Why I love court reporting: Jamie Booker

Jamie Booker

Jamie Booker, RPR, a freelance reporter in Tacoma, Wash., recently posted the following in the Facebook group Encouraging Court Reporting Students:

Why is court reporting an amazing profession? Maybe you’ll see yourself in my story. I started court reporting school at 20 years old with a one-year-old baby. I had to do something to better our lives, and I’m thankful every day I found court reporting.

I started school full time. While in school, I had two more babies so I finished school part-time at night while working and raising small children. It took me four years to finally finish, but I’m so, so glad I did. It was not easy. I practiced with toddlers at my feet and infants crying and with not nearly enough hours in the day.

I passed my second 225 on a Thursday night, and I was working in court that following Monday as an official. I worked in an extremely busy courthouse in Philadelphia, but they had a great training program for new reporters. Even though PA is not a certification state, I got my RPR anyway. Because I was certified, doors I never thought possible opened for me.

After 10 years in Philly, I wanted to try something new. Because I was a court reporter, I could! I quit my job and moved across the country to Tacoma without even looking for a job first. As soon as I had feet on the ground in Washington, there was no shortage of freelance work. It was seamless. I could be brave, try something new, and I had an amazing career that allowed it. Six months later, I was back in court in another official position.

Here I am, more than eight years later. My youngest is turning 18, and I can look to a new chapter. I’m leaving my job as an official and am heading into the freelance arena. I just wasn’t happy in court anymore. And unlike 99 percent of Americans, I will never be stuck where I don’t want to be. With reporting, we have options. We can be brave. We can try new things, and we don’t have to sacrifice an income to do it.

As a student, your sacrifices are now. They are many. They are not fun. School is the hardest part of your whole career. But we have opportunities that will make your friends and families green with envy. STICK IT OUT! Your pain now will be so much gain later.

Deadline nears for new Stenograph student scholarship

The deadline for nominations for Stenograph’s Milton H. Wright Memorial Scholarship, a new scholarship that honors the memory of Milton H. Wright, Stenograph’s founder, is Jan. 21. The scholarship is being supported by Stenograph and offered through the National Court Reporters Foundation. Students from NCRA-approved reporter education programs are encouraged to apply for the merit-based two-year award, which is worth up to $5,000 per year and will include use of a student writer and software.

“Stenograph is proud to sponsor the newly created Milton H. Wright Memorial Scholarship,” said Stenograph President Anir Dutta. “We believe that by investing in our students and future students, through the NCRA’s A to Z Program, that we will positively impact the direction of this industry. It is an honor to be able to give back in this way.” 

This scholarship is offered through the National Court Reporters Foundation. Students must meet the eligibility requirements and submit the completed documentation listed below to qualify for the scholarship. Notification of the MHW Memorial Scholarship is sent each November to all NCRA-approved court reporting programs.

Applications are being accepted through Jan. 21, 2020. 

Eligibility

To be eligible to apply for the Milton H. Wright Memorial Scholarship, students must meet the criteria below: 

  • Attend an NCRA-approved court reporting program
  • Have completed an NCRA A to Z ® Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program
  • Have received an NCRA A to Z ® Certificate of Completion
  • Have attained an exemplary academic record (3.5 GPA or above)
  • Have passed one skills test writing 80-120 words per minute at the time of submission 

Document requirements

The following documents are required to be submitted for application:

  • Speed verification form
  • A copy of the student’s most recent transcript
  • A two-page, double-spaced essay responding to the following question: “Describe the role of technology in the future of reporting.”

Click here for more information or to access the application for the Milton H. Wright Memorial Scholarship.

“Stenograph’s commitment to the future of the court reporting and captioning professions is reflected in the company’s generous support of the Milton H. Wright Memorial Scholarship, and NCRF and NCRA are honored to share this common goal with them,” said NCRA Senior Director of Education and Certification Cynthia Bruce Andrews.  

For more information on the Milton H. Wright Memorial Scholarship, please contact the NCRA Education Department at schools@ncra.org

New Professional Profile: Bethany Glover

Bethany Glover

By Mike Hensley, RDR

Bethany Glover, RPR, is a new professional residing in Long Beach, Calif.  Not only is she new — within her first year of work as a freelance deposition reporter — she finished school in a blazing 16 months. She is excellently poised to take the world by storm, and she has graciously shared insights with us as a newly licensed court reporter.

JCR | Why did you choose to become a court reporter?

BG | I grew up dancing, moved to New York City to earn my bachelor’s in dance at a prestigious school, traveled the world performing as a professional dancer, and had to cut short my dancing career early due to a back injury. I wanted a career that would still give me the freedom to travel while also earning a good living. I also loved how crucial court reporting is for getting a record of people‘s experiences and for the judicial system as a whole.

JCR | What’s your “can’t live without” item in your steno bag?

BG | Definitely back-up USB flash drives. I always, always back everything up, because you just never know when technology is going to be cranky.

JCR | What is your biggest challenge as a new reporter?

BG | My biggest challenge as a new reporter is learning how to have a good work/life balance. I really love what I do, so I tend to get lost in my work. I’m trying to learn to step back and take time to do things for myself outside of work too. Self-care is crucial!

JCR | What is your next goal? What is a long-term goal?

BG | My next goal is working on realtime. I’m learning that the cleaner that I write while on the job, the less work I have to do editing. I want to be writing realtime as soon as I can.

A long-term goal of mine is to be able to take depositions internationally. I would love to travel for work. That’s the dream.

JCR | What do you like to do when you’re not reporting?

BG | When I’m not reporting, I love to take yoga classes and explore new neighborhoods. I really enjoy being outside and walking. I also want to get into doing volunteer work with animals.

JCR | What do you love about your career?

BG | I absolutely love meeting new people and going to new offices every day. It’s always something different, and there are no two days the same.

JCR | How has involvement with state and national associations benefited your career thus far?

BG | Being involved with associations has been so important for me on my journey to becoming a court reporter. I have met wonderful reporters through the associations who have supported me, cheered me on, and have been there for me for every question that I have. The court reporting community is like no other, and the reporters I have met through associations inspire me every day.

JCR | What was the best piece of advice that you received from another court reporter that helped you?

BG | The best piece of advice I ever received from another court reporter is to be confident in my skills and to not be afraid of taking charge. Being a new reporter can be a little intimidating sometimes, but you just need to walk in with a smile on your face and your head held high.

Mike Hensley, RDR, is a freelancer from Dublin, Calif. He can be reached at stenomph@gmail.com.

Naegeli announces new scholarship

Naegeli Deposition & Trial has announced a new scholarship to inspire creativity and assist student leaders with self-development.

Read more.

New Professional Profile: Sara Galante

Sara Galante

By Ashley Stahl

Sara Galante attended the Long Island Business Institute.  She reports freelance and per diem court proceedings in New York and has been working for a little under two years.  She talks to us about what life was like in school and her transition to professional reporting.

JCR | Tell me a little bit about yourself and what brought you to the field of court reporting.

SG | I’ve been officially working for a little under two years. I’m a fur-mama to four pups and live in New York, specifically Long Island.  My father is actually a court reporter, and he’s the one I have to thank for introducing me to this wonderful career!  He began school when I was a kid, and I remember playing with his old machine and paper and was always intrigued.  I’ve always liked English, and I’ve always been a fly-on-the-wall kind of girl, so this career is perfect for me. 

JCR | What was your practice routine like as a student?

SG | When I was still working 40-hour weeks, I would practice before work about an hour and then another one to two hours when I got home.  I used my time wisely at work by bringing my notes in and transcribing whenever I had the opportunity.  Lots of long nights and not many social events, but it was all worth it!

JCR | What was the hardest part of transitioning from school to the real world?

SG | This is a tough question!  I guess for me the hardest part was making myself seem like a seasoned professional in the very beginning.  I never wanted anyone to think I was new or lacked experience.  I’ve always had a “fake it till you make it” motto, and this was no different.

JCR | How did you feel before and after your first assignment as a court reporter?

SG | Before, I was VERY nervous.  I wrote down the oath and other notes on sticky notes and made sure I had easy access to them throughout the first deposition.  When the attorneys asked me to read back, I thought I was going to be sick.  After I nailed the first three requests for read back, my confidence soared, and I left that job on cloud nine!  It’s been (mostly) smooth sailing since then!

JCR | What do you love about your career?

SG | The flexibility and the opportunity to learn something new every day!  I get bored easily, but there’s no time for that with this line of work. 

JCR | Do you have any advice for students?

SG | Work hard.  Practice!  Don’t hesitate to ask for help.  Know that you can do this, and that it will be 100 percent worth it.  I promise.

JCR | Do you have any hobbies outside of work?

SG | Aside from hanging out with my four pups, I love to travel, hike, read, and watch movies.

10 new CSRs

Downey Adult School congratulates 10 students who passed their California State Exam (CSR) in July:

Kristen McElderry

Dottie Simpson

Rachel Brown

Marissa Holt

Samantha Maciel

Ashley Chislock

Mirbella Hernandez

Katelyn Chang

Nicole Hallman

Ai Arias

Practice, practice, practice

Doug Zweizig

This post from Doug Zweizig, RDR, CRR, of Baltimore, Md., was originally posted in the Facebook group “Encouraging Court Reporting Students.”  He was the Realtime Contest champion at the recent 2019 NCRA Convention & Expo.

Hey, all. I’ll admit to being somewhat lazy since getting back from the NCRA Convention in Denver. I’ve still been practicing every day, but not as hard as I was up until about a week ago.

I’ve been a reporter for 30 years now (that’s tough to say), and I’d never really practiced all that much outside of school. Maybe the month before a contest, I’d do 10-12 hours of practice.

In school, however, we had mandatory steno homework every night, weekend, holiday, semester break. It made no difference, you had to practice no matter what, or you could leave.

About six months ago I had some inspiration which came from several different people (most positive, one negative). No matter how good I think I am, how many certs I hold, contests won or placed highly in, I still should be honing my skill, staying sharp. And, frankly, I got somewhat complacent and figured, well, I have a high skill level, so why should I? Yeah, my mother would’ve slapped me if I said that out loud in her presence.

Anyway, I decided that I was going to start to practice every single day, and it didn’t matter if I was in trial or super busy. It just so happens that I was in trial, several of them (one pretty long one), but I still practiced before or after court and on the weekends too. I came pretty close to breaking my ankle during this time (it ended up being a VERY bad sprain), but I still practiced even when I had to get around on crutches while wearing an Aircast. 

And after maybe a month, I started to notice a difference in court. Keep in mind that I’ve always been fast. I’m probably faster than the great majority of reporters, frankly. But there’s just something about practicing sustained dictation that really helped me. When I started to realize that, I knew I had to keep at it.

There’s so much more to being a reporter than just speed, but you’ve got to have that as a foundation or the rest just won’t matter.

And FYI, I was blown away by some of the practice. I mean blown away. I keep a practice log, an extremely detailed one, and I can tell you there’s some very ungentlemanly language in there beside some of the entries. But keeping the log is so important to me. I was able to see that a specific take absolutely blew me away a month ago. Two weeks later, it was a little better. Three weeks later, I nailed it!

So, in my opinion, that’s a good way of holding yourself accountable and keeping track of your progress.

I have to proofread a short hearing, and then I am going to be practicing before leaving the office.

Today will be Day 179, consecutive, of practice for me!  I’m going to keep up that streak for as long as I possibly can😇😇.

New Professional Profile: Tiffany Nicole Headley

Tiffany Nicole Headley

Tiffany Nicole Headley is a CART provider/court reporter in Deatsville, Ala. She and her husband have three sons. Evan, the oldest, is living in Mobile, Ala., attending the University of South Alabama. Ethan is almost 16, and Elijah is 11. She also has five pets: three dogs, a cat, and a horse.  She graduated from Prince Institute in Montgomery, Ala., in December of 2012.

JCR | What year did you start doing CART?

TH | August of 2012 while still in school.

JCR | What year did you obtain your Alabama CCR?

TH | I believe it was October of 2016.

JCR | When did you begin freelancing?

TH | I’ve always freelanced.  In CART it is considered freelancing as well.  We are independent contractors just like court reporters, but I started freelance reporting in November of 2016.

JCR | How did you get introduced to court reporting and what made you want to become one? 

TH | I was first introduced to court reporting after I graduated high school in 1998.  My younger sister’s best friend was Sarah Prince’s granddaughter, and she told me about the school because I had mentioned a time or two that I was thinking about going into the legal field, but I was unsure for what. I checked into it, and it seemed like the perfect fit for my future plans career-wise and family-wise, but the timing wasn’t right since my husband and I were getting married in January of 1999.  I did, however, start in 2001 for the first time, but I had to leave in 2003 due to pregnancy and the stress it was putting on me.

After a few years, I still wanted to pursue it, and I enrolled after our family was complete.  So I went back at 28 years old with a family of five with three kids who all were involved in some sport or activity at some point throughout my schooling.  I attended online for the first year, and throughout the program, I did online and in-house classes.

JCR | You’ve done CART and transitioned into freelance reporting. Has that been a difficult transition? Do you have any advice for someone else looking to do the same?

TH |
It was very difficult at first for several reasons. The travel, multiple speakers, random places that you have to take depos, and getting transcripts done was a huge change for me.  As a full-time CART Provider, I worked from home the majority of the time, and I only traveled a few times a year.  

As far as adjusting to multiple speakers, CART is more like doing a Lit take than a Q&A. It’s a lot easier to get into a rhythm with CART to me.  Basically, you have one professor and the occasional student asking a question.  Most of you know, that’s very different in the court reporting field. You can have multiple voices, so it’s keeping up with who said what, constant back and forth, along with interruptions and/or everyone talking over each other, etc.

I will say, though, that I believe that transcripts were the biggest adjustment for me.  When you do CART, you don’t always have to turn a transcript in. If you do, you simply have to do a quick spellcheck, scanstop, and look over it to make sure you paragraphed properly and used the right punctuation.  It is more pressure because you are writing realtime all the time. There is someone on the other end depending on you for their education.  You really need to be on it.  Those people need you producing clear and concise captions at that very moment.  There is not much room for error.  The student/consumer may or may not be reading it later. 

When producing transcripts for depositions and court, it is very different and so much more involved.  You have to go back over your work with a fine-toothed comb with audio backup, if you use it.  The scoping, then proofreading, and making sure that the record is 100 percent accurate. You are listening to the same material over and over again.  Needless to say, that was very exhausting at first.

As far as advice I have for someone transitioning:  Make sure you keep a lot of court reporter mentors and friends in your circle. I promise they are valuable resources when making that change. In all honesty, if it was not for my court reporting mentors and friends, I would’ve probably given up on this a long time ago. It is just such a different realm for me. You definitely have to stay super focused on the task at hand and manage your time wisely so your work is turned in in a timely manner so the transcripts are returned to the client on time. Remember they have a deadline too, and they need their records to review before going further with a case.

JCR | What’s your must-have in your bag?

TH | For court reporting it is my water, long extension cord, exhibit stickers, and pens.

For CART it is an extension cord and multiple connection cables, i.e. HDMI cord, high-speed USB plug, a converter plug for projectors that may still be old school and require those bulky plugs with the thumb screw, and my handy-dandy USB Type-C Multi-Adapter.  At any given time, you could have several things plugged in at one time, and newer computers don’t always have multiple USB ports.

JCR | Tell me the best piece of advice you’ve received from another court reporter that you’d love to pass along.

TH | There’s been so many things that have been helpful. I have a great circle, but there are two big things I’ve learned. First of all, do not be afraid to clarify what someone is saying if you don’t understand them and/or stopping the attorneys from talking over one another during proceedings.  Second, never become too reliant on your audio backup. Always have a fail-safe because electronics fail, so make sure you have a backup for your backup.

‘I know you’re exhausted, but you can do this’

Elise Townes, RPR

Elise Townes, RPR, a freelancer from Rockford, Mich., posted the following in the Facebook group “Encouraging Court Reporting Students.”

Why do you love court reporting? Share your reasons with us at jcrfeedback@ncra.org and post with #whyilovecourtreporting.

Tonight was a pretty big night for me. I just submitted my very first transcript to the attorneys! This has all been about seven years in the making. I’m a single mother, and this whole process has not been easy!

I felt like it took me forever to get out of school. My school (The College of Court Reporting) was fantastic! I just had to work while I was in school and had two young children, so it took me a bit longer. 

After that, it took me a few more years to become certified. It was tough finding time and energy to practice, especially not being in school. I finally decided to quit my work and focus solely on practicing for the last leg of the RPR, and it worked. I was finally certified in December of last year and then earned my CSR certification right after.

I was a teen mom (twice). I have had to struggle immensely for this, and it’s all been to give my kids the life they deserve. They’re the reason for all of it. A few months ago, I accepted a job as an official reporter in Colorado and made the huge move from Michigan.

I’ve only been working for a month, but it feels so amazing to be able to say I finally made it and to tell all of you that YOU CAN DO THIS. Don’t give up!!! I know you’re exhausted. I know you’re feeling burnt out. I know it feels like it’s taking forever. Persevere and power through because you’ve got this, and it’s worth it!!

Why I love court reporting: Aimee Edwards-Altadonna

Aimee Edwards-Altadonna is a freelance reporter in California and a CCRA board member. She recently posted this in the Facebook group “Encouraging Court Reporting Students.”

Students, I want to talk to you about how quickly your life can flip into an amazing place once you are certified and out there busting your butt as a court reporter. There is so much work out there, and it’s just crazy. I could work every single day, multiple jobs a day if I chose to. Instead I choose to work about 8-10 jobs a month and am comfortably making six figures by my fourth year reporting in California’s Bay Area and Central Valley. It’s a true story, and I promise you it’s there for the taking if you work hard.

I am about 4 1/2 years into working now, and in that short period of time, my family’s lifestyle has been able to change dramatically for the better. We went from living paycheck to paycheck as a family of four as I struggled through the end game of certification, finally passing all three legs of the Califonia CSR after winning my appeal on the skills portion and overcoming a pretty horrific ankle injury on the night I qualified for the CSR. We were so strapped, my dad had to help sign for the loan for the $2,000 upgrade to professional software. He even paid for my $1,000 local CSR prep class since I could no longer travel for school with my busted ankle — we were financially spent and had nothing else to give to school — but I didn’t give up. Thanks, Dad. I tell you this to give you perspective. We have been the family living on $26 for over a week until the next check came in and just hoping nobody got sick or broken or any other unforeseen event that can happen with a young family with no safety net.

And yet today I am writing you from the Airbnb in Venice on leg two of an epic 25-day trip to Italy! Worry-free because I just worked extra hard last month and billed out twice as much, so I was set to not work this month. We did a long layover in London and are going all over Italy and Sicily and Cagliari for Intersteno so I’m writing off a portion of this awesome adventure.

This career allowed us to plan and pay for this amazing trip. My kids had never been on a plane, let alone a plane to Europe, and my husband and I have waited 21 years to take this trip. At 9 and 12 they will have such a broad world view, and it will change them at their core for the better for having been explorers in another country. This is a profession that can give you the freedom you’ve dreamed of and can take you places you can’t imagine and didn’t even know you wanted.

When you’re feeling stressed or wondering how long it will take before it’s your turn, just remember that the other side is a magical place of freedom and release and all the amazing things. Even on the ickiest day, this is still the best job ever, and we can’t wait to help you get to the other side. On the dark days, I hope this message will inspire you to keep going. I promise the other side is so worth all of the struggle.

Keep going. Just keep going!