What’s next in the future of depositions?

On June 5, JD Supra posted a blog about how rapid changes to the legal profession will begin to impact the future of depositions.

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Help wanted: Court reporters needed nationwide

The Kearny Hub, Grand Island, Neb., posted an article on May 20 about the nationwide shortage of court reporters.

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Mixing business with pleasure: Working in an RV

NCRA member Lisa Johnston, RMR, CRR, CRC, casts off ties in Melbourne, Fla., every year to travel across the United States with her husband. Rather than forgo her usual work
as a broadcast and CART captioner, she set herself up to caption from wherever she and her husband parked the RV. Mixing business with pleasure was just right for the two of them.

Johnston spoke to JCR Contributing Editor Deanna Baker, FAPR, RMR, about the journey and all the stops in between.

BAKER | How long was the planning process to make sure you had all the work equipment you needed, as well as possible back-ups?

JOHNSTON | I packed all my equipment as if I were going to an event to work onsite. I have two laptops, two writers, two realtime cables, headphones, etc. Over the years, I have developed a checklist to make sure I have everything before I leave. I also bring the huge notebook of prep I have accumulated over the years. I travel a lot with work, and so, by now, I know what I need.

BAKER | Did you forget anything or wish you had brought something?

JOHNSTON | No, I haven’t forgotten anything yet — hopefully, I won’t ever forget something! I’m not too proud to admit that I now and will always use a checklist to make sure I have everything I need.

BAKER | Was all of your work strictly through the internet, sending data as well as audio?

JOHNSTON | I do remote CART captioning while traveling in our RV using the internet. I have two wireless routers that act as mobile WiFi hotspots, one with Verizon and one with AT&T; and both work really well. In certain parts of the country, one wireless provider may give me a stronger signal than the other, so I use what I feel gives me the most internet strength at that location.

I get my audio by dialing in using my cell phone. I have also used Skype for audio in the past as well. That can be iffy at times, so I always do some testing before an event starts.

BAKER | Any glitches along the way?

JOHNSTON | When I first started this journey of traveling on the road and CART captioning, before there were cell towers everywhere, I had to take my wireless hotspot and check the strength where the RV was “docked,” and if I had bad reception, I would get in my car and drive and see where the strongest service was. Many times, I’ve had to write on my machine, with the laptop on the seat next to me in the back seat of my car (we have a car we bring on our trips, which we tow behind our RV). I’ve been in Nowhere, U.S.A., in some unique locations sitting in my car taking down an assignment! Fun times!

Cell towers are the norm nowadays, so I don’t have to necessarily always be in a “big city” like I used to be to find a strong internet signal strength. I now can get good internet service most anywhere, thank goodness!

BAKER | Are your clients aware of your traveling, or has it been that they haven’t noticed a difference at all?

JOHNSTON | I strive to provide my clients with seamless captioning services and have been able to do so successfully for many years. As long as they are receiving the product they need, they are happy. I provide only CART captioning while on the road; no broadcast captioning which may use a landline and encoders.

I hope my reputation speaks for itself. If I am requested to support someone who needs communication access, I will go out of my way to accommodate. I have been in this profession for 34 years now, I love what I do every single day, and I hope that shows. If I can leave a person or situation and they have a smile on their face, then I’m happy and I’ve done my job successfully!

BAKER | I’m “assuming” your husband was not driving at the time you were working?

JOHNSTON | No way do I work while my husband is driving down the road. First off, it’s not very comfortable doing it that way for me, as not all roads in the U.S. are nice terrain and can get very bouncy and unstable. So, if we’re driving to a destination and I need to stop to take a job, we will pull into a rest area or at a truck stop/gas station and that works well for me. My husband is my fabulous support staff!

BAKER | Was there a particular goal for your travels?

JOHNSTON | We have no goals in our yearly travels. One year we head northeast to Maine, with many stops along the way, and the next year we head somewhere west (last year was Washington state; most years to California) with many stops along the way. We’ve been from one end of Canada to the other. We’ve been to all 50 states, and 49 traveling in our RV. Maine is one of our favorite states, so every other year we enjoy traveling up Maine’s coast and enjoying some lobster!

BAKER | Anything unexpected pop up that you didn’t plan on?

JOHNSTON | Nothing unexpected comes to mind right now. Pre-planning pays off!

BAKER | How many other colleagues were you able to visit on your travels?

JOHNSTON | In our travels across the beautiful United States, I try to reach out to some dear friends and colleagues when I know I will be nearby. In Flagstaff, Ariz., I had dinner with you and Lori Yeager Stavropoulos, RPR, CRR, CRC, and their spouses; in Mobile, Ala., spending time with Alan Peacock, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, and Elliot Carter was such a treat and highlight; in Seattle, I just missed seeing Darlene Pickard, RDR, CRR, CRC, as she was out of state the week I was there. And I keep promising Toni Christy, RPR, CRR, CRC, that we will make a trip to the San Diego area soon! Such good friends that I love seeing!

BAKER | Would you recommend this as a way to travel and work at the same time?

JOHNSTON | For me, this is the best of both worlds. I work a lot with clients who have meetings throughout the week. That is all I want to cover while I’m traveling, so while traveling on the road, I choose to work 2-3 days a week, which is perfect, because I can cover their meetings and yet still “play” and explore the areas my husband and I visit.

I choose to keep my workload light and not be constantly working, because I enjoy my time off sightseeing where we are traveling. We usually stay in a location a few days, so in that timeframe, we like to play tourists and see what the area has to show us, so I don’t want to always be inside working. But I love the flexibility to do what I want and work when I want!

BAKER | What have you seen on your travels that really stuck out for you?

JOHNSTON | We’d both always wanted to see Mount Rushmore, and the first time was such a treat. We love going to the Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. Living an hour from Walt Disney World, I’d always wanted to see Disneyland in California, and that was fun to go to. Growing up in Florida with no seasons really, it’s been a treat for us to see the beauty of the United States. Fall is our favorite time to travel; seeing the leaves change their colors is breathtaking!

BAKER | Anything else you’d like to pass along to the readers?

JOHNSTON | My husband and I have been RV travelers for 15 years now and love every single minute of our adventures. Come join me! The United States is a great place to call your office!

Lexitas Announces Two Strategic Acquisitions

In a press release issued May 15, Lexitas announced that it has acquired New England-based Eppley Court Reporting and American Stenographic, based in New York, N.Y.

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Ask a Techie: Using Tablets for Proofing

Dear Techie:

I’d like to explore editing/proofreading on a tablet-style device with a stylus. Questions on forums and to friends have given me a mishmash of information, mostly related to iPads that they no longer use. People are all over the place. 

I want to open a transcript, edit with a stylus, search if I need to within the doc, but not specifically edit as one would in CAT software. I want to hold it as if it is a piece of paper and mark on it with the stylus as if a red pen.  

Prepped for Proofing

Dear Prepped,

First, some definitions of “edit” and “redlining” from our Technology Committee member Kevin Hunt, Buffalo, N. Y. 

“Edit” is making a change directly in the original file, with the original text/format changed to something new. The “edit” can be done in a tablet running Windows as described above, just not very efficiently.

“Redlining” is highlighting in some manner a change to be made but the original text is currently unchanged. The “redlining” can be done by converting the text to a PDF and then use an annotation app to redline the PDF text.  That is then used as a reference to correct the actual transcript in the CAT software.

Kevin provides these suggested options to consider for editing on a tablet:

  1. I have a MS Surface Pro with the detachable screen that can serve as a tablet. I can run Case CATalyst on that “tablet” when detached because it is still a PC running Windows, which is what is required to run Case CATalyst (as well as just about any other CAT software I’m aware of).
    1. In tablet mode with the MS Surface Stylus, I can do just about anything the software allows, since key combination commands are also mimicked via menu options. However, having to use menus for everything, such as even the most basic commands of Replacing or Defining something, etc., is not an efficient process.
    2. I created macros that allowed me to (after highlighting the text) tap a button that brought up the Replace or Define dialog, but I then have to bring up the virtual keyboard overlay on the screen to complete the process — again not very efficient.

Kevin also offers this advice: At the current state of technology, I’d stick with the universally readable PDF file format and programs such as iAnnotate and PDFExpert to “redline” an image of the page of transcript that can then be easily sent back to the reporter for corrections.

Kimberly Greiner, RDR, CRR, CRC, Lenexa, Kan., another member of the Technology Committee, recommends an annotation app called Readdle. She says it works great with the Apple devices and stylus and is user-friendly. Kim mentions that if court reporters wish to use a Windows application for proofreading a transcript, Xodo has a great product and is user-friendly.

Here are links for annotation apps to consider proofreading your transcripts:

Apple Devices

Android Devices

Windows

Then, for stylus options, check out these links:

Best Stylus for Android

Best Stylus for Apple

Litigation Services announces acquisition of Rene Stone & Associates

Litigation Services, Las Vegas, Nev., announced in a press release issued May 3, that the firm has acquired Rene’ Stone & Associates, based in Redlands, Calif.

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NCRA member part of effort to exonerate man

NCRA member Lisa Black’s firm, Migliore & Associates, provided pro bono services in a case where a Florida man was exonerated after 14 years behind bars.

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Epiq announces new leader of Global Legal Solutions Business

Epiq announced in a press release issued today that Roger Pilc has joined as president and general manager to lead the firm’s global legal solutions business.

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Angel Donor Profile: Marjorie Peters

Marjorie Peters

The National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF) supports the advancement of the court reporting and captioning professions through education, scholarship, recognition, and programs critical to preserving the past, enriching the present, and securing the future of the profession. NCRF is able to do the great work it does with donations from individuals and organizations through various donor programs, including the popular Angels program.

Each month, NCRA will highlight one of the more than 100 Angels who support the National Court Reporters Foundation year after year. This month, the column kicks off with a profile of Marjorie Peters, RMR, CRR, who also holds NCRA’s Realtime Systems Administrator certificate.

JCR | Let’s begin with learning where you are based and what you do.

MP | Based in Pittsburgh, Pa., covering Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Washington D.C., and Maryland. I am a freelance reporter and small firm owner covering complex realtime and all types of litigation, large and small.

JCR | How long have you been an Angel?

MP | Since the Angel program started, nearly 15 years ago!

JCR | Clearly being an Angel is important to you. Why?

MP | I did not attend college, but having a skilled trade that has become a career has offered me the opportunity to achieve goals and work in places with people I never would have imagined. It has given me freedom of choice and flexibility in my life. I want everyone to realize their own goals as well, and the Foundation programs offer those opportunities to others as well.  How can I not support that!?

JCR | Are you involved with the Foundation in other ways?

MP | I am on the Angels Gatherers Committee! Ask me about being an Angel! It’s not as hard as you think. After I was an Angel for the first couple of years, I realized it was a commitment that I would always make to myself and others because NCRF’s programs really do help others. Foundation programs empower!

JCR | What is your favorite NCRF program?   

MP | Well, the easy answer is the Oral Histories Project. It is a labor of love and the best day you will ever have. The Foundation programs support education through scholarships, support reporting firms by offering legal education resources, and of course the Corrine Clark Professionalism Institute supports fledgling reporters and firms. The Foundation lifts students, reporters, and firms to success personally and professionally.  

Learn more about the NCRF Angel Donors program, or become an Angel.

Court reporter pay to go before commissioners

The Brownsville Herald, Edinburg, Texas, reported on March 23 that a shortage of court reporters has led judges in Hidalgo County to seek higher pay for these positions.

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