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.

Make plans to mosey on over to the 2020 NCRA Business Summit

The Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa in Austin, Texas, is the setting for the 2020 NCRA Business Summit taking place Feb. 9-11. No matter what size firm you own, operate, or manage, this event is NCRA’s premier gathering for anyone looking to grow their business, expand their markets, and boost their overall success. Register by Nov. 30, 2019 to take advantage of discounted pricing.

“Intense, energizing, inspiring, educational, and fun, that’s what the 2020 NCRA Business Summit promises attendees no matter what size their firm is. Plan to expand your sphere of colleagues while networking in beautiful Austin, as well as hear from a variety of experts in the areas of successful customer base building, honing effective leadership skills, and more,” said NCRA President Max Curry, RPR, CRI, a freelance court reporter and firm owner from Franklin, Tenn. “If building your business in 2020 and beyond is important to you, then attending the 2020 should be a priority.”

Karim R. Ellis, Keynote Speaker

In the lineup this year is keynote speaker Karim R. Ellis, founder of Empowered Education, a company devoted to developing both organizations and individuals. Ellis is a dynamic motivational speaker with 10 years of experience in the arena of speaking, training, and coaching, He takes great pride in cultivating leaders and champions, and his sole desire is to unlock an atmosphere of greatness in the lives of the people he connects with on a daily basis. Ellis will share with attendees his insights into successful leadership creation and development.

Also on the program is Chris Williams, co-founder of Wide Awake Business, established in 2004 to help companies grow. She is also the co-author, along with Martha Hanlon, also co-founder of Wide Awake Business, Customers Are the Answer to Everything, and most recently of Customertopia. Williams and Hanlon have been called one of the foremost authorities on in how to get and keep customers.

Chris Williams, Speaker

Williams will provide a two-part presentation, which will focus on how to create an easier, simpler, more profitable business. The sessions will cover how to:

  • Spend less time second-guessing yourself and seize the right opportunities
  • Ooze authority and confidence when you speak with prospects
  • Feel fulfilled because your “Big Why” engages more people
  • Enjoy your bank account statements
  • Lead more, build team, and personally do less of the “do”
  • Head out on your vacation without taking calls and putting out fires every day

The 2020 NCRA Business Summit program also offers a number of networking opportunities throughout the three-day event to provide attendees with the chance to expand their networks, engage with old friends, and build relationships with new ones. The event kicks off with a fun and exciting team-building activity followed by an opening reception and dinner.

Registration is now open and those who register by Nov. 30, 2019, can take advantage of discounted pricing:

  • Early Access Registration: Oct. 15 – Nov. 30, 2019
    Member: $975; Nonmember: $1,150; Additional Firm Employee: $850; Spouse/Guest: $200
  • Regular Registration: Dec. 1, 2019 – Jan. 31, 2020
    Member: $1,075; Nonmember: $1,250; Additional Firm Employee: $950; Spouse/Guest: $250
  • Last Minute Registration: Feb. 1 – 9, 2020
    Member: $1,125; Nonmember: $1,300; Additional Firm Employee: $1,000; Spouse/Guest: $300

A special hotel room rate for single/double occupancy for attendees is $209 per night plus tax ($237.73) and the resort fee is waived. Hurry, these special hotel rates end on Jan. 8, 2020. Deadline to register to attend is Jan. 31, 2020.

For more information and to register for the 2020 NCRA Business Summit, visit NCRA.org/BusinessSummit.

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.

Read more.

Don’t Miss Out: Register for the Business Summit Today

Register for NCRA’s 2019 Business Summit being held Feb. 1-3 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in beautiful San Diego, Calif. The hotel room block closes on Jan. 9, so you can still save money by booking your hotel now.

The schedule is filled with insightful, informative, and cutting-edge sessions designed to provide the freelancers, firm owners, and managers attending with the latest tools and techniques for growing their business.

Community engagement and how it helps your business

A session titled “Civic Best Practice: Corporate Community Engagement” will explore why corporate community engagement is considered one of the best practices in today’s business environment and how to be successful at it. Find out more about the benefits businesses gain by integrating community engagement into their business plans, such as boosting employee commitment and recruitment. Gains also include raising awareness of the services and products the companies provide and securing reputations as leaders in the community. The session will culminate with a special Veterans History Project, as an example of just one of many wonderful ways to showcase the services and skills your business provides while giving back to those in the community who have served their country. The live oral history will capture the story of Rear Admiral Ronne Froman, USN (Ret.). In addition to serving 31 years in the U.S. Navy, Froman was the first woman to serve as commander of the U.S. Navy Region Southwest. In her last Navy job, she also served as the director of ashore readiness for the chief of naval operations, responsible for nearly 90 Navy stations and bases around the world with a $7 billion budget. As a change agent, Froman’s careers have spanned the military, public, private, and nonprofit businesses. Rear Admiral Froman will be interviewed by Jan Ballman, FAPR, RPR, CMRS, of Minneapolis, Minn.

How storytelling can boost your business

Ann marie Houghtailing, entrepreneur, storyteller, and business coach, will present her Storytelling & Business Development session. Houghtailing, who launched her practice as a business development expert in 2009 with only $5 in her pocket, a MacBook, and a truckload of tenacity in the worst economic climate of her life, developed the Corporate Alliance Partner for the Institute for Sales and Business Development at the University of San Diego, Calif., just one year later. Today, she holds the reputation as one of the most sought-after business development and storytelling experts in the country and speaks regularly on narrative leadership and how to use storytelling as a tool of influence in business with her trademarked Narrative Imprinting process.

Court reporting in the 21st century

Speaker and past NCRA Director Mike Miller, FAPR, RDR, CRR, is a freelance court reporter from Houston, Texas. As a follow-up to his Tough Love sessions, which have been held at national and state conferences throughout the United States, Miller will lead a seminar called “Tough Love Part 2,” which will challenge the most sacred beliefs about the business of court reporting with a focus on why being stuck in 1985 isn’t going to alleviate any of the issues faced by agencies and reporters in the 21st century.

Simple shifts can lead to extraordinary outcomes

Also on the schedule is Eunice Carpitella, a professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, who will serve as keynote speaker. She will address the practical idea that simple shifts in our routine patterns of interaction and mindset make it possible for business leaders to include, engage, and unleash everyone in solving problems, driving innovation, and achieving extraordinary outcomes.

Don’t wait.

Register now for NCRA’s 2019 Business Summit. Remember, online registration for the 2019 Business Summit closes Jan. 20, 2019, and onsite registration and pricing starts Jan. 21, 2019.

The 2019 Business Summit schedule features additional experts who will not only inspire your business development but also will become a part of your network to help bolster your company into the future. The event will also include compelling panel discussions on topics critical to the growth of the profession and even more networking opportunities than in previous years.

Also making a comeback is the Super Bowl Party to close out the event – another great reason to stay overnight Sunday for an extra few days to really get to know this one-of-a-kind city. And remember, February is the perfect time to enjoy the beauty, sunshine, and numerous attractions San Diego has to offer.








Veritext offers tips on data security ethics for court reporters

An article by Andy Fredericks, Director of Reporter Engagement for Veritext Legal Solutions, offers tips on protecting yourself and your computer from cyber criminals.

Read more.








Newspaper offers tips on surviving a deposition

An article posted Sept. 15 by the Baltimore Post-Examiner explains what a deposition is, its purpose, and whether or not you can refuse to give one.

Read more.








COPE: Gift giving when a client is running for office

By Cassy Kerr

In 2017, an eighth scenario under Advisory Opinion 46, Further Guidance on Gift Giving, was added. Please refer to it as you contemplate future donations to a client’s campaign.

Scenario: A client of a reporter has decided to run for public office. The reporter makes a $500 donation to the client’s campaign.

Questions: Is the donation a violation of Provision No. 8? Would it make a difference if the donation was a $100 donation?

Provision 8 of the Code of Professional Ethics reads, “Refrain from giving, directly or indirectly, any gift or anything of value to attorneys or their staff, other clients or their staff, or any other persons or entities associated with any litigation, which exceeds $150 in the aggregate per recipient each year. Nothing offered in exchange for future work is permissible, regardless of its value. Pro bono services as defined by the NCRA Guidelines for Professional Practice or by applicable state and local laws, rules and regulations are permissible in any amount.”

NCRA’s Ethics Committee has concluded political contributions are not considered gifts under the Code of Professional Ethics and, therefore, are not governed by Provision 8 of the Code.

Because the contribution is not made directly to the client for the client’s own purposes but rather to the campaign or the committee to be used for political purposes, it is determined that political donations are not considered gifts to clients for purposes of Provision 8 and, therefore, are not governed by Provision 8 of the Code regardless of the amount of the gift.

This opinion should be read in conjunction with Advisory Opinion No. 45, Guidance on Gift Giving Rules, which discusses such issues as the definition of a gift, the value of gifts, and the $150 aggregate gift limit.

Cassy Kerr, RPR, CRR, CRC, is a freelancer and agency owner in Tulsa, Okla. She is a member of the Committee on Professional Ethics. Questions about NCRA’s Code of Professional Ethics can be sent to NCRA’s Ethics Counsel Mona Savino at msavino@ncra.org.








Maintaining a freelance mind-set in an official world

By Risa Entrekin

Many reporters accept an officialship after years of freelancing and feel they can relax with only one person to keep happy: the judge. After the excitement wanes, however, complacency often manifests itself in job dissatisfaction and frustration. The official who maintains a freelance mind-set in an official world can avoid this and enjoy a successful and pleasant career. Here are a few thoughts on how to succeed at the business of officialships without really trying:

Technology: In this ever-changing world, the steno machine remains a steady, trustworthy foundation upon which we must build an environment to meet client demand. The “client” may be a judge, court administrative staff, a probation or parole officer, attorneys, pro se litigants and their families, or any combination of the above.

As new attorneys emerge on the scene who have been immersed in high-tech gadgetry since before they started kindergarten, the reporter’s ability to respond to their needs becomes increasingly important. Whether it is emailing transcripts in various formats or live streaming a realtime feed to off-site participants, an awareness of technological advancements and the willingness to acquire the skill and equipment necessary to respond to those advancements is crucial. One way to become familiar with the latest advancements is through technology itself: participating in Facebook groups, watching YouTube “how-to” videos, and attending NCRA and other conferences either in person or remotely.

Maintaining and improving one’s skill is always a worthwhile goal that will benefit the client as well as the reporter. A trial involving technical subject matter will always be extremely challenging, but it can be more successful and less stressful when a reporter is at the top of his or her game. Some courts even offer pay incentives for additional certifications.

Financial considerations: An officialship may create new and challenging financial considerations that are best discussed with an accountant or tax advisor. Although taxes will be withheld from salaried income, it may be necessary for the reporter to file estimated tax payments to avoid underpayment penalties. Keeping transcript income and estimated taxes in a separate account may be helpful.

Keeping good financial records is burdensome and time-consuming, but it is a necessary evil. Some officialships require additional record keeping that can seem like “busy” work to the busy reporter. However, this record keeping is simply a job that must be done. The best attitude to cultivate is one of acceptance instead of procrastination.

Organization: When time is short and days in court are long, a consistent method of organizing work and maintaining records is a necessity. Constantly prioritizing transcript requests is a must. The “Sticky Notes” tool available on the Windows desktop or the use of Microsoft OneNote can assist the reporter to be continually aware of what task needs the most urgent attention.

Proofreading on a mobile device can allow the reporter to make more efficient use of unavoidable time delays. Files can be sent and received from a proofreader using the same technology. Develop a quick and effective way of preparing a job or case dictionary for a realtime feed. This often is the difference between a mediocre and excellent realtime transmission. The official may find it helpful to organize the most urgent tasks at the close of a workday.

Teamwork: Unlike the freelance world where the reporter is often working autonomously, teamwork is extremely important for the official. Officials live in an uncertain world of budget cuts and work study evaluations, and they share their world with courthouse personnel who often do not understand or appreciate the reporter’s contribution. Officials often face threats of being replaced by other technology. The reporter’s best reaction in the face of uncertainty is to become invaluable at the courthouse. As with any public-sector job, the reporter will work with a myriad of people from a variety of backgrounds who possess many different attitudes and work expectations. A reporter should always strive to maintain a professional attitude and keep the interests of justice as his or her top priority.

Teamwork also includes working well with a future team, the reporters who will assume the official reporter positions of the future. Create a method of communicating with the reporters of tomorrow about how records, audio files, rough drafts, and final transcripts are stored. This lasting legacy furthers the cause of justice. An “In Case of Emergency” file which can be easily accessed by others will ease the transition and save time. The file should include passwords, file locations, account numbers, locations of keys, and any other information the court reporter considers important.

Professionalism:  It is human nature to have short memories of positive experiences and lingering memories of negative situations. This is one of many reasons for the official reporter to endeavor to develop and maintain a high degree of professionalism. The NCRA Code of Ethics is an additional incentive. Frankly, another reason to always maintain professional integrity is because the legal community is often relatively small and closely knit. A reporter may not know that the doddering old attorney fumbling with the newfangled evidence presentation method used to be the judge’s law partner or that the intake clerk struggling to get a degree may end up clerking for the judge before he accepts a position with a stellar law firm.

Reporters should always avoid even the appearance of impropriety. The official who becomes complacent about their duties can sometimes relax this standard and become friendlier with attorneys who frequent the courtroom. Giving advice and commenting on a case is always inappropriate, regardless of how well a reporter knows an attorney. The official should treat everyone equally, both in the courtroom and after the fact.

Always strive to honor commitments made for transcript production. Maintain communication with the requesting party throughout the production process if necessary. A late transcript now and then is inevitable and unavoidable, but a late transcript preceded by no communication from the court reporter is unjustifiable.

The official sometimes has more flexibility to volunteer with state and national associations, and yet freelancers often carry the lion’s share of this burden. Officials should encourage students by mentoring them if at all possible. This encourages the student and allows them to be more comfortable in an intimidating setting. This connection with students can benefit both the student and the working reporter. Providing pro bono services or transcribing interviews through NCRA’s Oral Histories Program are other ways officials can contribute to their profession.

An unknown author once said, “Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.” Officials should faithfully preserve the record with skill and professionalism, always being cognizant of their contribution to our collective destiny.

Risa Entrekin, RDR, CRR, CMRS, CPE, is an official based in Montgomery, Ala. She also holds NCRA’s Realtime Systems Administrator certificate. She can be reached at risaentrekin@gmail.com.

 








ETHICS: Social media and the court reporter

social media and the court reporterBy Robin Cooksey

Technology has no doubt created a world where information can be accessed at incredible speeds, and opinions and thoughts are disseminated to others simply by the click of a mouse or a keyboard. Whether you are providing remote CART services or broadcast captioning or you are working as an official or freelance reporter, chances are you have used some form of technology to do your job.

Since the advent of the Internet, technology has continued to evolve, and social media has become its cornerstone. Merriam-Webster defines social media as “a collective of online communications channels dedicated to community-based input, interaction, content-sharing and collaboration.” It is so commonplace now and its use is so widespread that businesses set up websites and Facebook pages to promote their business. Government officials use Twitter so that constituents may be informed on current issues.

Social media has become such an integral part of our society now that state and federal governments have actually promulgated rules and policies to address the concerns that social media potentially bring to the court system. Jurors are now instructed that they are not to use any form of social media to research the cases on which they’re serving or communicate about them. Jurors are further cautioned about the consequences if these rules are not followed.

While court reporters serve a different function in the legal setting, the rules that apply to the jurors are equally important to follow as a court reporter. Our Code of Professional Conduct does not specifically address the dos and don’ts of social media. It does, however, state that we are to “guard against not only the fact but the appearance of impropriety”; we must “preserve the confidentiality and ensure the security of information, oral or written, entrusted to the reporter by any of the parties in a proceeding”; and we must “maintain the integrity of the reporting profession.” If a reporter were to engage in discussions on social media regarding any matter that they were reporter for, not only would he or she be guilty of misconduct, they, too, could potentially cause irreparable harm to the parties.

In order to respond to the needs of our society, we need to stay abreast of current trends in technology. Use video conferencing, Skype, live-streaming, and the like in order to provide the best product or service that you can. And then, at the end of the day, relax. Share your photos of your family and pets, your favorite recipes, and your thoughts. Let’s remember to keep the “social” in social media.

Robin Cooksey, RMR, of Houston, Texas, is a member of NCRA’s Committee on Professional Ethics.








FOOD FOR THOUGHT: The heavy responsibility of being a reporter

By Timothy St. Clair

The opinion section of the JCR allows readers to express their thoughts on various topics. Statements of fact or opinion are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily express the opinion of NCRA or anyone connected with NCRA.

As we can all agree, the percentage of litigating lawyers we have any contact with are far outnumbered by those practicing law in the many other arenas available to their craft. Of those that call themselves litigators, the official court reporter generally has contact with a greater number of lawyers than the average freelance reporter. I understand that an extremely busy freelance shop has contact with a great number of law firms, and a great number of court reporters. But taken individually, each reporter may not have contact with many different lawyers. Contrast that with the official in a busy court where all those cases end up in one venue. I have been on both sides as a reporter – official and freelance. I am sure there are some that will argue the above point, and perhaps I can be proven wrong with national statistics, etc., but this has been my general experience for the past 30 years.

The responsibility I am about to discuss has little to do with our day-to-day job duties. Our greater responsibility has to do with our interaction with the bar and their clients — an interaction that has short-term and long-term implications. Implications that affect not only our bottom line at the end of the month, but more importantly, the bottom line in terms of our future as a profession.

Allow me to pose some questions. Do you see yourself as finding fault with the mechanics of a lawyer’s presentation (i.e., talks too fast, mumbles, interrupts, etc.)? Or do you see yourself approaching a difficult situation with tact and a solution? Are you more interested in the total on your invoice, or are you more interested in being fair-minded? Have you become so callused by what you see and hear as to have no compassion?

As an official, do you often take the attitude of “that’s not my job,” or do you pinch in at times to help with a “non-reporter” task? As an official, do you hold yourself in such high esteem that you lord it over the other courthouse personnel? As either an official or freelance reporter, when is the last time you read the Code of Ethics?

I am sure at this point there are some who will quit reading. Either thinking I’m nuts in thinking any of these questions need to be asked, or thinking I’m nuts because how dare I ask these questions. But I ask these questions because during my years as a freelance reporter and an official reporter, I have seen both sides of these questions lived out.

I live and work in the state of Indiana. Indiana has no certification for court reporters. The courts are manned with both stenotype reporters and “Sony” reporters (with the larger number in our state being “Sony” reporters). We have recently seen changes in Indiana that are, I believe, being brought about because of the negative view others have of court reporters. And I will say the negativity can be sometimes deserved.

I believe the key components to that negativity are the lack of certification, the lack of education, and the lack of ethics. I can tell you that not all the negativity is produced by the “Sony” court reporters. A good portion is produced by stenotype court reporters who have lost the view of the larger picture.

Above all else, we as court reporters must think of ourselves as ambassadors – ambassadors of a time-honored profession of guardians of the record. We must think in terms of being an asset to those around us and not an annoyance. For years, I have told people that I want to be unnoticed as I practice my trade. I want to be unnoticed because to me that means that I am doing my job well. Usually one is only noticed when he or she has done something incorrectly or not done something that was to be done.

Thirty plus years ago, I knew I needed to return to school to better provide for my family. I asked a family friend who was a lawyer about becoming a paralegal. His response was “learn how to be a court reporter; they make a lot of money.” (I’m still waiting). Within a week of that conversation, I found myself at a career night at a local community college that had a court reporting course. I returned home from that career night and told my wife that I found a course of study to pursue. I felt then, as I do now, that if I perform my duties in a role as important as a court reporter that it will be a profession where I can make a positive difference!

When I embarked on a career as a court reporter, I heard the forever cry “ER will replace you.” The cry continues. If our future is threatened, it may very well be that the threat is from within. The threat is apathy – the court reporter who doesn’t feel the need to grow his or her skills and is satisfied with the status quo. The threat is being the prima donna employee who doesn’t know how to get along with anyone other than self. The threat is poor interaction with members of the bar (does “cut off your nose to spite your face” come to mind?). As an official, offer a rough transcript to your judge following a complicated summary judgment hearing; offer him/her a CART window or realtime. Become a value-added employee. Does a lawyer need you to spend five minutes and look something up in your notes? Do it. You don’t have to always invoice.

Please understand that I’m not advocating that we not charge for what we do. But I am saying not everything deserves an invoice. There are times when there is more long-term value gained from simply being of service.

Timothy St. Clair, RMR, is the owner of St. Clair Court Reporting in South Bend, Ind. He can be reached at stclaircourtreporting@gmail.com.