.
“You have to be the master of your social media,” said Clune. “Know what you are putting up.”
According to several of the speakers over the course of this year’s TechCon event, cloud-based computing, syncing programs, and Web security are crucial to the mobile court reporter, and many noted that as the profession transitions, it is important to keep an eye on these technologies and the changes that are still to come.
Daniel Bistany of Breeze IT, Inc., reminded attendees of the importance of securing your network and devices especially while on-the-go. After demonstrating a Google search of the word “password,” one search result displayed a list of more than 2,150,000 common passwords. This reinforced the need for careful selection of passwords, being sure to use a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols, while avoiding common selections. Bistany also suggested that wireless Internet passwords be changed on a quarterly basis.
CERTIFIED LEGAL VIDEO SPECIALIST
CLVS Council members offered several hands-on sessions that provided small group instruction and gave attendees the opportunity to get up close and personal with common video deposition equipment. Session attendees also had the chance to ask questions about video depositions and CLVS Production Exam preparation. Gilley Delorimier, CLVS, presented the basics of legal videography. From basic professionalism to set-up and test runs, Delorimier made sure to walk attendees through a typical day on the job. He reminded the audience to “earn the business by consistently doing everything right.”
INNOVATIVE LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES
The Vendor Speed Dating and the Ignite session and reception were other highlights at this year’s TechCon. Vendors were each given five minutes during the speed dating session to share their company’s latest products and why they matter to the court reporting business. (For more information, be sure to read the full recap on this year’s TechCon vendors on the NCRA website at www.ncra.org/tcvendors.)
The Ignite session and reception, where learning is merged with entertainment, was back by popular demand after its debut at last year’s TechCon event. Ignite engaged the audience with six, fast-paced, fun, and thought-provoking presentations that engaged and entertained the audience. Visit NCRA’s YouTube Channel to see the footage of this year’s presenters, or visit NCRA.org/ignite. Check NCRA.org for updates about the event.
Registration is now open for NCRA’s TechCon 2013 to be held April 19-21 at the DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Paradise Valley in Scottsdale, Ariz. TechCon 2013 will bring cutting-edge seminars on technology together with its three legal programs, the Certified Legal Video Specialist program, the Realtime Systems Administrator program, and the Trial Presentation program. In addition to bringing back the well-received Ignite program, NCRA will be offering new formats for learning at TechCon 2013.
More information about the event, including registration, is online at www.ncra.org/TechCon.
Learn more about NCRA’s unique tech event, which will take a fun approach to learning this April.
The court reporting and legal video community is already buzzing about the 2013 TechCon event this April 19-21 at the DoubleTree Resort by Hilton — Paradise Valley in Scottsdale, Ariz. Building on TechCon’s reputation for being unlike any other event offered by the association, event planners and NCRA committees are putting together an exciting lineup of customized and cutting-edge tech content. “The results of the 2012 Member Needs Assessment clearly indicated that learning about how to stay on top of technology ranked highly when it came to members’ educational interests,” said Jim Cudahy, CAE, NCRA’s CEO and Executive Director. “TechCon provides NCRA with a unique opportunity to offer members a comprehensive event that directly responds to these needs.”
With sessions designed for stenographic court reporters, legal videographers, trial presenters, attorneys, and legal tech professionals, TechCon joins together various members of the legal industry to network and learn. Attendees will have the opportunity to choose from several tracks designed for multiple educational needs, organizers note.
Legal Tech Labs
Conceptualized by NCRA’s CLVS Council and Technology Evaluation Committee, non-workshop attendees will have an opportunity to earn continuing education units (CEUs) from a dual track of “legal tech labs,” concurrent seminars with instruction from experts in the industry. “We’re very excited about this year’s legal tech labs because they will bring together the cream of the crop from numerous legal technology fields to discuss new and emerging trends,” says Matt Riley, NCRA’s Director of Education and School Development. “TechCon also provides a unique chance for attendees to learn how these various technologies interact and complement each other.”
With continuing education options for court reporters, videographers, and trial presenters, organizers report that all NCRA members in need of CEUs will make significant strides toward accomplishing CEU requirements in this new environment. To view the most up-to-date seminar listings, visit the TechCon website.
Realtime Systems Administrator Workshop & Exam
NCRA’s most popular technical workshop, the Realtime Systems Administrator program, will also be an option for attendees in Scottsdale. With a focus on realtime technical knowledge and troubleshooting skills, this day-and-a-half seminar dives into all aspects of realtime hookups and litigation support that relies on realtime connections. “The workshop is a great opportunity for court reporters, firm owners, and legal IT professionals to expand their knowledge of how different components of a realtime system work together,” says lead faculty member Jim Woitalla, RDR, CRI, “and their becoming proficient with this information will not only make attendees more valuable to the legal system, but it will also make them more marketable to potential clients.” Both the workshop and the exam often sell out, so organizers encourage attendees to register early to ensure a spot. Visit the TechCon website for details.
Certified Legal Video Specialist (CLVS) Seminar
The first step to earning NCRA’s CLVS Certification, the CLVS Seminar is the unofficial national standard for legal video education. Content will be led by expert faculty who teach attendees everything from practical camera operation to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Most importantly, the CLVS program sets a minimum standard of competency for legal videographers, including training on how to work with the court reporter in a deposition setting, organizers note. “NCRA certification for legal videographers is so important for our industry,” says Gene Betler, CLVS and co-chair of the CLVS Council. “Clients look for the CLVS certification because they know that they will be working with a consummate professional who is well-versed in all areas of legal video.” All levels of experience are welcome at this workshop; however, prior exposure to basic video concepts and/or deposition procedure is recommended for this session.
The CLVS certification is a three-step process requiring successful completion of both a written knowledge test and a practical exam to become certified. To learn more about this process, visit NCRA.org/clvs.
Trial Presentation Workshop & Exam
Created for legal videographers, attorneys, and legal IT professionals, the Trial Presentation Workshop will focus primarily on how to best showcase evidence in the courtroom by using various electronic delivery systems. “The use of trial presentation software in court is often key to drawing jurors’ attention to the facts,” says lead faculty Brian Clune, CLVS. “Attendees will not only learn how to put forward a compelling case using presentation software, but they will also learn how to prepare for the IT environment of a courtroom. Experienced professionals teach trial presentation beyond the software commands, helping attendees to avoid critical mistakes.”
A certificate exam will be available at the end of the program to those who would like to hold the Trial Presentation Professional Credential. Like the Realtime Systems Administrator program, space for this program is limited, so attendees are encouraged to register early and secure their spots, Clune adds.
The Saturday reception will not be your average networking event, according to NCRA organizers. The most talked-about session from the TechCon 2012 will be back for an encore. Featuring an Ignite format, which combines informal networking with entertainment, speakers will each have 5 minutes to present their topics with 20 slides automatically advancing every 15 seconds. “Last year I wasn’t sure what to expect when it came to the Ignite sessions, but boy, was I impressed and in awe,” says NCRA Vice President Sarah Nageotte, RDR, CRR, CBC, and 2013 Ignite performer. “It was exciting to watch all of the speakers take their turns on stage. I’m looking forward to the challenge this year and stepping outside of my comfort zone.”
Limited space is available for the specialized workshops, so attendees are encouraged to register as soon as possible to secure a spot. For current seminar and workshop offerings as well as detailed pricing and travel information, visit NCRA at www.NCRA.org/TechCon