The 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo is the place to earn new certifications

Professionals seeking to add nationally recognized certifications to their résumés can choose from several opportunities to work toward them at the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo being held Aug. 10-13 at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nev.

Programs and certifications opportunities available this year include the Certified Realtime Reporter (CRR), Certified Realtime Captioner (CRC), Certified Reporting Instructor (CRI), and Certified Legal Video Specialist (CLVS). Note that many certifications require multiple steps to earn, so one or more components of testing may not be available during convention.

Certified Realtime Reporter Boot Camp

For those interested in learning how to pass the CRR, a three-hour long boot camp is available on Aug. 12. The CRR is recognized in the industry as the national certification of realtime competency. Taught by Kathryn Sweeney, FAPR, RMR, CRR, who helped develop the boot camp program, the course has enabled many to successfully pass the test on the first take. Sweeney is a freelance reporter and agency owner from Action, Mass.

Convention learning2In the course, Sweeney explains the testing requirements, covers NCRA’s What is an Error?, discusses what is not an error, and talks about the new online testing process. She also offers tips for self-preparation, including what to have on test day, what to do and not do on test day, and how and why candidates fail. Participants in the session should bring their equipment with them so they can take a couple of practice tests and learn how to adjust their system settings and dictionary entries. Skills testing for the CRR is offered online.

“I strongly believe taking the CRR Boot Camp will increase the chance of passing this test. When I finished my presentation in Georgia, a woman who already had her CRR came up to me and said that she wished this seminar was around when she was preparing for the test; that it had all of the information and steps that she muddled through on her own. She said it took years of figuring out what was being asked of her and then changing her writing and learning her equipment and software in order to pass,” Sweeney said.

“With this boot camp, I can help you in three hours,” added Sweeney, who also served as a beta tester for NCRA’s online testing system and as CRR Chief Examiner on behalf of the Association for 17 years.

Certified Realtime Captioner Workshop

Convention participants seeking the CRC certification can attend a 10-hour Workshop held Aug. 10-11 and take the Written Knowledge Test on Aug. 11, completing two of the three steps to the certification. (The third step, a Skills Test, can be taken anytime online.)

Leading the workshop are: Deanna Baker, FAPR, RMR, a broadcast captioner from Flagstaff, Ariz.; LeAnn Hibler, RMR, CRR, CRC, a CART captioner from Joliet, Ill.; Karyn Menck, RDR, CRR, CRC, a CART captioner from Nashville, Tenn.; and Heidi Thomas, FARP, RDR, CRR, CRC, a CART captioner from Acworth, Ga.

Convention learning“I know you will learn something new, no matter how long you have been captioning,” said Carol Studenmund, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, a broadcast captioner based in Portland, Ore. Studenmund heads the Certified Realtime Captioner Certification Committee. “Then take the Written Knowledge Test right after the workshop — while the material is fresh in your mind — and before you know it, you are two thirds of the way to earning the certification.”

Certified Reporting Instructor Workshop

Educators interested in earning the CRI can attend a two-day Workshop, Aug. 10-11, designed to expand their level of knowledge for becoming more effective realtime reporting instructors. The Workshop covers information about the learning process, how to develop court reporting syllabi and lesson plans, and how role playing a variety of courtroom scenarios can aid students’ understanding.

“Those who attend and participate in the CRI Workshop will gain wonderful insight and skills for training the future of our profession,” said Dr. Jen Krueger, RMR, CRI, CPE, who will lead the session. Krueger is a full-time faculty member at Cuyahoga Community College, Parma, Ohio,

“The CRI credential demonstrates excellence and dedication in teaching, assuring students they are benefiting from the best instructors available and others that the court reporting profession is in good hands as those learners prepare to continue the noble and fine work of court reporters and captioners everywhere,” she added.

CLVS SeminarCertified Legal Video Specialist Seminar and Production Exam

Participants interested in earning the CLVS certification can attend the required three-day seminar from Aug. 11-13. The CLVS production exam is also available on Aug. 11 and 12, for those who are qualified. The CLVS program sets and enforces standards for competency in the capture, utilization, and retention of legal video and promotes awareness of these standards within the legal marketplace. Legal videographers often partner with court reporters to ensure the integrity of both the video of legal proceedings and the official transcript.

“Attending at the CLVS Seminar is beneficial to both experienced legal videographers as well as novices to the profession,” said Jason Levin, CLVS, with Virginia Media Group, Washington, D.C. Levin is one of the instructors leading the seminar.

“Our goal is to prepare videographers for the production and written exams, and on the last day of the seminar we actually conduct mock depositions where the attendees can operate the equipment in a deposition environment. Earning the CLVS certification sets yourself apart from noncertified videographers.  The networking opportunities of attending an event like this are well worth the investment,” he added.


Don’t miss the savings on lodging at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, the host hotel for the 2017 Convention. Attendees who register to stay at Planet Hollywood on Friday and Saturday nights are eligible for free breakfast and to win one of six new Kindle Fire tablets in a giveaway. Visit to register now.

REALTIME: There’s a little fixer-upper in all of us

Header image: "There's a little Fixer Upper in all of us" ove a background of ombre wood

By Lynette Mueller

I’m anxiously awaiting the premier of the hit HGTV show Fixer Upper Season 4! Chip and Joanna Gaines restore and renovate old homes in the Waco, Texas, area. Their design style, working relationship, and positivity are an inspiration to so many people all over the world.

We court reporters can learn valuable lessons and habits from Chip and Joanna when it comes to our daily reporting and realtime goals.

Number 1 overlaid a wooden stumpMake time for yourself and family. During each episode, Chip and Joanna always make time for their cutie kids! It’s paramount to keep in mind what’s truly important, and that is to make family your number-one priority. When I was a young mom, I always came home from the job, picked up my children, gave them a smooch, and spent time with them until bedtime. After the kiddos were tucked in bed, I headed off to the computer. Now that I’m an empty nester with no kids, of course, the computer time is done at a more reasonable hour! My two children are young adults now and thriving in their own careers. When we reminisce, they remind me that I worked hard during their formative years and how they knew I was always there for them whenever they needed me.

Number 2 overlaid a wooden stumpHave faith in yourself. When Chip and Joanna buy old properties, there is always the chance something could go horribly wrong with the renovation: asbestos, old wiring, rusted pipes. You get the picture. They stay positive and overcome all of the obstacles that come their way together. As court reporters, we will always have those bad writing days for several reasons. There are the fast talkers, the witnesses who insist on answering the question before it gets out, the thick foreign accents, or the construction noises just outside the deposition room window. We need to rely on our foundations that were laid in our training and maintain a great attitude at the same time in order to overcome those unique and particular obstacles in our depositions and/or courtroom settings. We are human and aren’t perfect. While we only use audio backup as a tool, we are the guardians of the record and need to ensure we capture the verbatim testimony on every case. Always use courtesy when interrupting the proceedings and explain the rationale for your interruption in a concise and respectful way. More often than not, one always gets a better result when staying positive.

Number 3 overlaid a wooden stumpWork hard to be the best you can be. The Gaineses are an extremely hardworking couple, for sure! In addition to their TV show, they also have their own farm with animals, they now have a bakery, the Silos, new furniture and rug lines, and a magazine, to name a few. Court reporters work hard, too. Every day we produce transcripts for our valuable clients in a timely manner and more often than not on an expedited basis. We should take a hard look at how we can “renovate” our writing and realtime skills, so that we can work smarter and not harder to meet the deadlines we are faced with more and more. Realtime is and has been an in-demand service for attorneys for several years now. Court reporters (of all experience levels) need to understand that to stay relevant in today’s legal environment, we must maintain and continually hone our skills each and every day. From a previous blog post: Being realtime-capable should be the goal of every court reporter now! My realtime goal is to always strive for 99.8 percent translation rate on every job. The prep work is essential to maintain or exceed that goal. My writing is constantly evolving (even after 30 years of reporting). Writing short is paramount to the success of my translation rate, for keeping up with the fast talkers, and also being kind to my body — specifically my back and hands.

Number 4 overlaid a wooden stumpYou’ll get a higher return on investment. After the homes are renovated on Fixer Upper, the homeowners definitely have a property to be proud of and one that is worth so much more. Once we, as court reporters, invest in our careers, we earn that return as well. The steps and path to being realtime-proficient can be time-consuming but so worth it in the end. When we go out on each job, we don’t always have the luxury of knowing when a rough draft will be requested or an expedited transcript is needed. If your writing is great, you can say with confidence, “Yes, I can get that rough draft to you!” Your “return on investment” is that your editing time is so much less than before and you will earn more dollars for doing less work! You can shout out loud to yourself with pride and confidence after you hit send: “Nailed it!” Lessening your editing time means you can go enjoy your hobbies, your family, or just sit on the couch and watch Fixer Upper!

Number 5 overlaid a wooden stumpTrust in colleagues you can go to for help and resources. In order for the homes that Joanna rehabs, she has several go-to friends and colleagues to ensure her rehabs look amazing! There’s Jimmy Don, who creates the wonderful and inspirational signs for the homeowners’ kitchens. And then there’s Clint Harp, the craftsman that builds and creates the one-of-a-kind furniture pieces. Court reporters have so many resources and colleagues to help when needed for advice, technology tips, realtime tips, and general help. I’ve found that court reporters are an extremely giving community; one just needs to ask for assistance. There are a multitude of avenues one could use to hone our realtime skills. Here are a few:

  • NCRA website. There’s a plethora of information, tips and tricks, and technology-related articles here. Go there often to check for new content.
  • JCR. Again, lots of great information all court reporting related.
  • NCRA Webinars. Soak up that knowledge at home in your pajamas if you wish!
  • Create a study group online via Google Hangout, Facebook, or Skype.
  • Regional seminars held by state associations. Learn from colleagues and stay close to home to reduce travel costs.
  • Facebook groups. My gosh, there are Facebook groups for just about any court reporting subject you could imagine. Just search and find the right one for you. It ranges from software groups, hardware, realtime, brief forms, health, fur babies — the list goes on and on.

These five lessons I’ve named are just a few to get you started on your personal “fixer-upper.” I’d love to hear about your big “reveal” after you’ve implemented some of these ideas!

Lynette L. Mueller, RDR, CRR, is a freelancer reporter in Johns Creek, Ga. She can be reached at lynette@omegareporting.comShe reports that a short video will be on her blog at the beginning of the article.

Green River Community College students participate in mock depositions

JCR logoIn January, Lori Rapozo, RPR, CRI, an instructor at Green River Community College in Auburn, Wash., brought several court reporting students to lead mock depositions during the Essential Lawyering Skills course at the Seattle University Law School. The mock depositions included swearing in the deponent and handling exhibits.

Rapozo presented the Legal Education seminar Making the Record to the law students using the booklet provided by the National Court Reporters Foundation.

NCRA member Ron Cook, RDR, CRR, CRC, a freelancer in Seattle, also provided a realtime demonstration for the law students.

Read more.

Nine tips for attorneys about realtime reporting

jcr-publications_high-resA blog posted Feb. 7 by Kramm Court Reporting offers nine tips for attorneys to know about the realtime services court reporters offer.

Read more.

Nashville’s Elite Reporting Services sees boost in requests for realtime court reporting

jcr-publications_high-resNashville, Tenn., court reporting firm Elite Reporting Services issued a press release on Jan. 30 stating that it has experienced a trend in requests for realtime court reporting since 2016.

Read more.

Discovering a career in realtime reporting

JCR publications share buttonRealtime reporting is the subject of an article posted Oct. 25 by the Newton Daily News, Newton, Iowa. The article notes that while realtime reporting is a relatively unknown profession, it is considered to be one of the top careers in the country. The article was generated by the Des Moines Area Community College Court Reporting Program.

Read more.

TRAIN realtime roadblocks: Realtime technology and startup costs

For some reporters, the startup costs of realtime can be worrisome. But starting up doesn’t have to cost a lot, say those who are already realtiming. Start with what you have, they suggest, and add on as money becomes available.

It’s not necessary to run out and buy two new iPads when you decide you want to start providing your realtime feed to others. Everyone has an old computer with Windows on it. And just like that, you, too, have a computer you can use to sell your realtime feed. There is a huge benefit to using your own equipment (although it does cost more money). I find it easier just to have my own iPads at the ready. They are all set up to my specific realtime configuration (WiFi using a LAN). All I have to do is press “connect,” and I’m ready to go! Fewer things to worry about and more time to focus on perfecting my realtime feed.

Lisa Knight, RDR, CRR

Realtime Systems Administrator

TRAIN Subcommittee co-chair

Littleton, Colo.


We hear it all the time: Realtime is expensive. Sure it can be, but it doesn’t have to be! When getting started, do your homework and don’t go out and buy whatever you read is popular on Facebook. Start with an old/unused computer or tablet you have laying around the house, and check out the Realtime resource guide for a list of free realtime-viewing software you can use. Before you know it, you have a free realtime set up! Once you’re ready for more bells and whistles, start building your realtime collection slowly. After your first realtime job, you will have an idea of what baseline equipment you need, and then you can start building and personalizing it from there. Will you need a router, or do you want to use StenoCast or stream it through the cloud? Do you want to use a free version of a realtime viewing software or purchase a license or lease? How many viewing devices will you need? These questions can be answered on a budget, so start with small and free, and work your way to investing wisely. Getting started is the key ingredient to shopping on a budget.

– Merilee Johnson, RMR, CRR, CRC

Realtime Systems Administrator

TRAIN Subcommittee co-chair

Eden Prairie, Minn.


There is a reason realtime is expensive. We provide a skill that very few have. Our steno machines are expensive, our amazing software is expensive, and tablet s expensive. However, old equipment works just as well as new equipment. It doesn’t take much to start your realtime journey if you have an idea of where to begin. You don’t need the top-of-the-line equipment when you start. All you need is a laptop, a steno machine, a router or WiFi capability, realtime software, and either another laptop or tablet for streaming the realtime. You can find first-generation iPads that are cheaper, and you don’t need to start off with a Luminex. After working hard and getting thrown right into the water, I am now so confident doing realtime that I went out and bought five iPad minis of my own. Once you start, you won’t be able to stop. The momentum is a wonderful thing that will bring you exponential growth if you harness your skill the right way.

It is very important to know what you are investing in and shop around and get as much information as you can before making any purchases. Make sure the keyboard on the laptop makes editing easy for you. I once had to return a laptop because the page up, page down, home, and end keys were shared with the left, right, up, and down arrow keys, and I just could not edit like that. Overall, I think the startup costs are worth it, and if you implement training and teach yourself not to be afraid, you are bound to succeed and exceed your expectations.

– Sharon Lengel, RPR, CRR

TRAIN Subcommittee member

Woodmere, N.Y.


First, go with the attitude that you are going to do what it takes to make your investment back. Have a plan to market yourself to your firm, your clients, and other firms.

If you’re on a shoestring budget, work with your CAT vendor to see their options and costs. Again, talk to other realtime reporters to find out their solutions and costs, with the plethora of realtime options out there. There are Internet-streaming methods that are available for providing realtime where you may not even need tablets or throwdowns.

In addition to talking to other reporters, attend seminars. Join Facebook groups — like the TRAIN group — or other listservs, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. So what if you sound like a newbie? Everyone was a newbie. That’s why you’re asking: to gain from their experience.

But keep in mind as you cost-cut your way into the beginning of realtime that success means that you’ll ultimately have to spend what it takes to achieve mastery of the best options available for your realtime clients.

Jason Meadors, RPR, CRR, CRC

TRAIN Subcommittee member

Fort Collins, Colo.



How court reporters can win the stress game

JCR publications share buttonA blog posted June 27 by Kramm Court Reporting discusses a TED Talk by health psychologist Kelly McGonigal about the right way to view stress to avoid possible related health issues.

In a recent JCR article about realtime, NCRA member Sharon Lengel also referred to this same TED Talk.

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


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.

Get the edge by attending NCRA’s CRR Boot Camp

CRR Boot Camp_resizedProfessionals considering taking the Certified Realtime Reporter (CRR) test have the opportunity to gain an advantage by attending the CRR Boot Camp being offered for the first time at the NCRA Convention & Expo being held at the Chicago Hilton in Chicago, Ill., Aug. 4-7.

NCRA’s CRR certification represents realtime pro­ficiency for those who earn it as it is recognized in the industry as the national certification of real­time competency. Holding the CRR also can lead to an increase in salary, as noted by a number of recent NCRA surveys.

“As the CRR Chief Examiner in Massachu­setts, I saw so many candidates come back time and time again to take the certification test. It was bittersweet. They couldn’t pass, but they kept trying,” said Kathryn Sweeney, RMR, CRR, a freelance reporter and agency owner from Acton, Mass., who helped develop the boot camp pro­gram and will be teaching it at the NCRA Convention & Expo.

“The idea of the boot camp came about when the Board of the Massachusetts Court Reporters Association (MCRA) approached me with ques­tions as to why there were not more people pass­ing the CRR exam and what I could do to maybe help those candidates,” said Sweeney, who also served as a beta tester for NCRA’s online testing system and as CRR Chief Examiner on behalf of the Association for 17 years.

“They gave me two hours and a place to give a seminar back in October of 2009. It was originally named ‘Ready? Begin.’ Those are the two most dreaded words for even the most skilled court reporter,” Sweeney said.

Because it was felt that the original name of the program might actually scare people away, it was renamed the CRR Dress Rehearsal. Over the years, however, said Sweeney, the presentation turned into a three-hour session and was appro­priately renamed again to the CRR Boot Camp.

Word about the program has been spreading across states, according to Sweeney who most re­cently presented the session at the Georgia Court Reporters Convention. Other state court reporter associations have also been contacting her about presenting it at their meetings, leaving her very excited about having the opportunity to bring it to an ever wider audience.

“Word finally spread to NCRA, and I was of­fered a webinar, which I gave last August. After the success of that, I was invited to their annual convention this year,” said Sweeney.

Unlike NCRA’s newest certification, the Certi­fied Realtime Captioner (CRC), which requires participation in a 10-hour workshop before being able to take the test, the CRR Boot Camp is not a prerequisite for taking the CRR test. However, said Sweeney, it can certainly help with increasing the chances of passing on the first take.

In the course, she explains to attendees the testing requirements, covers NCRA’s What is an Error?, discusses what is not an error, and talks about the new online testing process. She also offers tips on working on self-preparation, includ­ing what to have on test day, what to do and not do on test day, and how and why candidates fail. Participants in the session are also asked to bring their equipment with them because Sweeney said she also lets them take a couple of practice tests, as well as manipulates the system settings and dictionary entries.

“There is so much material. Even if just one thing I teach resonates with an attendee, one thing that they can go back and fix or change, it may just be the one thing that pushes them over the hump and gets them that CRR desig­nation,” said Sweeney.

One reason she attributes the program’s success in helping CRR candidates be suc­cessful in passing the test is because much of the material she covers about being prepared includes information often missed, such has having flash drives or SD cards properly for­matted, which is included in the recommended reading on the testing website or contained in the pre-test emails they receive.

“The most frustrating part of being the proc­tor at brick-and-mortar testing sites was that I could not help the candidates. It was simply not allowed. They were supposed to just know all this stuff. Heck, candidates showed up without their driver’s license because they didn’t know they needed to show it to me,” she said.

“I strongly believe taking the CRR Boot Camp will increase the chance of passing this test. When I finished my presentation in Geor­gia, a woman who already had her CRR came up to me and said that she wished this seminar was around when she was preparing for the test; that it had all of the information and steps that she muddled through on her own. She said it took years of figuring out what was being asked of her and then changing her writing and learning her equipment and software in order to pass,” Sweeney said. “With this boot camp, I can help you in three hours.”

Perhaps the greatest benefit of taking the CCR Boot Camp is that attendees will know if they’re ready to take the test or not, while those who have taken the test before will realize why they didn’t pass, she noted.

“I am a huge proponent of not throwing money away. If you’re not quite ‘there’ yet, then don’t spend (the money) on this test. You will learn what you need to work on before you take the plunge and sign up for the test. You will know when you’re ready, instead of just winging it and hoping for the best,” Sweeney added. “The CRR really is the easiest test you’ll ever fail. But why fail at all? Learn what you need to do in order to pass. Come to my boot camp!”

Sweeney, who has been a court reporter for 25 years, is also past president of MCRA and served a total of eight years on its Board of Directors.

To earn the CRR certification, professionals are required to hold the Registered Profes­sional Reporter (RPR) certification, be a current member of NCRA, and pass a realtime testi­mony skills test at 200 words per minute with 96 percent accuracy.


For more information about or to register for NCRA’s CRR Boot Camp and the 2016 Convention & Expo, visit