Litigation Support, Realtime Reporting, Technology, Zoom

Zoom to the Future

By Connie Psaros, RPR, CMRS

What started out as a simple request for a Zoom public hearing turned out to be a memorable assignment that markedly few reporters around the country would dare take on.  Thank goodness Alex Loos, RDR, got the call. Not only is he a gifted reporter, he also embraces technology at every turn and does not shy away from a challenge.  And he makes it look easy.

Shortly after the hearing was scheduled, a request was made about the possibility of expanding the meeting to include more than the allowed 100 active participants, basically turning the meeting into a webinar platform.  Alex did his research and reported back that various options are available, including a license upgrade that would allow 1,000 active participants and 10,000 passive participants. Armed with the information, it was up to the client to make their informed decision on what platform was best for them.  Ultimately it was a no-go; but had that option been chosen, Alex was ready to upgrade his license and make it work.

Multiple issues were ironed out over several days. Due to security issues regarding holding a public hearing, concerns such as hosting duties, granting passive participants the opportunity to speak, muting/unmuting microphones, sharing documents, holding people in virtual waiting rooms, recording options, how to conduct sidebar conversations, etc. needed to be clarified.  Once the parties agreed upon the public hearing protocols, everyone was poised to start what could be a contentious hearing.

The three-day hearing went forward. As you can imagine, the logistics of this hearing went well beyond the expected reporting duties of writing and marking the virtual exhibits.  Technical assistance by Alex was needed regarding every aspect of the hearing.  Meeting management was his responsibility too. They relied on Alex to handle just about everything, and he not once let them down.

As the hearing progressed, rush delivery was ordered.  When the hearing was concluded, a request was made to have access to the video files as soon as possible for review. The files were quite large since they were all-day hearings and could not be securely delivered using conventional software. The files had to be compressed and a cloud storage solution was found to deliver them to counsel. In the end, the transcripts and video/audio links were all delivered within one week’s time.

Kudos and congratulations to Alex Loos, reporter extraordinaire, who went above, beyond, and then some to get the job done, never faltering, never complaining, never becoming unhinged. Throughout this process he patiently and promptly answered every question no matter the time of day. Everything he did epitomized superior customer service.  In the days of COVID-19, it is worth noting that he took on and completed this assignment without ever leaving his home! He received sincere thanks and accolades from all involved. “Thank you for your stellar work in managing the reporting and technology of the proceedings. I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say we have appreciated your skill, professionalism and good humor.”

We would like to thank the exceptional court reporters out there who understand the importance of making an impeccable record, using technology to do so, and providing personalized customer service no matter the obstacles.  Alex, it is with awe and gratitude that we present you as an example of our profession’s very finest.

Litigation Support, Realtime Reporting, Technology, Uncategorized

IT’S COURT REPORTING & CAPTIONING WEEK!!!

Yes, we face challenges, but court reporting is still a thriving profession

This is the week set aside each year to inform the public about the important role we play in the judicial system.  It’s also the perfect opportunity to spread the word about our profession to encourage others to join our ranks, especially since we are currently facing critical shortages nationwide.

Because of this, some may think that court reporting is a dying profession.  Far from it.  We are not antiquated; we are cutting edge.  There is no other method that can produce an almost flawless transcript in realtime, basically on the fly.  That is why our unique skills are in high demand, and that translates into commensurate compensation.

Court reporters are the same as every other professional with specialized skills.  For example, if you have dangerous electrical code violations in your home and you are not a licensed electrician, you need to hire one who can rectify the problem.  It’s worth every penny to get the product and service you need that only a certified and experienced professional can provide.

The real problem is the fact that many of our members are aging out.  The average age of court reporters is 55.  It is estimated that there will be a shortage of 5,500 court reporters nationwide come 2020.  This means even more opportunities for court reporters in the broadcast and CART captioning areas and its mainstay:  deposition and official reporting.   It is a shame that just when our profession is at its zenith it cannot be sustained by our meager nationwide membership.  There are an estimated 32,000 reporters in the marketplace, only 11,500 of which are NCRA members.

Court reporters are needed now more than ever, and the need for our services will only increase in the future.  With only 31 NCRA-approved schools, NCRA’s A to Z program is aiming to fast-track students through training and into the workforce, but its full effects won’t be felt immediately.  It will take a while for the newly minted reporters to gain the experience and top-notch skills that those who have been in the field for many years possess.  The question is:  Can our profession survive this gap in reporter availability, or will we be replaced with inferior methods in the meantime?

Court reporting is in truth a thriving profession!  Why?

  • Graduates are guaranteed employment and an excellent starting salary
  • There is always room for growth and professional development for motivated individuals
  • Reporters at the top of their game earn six-figure incomes
  • NCRA and its state associations, as well as organizations like STAR, offer continual support, education, and networking opportunities
  • Our profession is technology-driven.  Lawyers need our expertise to provide the specialized services they need.
  • Tape recorders and voice recognition are inferior substitutes.
  • Reporters may choose to work as freelancers, officials, CART providers, broadcast captioners, even as Congressional reporters.  Many work in several capacities in their careers.
  • Our profession offers other related services such as videography, video conferencing, audio transcription, exhibit synching and linking, etc.
  • Reporters play a vital role in the judicial system.  They are respected by members of the bar for their role in preserving the all-important record so attorneys can represent their clients to the best of their ability.

Court reporting has undergone many revolutionary changes just in the relatively recent past.  Reporters have gone from writing on manual machines to paper and typing their own notes, to dictating into dictaphones for typists, and finally to computer-aided transcription.  There have been eight different Stenograph writing machines since the 1980s.  The investment in hardware, software, and technology over the years has been significant.  So has the learning curve among our members.  But in the end we are in a niche business that provides a service no one else can:  realtime, rough drafts, and expedited delivery.

The court reporting profession may be facing challenges, but hopefully they can be overcome.  Our judicial system depends on an accurate record to protect all litigants.  Court Reporting & Captioning Week is the perfect opportunity to highlight our talent and value.  Recommend court reporting to your friends and family.  Be a positive ambassador of the profession.  If this career has been good to you, it’s time to return the favor.

#CourtReporters #CourtReporting #STARchatter

Litigation Support, Realtime Reporting, Software, Technology, Uncategorized

Kick your case into high gear! Hire a Certified Realtime Reporter!!

When the stakes are high and quick turnaround is critical, insist on a Certified Realtime Reporter (CCR) to report the testimony. CRRs can provide interactive realtime by sending the testimony to your electronic device or over the cloud for others on your team to view remotely, and they can produce an uncertified rough draft at the conclusion of the deposition.

Not all court reporters are capable of providing these services, so be sure to request a CRR when you make your scheduling arrangements.  Less than 8% of court reporters hold the CRR designation. Doris O. Wong Associates, Inc., has several CRRs on its staff.

Recommended Software: CaseView is the industry standard for interactive realtime software, and it’s FREE.  There is a CaseViewNet download for Windows and an iCVNet app for your digital devices.  The realtime feed is sent over Wi-Fi or the Internet for remote locations.  No more cables or driver issues.

InteractiveRealtime-WongAssociates

What you should understand about realtime using any smart device:

  1. You should expect a “useable” realtime transcript with limited untranslates. A Certified Realtime Reporter has been tested to write a minimum of 96% accuracy on first pass.
  2. Easily mark text, make annotations, and read along with the testimony.
  3. Don’t be alarmed if you see some stenographic outlines or misspellings. The reporter will make corrections when proofreading.
  4. At the conclusion of the deposition, the reporter will do a quick scan to remove the steno and provide an uncertified rough draft.
  5. Upon completion of the final edit, a certified transcript will be delivered to replace the rough draft.

Helpful hint:  In most instances, this is the first time the reporter will hear the subject matter.  Provide keywords, a caption, and as much information as possible for the reporter to review.  The more information provided ahead of time, the cleaner your realtime feed will be.

Realtime is a powerful tool for litigators.  Put it to work for you!