NCRA MEMBER PROFILE: Brandi N. Bigalke, RPR

Brandi Bigalke, RPR

Brandi Bigalke, RPR

Currently resides in: Minneapolis, Minn.

Employment type: Freelance court reporter

Member since: 2013

Graduated from: Rasmussen Business College

Theory: Computer-Compatible Stenograph Theory

What are your favorite briefs or tips?

I recently purchased Ed Varallo’s books, and I’m slowly integrating his writing tips. I am already benefiting from this investment – both in time and money.

Why did you decide to enter this profession and how did you learn about the career?

In middle school, as an assignment I had to write to a college and request information.

The college I contacted had a court reporting program, and I became intrigued. After that, I also found out a family acquaintance was a court reporter, and my parents encouraged me to try it.

What has been your best work experience so far in your career?

In 2016, I worked on a large case, spanning over a couple of months. It included multiple realtime hookups, both in the room and streaming. While I had numerous realtime jobs under my belt, this was a first I had to stream a live realtime feed.

A job of this magnitude can be intimidating at first, but the process of learning new technology enhanced my love for what we do. It is rewarding to be challenged and successful in this type of setting.

What was your biggest hurdle to overcome and how did you do so?

One of the biggest hurdles I’ve overcome in this profession is rediscovering my love of it. A few years ago, I let the job get the better of me and had to take a step back from reporting. I was burned out and pursued other business.

Stepping away from court reporting allowed me to see this career through a different lens. I was reminded that as reporters, we possess a unique skill set and I realized I needed to embrace my skill, not waste it. The insights I gained from stepping away reshaped my outlook not only on this profession, but what I wanted out of my career.

Upon my return to reporting full-time, I have realized it is up to me to shape my own career and future. I have control as to what kind of work I take, what firms I want to partner with, and embrace the aspects of this career that drive me.

There’s nothing more gratifying than seeing your steno come up in English, and knowing you provide a very incredible service.

Tell us about a challenge you overcame as a reporter.

One challenge I remember is being a new reporter. I was young, just a few years out of high school. I remember feeling out of my league, working with attorneys who had spent decades building their practice and in walks a young 20-something year old. I remember driving to depositions with butterflies in my stomach. I overcame it by faking it, until eventually I didn’t have to fake it anymore. Confidence comes with experience and if you don’t have experience, a good mentor can make all the difference.

Do you have a favorite gadget or tool?

Hands down, my favorite tool is Brief It in CaseCatalyst. The developers at Stenograph deserve an award for this one! The dramatic improvement in my realtime feed is notable, which feeds my desire to want to continually improve my skill. I am being reminded of forgotten entries and adding entries into my dictionary on the fly. Because of Brief It, I’m increasing the value of my dictionary, with no extra work. I just love it!