Last chance for early access savings for NCRA Connect 2020!

Last chance to catch the early access savings on full and half registration package fees for the NCRA Connect Virtual 2020 conference happening Aug. 7-9. These savings end tonight at midnight.

Full registration to the NCRA Connect Virtual 2020 includes access to all three days of activities, including all non-CEU activities and 16 CEU sessions of the registrant’s choice for a total of 1.6 CEU credits. The early access member cost for full registration is $300. The regular price is $325 for regular registration. A half registration package is also available that includes access to all three days for all non-CEU activities and seven CEU sessions of the registrant’s choice. The member cost for half registration is $180 for early access and $200 for regular registration. The special rates for students are $60 for members and $75 for nonmembers.

“In a field where we are constantly learning, continuing education is essential. Whether I’m presenting the seminar or attending the seminar, my hope is always that every attendant will take away at least one relevant concept when the seminar is finished,” said Allison Hall, RMR, CRR, an official court reporter from Tulsa, Okla., who is presenting a session called “Work Smarter, Not Harder,” at the NCRA Connect event.

“Continuing education isn’t about a requirement; it’s about learning and molding yourself into the professional you want to be, one seminar at a time,” Hall added. Her session will offer attendees ways to up their efficiency, increase their profitability, and reduce the amount of stress they often experience in this high-stress field.

Over the course of three days, attendees will have the opportunity to choose from sessions that address being audited by the Internal Revenue Service, teach best practices for marking exhibits electronically during remote proceedings, and more. In addition, there are sessions geared toward students, such as the one on understanding the profession after they graduate. There are even two yoga sessions being held on Saturday and Sunday to help attendees get their day off to a great start.

Attendees also will have the opportunity to participate in a number of fun networking parties, including specialty ones geared toward officials, freelancers, captioners, firm owners, new professionals, and students and teachers.

“Networking is essential in our profession. Attending an NCRA convention will put you in the right place at the right time to meet the right people that can help you advance in your career,” said Teresa Russ, CRI, a captioner and freelance court reporter from Bellflower, Calif.

“Oftentimes you never know what to expect when you accept a job, whether it’s captioning or covering a depo. The seminars are designed to meet the needs of the challenges court reporters, CART and broadcast captioners, and students will possibly encounter,”  she added.

Other learning session highlights include a presentation by Matthew Moss, RPR, an official court reporter from Denver, Colo., who will present “Motivation, Beating Obstacles, Achieving Goals, and Growth Mindset,” and “What Every Court Reporter Should Know About Punctuation to Transcribe Correctly,” being led by the renowned Dr. Santo “Joe” Aurelio, FAPR, RDR, (Ret.) from Arlington, Mass.

NCRA member Karen Peckham, RMR, CRR, an official court reporter from Westminster, Calif., said she is looking forward to NCRA Connect Virtual 2020 because the last time she was able to attend an NCRA Conference was when it was held in San Francisco, Calif., in 2014. She signed up for the virtual event, she said, because she wants to earn her CEUs.

See the complete schedule of sessions, including networking opportunities, exhibitor showcases, and the virtual vendor hall, at NCRA.org. For more information about registration and nonmember registration pricing, visit the NCRA website. Remember, sessions will be available to view through midnight, Aug. 25, after the event, so you won’t have to worry about missing a minute of this virtual experience.

Register now.

Proofreaders share best tips

The JCR Weekly recently asked the members of the NCRA Proofreading Advisory Council and the NCRA Scopists and Proofreaders Facebook group for their best tips on proofreading. Here are some of their answers:

I must print the work I’m going to proof. I must be in a quiet space, no background noises.

Kathy Mchugh, RPR, CRR


I now proofread on my tablet using Adobe. I can change the font and make it bigger without changing the format and page numbers of the transcript, and it saves paper and toner. It is easier on my eyes, so I catch more. My environment needs to be right for what I am reading. If it’s an expert on a topic I am not familiar with, I need quiet. If it’s something easy, I need background noise, music or TV. I also read out loud, especially if it’s an expert using big words. That’s when it’s easy to miss the small words. And a cup of coffee or tea at hand is a must.

Susan Horak, RDR, CRR, FAPR


I find that proofreading on paper and also reading out loud helps me do my best proofing. If I stumble while reading out loud, something is most likely awry, and I take a second look. 

Shellene L. Iverson, CSR, CCR


I was always taught to print out the job, and I found many mistakes (even in formatting) that I would never have found if I just read it on the computer. I also made sure to have no distractions when I proofread and tried to do it fresh unless it was an expedite. So if I could scope a job in the evening and then proofread the next day, that was the best way to be sure to pick up errors. I was also taught to circle the line number of the correction so I would not miss any. I then would have a pile face down of pages that needed corrections and a pile face up of pages that were fine. In the early days I read the job for sometimes a fourth time (scoping, listening to recording if necessary, proofreading printed pages, and then again on the screen), but after many years decided the fourth read was unnecessary. I always rechecked the title and appearance pages for that fourth time and even a fifth as I printed out the job!

Aimee Suhie


Always look up the spelling of a word if you think it doesn’t look right. It could just be a word you’re unfamiliar with.

Erin McMann


Trust that your court reporter wrote what was said, but also note the oddities. Check all spelling and possible transposed words that may have slipped through the court reporter and scopist. Pay close attention to the small details and idiosyncrasies.

Joann Hamilton


Remove distractions. That means don’t proofread while watching TV, find a quiet place away from other people (as much as possible!), and put away your phone or put it on silent.

Teresa Clark


Learn and take advantage of productivity tools like custom macros to zip through a frequently occurring series of steps. Take regular breaks to keep alert and fresh. Have a standard set of guides for consistency and to make life easier (dictionary, grammar guide, reporter-specific guide). Have a well-organized file system for jobs and documentation. Always have a backup system, as automated as possible.

Mimi Michel


Keep an updated, detailed PDF of each reporter’s preferences that can be opened in iAnnotate right next to the transcript so you can refer to it quickly when you are in the midst of proofing. I keep notes on personal preferences, feedback, and punctuation rules for the common errors that pop up often in each reporter’s work.

Sarah Scott

The future has arrived: Practical advice for conducting legal proceedings digitally and remotely

Law.com (subscription) posted an opinion piece on June 3, authored by Graham Smith-Bernal of Opus 2, that offers some solutions to accommodate remote work and virtual proceedings.

Read more.

Kaplan Leaman & Wolfe Court Reporters expands court reporting services

Kaplan Leaman & Wolfe Court Reporters, based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., announced in a press release issued June 2 that the firm has opened a new office in its home city of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Read more.

Jury trials in the midst of a pandemic

LegalNews.com posted an article on May 26 that examines how jury trials can resume in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more.

Reopening the legal world after the COVID-19 quarantine

By Early Langley

The learning curve that courts face

I recently shared with the Presiding Asbestos Calendar Judge of Alameda County, Calif., a few of my thoughts on what reopening courtrooms for jury trials would be like. My email to her was prompted by confusion in everyone’s minds about where and how to start the reopening. Based on reporting remote informal discovery/scheduling conferences in her department, I knew that the courts were struggling with how the jury voir dire process would work. She was happy that I started the conversation and thought that my ideas were informative – so much so that she forwarded them to the court CEO and the presiding judge.

I wanted to share them with you as well and suggest that you consider what your situation might be like as courts and the legal world reopen after the COVID-19 quarantine.

The key comes from virtual Zoom depositions of a high-risk plaintiff

The set of virtual Zoom depositions that prompted the suggestions to her involved my reporting the depositions of a high-risk plaintiff. Based on the square footage of the deposition room, the high-risk plaintiff and his attorney, one designated defense attorney agreed to by all defense, and one videographer were present. All were protected by plastic shields. The size of the room limited my ability to be present. No masks were used by the questioning attorney and the witness so that everyone remotely via Zoom could see and hear. A Zoom PC was placed in front of the witness, and another was placed in front of the attorney. The witness could see any defense attorney on the Zoom feed. Five attorneys viewed the proceedings remotely and took turns asking questions. I was the “host” and had control over who entered the virtual Zoom “room.” With the help of Alameda County Designated Defense Counsel, I obtained appearances before the depo started. Until I admitted them to the “deposition room,” they remained in a “waiting room,” sort of like a breakout room but virtual. I was able to interrupt for a clear record. Every participant used a landline to avoid audio echoing and feedback – a significant problem. The “computer audio” option worked poorly because internet speeds vary. High-speed internet was a critical component for everyone attending.

The reopening of courtrooms using the same metric

It hit me, after my experience doing this set of high-risk plaintiff depositions, that using the same metric in the courtrooms could work. I envisioned a virtual Zoom voir dire process like this: Jurors are summoned to the VD process in groups not to exceed a 6-foot distance from one another in as large a room(s) as possible. They are assembled in multiple rooms. All wear masks. Through virtual Zoom screens placed in every room, they remotely view one prospective juror being questioned at a time in the presence of the judge, clerk, reporter, court attendant, and designated plaintiff and defense counsel. Shields are set up to protect the staff and attorneys. No mask would be worn by the attorney asking questions and no mask would be worn by the individual prospective juror being questioned. I realize that raises eyebrows, but it is almost impossible to decipher what a person is saying through a mask. Accents and quiet, soft-spoken people make it impossible for the court reporter, placed 6 feet away, to hear. The placement of microphones on lapels, a practice only employed by videographers heretofore, would be the new normal.

After the jury is sworn and impaneled, each juror is placed 6 feet apart within the courtroom with masks on. They sit far enough away from attorneys so that they cannot see their computer screens or hear any private conversations. That may limit the number of spectators allowed in the courtroom. It may limit future use of subscriber-only televised trials. Deliberations would need to be held in larger rooms.

Conclusions for the legal world

After doing virtual Zoom depos, I concluded the following, using the same metric for courts, law firms, deposition agencies, and arbitration venues: a room’s square footage dictates the number of people that can be in a room; protective shields should be placed directly in front of the speakers; lapel mics and an excellent audio system are a must; Zoom technology on screens satisfies the requirement that attorneys, judges, jurors, and court reporters see and hear everyone at the same time; meticulous sanitization, masks, gloves and temperature checks become the standard.

It can work. It takes a lot of planning ahead of time, investment in large screens for Zoom, excellent audio equipment, sanitation practices. With everyone’s help and everyone’s patience, we can brave the new world.

Early Langley, RMR, B.A., is a freelance court reporter based in Danville, Calif. She can be reached at early.langley@icloud.com.

Depositions go virtual during pandemic, may remain that way

NCRA President Max Curry, RPR, CRI, President-elect Christine Phipps, RPR, and NCRF Trustee Marjorie Peters, FAPR, RMR, CRR, were quoted in an article posted May 22 by Bloomberglaw.com about the future of virtual depositions.

Read more.

The coming wave of remote depositions

On May 12, JD Supra posted a blog that offers advice about the growing use of conducting remote depositions in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more.

Office setups and remote preparation part of downtime

Some NCRA members are using their downtime to be prepared to work at home, by organizing home workspaces and by working on the skills they need to work remotely.

Joyce Shinault, RPR, a freelancer in Anderson, Ind., said she has always maintained an office work area at home, but she has used this time to add a second laptop for doing Zoom and some table space for extra files.

Joyce Shinault, RPR

“Since I had to furlough my office manager, I brought home essential files, etc. ,for doing my own production for the time being,” Shinault said. “What has been most important, yet difficult, is to keep my office area uncluttered. Storage space is a shortage for me.”

She said her office is in her extra bedroom, which also serves as her office/craft/sewing room.

“You get the picture now, right?” she said. “Cluttered and not enough storage!”

Valerie Lawrence, RPR

Valerie Lawrence, RPR, is an official in St. Croix, Virgin Islands. She said she has brought a laptop home before to work on transcripts, but she now realized she needed to set up a better workspace at home.

“I found it necessary to get organized and carve out space to work effectively,” Lawrence said. “I had to change furniture (chairs, desk, file holders) to accommodate working for extended periods (rather than sitting on my bed or living room couch).”

While Lawrence still has a work area set up in the coolest room in the house, a bedroom, she has also now set up a quieter space in another room where she has a steno machine for practicing.

Cheree Murpy-Carlson, RPR

Cheree Murphy-Carlson, RPR, a freelancer in Minneapolis, Minn., had done depos and court hearings remotely via Zoom and teleconference. She bought a refurbished Polycom speakerphone she is using on a landline for the audio feed for both teleconferences and Zoom depos.

“This has provided the best quality of audio compared to the computer or using a phone over VoIP,” Murphy-Carlson said. “I trust the reliability of the landline over the reliability of my cell phone.”

Murphy-Carlson said she is as ready to work remotely as anyone can be.

“There will be situations that arise, but I have confidence in my ability to troubleshoot any issues that will arise. This is a new adventure for us and the attorneys and the witnesses/defendants. If everyone is willing to be reasonable, we can navigate this together and find ways to improve the situation as we move forward.”  

She is currently seeking additional training on “sharing hurdles we are facing as we navigate this new way of working and how others are resolving/handling the issues as they come up.” She said it’s important to think about establishing best practices.

“Some reporters are setting up breakout rooms, some are not. Are there privacy concerns regarding attorney-client communications by doing this?” Murphy-Carlson said. “Does that put the onus of protecting that privacy on the court reporter by providing that breakout room for the attorney and their client to communicate? How are you handling technology-challenged witnesses? Do you have someone monitoring the connection/deposition/hearing besides yourself as the court reporter and uploading the exhibits? What happens if you lose the connection, and the participants are not aware that you lost the connection? Do you have a secondary line of communication set up with the taking attorney?”

Allison Knutson, RPR, an official in Faribault, Minn., had not done remote work previously, but after watching training videos and talking to other court reporters, she now feels confident.

“I feel ‘up to speed’ at this time,” Knutson said. “I will continue with Zoom Q&A sessions with other court reporters.”

Murphy-Carlson said the support of fellow court reporters has been important.

“I am so impressed with how so many court reporters came together through FB groups and helped each other,” she said. “If we don’t lead our clients to this new way of handling depositions/hearings, someone else will and that may not be someone whose first concern is the integrity of the record. Do we want to be Blockbuster or do we want to be Netflix? Someone mentioned that it’s not our job to teach the attorneys how to do this. Well, if we don’t teach the attorneys how to do this, we won’t have a job at all. We need to stay on top of the technology and the best way to use current technology for our clients, whether we are doing depositions/hearings via Zoom or in person. And to continue to do that, we need to work together as a community and share information just as we did on Facebook during the beginning days of COVID-19 using the current technology to get the information to each other as quickly as possible.”

A reminder from NCRA concerning videoconferencing and recording

Your NCRA Board and the CLVS Council are aware of questions of whether the “record” function in a videoconference platform can be employed to create a usable video record.

Employing the “record” function within a videoconference platform to create a usable video cannot be guaranteed. Due to factors outside of anyone’s control, one may be surprised to have no video at all.  NCRA CLVS standards exist in order to provide the client a certified, objectively managed, and backed-up video record that can be used in official proceedings.

The CLVS community has the means and methods to ensure a useable video record separate from the “record” function within the videoconferencing platform. If you have questions about how a legal videographer can safely and properly record remote depositions according to NCRA standards, you can reach out to the CLVS Council directly at clvs@ncra.org. 

Please note, too, that the online Stenopalooza event, held May 2, provided a seminar for CLVS members to further their education regarding proper procedures for the recording of remote video depositions. CLVS members are encouraged to view this seminar when it becomes available on May 6 at http://ncra.inreachce.com.

NCRA Board of Directors