Alex Lederer, RPR, lives in Tampa, Fla., where he works as a freelance reporter. Before he became a reporter full time, Lederer was attending community college trying to decide on a major. One night he was faced with staying up all night to finish an English paper or practicing on his machine. “I chose the latter,” he said, “and never looked back.”
By Chris DeGrazio
JCR | How did you get interested in court reporting?
AL | I was at a point where I didn’t know what I wanted to do in life. I had never even heard of court reporting until May 2019 when I saw a story on the news about what it was and how there was a high demand for it.
JCR | Who or what inspires you?
AL | My friends are who I am most inspired by. I have a tendency to get comfortable and go with the flow. But when I see how they push themselves to build speed and take on cooler and more difficult jobs, it always makes me feel that I am capable of more too.
JCR | What’s something you’ve learned in your first few months of reporting?
AL | It’s not about your skills as a court reporter. It’s about your skills to quickly turn around a transcript.
JCR | Where’s your favorite place to edit?
AL | My desk. I have a beautiful view, a standing desk, and two monitors. Spotify is always playing Men I Trust (dreampop jazz), Lorde’s first album (indie/alternative), Alvvays (shoegaze), Frank Sinatra (Chairman of the Board), Floor Cry (bedroom synth), Local Natives (west coast indie rock), Cults (synthpop), or one of the top 50 best songs ever produced, “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears For Fears.
JCR | Do you have a mentor?
AL | I’m lucky enough to have a lot of mentors: Mary Kate Babiarz; Kevin Bundy; Lori Bundy, RMR, CRR; Christine Moers; Erin Blair, RPR; Chandler Alvino, RPR; Rose Detloff, RMR, CRR; Marc Greenberg, CRI; Allie Hall, RDR, CRR; Angie Jackson, RPR; Jaime Jordan; Heather Black; and Diane Duke.
JCR | What do you enjoy most about court reporting?
AL | The flexibility and the hours. There will have been 25 times this month when I got to sleep past 10 a.m.
JCR | Where do you see yourself and your career in five years?
AL | I have no clue! I’m excited to see all the different places this career can take me. I definitely want to be doing something cool.
JCR | What is your next goal?
AL | To obtain my RMR certification.
JCR | Do you have any advice for reporting students?
AL | I heard this quote when I was 17, and it’s been the only piece of wisdom that’s ever stuck with me. “Look at where everyone is going and head in the opposite direction.” I’ve interpreted it many ways in life and in school. One relevant way I think is that you don’t need to buy a professional machine while in school. That’s a lot of money to drop before you’re even able to monetize your skill.
JCR | What’s something that you’ve learned in the field that you didn’t learn in school?
AL | How to create an actual transcript. After taking down my first job, I was apparently supposed to already know how to do this. There were probably three dozen emails sent between me and my agency as they tried to help me out. During the first dozen, I was unaware that all of the functions were in the software, and instead I was using photoshop to try and produce it. There was a significant knowledge gap surrounding the skills I was supposed to have, and I know that students and reporters who have entered this profession during/post COVID-19 have had similar challenges.
JCR | What was the hardest part of transitioning from school to the real world?
AL | The only other real job I had was working in a restaurant through high school, so it was all incredibly difficult. Trying not to procrastinate working on transcripts was without a doubt the most difficult thing.
JCR | What is your ultimate career goal?
AL | To work part-time hours and make full-time money.
JCR | What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you first started out?
AL | If you have a problem that you can’t solve, don’t be an idiot; ask for help.
JCR | What’s your “can’t live without” item in your steno bag?
AL | A pen. I’m a techie through and through, but I was trained to write down all of the case info in a notebook. At a glance, I can reference dates, months, and years to see the case name, attorneys, witness, length of time, page amount, and ordering instructions. That chicken scratch has saved me a few times.
Alex Lederer, RPR, is a freelance reporter in Tampa, Fla. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Chris DeGrazio is a freelance reporter in Fort Pierce, Fla. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.