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Value of stenographic reporting shines in legal education program

When NCRA member Ronda L. Colby, RPR, CRR, an official court reporter at the Burleigh County Courthouse in Bismarck, N.D., was approached by a presiding judge to speak during Secrets of the Courthouse, a two-hour presentation offered every other year as free Continuing Legal Education to new attorneys, she turned to the Association for resources and discovered NCRF’s Making the Record program.

NCRF’s Legal Education Program, designed to aid court reporters in teaching the value of stenographic reporting and technology to members of the legal profession, has garnered much praise since its launch in 2010.

“I was happy to discover the PowerPoint presentation and I was able to adapt it to fit my needs and cover the hot topics I needed to emphasize,” said Colby, who noted the courthouse program provides all members of the court a chance to describe their roles in the legal system and inform participants of some of the “secrets” they need to know starting out in the profession.

The program, which is free of charge, provides court reporters with an array of tools that can be readily used or adapted to presentation type to help ensure that the legal system understands the benefits of stenographic reporters in the courtroom. Tools include:

  • a presentation outline for the presenter’s use;
  • a PowerPoint presentation about making the record;
  • several handouts with a cover sheet that can be shared with attendees;
  • a presentation evaluation form for attendees to complete to garner feedback about the session; and
  • a script that might be helpful to less experienced presenters.

“I also followed the handouts provided by the Legal Ed Program to gather my thoughts into an outline to reference while speaking to the group. I believe the resources provided a huge benefit to help me organize my thoughts and yet be sure to cover all the bases. I was very thankful to have this resource when I was a bundle of nerves,” she added.

“The Legal Education Program facilitates the education of the legal profession about the role of the court reporter through the court reporter-led seminar Making the Record, and has been used by hundreds of individuals,” said B.J. Shorak, NCRF’s Deputy Executive Director. “The Foundation has also been invited to present this seminar to law schools around the country. It is one of NCRF’s major programs supported by donors.”

According to Colby, approximately 25 attorneys attended the session. Many, she said, asked some general questions and provided stories and anecdotes to help her relate her points to everyday situations in the courtroom.

“I was thankful for the opportunity to share some aggravations and common misconceptions, along with helping guide them to understand the proper procedure while working in the courtroom. I would definitely recommend others use the Legal Education Program when given the opportunity,” Colby said.

For more information about NCRF’s Legal Education Program, please contact B.J. Shorak, NCRF Deputy Executive Director, at 703-584-9026 or