By Molly Cooper
Harmony Menier-Shierholtz began her professional career in 2019 after completing school at South Coast College in just 18 months and earning her California CSR license within two years. She is a driven, qualified, and vivacious young professional who lives and works in southern California as a freelance deposition reporter.
JCR | How did you feel both going into your first assignment as a reporter and coming out of it?
HMS | When I drove to my first deposition, I was very nervous. I had the oath on my computer, I was going over all the procedures in my head, and I went all out with my outfit in order to feel as confident as I could. Right when I got to the parking lot, I got a call from the agency that it canceled. All I could do was laugh at that point because I worked myself up to not even enter the building. When I finally had a deposition that went forward, I ended up feeling surprisingly good about my performance. However, I still called my mentor with a billion questions after.
JCR | What is your next goal? What is a long-term goal?
HMS | My next goal is to start practicing more on my machine and to learn how to use my software in a more effective way. People talk a lot faster in the “real world” than how we were taught in school. I want to write cleaner and shorten my editing time by learning all the functions of my software. I have also been practicing commanding the room when I’m reporting. I was nervous about this part because I started working at a young age, and it can be intimidating to give orders to attorneys that have years of life and work experience on me. However, I learned that I pay for it when I go home to edit my transcripts. I feel that I’ve been doing a better job on slowing down the deposition and getting clarification when I need it. At the end of the day, that separates court reporters from digital recording! I’m not sure of my end goal yet. I am leaning toward working in criminal court. I love law and crime so that will suit me best. Obviously, the pay and benefits are a huge plus as well. As of right now, I’m enjoying creating my own schedule and being my own boss.
JCR | Where’s your favorite place to proofread jobs and why?
HMS | I proofread my transcripts in my bed or on the couch. I need to be by myself because sounds and movement can distract me easily.
JCR | Do you have any advice for reporting students?
HMS | I think this might be the most asked question. I have endless advice and suggestions, but every single student is different. Everyone has things that work for them that might not work for others. Court reporting is all muscle memory at the end of the day, and I’m talking about the speed portion. Just like sports, you need to practice over and over and over again in order to master a skill. This is no different. If I could go back, I would have sat out more because you don’t really understand all the procedures until you see it in person. My last suggestion is to spend lots of time on your software. I didn’t understand how important software was in school since we were trained to read our notes. However, I now know that software is everything. Invest in learning it because it will save you a lot of time in the future.
JCR | What’s something that you’ve learned in the field that you didn’t learn in school?
HMS | I think my last answer touched on this question, but I learned that people don’t speak in complete sentences. I learned that you should always carry cash on you. I learned the meaning of being a guardian of the record and how important that is. Our job is important. Most people don’t understand what our job entails. Even attorneys — not every attorney — who we work with every day are ignorant when it comes to what we do.
Molly Cooper, RPR, is a freelancer in Fullerton, Calif.