NCRA meets with new Zambian court reporting organization

Representatives of the Court Reporters Association of Zambia meet with NCRA staff at the Association’s headquarters

Court reporters in Zambia, in southern Africa, have organized a new professional organization called the Court Reporters Association of Zambia. The association is interested in developing a certification program, possibly based on NCRA’s Registered Professional Reporter certification, in their country. The Court Reporters Association of Zambia was organized last year, on the advice of NCRA. Zambia has approximately 87 court reporters, about 53 of which are working reporters.

A contingent of Zambian reporters and other law professionals visited with NCRA staff on Oct. 30 to discuss NCRA history, NCRA’s certifications, how certification functions in the United States, and more details about NCRA’s testing program. The representatives included:

  • The Hon. Mr. Justice Mathew L. Zulu (High Court judge)
  • Brendon Mandyata (head of court reporting at Judiciary)
  • Kambole Ng’andu (principal court reporter and president of the Court Reporters Association of Zambia)
  • Mable Mvula (principal court reporter and secretary general of the Court Reporters Association of Zambia)
  • Vallencia Imataa (principal court reporter and secretary of the Court Reporters Association of Zambia).

“This trip answered all the gray areas that we had, not only for court reporters but for the judiciary because court reporting is fundamental to the speedy dispensation of justice,” said the Hon. Mr. Justice Mathew L. Zulu.

In the future, the Court Reporters Association of Zambia hopes to expand their membership, certify their members, and recruit and train new reporters in Zambia. They will also work on developing their own General Requirements and Minimum Standards. Zambian reporters will work closely with NCRA to accomplish these goals.

“NCRA is the leading authority and advocate of the court reporting profession both in the U.S. and internationally. Court reporting associations worldwide look to us for guidance on maintaining excellence in the profession, the latest of which was Zambia,” said Matthew Barusch, NCRA’s Manager of State Government Relations. “Zambia started this association due to our advice, and with our continued support, we can help the profession continue to grow abroad.”

NCRA’s international outreach efforts also include NCRA’s affiliation with the British Institute of Verbatim Reporters and having international members, especially in Canada, as part of NCRA membership.

 

My wonderful home in Asia

Scene of a Japanese temple surrounded by mountains, fall foliage, and water, with a bridgeAfter scanning the JCR job ads for interesting opportunities, Mary Allred, RPR, from Alberta, Canada, relocated to Japan in 2015. As a reporter for Planet Depos, she provides realtime services in the areas of depositions and arbitrations not only in Japan, but in Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Guam, Singapore, and Macao. This piece on living and working internationally is an excerpt from a full-length article in the 2017 November/December issue of the JCR.

How did the opportunity for you to work outside of Canada come about? I was living and working in Calgary, Alberta. The posting for Asia was advertised in the JCR, and when I saw it, I sent an email with an inquiry for details. The rest fell into place from there.

What made you want to work outside of Canada? I have always had the travel bug, and I had obtained the RPR certification with the intention of traveling and working around the world, including in the United States.

What was the hardest adjustment you had to make when you moved outside of Canada? I had to learn quickly how to handle the heat and humidity. Not a single piece of clothing I brought with me is still in rotation in my wardrobe. Also, there was a drastic but pleasant lifestyle change going from a car society to a train society. The public transport system in Japan is famous for a reason. It can take you anywhere! It also requires a lot of walking. I’ve made more than my fair share of train mistakes and ended up in strange places, but each one was its own adventure.

I was surprised that the language barrier was not as much of a challenge as I thought it would be. Everyone has probably heard the saying that most of communication is non-verbal, and I have definitely learned this is true. I was lucky as well that several phone apps are available that can take a photo and translate text to semi-readable English. I have managed to avoid washing my hair with laundry detergent for two years due to their assistance!

Did you relocate on your own or did you have assistance from a hiring firm? The firm took care of all relocation details. I moved to Japan sight unseen and with only the knowledge I accumulated from long forgotten school information and old samurai movies. Housing and flights are covered by my firm to help ease the transition.

Do you receive benefits such as health insurance, 401K, pension, or are you considered an independent contractor? As a resident of Japan, my health insurance is covered under the National Health Service, which is included in taxes.

What has been the best experience in working outside of Canada? It has been such an adventure living and working in Asia. I have worked through many earthquakes and a few typhoons. I have loved the ability to experience other cultures much more in-depth than is possible during a short trip. My work takes me all over Asia, and I have been able to see shrines and temples, castles and skyscrapers in some of the world’s most beautiful places.

Do you plan to return to Canada to work again? At this time I have no plans to leave my wonderful home in Asia.

Will you retire outside of Canada? I’m sure someday I will return to my home in Canada, probably around the same time I finally start to enjoy the heat!

What tips do you have for someone considering working outside of Canada? Have patience! Some days even the simplest thing can turn into an ordeal as you learn different ways to do things. Do not ever be afraid to ask for help. The language barrier can be a challenge, but being polite and understanding will make the people helping you more willing to go the extra mile to make your job easier.

What advice do you have for someone searching for work outside of Canada? The JCR job bank was an excellent resource for me. Once you are there, there are amazing tools nowadays for meeting people and trying new things. Sign up for Meetup.com and join local Facebook groups, and in no time you’ll build a network of friends, making your time in your adopted country the most amazing experience possible.

What is your favorite food there? Impossible to list it all! Asian food is amazing. In Japan my favorites are Japanese curry and tonkotsu ramen. In Taiwan I always look for a 50Lan tea shop and get Yakult lemonade or a bubble tea. In Korea, be prepared to burn all your taste buds off with some spicy fried chicken; and in Hong Kong get the Michelin Hong Kong Street Food Guide and try everything!

NCRA members sweep top spots at 2017 world speed competition

Three smiling people stand on a podium of various heights (1st, 2nd, and 3rd) holding certificates. In the background are a collection of international flags.

Sheri Smargon, Jen Schuck, and John Wissenbach stand on the podium at Intersteno. They claimed the top three spots in the Speech Capturing event, seniors division. Photo by Charlie Fiss.

NCRA members dominated the 2017 Intersteno World Speed Competition held during the organization’s 51st Congress, which took place July 22-28 in Berlin, Germany, including a sweep of the top three spots.

Jen Schuck, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, Scottsdale, Ariz., took gold while Sheri Smargon, RDR, CRR, CRC, Riverview, Fla., and Tori Pittman, FAPR, RDR, CRI, Wake Forest, N.C., earned the silver and bronze medals, respectively.

In the Speech Capturing event, seniors division, the top six spots were also claimed by NCRA members Schuck; Smargon; John Wissenbach, RDR, CRR, CRC, San Francisco, Calif.; Jennifer Costales, RMR, CRR, The Hague, Netherlands; Anissa Nierenberger, RPR, CRR, CRC, CRI, Boise, Idaho; and Kelly Linkowski, RPR, CRR, CRC, CPE, Rittman, Ohio.

Pittman grabbed first place in the Speech Captioning Voice event, seniors division, while Schuck took home a bronze in the Audio Transcription event, seniors division.

For several of this year’s competitors, the trip to compete at the Intersteno Congress was not their first time. In 2015, Wissenbach earned top honors in the Intersteno Realtime Speech Capturing event, seniors division, held in Budapest, Hungary. Shuck has previously placed third in the world in the Intersteno Realtime Speech Capturing event, seniors division, held in Paris in 2011, and second in the same event held in 2015 in Budapest, Hungary. Pittman also competed in the 2015 world competition, ranking 30th in the Realtime Speech Capturing event, seniors division.

The Intersteno competitions follow methods: to take down a text read at an increasing speed or to enter texts and data processed with a computer. In both cases, speed and accuracy determine success.

In the Speech Capturing event, competitors take and transcribe a five-minute dictation at progressive speed. Competitors choose the text to transcribe among three consecutive five-minute legs of dictations given at speeds increased each minute. The initial and final speeds of each dictation are related to the language of the competitors, according to a comparison table set up by the Intersteno Council. At least the first three minutes of dictation must be transcribed successfully. Transcription is handed out on-site on USB sticks or with hand transcription for competitors using traditional shorthand.

In the Audio Transcription event, competitors transcribe a digitally recorded dictation in their mother tongue for 10 minutes. The dictation lasts 15 minutes at a constant and, for the language in question, normal speech speed.

The seniors division is made of all competitors ages 21 and over.

Intersteno, the International Federation for Information and Communication Processing, is a worldwide community with members that represent all manners of information technology, including court reporters and captioners as well as secretaries, teachers, parliamentary reporters, and others who use any technology that produces fast writing. The organization holds its Congress every two years and offers attendees a schedule full of educational sessions, presentations, and competitions in realtime, speed, audio translation, typing, and more. Other activities often include galas and tours of the host city or local area. The event offers attendees a unique view of how the written word captured throughout the world.

For more information about Intersteno, visit Intersteno.org.

Five keys to coordinating international depositions

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyA blog posted on JD Supra on July 27 offers five tips to help coordinate international depositions. The article also explained the benefits of working with a court reporting firm. The article was written by Suzanne Quinson from Planet Depos.

Read more.

New website launched to help set up U.S. depositions in Germany

JCR logoDigitalJournal.com posted a press release issued May 2 by Optima Juris, an international deposition company, about the firm’s launch of a new website designed for legal professionals looking for information about setting up a U.S. deposition in Germany.

Read more.

IMF reporters’ expertise on the international stage

Patric Martin pauses for the camera while captioning the G-20 meetingBy Patric Martin

What the International Monetary Fund’s verbatim reporters do on a regular basis for executive board meetings has caught the attention of another one of its members. Already well known to authorized users at the Fund, China requested the reporting department to provide realtime verbatim services when it hosted the G-20 meetings this year.

Using our stenographic machine shorthand skills, Marita Yslas, RPR, and I send our verbatim text through a software program on computers or iPads. The encrypted and password-protected text is streamed simultaneously with the meeting. Twenty users were connected during February’s meeting in Shanghai and here at headquarters.

Tao Dong, a lead organizer of the China 2016 G-20 team and liaison with the Fund, said: “The G-20 team was very impressed by the realtime streaming transcription. We benefited indeed from the comprehension of the speeches for the governor and other Chinese meeting participants. The magic iPad app allowed users’ interaction by scrolling through the text. We were able to comprehend and retain much more of what we read and heard, and what we simply missed.”

This isn’t the first time the reporting department’s innovative techniques have been called upon in an international setting. In addition to providing the service to the deputies of the International Monetary and Financial Committee in various locales, the G-20 Chair for the 2010 meeting in Korea also requested the service. The Korean team wasn’t sure what we were offering when we suggested it for their meeting held in Washington that year. Within five minutes after meeting, though, the team leader announced, “You’re coming to Korea! We need this ‘real timely’ for all our meetings.” His misnomer may be close to reality.

The Fund’s Secretary to the Board, which is the department I work in, expects to again ask for verbatim realtime services to be provided by IMF reporting staff in Chengdu, China, in July and at the Leaders’ Summit in Hangzhou, China, in September. In Korea in 2010, I covered the private dinner of the Leaders’ Summit, sitting behind President Barack Obama. In my own mind, that made it the “G-21,” as I was present as a leader in stenographic realtime provision.

Patric Martin is an official reporter from Bethesda, Md., who works for the International Monetary Fund. He can be reached at pmartin@imf.org.

JARGON ALERT:

G-20 (also called Group of Twenty) is an international forum for the governments and central bank governors from 20 major economies.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF or the Fund) is an international organization headquartered in Washington, D.C., of “189 countries working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world.”

The International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC) advises and reports to the IMF Board of Governors on the supervision and management of the international monetary and financial system, including on responses to unfolding events that may disrupt the system. The IMFC usually meets twice a year.

Road to international depositions

JCR publications share buttonA blog written by Suzane Quinson of Planet Depos posted on June 22 by JD Supra Business Advisor outlines a general routine that can help ensure international depositions are covered smoothly.

Read more.

Globetrotting reporters

A blog posted June 2 by JD Supra Business Advisor addresses the advantage of reserving the services of a seasoned, well-traveled court reporter to meet the needs of transnational litigation. The blog was authored by Suzanne Quinson of Planet Depos, Washington, D.C.

Read more.

Order in the court: ‘VatiLeaks’ trial testifies to unique legal process

An article posted on May 12 by the Catholic News Service about the latest “VatiLeaks” trial provides a glimpse inside the Vatican courtroom, including how differently the Italian court reporter works compared to an American court reporter.

Read more.

Depositions in Paris

A blog by Suzanne Quinson from Planet Depos offers tips on taking depositions in Paris. JD Supra Business Advisor posted the blog on May 11.

Read more.