Celebrating the legal profession on Law Day and year-round

gavel and scales

Photo by: DES Daughter

May 1 marks Law Day, a national day celebrating the role of law in our society and cultivating a deeper understanding of the legal profession, according to the American Bar Association (ABA). In 1957, ABA President Charles S. Rhyne imagined an annual celebration of the legal system, and President Dwight D. Eisenhower acknowledged the importance of the role of law in the creation of the United States when he signed a proclamation a year later. In 1961, Congress officially designated May 1 as Law Day. Each year, ABA chapters, attorneys, and judges across the nation host Law Day programs, which “are designed to help people better understand how law protects our liberty and how our legal system strives to achieve justice,” according to Law Day materials from the ABA.

The purpose of the annual Law Day is similar to the everyday mission of the National Equal Justice Library (NEJL) at Georgetown University’s Law Library. Almost 20 years ago, the NEJL was founded jointly by the ABA, the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, the Association of American Law Schools, and the American Association of Law Libraries. The NEJL was the first, and remains the only, archives dedicated to preserving the history of providing pro bono legal services to those unable to afford counsel. The need for such a collection was prompted after the family of Clara Shortridge Foltz — the first female lawyer in the western states and the person credited with instituting the public defender system in the U.S. — disposed of Foltz’s personal papers without realizing the historic importance of her personal effects.

Court reporters play a crucial role in the legal process both as the guardians of the record and, in their spare time, by preserving important collections from the NEJL as part of the National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF) Oral Histories Program. Most NCRA members are familiar with the Veterans History Project, the most prominent project in NCRF’s Oral Histories Program, but fewer are familiar with NCRF’s partnership with the NEJL.

“NCRF and NCRA’s fantastic professional staff and volunteer reporters have provided the NEJL with immeasurable support to preserve and make accessible the history of legal aid and indigent defense in the United States,” said Katharina Hering, NEJL’s project archivist. “NCRF and NCRA’s superb volunteer reporters have transcribed all 75 interviews from the first series of oral histories and are currently supporting the NEJL with transcribing our latest series of oral history interviews. All of the available transcripts are posted online through our Digital Georgetown repository, and the interviews are frequently featured on NEJL’s blog, Right On.”

Today, the NEJL archives contains 118 interviews with prominent attorneys, judges, and other members of the legal profession about their work in legal services, including Hillary Rodham Clinton, who worked as a lawyer for the Children’s Defense Fund, and Clinton Bamberger, the first director of the Office of Economic Opportunity Legal Services Program. The archives also include a series of interviews with Abe Krash, Bruce Jacob, and Anthony Lewis, key participants and observers of Gideon v. Wainwright, a landmark 1963 ruling that obligated states to provide legal counsel to criminal defendants unable to afford it. In 2013, the NEJL embarked on a new phase of the oral history project, focusing on second-generation leaders of the legal aid movement, such as Dennis Groenenboom, the executive director of Iowa Legal Aid.

“These attorneys have worked tirelessly to create programs such as self-help, low- and no-cost representation, as well as elder law,” said Heidi Darst, RMR, CRR, an official reporter from Rockwall, Texas, who has transcribed multiple interviews from the NEJL collections. “What has been most memorable for me in all of the interviews is the level of dedication these fine lawyers have to providing equal access to legal representation, even if it means taking a job that may not be a guaranteed paycheck starting out or located in good areas to raise their families. Transcribing the NEJL interviews is a great opportunity for busy reporters to give back to the legal community.”

The NEJL still has plenty of collections that need to be transcribed, according to Hering. Transcribing from these collections is a worthy celebration of the legal profession on Law Day and year-round.

“The NEJL is currently seeking transcribers for interviews from our new series of oral history interviews, including eight interviews documenting the history of Community Legal Services in Philadelphia, which were conducted in 2016,” said Hering.

The library also gratefully accepts donations of oral histories documenting the legal services work of attorneys, judges, and court reporters, as its small staff of a single interviewer and single archivist limits the number of interviews it can conduct. The NEJL’s Oral History Recording and Donation Guidelines can be found online.

Working reporters earn 0.25 PDC per completed transcript they submit as part of NCRF’s Oral Histories Program, up to 1.0 PDC per education cycle. If you would like more information about the NEJL, please contact April Weiner, NCRF’s Foundation Manager at aweiner@ncra.org, or Katharina Hering, NEJL’s project archivist at kh781@georgetown.edu.

Law Day, May 1, celebrates 50th anniversary of Miranda v. Arizona

gavel and scales

Photo by: DES Daughter

Each year, hundreds of law professionals celebrate Law Day on May 1, and 2016 is no exception. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of one of the nation’s best-known U.S. Supreme Court cases, Miranda v. Arizona, this year’s Law Day theme is Miranda: More than words. To help mark the event, the American Bar Association has a number of ideas and resources available on its website to help those interested in celebrating the day within their own communities.

This year’s theme is intended to help those who celebrate Law Day to explore the procedural protections afforded to all citizens by the U.S. Constitution, how these rights are safeguarded by the courts, and why the preservation of these principles is essential to the nation’s liberty.

Activities marking the day, which was first designated in 1958 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, will range from luncheons to mock trials to courthouse tours throughout the nation. The activities will strive to celebrate the country’s legal system and provide consumers with a greater awareness of how today’s courts operate.

NCRA has a number of resources available to assist members with celebrating Law Day, including the materials available as part of NCRF’s Legal Education Program. Other resources to help promote the court reporting and captioning professions are available through NCRA’s Take Note campaign website. Materials include information geared toward potential students and influencers such as parents and school counselors to connect directly with NCRA’s certified and participating court reporting schools and programs.

NCRA members interested in celebrating Law Day are encouraged to contact their local or state bar association to see if they can be part of any planned celebratory events. Other ideas include hosting court reporting demonstrations at local law schools or high schools.

More information about Law Day 2016 and resources to mark the event is available at ABA.org.

Read more about Law Day.

Law Day proves good day for raising awareness of court reporting

NCRA members Robin Nodland, RDR, CRR, a court reporter from Portland, Ore., and Rene L. Twedt, RDR, CRR, an official court reporter from Detroit, Mich., celebrated National Law Day by participating in separate events that sparked the interest of students and legal professionals during presentations about the profession.

Participating for the first time in a Law Day workshop hosted by the Oregon Classroom Law Project, Nodland had the opportunity to demonstrate what court reporters do in two sessions labeled Careers in the Law. High school students were invited to rotate among Nodland, a civil litigator, a paralegal, and a court-certified American Sign Language interpreter in 15-minute increments. The workshop was designed to allow students to explore various law-related career paths.

“I participated on behalf of the Oregon Court Reporters Association in place of representatives from another firm who usually attend. I did not know what to expect. In one other presentation to high school students, I found that their attention was lacking,” Nodland said.

Robin Nodland's Law Day set-up

Robin Nodland’s Law Day booth

She estimated that she interacted with about 80 students during the event and commented that the small-group format combined with having NCRA’s TakeNote campaign resources available were key in catching their interest. At her booth were customized TakeNote fliers, the campaign’s PowerPoint presentation, and the TakeNote 30-second video.

“I started to use the PowerPoint but got interrupted with questions, including how my steno machine worked, why there are mistakes in realtime, and how much court reporters earn. This was the perfect venue for recruiting for our industry. I stressed to the students that this is a career not only in the legal field but in technology as well,” said Nodland.

Nodland said she provided realtime coverage of the workshop kick-off by the facilitator and then showed the 30-second video, asked who knew what a court reporter was, explained how she was able to stream realtime, and emphasized how important court reports are to the legal system.  She said she also talked about CART and captioning and shared a video of University of Wisconsin basketball player Nigel Hayes interacting with the stenographer during the NCAA March Madness press conferences.

Over in Detroit, Twedt also participated in her first Law Day event held at her courthouse. She said the court reporters who participated were gratified by the interest that event attendees expressed in the profession, commenting that the live realtime demonstration was second in draw only to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s drug canine.

“I believe we interacted with approximately 50 people including lawyers, high school students, and participants from other law enforcement agencies who were also presenting,” Twedt said.

In addition to realtime demonstrations, Twedt said the booth was created using a variety of resources from NCRA including from the TakeNote campaign. She said that many of the visitors to the booth were amazed by the technology used to create realtime.

“People still believe court reporting is old-fashioned, so it was wonderful to show off the realtime technology,” said Twedt.

Both Nodland and Twedt said that participating in their respective events resulted in follow-ups by attendees interested in learning more about the court reporting profession. Nodland said she and other representatives from the OCRA were asked to present to an entire class of high school students about the profession. Meanwhile, Twedt reported that she received a call from the director of one of the only remaining court reporting programs in the state of Michigan, thanking her for participating in the Law Day event and letting her know that one of the students who had attended called the school and plans to begin classes when the next session begins.

 

NCRA’s Take Note campaign showcases several key career characteristics: job security, earning potential, flexibility of schedule, and the ability to help others. This broad effort includes a combination of public relations outreach, paid media advertising, guerrilla marketing events, and a custom website (crTakeNote.com). Each laser-focused element will encourage potential students and influencers such as parents and school counselors to connect directly with NCRA’s certified and participating court reporting schools and programs. NCRA members are encouraged to visit the Take Note site and download  the materials for promoting the profession.

May 1 is Law Day

Photo by: DES Daughter

Photo by: DES Daughter

Each year, hundreds of law professionals celebrate Law Day on May 1, and this year is no exception. With the theme Magna Carta, Icon of Liberty, the American Bar Association has a number of ideas and resources available on its website to help those interested in marking the event within their own communities.

Activities marking the day, which was first designated in 1958 by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, will range from luncheons to mock trials to courthouse tours throughout the nation, in an effort to celebrate the country’s legal system and provide consumers with a greater awareness of how today’s courts operate.

In South Holland, Ill., the South Suburban College Legal Studies Department will host its second annual Law Day by hosting a special live court case. Organizers also have planned an opportunity for attendees to ask questions of the Appellate Prosecutor and Appellate Defender, attend a mock crime scene demonstration, and a court reporting demonstration, with the hopes that the event will also generate interest in professions that serve the legal industry.

NCRA members interested in celebrating Law Day are encouraged to contact their local or state bar association to see if they can be part of any celebratory events being planned. Other ideas include hosting court reporting demonstrations at local law schools or high schools.

“We know that unless someone has worked in the legal field or has served as a juror, they probably are not very familiar with what a court reporter is or what it is that we do,” said NCRA member Darcie Cruz, RMR, an official court reporter from Chanute, Kan., and president of the Kansas Court Reporters Association.

In an effort to share information regarding court reporting with some state legislators, Cruz said the association’s lobbyist arranged an opportunity for several KCRA members to make a presentation to the Senate Judiciary Committee recently. She added that the presentation was well received and turned out to be a great way to help showcase the court reporting profession.

“We wanted to make it crystal clear that court reporters are the best and most effective method to capture, preserve, and access the record and that court reporters are absolutely indispensable to the administration of justice,” she said.

The presentation included realtime demonstrations using the latest technology, as well as an overview of how court reporters provide a return on investment to state taxpayers.

“Many of the staffers were captivated by the realtime being displayed on a projector screen. It was quite apparent that the realtime was assisting them as they were furiously typing on their laptops. At the conclusion of the morning’s business, one of the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee came right over and couldn’t wait to get her hands on the reporter’s machine to see just exactly how it worked,” Cruz added.

More information about Law Day 2015 and resources to mark the event is available at americanbar.org.