Learn how to make 2018 your best business year yet

Lisa Colston, RPR, a freelancer and owner of Sworn Testimony, PLLC, in Lexington, Ky., is already registered to attend the 2018 NCRA Firm Owners Executive Conference, saying she’s looking forward to “getting my creative juices flowing and thinking outside the box.” The 2018 event is Jan. 28-30 at The Don CeSar in St. Pete Beach, Fla. This business-focused conference is designed with two key elements in mind: 1) giving attendees real-world educational sessions with pragmatic tips they can take back and implement into their business immediately and 2) providing lots of time to network with a friendly, open community of like-minded professionals.

This year, attendees will work with John Spence, one of the top 100 business thought leaders in the nation. During his keynote address, Spence will focus on what he does best: making complex business ideas “awesomely simple.” Later that afternoon, he will lead an in-depth, two-part workshop focused first on business planning and execution and then on strategic thinking and planning. Since Firm Owners is a smaller, more intimate event, attendees will have the opportunity to address their specific individual business challenges during this workshop.

Colston said that marketing tips and tricks are some of the most valuable things she’s learned at past conferences. And 2018 will continue that trend with Steve Scott’s session, “Marketing your Business on the Web.” Scott brings longtime experience with search engine optimization (SEO) and website design, fields he’s been working in since 1998. SEO is one of the current buzzwords in online marketing, and attendees will come away with greater insight on how to use SEO to get their name in front of potential clients.

Colston said that the most enjoyable part of attending Firm Owners is “the feeling of community and friendship” and that she’s been able to “develop business relationships that are built on the foundation of confidence and trust.” Furthermore, “the ability to collaborate on business strategies to help grow and strengthen” her business are why she keeps coming back. Plenty of networking time is built into the schedule, including a fun “Build-it, Mix-it, Who Will Win-it Networking Event” that will kick off the conference.

Freelancers and firm owners who are thinking of attending this conference for the first time will find a warm and welcoming community. “As a first-time attendee, I fully anticipated feeling like an outsider or fifth wheel. I was so sure that I would have to insert myself into conversations and wedge myself into long-forged friendships. I’m happy to say I was completely wrong,” said Constance Lee, RPR, a freelancer and owner of Constance Lee & Company in Baden, Pa. Lee attended for the first time in 2016 and then returned the very next year.

Finally, attendees will get access to the annual NCRA State of the Industry. This session will look at how the court reporting and captioning industry is doing now, what areas firms are developing, and what successes they’re finding – all based on solid, current data. Having a real-world sense of what the industry looks like nationwide will help attendees know where their individual businesses fit into the big picture.

The motto for the 2018 event is “Connect. Learn. Energize.” for good reason. “A network of professionals that you can rely on through the year will make running a small business effortless,” said Colston. “We are one united group of professionals working together to maintain a professional court reporting industry overall.” Come join the 2018 NCRA Firm Owners Executive Conference in January and discover what connection or tip will be the one that makes 2018 your best business year yet.

Don’t miss your chance to register

The NCRA website will be running routine maintenance on Thursday, Nov. 16, but attendees can download the registration form and register by phone or mail. In addition, members who register for the event and book their stay at The Don CeSar on Nov. 24 will be entered into a drawing for a free spouse registration for the event as part of NCRA’s Best. Friday. Ever. on Black Friday. Don’t wait – registration prices increase on Dec. 16.

The online student experience: Interview with Mike Hensley

Mike Hensley, RPR, is an unusual reporter in that he completed court reporting school entirely online. He is a 2015 graduate of Sage College and currently works as a freelance reporter in Evanston, Ill. (although he will be moving to the San Francisco, Calif., area by the end of 2017). Hensley is also in his second year as a member of the NCRA New Professionals Committee.

Why did you decide to go to court reporting school online? What factors went into your decision to choose your school?

I went online primarily because the school I was interested in was based in California, and I was facing an upcoming cross-country move to Chicago. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to attend school with the facility I found; so online schooling was the best available option to meet my needs. I also wanted the flexibility to complete school on my terms and on my schedule since I was an independent adult working full time.

How did you fit classes and practice time into your schedule?

I worked a full-time job, and even at one point, I had a full-time and part-time job while attending school. I had to be very creative in finding time for fitting in school. Luckily, my full-time job was a graveyard shift, Friday-Monday job. The job also had a lot of dead time where my boss encouraged me to bring something to do. He himself mentioned that he completed a master’s degree program while working my particular shift; so it seemed like a good fit to allow me to complete my own schoolwork. As far as practice time, I really had to push myself to forego personal activities and use my non-work time to practice as often as I could. I had to remind myself that sacrifices during school would only be temporary, and it would pay off later when I achieved my new career.

What did you do, if anything, to find a court reporting support network without having in-person classes?

I found Facebook to be a great resource for networking with court reporters. Along with that, my school provided a good source for coaches and mentors through the school staff as part of the online program. As I joined more court reporter groups through Facebook, I developed a presence among court reporters and was able to connect with several individuals who offered to become mentors and eventual friends.

Who or where did you go to for advice on steno theory, selecting software, speedbuilding, and so on?

My school primarily had a good plan of direction for guiding us with software and speedbuilding materials through their online program. As I progressed through school, I kept my eyes open for other sources of material. I obtained a large amount of information through word of mouth from other reporters and online students. Online students sharing with one another can be a great resource because we’re all looking for the most efficient and cost-effective (i.e. free) tools for practice.

What was the biggest challenge you faced about studying online? How did you overcome that challenge?

My biggest challenge was time management initially. The first two years of school were a combination of academics and speedbuilding; so I had to balance both practice time and homework time along with my work schedule. Once I completed academics, I was able to focus solely on speedbuilding, and things became less complicated. As an online student, you have to be your own coach at times. I had to really dig deep and find the drive to push myself to make time in my schedule for practice. It really helped to surround myself with things that reminded me of my goal. At one point, I kept a vision board with pictures of things I wanted as a result of my new career: things like my steno machine, vacation destinations, etc.

What advantages did you find to attending school online?

I was able to complete schoolwork at times that were most advantageous to me so that I could still maintain my full-time job. I was also able to tackle as much or as little as I wanted. Usually, I leaned towards tackling more because I wanted to finish as soon as possible. Personally, I wanted to attend school and focus on the program without any distractions, and knowing my personality, if I had gone to a brick-and-mortar school, I would have found myself distracted by the social environment. But that’s just my personal observation. I think one of the strongest advantages to online schooling is that when you know yourself and you know that you are dedicated enough to buckle down and do the work that you need to do, then it can be a very suitable option to complete school.

Describe the transition from school to working – were there any factors from having been an online student that make you think this transition was slightly easier or slightly harder?

I do admit, when I started as a reporter, it felt strange to set up my equipment in someone’s office as opposed to setting up in my living room. However, that adjustment was minor and was easily overcome. I think that being an online student made it easier for me to transition because I didn’t become accustomed to going to a school facility and being in that environment before entering the working world. In my mind, whenever I sat down at my machine, I was already in the working world. By the time I entered the field, I already felt like I had been a court reporter because I had spent so much time envisioning it during my education.

What do you think firms and courthouses should keep in mind when hiring students who graduated from an online program?

Firms should bear in mind that they may need to spend a small amount of time discussing professional etiquette with an online student, especially if for some reason the online student didn’t have the opportunity to shadow a working reporter. If that did not occur, I would highly recommend that the firm arrange for the online graduate to shadow a reporter to see what it looks like to do the job. Firms and courthouses can expect that online students are well versed in using technology to complete tasks, and therefore they are more likely to communicate through methods like email and/or text message. Online students may also be more adept at submitting work product through electronic means such as email, an online portal, or a cloud-based system.

What do you think working reporters can do to help online students specifically?

I find that a large number of online students really need a mentor  to develop the mental fortitude necessary to become a court reporter. I was very fortunate to find several mentors who gave me some fantastic advice that helped me reach the finish line. Words of a professional reporter carry a lot of weight with students. Any professional reporter who can offer even a small amount of time as a mentor can really be a huge influence on the future generation. Being a mentor doesn’t mean you’re a babysitter. It can be something as simple as being willing to have a weekly or even monthly phone call to check in and say: “Hey, how are you doing?”

Do you have any final thoughts to share?

I feel that my online education prepared me to be a new breed of court reporter. When I began working in the field, I was not afraid of jobs that involved videoconferencing or telephonic participants because I had dealt with these sorts of issues to complete my education. Online schooling also gave me an awareness of many forms of technology available to me as a future professional. When I began working, I was comfortable with completing paperwork electronically and submitting it to whomever requested it. This allows me to be comfortable in working with out-of-state agencies when coverage is needed in my home area. Online schooling also made me strongly accustomed to being realtime-ready. I was connected to a computer 24/7 through my education. Now that I’m a professional reporter, I embrace various technologies to help me do my job as best as I can. With the uncertainty of many brick-and-mortar programs, I feel that online education is truly a wonderful option to keep the education of court reporters alive and well for the years to come.

A bird’s-eye view of disability leadership in Chicago

By LeAnn M. Hibler

Sometimes as a CART captioner, it is just an honor to write a job and have a bird’s-eye view of an event, so when my colleague asked me if I wanted to work an event promoting disability leadership, I jumped at the chance. It was a conversation between two long-time friends, Marca Bristo and Judith Heumann.

Judith Heumann acquired her disability due to polio when she was a young girl growing up in Brooklyn. As she matured into a young adult in the 1950s and 1960s, she faced both attitudinal and physical barriers in society. Through the years, she has engaged in activities to improve the lives of others nationally and internationally, including serving in the Clinton and Obama administrations and with the World Bank organization. Her most recent project, “The Heumann Perspective,” hopes to bring attention and spur discussion on disability rights through social media platforms.

I worked the assignment as an independent contractor for my colleague and fellow captioner Cathy Rajcan, RDR, CRR, CRC, owner of Efficiency Reporting. The Chicago-area CRCs have great professional, supportive relationships and work together to ensure that the people who need our services have a qualified captioner for their events.

Cathy provided me with an electronic copy of the program from which I was able to pull names of presenters and sponsors and add them to my job dictionary prior to the event.

I used Text on Top, which overlays the captions on the same screen as the PowerPoints. This was Cathy’s equipment, so I needed to meet with her prior to the event and get it from her. It is not unusual for us to share our equipment with one another, whether it’s an LCD projector and screen or the Text on Top device. Finding time to meet may seem like an inconvenience, but it actually forces us to take some time to get together face-to-face and visit, which is a rarity with our busy schedules. Cathy provided me with her settings for the Text on Top so I could mirror the way she had done it in the past.

The need for captioning has grown significantly as more people learn about the various ways it can be used to bring communication access to the world, whether it’s on-site or remote, stationary or mobile. The demand has certainly grown beyond the supply of providers we have. I would encourage all the realtime court reporters out there to consider using their unique skill on the captioning side of things to provide access to all, including people with hearing loss, people whose native language is not English, or even those of us who are not paying attention and need to look at the captions as a refresher!

Chicago has so many people who were and still are instrumental in the disability rights movement, including two amazing women who were involved with my event: Marca Bristo, President and CEO of Access Living, a Center for Independent Living; and Karen Tamley, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities. As an on-site CART captioner, I am often embedded in the disability community, and I love hearing stories about their involvement, whether it was at the University of California–Berkley or Washington, D.C. I’m impressed by folks who took their lives into their hands and blocked buses to bring attention to transportation disparities or even recently participated in sit-ins on Capitol Hill to shine a light on proposed Medicaid changes that would have had dire consequences for many disabled individuals. They’ve even been arrested for the cause!

The takeaways are that people with disabilities deserve to participate in the world the same as able-bodied people, yet they have to continue to fight for equal rights, such as the right to make decisions about where and how they live their lives. People are often afraid of the unknown when it comes to interacting with a person with a disability, but I encourage all of us to look not at the disability, but rather see them as people with intelligence and personality.

LeAnn M. Hibler, RMR, CRR, CRC, is a CART captioner in Joliet, Ill. She can be reached at lmhreporting@aol.com.

NCRA 2017 – Highlights from TCG’s trip to Las Vegas for the NCRA Convention

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyKendall O’Geil, the Captioning Coordinator for The Captioning Group wrote a Sept. 7 post on the company blog about her experience at the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo in Las Vegas, Nev. O’Geil, who is an associate member of NCRA in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, highlighted the opportunities to meet captioners she works with in person as well as seeing new and emerging technologies and equipment in the Expo Hall. “Even if you are not a captioner, court reporter, or realtime writer in any sense, there is a lot to be learned from attending an NCRA convention,” she said.

Read more.

Making connections with HLAA

In 1992, Deanna Baker, FAPR, RMR, was first introduced to Self Help for Hard of Hearing, the precursor of the Hearing Loss Association of America. “I started volunteering my realtime services to this organization at that time, as they were not aware of CART captioning services,” said Baker. ”That was 24-plus years ago, and I have been involved ever since.”

Rear view of a dark conference room filled with people looking toward two screens; one has the speaker with captions overlaid on top and the other has a slide from the presentation

Plenary session at the 2016 HLAA conference

Since first getting involved, Baker has evolved with the organization. Her first experience was organizing the CART and captioning services for all breakout sessions and plenary events for the June 1993 conference. “Back then we used overhead projectors and panels on top to display our realtime from our notebook computers,” Baker said.

Baker has gone on to serve on the HLAA Board of Trustees and currently contributes as their CART captioning professional advisor. “I try to keep HLAA and NCRA connected on a variety of levels and am thrilled with their collaboration on the legislative level. I have also asked many HLAA members to be on various NCRA committees, as their input is vital with much of the work those committees are doing.” She also notes that since HLAA does a lot of work on a more regional level, she would love to see more individuals and state associations work with and support local HLAA chapters.

As part of her evolving role, Baker was invited to speak about CART captioning starting in 1996 and since has presented on related topics many times at the HLAA conventions. She spoke again at the HLAA conference in June and offered some thoughts on how to approach this topic.

What topics do you speak about for HLAA?

I explained what CART captioning is and how it works, and I also explained what credentials are available and offer some ideas for the resources. This year, I handed out the new NCRA Code of Professional Ethics for CART captioners.

Rear view of a conference room with a man and woman presenting at the front. On the left is a screen with the PowerPoint presentation and captions overlaid on top.

Breakout session at the 2016 HLAA conference. NCRA member Darlene Parker is presenting.

Also, at times, I’ve reviewed the various new sections of the Federal Communications Commission’s guidelines, explained how to complain about poor quality TV captioning, and showed the audience some of the best practices that have been developed. I often share with them NCRA’s captioningmatters.com website and go through the benefits that site offers consumers. When new technologies are introduced, I’ll keep the HLAA membership up to date on how they can benefit from that.

My co-presenter this year was Michele Michaels from the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. As a consumer, she explained various settings where remote CART captioning can be used such as sporting events, theaters, and mobile CART captioning. She also went through the process for requesting services, who pays for the services, and the relevant ADA regulations.

Do you suggest the topics, or did the organizers ask you to do this? What has the feedback been like?

Sometimes HLAA has a specific topic they want me to talk about, but otherwise I come up with the topic that I see as relevant at the time. All the various talks I have given I have had very positive feedback. The members always have excellent questions. Many are not familiar with NCRA and have many questions regarding certification and especially the high demand for services now.

A group of smiling people

At HLAA 2017
Front row (l->r): Lisa Johnston, Bob Branigin, and Diane Humphrey
Back row (l->r): Kimberly August, Scott Smith, Deanna Baker, Jim Vivian, and Sharon Vivian

Do you have advice for other CART captioners who want to provide services for accessibility for conferences on how to explain those services?

For the CART captioners out there, I would highly suggest contacting your local HLAA chapters or other groups serving the hard of hearing, either state or local, and give presentations regarding the “how” of CART captioning. They usually are always looking for speakers at their meetings. Possibly partner up with another CART captioner for a live demonstration!

The national HLAA group had terrific questions, especially around credentials. They were amazed at the variation of credentials and also what it takes to maintain them. They also really appreciated the explanation of the writer and how we “make” words. Also I explained how bloopers happen, using the example of the words part and fart, and how easy it is to have mistakes happen, which had them realizing how talented CART captioners really are!

After the hour presentation, the audience truly enjoyed our conversation and had a copy of the NCRA Code of Professional Ethics for CART captioners to share with others. [Ed. Note: Promoting court reporting and captioning to external audiences is eligible for PDC credit toward your NCRA certifications. Contact ContinuingEd@ncra.org for more information.]

BUSINESS: How building a network got me where I am today

 

By Kathryn Thomas

The best and longest-lasting work relationships have been those I’ve gained through people I meet. Ever since I was certified, I’ve attended every state convention, and for the last eight years, I’ve attended every national convention.

My first relationship with an agency was with the very agency I interned with as a student. By that experience, the owner already knew I showed up early and dressed and acted appropriately.

When I moved to a different area a few years later, friends I had met online guided me to a few more court reporting agencies that put me to work.

When I decided to transition to CART, I told everyone — everyone — that I was looking to cross over. One of the deposition agency owners (who already knew that I show up early, do my best, and am professional) assigned me to a pop-up CART job lasting a day or two, and the seal was broken, so to speak. I gained more CART experience here and there, until I got hooked up with a captioning agency owned by someone (whom I had met at a court reporting conference) who put me to work full-time.

Now I’m doing all CART and some captioning with a few really good agencies, and my hook-ups with them emerged due to my connections! Of the agencies that I regularly work for, I didn’t just cold-call asking for work. Someone introduced me or referred me to them, or they’d heard of me already by that time.When you have connections, it’s easier, because then people already know you. You are not an unknown quantity.

Now, of course, you’ve got to be professional and have the chops to keep the working relationship going. I’m focusing just now on getting the relationship started. To keep it going, you’ve got to do what you’ve heard a million times — show up, work hard, be professional, don’t whine, learn from your mistakes, etc.

Get out there and meet people. It might be outside of your comfort zone, but outside the comfort zone is where all the good stuff is.

Kathryn A. Thomas, RDR, CRC, is a captioner based in St. Louis and Southern Central Illinois. You can follow her blog at http://www.stenoray.com.

Thomas wrote this article on behalf of the National Court Reporters Foundation’s Corrinne Clark Professionalism Institute. Established in 2015, the Corrinne Clark Professionalism Institute is dedicated to aiding the education of court reporting students and new professionals about professionalism, branding, and building a successful career. Named for the late Corrinne Clark — wife of the late Robert H. Clark, NCRA’s longest tenured librarian-historian — the Institute was made possible by a generous donation contributed by Donna Hamer, Santa Paula, Calif., Robert’s cousin.

 

So much to see and hear at the NCRA Convention & Expo

networkingTime and time again, in addition to the high-quality speakers and sessions and the latest in new services and products showcased in the Expo Hall, networking continues to rank as one of the top reasons for attending the NCRA Convention & Expo. This year expects to be no different when the largest gathering of court reporters, captioners, students, educators, legal videographers, and other members of the legal field meet in Chicago, Ill., for the 2016 NCRA Convention & Expo being held Aug. 4-7 at the Chicago Hilton.

“I find speaking to reporters from around the country gives me a unique perspective on how the field is doing in various areas of the county,” said John Kolacinski, president of Bryan University, Tempe, Ariz. “As administrator for Bryan University online (court reporting program), it is essential that we stay in touch across the United States to help address regional needs,” he added.

“The networking and education provided by an NCRA convention can make you the most sought-after legal videographer in your area,” said Ross E. Colby, CLVS, Chicago, Ill. “Real face-to-face networking is invaluable. Getting to know my professional peers across the country helps me be the best videographer I can be.”

Among the many networking sessions on the schedule for this year’s Convention & Expo are the Only New Once and the Opening Receptions on Aug. 4, the CART and captioning and legal videographer receptions on Aug. 5, and a coffee break with vendors in the morning on Aug. 6. Other events include the Awards Luncheon on Aug. 6 followed by the President’s Party that evening.

This year’s event also promises an array of concurrent sessions sure to appeal to court reporters, captioners, legal videographers, students, and educators. In addition, attendees are encouraged to arrive early in Chicago and support their peers who will compete in the national Speed and Realtime Contests being held Aug. 3 and 4 respectively.

According to Kolacinski, in a sometimes solitary profession, attending the NCRA Convention & Expo allows attendees to cross paths with others in the field, creating a “tremendous re-grooving” exercise. “I have always felt a positive response from reporters who step up to help students, as they have been there themselves. Meeting new reporters allow us to network with many who volunteer to serve as mentors or participate in shadowing days with them,” he said.

Colby agrees. “NCRA is our certifying body, so it’s important to keep your finger on the pulse of the industry and the expectations of the CLVS world. We don’t get much face time with each other to compare notes, challenges, and successes, so this is a great opportunity to improve my skills through the experiences of others,” he added.

Other highlights include getting a firsthand look at the newest products and services in the field either by attending one or more of the many vendor workshops being offered on the schedule or by touring the Expo Hall floor.

Micheal A. Johnson, RDR, CRR, a freelance reporter from Austin, Texas said he is looking forward to networking and the opportunity to learn about new trends from colleagues at this year’s Convention & Expo, and advises anyone thinking of attending to “invest in your professional development, get outside your comfort zone, meet new friends, and enjoy yourself.”

For more information and to register for the 2016 NCRA Convention & Expo, visit NCRA.org/Convention.

Still time to register for Firm Owners Executive Conference in Puerto Rico

2016 FirmOwners_Puerto Rico_smAttendees at the 2016 NCRA Firm Owners Executive Conference being held April 17-19 at the Caribe Hilton in San Juan, Puerto Rico, are invited to attend a special networking reception being held April 18 from 6:30-10:30 p.m., at El Livin, a unique restaurant located in the heart of the historic Luis Muñoz Rivera Park. The networking reception is being hosted by Verbatim Reporting, based in San Juan.

“Puerto Ricans in general are very gregarious people. We open our hearts and our homes to all,” said Elsie M. Parra, managing member of Verbatim Reporting. “When we knew NCRA was going to have its Firm Owners and Executives Conference here, our first thought was to welcome them with an activity. After all, they are coming to our island.”

Parra said she and other staff from Verbatim Reporting are registered to attend the conference, and they are looking forward to meeting other firm owners and increasing their knowledge of the business trends driving today’s court reporting and captioning firms.

According to Parra, El Livin sits above the park and offers views of both the park and ocean, backed by a décor that infuses a hint of the times of clandestine operations from the 1920s Prohibition Era to the sleek retro styles of the 1960s.

Attendees at the 2016 Firm Owners Executive Conference will enjoy an array of networking opportunities, the first of which kicks off at an opening reception on the evening of April 17. On Monday morning, attendees will hear a two-part keynote speech presented by Jane Southren, the first of two keynote speakers presenting at the event. Southren, a former commercial litigator turned coach and collaborator for the attorneys at her law firm, Lerners LLP, Toronto, Ontario, will share insights with attendees about recognizing and cultivating the relationships firm owners need to fuel their business successes. Her keynote address will explore the differences between transactional relationships versus loyal relationships, how to identify them, and how to build more loyal relationships.

Other sessions during the first day of the conference will include a panel discussion about the findings of NCRA’s latest State of the Industry Survey report, led by NCRA President Steve Zinone, RPR; Kim Neeson, RPR, CRR, CRC, Chair of the Association’s Firm Owners Committee; and Mike Nelson, CAE, CEO & Executive Director of NCRA. The day will wrap up with another networking session in the afternoon.

Tuesday’s schedule includes a two-part presentation by a second keynote speaker Ann Gomez, a productivity consultant and founder of Clear Concept Inc., Toronto, Ontario. She will take the stage and address how business owners can improve time management by controlling chaos in their lives, planning priorities, and understanding how to own their time. Her presentation will introduce attendees to the key work habits needed to thrive in today’s busy environment and enable achieving more with less effort.

The schedule for the day also includes additional networking sessions, as well as a two-part session led by Jeanne Leonard, CAE, NCRA’s Senior Director of Marketing, Membership & Communications, which will include a scavenger hunt.

Finally, a closing reception will provide another networking opportunity where attendees will be able to secure new connections and catch up with old friends.

This year’s event marks the first time NCRA is traveling to the Caribbean, as well as the first time the schedule will feature two keynote speakers who will address the tough issues of relationship-building and time management.

The 2016 NCRA Firm Owners Executive Conference, which is designed exclusively for owners and managers of court reporting and captioning firms, is considered the Association’s most prestigious event.

A special hotel rate of $179 per night plus taxes and fees for NCRA members expires March 25, and rooms are filling up fast. With an easy flight from the mainland and no passport required, San Juan promises attendees the perfect opportunity to shake the winter blues and return home motivated to build their business in the coming year.

Hotel registration is available online at NCRA.org/forsv; by phone at 787-721-0303, ext. 2156, or 800-468-8585; or by email at reservations.caribe@hilton.com. If booking via phone or email, please refer to group code NCRA16 to secure the discounted rate. Please be advised that a credit card is required to guarantee room reservations.

For more information, the full schedule, and registration information for the 2016 Firm Owners Executive Conference, visit NCRA.org/FirmOwners.

More information about Ann Gomez can be found at clearconceptinc.ca. More information about Jane Southren can be found at southren.ca.

The value of membership

ValueofmembershipWhat are the primary reasons that court reporters and captioners become and stay members of NCRA? In many surveys, members have listed the JCR and the JCR Weekly, which keep them informed of the latest news in the profession; their hard-earned national certifications, which offer them ways to highlight their skills and professionalism; the many continuing education and networking opportunities available through NCRA; and many other benefits as reasons they join and renew their membership.

But for a more personal take, the JCR reached out to a few members who told us why they think belonging to NCRA is so important, not only for them, but for others as well.

“There is no better way to stay informed about reporting than through the JCR and attending conventions. Being a dues-paying member means you belong to the association that represents one of the great professions, ours, and interacts with another, the law,” said Patric Martin of Bethesda, Md., who joined when he first started reporting in 1978.

“I have always liked seeing what is going on in the profession and being able to read about issues and new things on the horizon. The best benefit, I believe, is the equipment and liability insurance. I have also started using Amplify for deep discounts at Staples. I’ve already saved more than $100 this year on paper, toner, and my regular office supplies,” said Elsa Jorgensen of Birmingham, Mich., who has been a participating member of NCRA since 2002 when she transitioned from student membership.

“It’s good to be aware of issues affecting reporters,” continues Jorgensen. “Even though there may be disagreement on certain things, we’re still stronger as a group than as individuals.”

“I’ve held membership with NCRA since the moment I found about it,” said Katherine Schilling, a student member who is based in San Jose, Calif. “When I first started my membership, I only had my eye on getting the monthly JCR magazine as part of it. The JCR has always held a special place in my heart because it was integral to my falling in love with the profession. I’ll never forget the first article I read, ‘A Day in the Life,’ when I found a stack of magazines in the classroom. After that, I was hooked. Just a year later, the annual NCRA Convention & Expo was coming to my backyard, San Francisco, and I learned what a benefit it is to be a student member so that I could get the student member registration rate.”

“The professional tips, ideas, and information are vital to keeping your career interesting and moving forward. Through the NCRA, we can learn from the best of the best,” said Jorgensen. “I look up to so many reporters and, because of them, I aspire to always be a better writer, a better professional, and a better representative of this amazing career.”

Martin, who works at the International Monetary Fund in Washington, D.C., recently paid for a number of student memberships so that financially conscious students who were interested in being part of NCRA could be involved.

“When a student gets out of school and is ready to become a working reporter, having a couple years of NCRA membership under their belt gives them a head start,” Martin says. “NCRA has ways to help, and unless you are a member you won’t be able to take advantage of them, the least of which is just reading the JCR and what working reporters and new reporters have to say. More than likely, you will encounter the same issues you will read about.”

“Nowadays, the value of my membership is most evident in the RPR tests,” says Schilling. “I am currently striving to pass the final leg of the RPR, and I now see my membership as giving me access to these tests several times a year. Looking back on it, it’s interesting to see how the value I’ve placed on my NCRA membership has evolved as I’ve progressed through my school career. I guess I could say that my NCRA membership has evolved with me.”

“Over my 38 years in the profession, I’ve let my membership and my certifications lapse. I’ve passed the RMR twice, as well as the CRR, but currently don’t hold those certifications,” said Martin. “There is no excuse, really, and I can only say life intervened. But, as you go forward, become a member, strive for certifications, and don’t let them go. They are golden, as is NCRA. I encountered a reporter from Boston, Mass., in New York City last year, who happened to be in town, but not for our fantastic convention. I couldn’t understand why she didn’t support the profession by simply being a member. And she was quite open on how well she was doing. So, why can’t you support the profession by being a member, I wondered. Her answer was, ‘They don’t need my support.’ That is one of the greatest fallacies ever uttered. Now more than ever, every single member counts.”

Making connections in your local community

communityconnections_Center for Neighborhood Technology

Photo by Center for Neighborhood Technology

Being involved in local business organizations opens doors for a few court reporting firms. In a previous article about business resources, several firm owners noted that being involved in their local bar and paralegal associations led to making connections for the business.

“We generally network with the lawyers, paralegals and legal secretaries groups in a few different counties, as well as support their seminars and conferences,” said Jan Schmitt, RPR, of Schmitt Reporting & Video, dually based in Vancouver, Wash., and Portland, Ore. “We also support and attend the local legal clinic functions. Personally, I am involved in our community, but I don’t consider that a part of my job, just something I enjoy doing.”

Several others noted other organizations that also helped NCRA members make connections with other local businesspeople.

“One of the best organizations I’ve joined in the past several years in terms of introductions to lawyers and local business executives is Rotary Club International,” says Jan Ballman, RPR, CMRS, of Paradigm Reporting & Captioning of Minneapolis, Minn. Rotary clubs now offer both brick-and-mortar groupings and e-clubs.

Another potential source of local connections is the local Chamber of Commerce. “I am a member of the Greater Carlisle Area Chamber of Commerce, Harrisburg Regional Chamber & CREDC, and Better Business Bureau. I serve as a committee member on the Legislative Affairs Committee for the Greater Carlisle Area Chamber of Commerce and enjoy planning and participating in their many events,” said Linda Larson, RPR, CRI, who owns Premier Reporting in Carlisle and Harrisburg, Pa. Some local chamber of commerce events also offer support for small businesses.