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Young lawyers hear firsthand why stenographic court reporters are so important

Cindy Isaacsen presenting to the Johnson County Bar Association Young Lawyers Section

By Cindy L. Isaacsen

I met Tracey Demarea, who is the executive director of the Johnson County Bar Association (JCBA), Johnson County, Kan., through my judge, and I contacted her about presenting to different subsets of the Association. As a result, in early December 2021, I presented the session “How to make a good record” to about 10 members of the JCBA Young Lawyers Section.

I gave the young lawyers in attendance examples of things to do and not to do in court, and what court reporters need from attorneys so they can produce an accurate and fluid transcript. I also provided them with some handouts including one that showed what a transcript looks like when there are interruptions between the attorney and witness. I also gave them a list of things they need to be aware of when collaborating with interpreters, which I obtained from the interpreters at the courthouse, as well as a handout that explains how court reporting works.

The attendees asked a lot of great questions, such as if it is harder to do my job via Zoom or in person, what the pros and cons are of each situation, and what they need to be aware of when conducting a hearing remotely and utilizing masks. They were very curious about the steno machine and asked me, “How does that little machine work?” – which was a great opportunity to briefly share how a steno machine works and how court reporters can write so fast and capture every spoken word, punctuation, and identify the speakers. One attendee said, “That makes my head hurt.” I said, “Me too sometimes.”

After the presentation, I received an email from one of the attendees who said that I should give this presentation to even the senior lawyers as they need to be reminded too.

There are so many benefits to giving presentations like this. One, you are building relationships with the attorneys you work with daily; two, you are educating them about the important work court reporters do; and three, you are promoting the profession by getting out into the community and sharing what we do and how we do it.

In our profession, we are constantly talking about attorneys talking so fast and not respecting the record and that it’s only gotten faster and harder. But the more opportunities we take to meet with attorneys, new or seasoned, and remind them what we do and that we want their record to be an accurate one, the easier our job can be. It certainly gives us more exposure instead of being the silent keeper of the record.

Cindy L. Isaacsen, RPR, is an official court reporter from Shawnee, Kan., and also serves as NCRA Secretary-Treasurer. She can be reached at Cindy.Isaacsen@jocogov.org.

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