Get ready for liftoff, Career Launcher program heading to launch pad

By Debbie Dibble

Career Launcher — you’ve heard about it, you’ve seen the iconic rocket, but do you really know what it is? This new program is a cutting-edge, innovative virtual internship program that has been developed by the National Court Reporters Foundation Corinne Clark Professionalism Institute, designed from the ground up to jump start the careers of new professionals and to be a valuable training resource on deposition procedures and transcript preparation for schools and agencies alike.  

Whether you’re preparing for your first deposition or have been working in the trenches for three years, five years, or more than 20, you can learn something from Career Launcher.

Anyone can participate in this program, whether as a candidate watching the simulated depositions online and preparing transcripts or volunteering as a reviewer, providing valuable online mentorship to new professionals participating in the program. For those of you with decades of invaluable experience, this is the opportunity for you to ensure that your knowledge will be passed on to the next generation of reporters, securing a bright future for this profession that has changed so many of our lives for the better.

Career Launcher is a video-based online training system consisting of ten mock deposition modules. Court reporting students, new professionals, or anyone who needs a crash course in the life of a deposition reporter can work through the modules at their own pace. Here is a sneak peak of the modules:

  • Module 1: Examination Under Oath — “Case of the Missing Garden Tools”
  • Module 2: Car Wreck, (plaintiff medical) — “Who’s Right When You’re Making a Left”
  • Module 3: Slip and Fall (personal injury) — “When You ‘Bearly’ Have a Leg to Stand on”
  • Module 4: Workers Comp (hearing) — “When the Witness Is a Total Wreck”
  • Module 5:  Divorce — “You’ll Really Want to Divorce Yourself from These Proceedings”
  • Module 6: Employment (interpreted) — “Misinterpreting the Best of Intentions”
  • Module 7: Corporate Representative — “Don’t Count Your Chickens, Brother”
  • Module 8: International Trade Commission (ITC) Patent — “To Be or Not to Be… On the Record”
  • Module 9: Business Litigation — “Patent Pending”
  • Module 10:  Heavy Medical —“What Becomes of the Broken-Hearted”

These 10 modules are extensive simulations of all elements of deposition reporting, from interfacing with the receptionist, meeting the parties, reporting the deposition, all the way through to getting client orders and packing up. Candidates will be exposed to all elements of court reporting in the deposition setting; such as when to arrive, swearing or affirming, where to sit, marking exhibits, going on and off the record, redactions, stipulations, exhibit custody, arguing attorneys, mumbling witnesses, drafts, awkward situations, and so much more.

Why is this program such a great value to our profession? As the employment model for freelance reporters has shifted away from local firms with in-house reporters to a more decentralized, nationwide model, the access to one-on-one mentoring by a peer at the next desk has almost vanished. The Career Launcher team’s goal was to create a master class on all the everyday on-the-job elements of depositions, the things they can’t teach you in school.

According to Career Launcher team member Mike Miller, FAPR, RDR, CRR, a freelance court reporter and agency owner from Houston, Texas, “As we have interacted with court reporting students during the creation of this program, it has become obvious that this program is long overdue. Many high-speed students and new professionals are completing their educational pursuits without ever dealing with multiple speakers, objections, or colloquy, not to mention never encountering the myriad things that can go wrong on any given day during a deposition.  This program exposes them to all these things and more.”

There are two major focuses of this program: Overall deposition processes and transcript preparation. Many school curricula require internship hours for graduation, but is 40 hours, the equivalent of five to six depositions, enough time to expose a new reporter to the intricacies with which freelance reporters deal on a daily basis? A reporter may be on the job for five years and never have an interpreted deposition. This program is deposition espresso, distilling decades of on-the-job experiences into short, easy-to-consume mock depos that will give new professionals the jolt their careers need.

The second element is transcript preparation. Some court reporting students aren’t exposed to much more than speedbuilding, with some graduating with no more than a rudimentary foundation in transcript preparation or start working before completing a program.

Career Launcher team member Kevin Hunt shared with student beta testers: “You may be the purest writer in the world, you may know every trick possible in your CAT software, but what really determines your reputation as a reporter is your ability to produce an accurate, verbatim, high-quality transcript.”

The Career Launcher team knew that real, in-the-trenches court reporting students would be the ultimate arbiter of the quality of this program, so they reached out to some high-speed students to beta test all the modules. Here’s what some of them had to say:

Brad: What I really liked was … just going through the day‑to‑day routine things that we might not think of, from talking to the receptionist to having people sit where you can hear best. It was stuff like that that I really liked because that’s stuff we’re going to encounter … you showed from the time you arrived at the lawyer’s office to the time you left until the time the deposition was over, so I thought that was super important and helpful. 

Michaela: I really enjoyed doing these. The videos were just beautifully made. Right from the beginning I was like, ‘Wow, she wasn’t kidding.’ You guys did an awesome job! Getting that experience now, I know what to expect. It’s just a beautiful program that you guys created, and it’s going to help so many reporters be ready for the field.

Erica: The videos were so professional. The audio was clear. You could tell what was happening. It even paused to let you start and end. The reporter at the end would give you tips and tricks and explain the video. All the resources, just so much information in there. It was so easy to do.

Be a mentor

The Career Launcher program needs seasoned reporters who have spent their careers in the freelance world to share that knowledge with those who are soon to take our profession into a strong future. As candidates complete modules, they will submit their transcripts to a pool of reviewers who, with the help of the master reviewer key, will review the transcripts with an eye toward critical errors. The Career Launcher program has used the NCRA standard guidelines as its model for transcript production, but students will use the formats, parentheticals, and layouts that they have learned all over the country and throughout the world. Reviewers will be evaluating these transcripts with the idea that if it’s not wrong, then it’s right. The transcript may not look like the formatting used in Pennsylvania or Texas, but the focus for this program, among other things, will be on whether the objections are in colloquy and are all the parties on the appearance page.

The candidate will receive either a “pass” or a “pending” status from the reviewer. If the reviewer believes critical errors would need to be addressed before that transcript could go out the door to a client, then the reviewer will mentor the candidate on those items. The candidate will then correct those elements necessary to show mastery of the concepts and then will receive a “pass.” Once a candidate completes all 10 modules, they will be able to call themselves Career Launcher Certified to prospective employers in the industry.

Not only can new professionals choose to complete the program on their own, but court reporting educators are augmenting their deposition procedures courses by incorporating Career Launcher into their curriculum. Court reporting agencies are already embracing the program with plans to implement this as their in-house training tool before sending new hires out on their first deposition.

We are so excited to see this program launching careers into the universe in the coming year.   You do not want to miss your opportunity to be at Mission Control for the Career Launcher team webinar showcasing this new program. Watch for details about this webinar and information about registration coming soon! 

Debbie Dibble, RDR, CRR, CRC, is a freelance court reporter and captioner based in Salt Lake City, Utah, as well as NCRA’s President Elect. She can be reached at ddib06@gmail.com.

Milton H. Wright Memorial Scholarship opens to receive student applications

Rising student court reporters need not only spend time practicing faithfully, but they need to spend time researching scholarship opportunities to achieve their career dreams. For the second consecutive year, the National Court Reporters Foundation proudly announces its partnership with Stenograph, a provider of court reporting tools for more than 80 years. This Stenograph’s Milton H. Wright Memorial Scholarship honors the memory of Milton H. Wright, the company’s founder.

Valued at more than $5,000, this merit-based scholarship not only provides tuition payment but also includes the use of a student writer and software.

Candidates will be required to answer this essay question: What is one problem that you see facing the professions of court reporting and captioning today, and how would you propose to solve it through the use of technology?

All eligibility requirements, which must be followed carefully, are found here.

Notification of the MHW Memorial Scholarship is sent each November to all NCRA-approved court reporting programs. The deadline is Jan. 23, 2021, but please apply early.

Have questions? Email schools@ncra.org.

Remembering my dad through the Veterans History Project

Marjorie Peters, FAPR, RMR, CRR

By Marjorie Peters

I think it all starts with my father. My dad, Art Peters, was born in 1923 in a farm in rural Pennsylvania. His parents were a school teacher and a mechanic on the Bessemer railroad, but they also had a working vegetable farm and, of course, animals for food. His grandparents had dairy.

I grew up hearing stories about living through the Great Depression and that his family knew how incredibly lucky they were that they were not starving. Every day they gave food to hungry people from their vegetable farm stand and what they could from their own food stores. My dad’s family was not rich by any means, but my father came away with a core belief that he held through his entire life about sharing. I’m OK, but what about you, too?  I want you to be OK, too.

Of course, WWII happened, and my dad and two of his brothers enlisted; my dad, the youngest, going into the Army, and eventually to the European Theater, beginning in North Africa, through the Rhineland, liberating a concentration camp, to the Battle of the Bulge and then Nuremburg.  Dad told only very, very few “war stories,” but he did tell of his fellow Army and platoon brothers taking care of each other in the trenches: of the German farm people, one family brave enough to even allow his group to sleep in their barn. Very dangerous. That family even made a cabbage soup from what little they had and fed the American soldiers. He said it was the best thing they ever ate. Oh, if they had been caught!             

You can now imagine; this is where my special love of the NCRF Veterans History Project comes from.  I never had the opportunity to record dad’s war history. Some things were just too painful for him to remember.  But I have been involved in VHP projects. Please know that when you write a VHP, you are doing a tremendous service for that veteran and his family.  The acknowledgement that you bring by recording and producing their stories for the Library of Congress not only preserves forever vital, firsthand accounts of history for the world, you are honoring that veteran’s service. While for veterans like dad, sometimes the remembering was too much, history and the world should always remember.   The very best way to thank a vet is to honor their story.

Even after his beloved wife, our mother, passed away while we were young, again, my dad’s core holding of taking care of your fellow man remained. Yes, even then in addition to all eight of us!  Surely, he worked so hard, but never forgot about caring for humanity:  My dad believed in the American Dream; that hard work and fairness are what this country is about. And also, very much also, to help your friends, neighbors, and people you don’t even know. If you can offer yourself to create an opportunity, that is what this country is about. Dad had an American Dream. Let’s support each other’s American Dream, too.

Dad built a very successful home building company in Erie, Pa., where today Realtors still sell his homes as “A Peters and Connors House.” He himself, on nights and weekends (as if his business and eight kids didn’t keep him busy enough) built the library at our grade school and the seminary.  

Dad was always pretty quiet about it, but we would see someone in his office with him having a good, quiet talk, and later we’d learn about a new project. It was never a hand out – always a hand up. Dignify your fellow human. I’m OK, how about you, too?

I first became an NCRF Angel in 2006 not long after my dad passed away. At first, I thought it was “too big for me” to do.  But somewhere I heard my dad’s voice. “Let’s go, girl. Let’s get to work.”  I think I had a big, powerful angel at my back, right?   

Once I made the commitment to be an NCRF Angel, I have never looked back. Like dad, always ahead. Won’t you come, too?

I do not have a college degree, but I do have a valuable trade in court reporting that has offered me opportunities that this little girl from rural East Springfield, Pa., never imagined could happen. So, the National Court Reporters Foundation is not just about me, it’s about you, too. The Foundation offers scholarships and learning opportunities – the New Career Launcher is going to be so exciting – that I would ask you to join us by becoming an Angel? Our trade offers a career for someone that will bring freedom of choice and a chance at a better life.  

So, with our best Rosie the Riveter spirits, let’s get to work – let’s give a hand up, colleagues, to our students, new professionals and veterans!

Marjorie Peters, FAPR, RMR, CRR, is a freelancer and CART Captioner, Court in Alexandria, Va.

Support National Court Reporters Foundation’s #GivingTuesday campaign

By Jill Parker Landsman

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

Each year, the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving is #GivingTuesday, the biggest giving day for nonprofits worldwide, and this year, you can support the National Court Reporters Foundation through its 2020 #GivingTuesday campaign on Dec. 1.

As court reporters ready for their 2020 holiday season, we know many will reflect how each of us makes an impact in this world. Think about which nonprofits matter most to you. For many NCRA members, NCRF is the perfect ­match to “give back.”

“It is extremely gratifying to be giving back, for the continued success of our profession, to the philanthropic programs that NCRF sponsors,” said Debi Cheyne, a captioner from Sherwood, Ore., and a 2020 member of the Foundation’s Angel Gatherers Committee.

 Her Angel Gatherers committee colleagues share her sentiment:

Denise Paternoster, RPR (Ret.), Spring Hill, Fla., especially loves the Foundation’s Veteran’s Oral History Program

Isaiah Roberts, RPR, of Magnolia, Ill., knows firsthand the challenges of young court reporters but is happy to give a helping hand to other young reporters.

Melanie Humphrey Sonntag, FAPR, RDR, DRR, CRC, of Greely, Colo., knows that the Foundation perpetuates our professions, scholarships, and the new Career Launcher education program.

Rich Germosen, RDR, CRR, of North Brunswick, N.J., loves the fact that the Foundation offers the Veterans History Project, which preserves veterans’ stories.

Sandy Narup, RPR, of Orlando, Fla., appreciates the court reporting profession so much that donating to the Foundation is how she has chosen to give back.

Sharon Velazco, RPR, of Miami, Fla., loves to help to give new reporters the same opportunities that she had. Foundation scholarships do that, she said.

The #GivingTuesday fundraising effort is organized at this time each year with the aim of encouraging individuals, families, schools, businesses, and others to give to those who need some help and reinforcement. NCRF provides several scholarships, supports the Library of Congress Veterans History Project, and most recently funded NCRA’s Mental Health Webinars during the Association’s first Mental Health Awareness week held in October, as well as Career Launcher, a new mentor program scheduled to be released in the near future.

New NCRF initiatives emerge all the time, and members’ support will help sustain ongoing and new outreach programs. Please support NCRF programs by donating to its #GivingTuesday campaign. No donation is too small. Donate here. Thank you.

Eight NCRF Foundation fast facts

  1. Your Angel Donor status is updated online. Please check the information we have posted about your years as a Foundation supporter. We will make all corrections ASAP. Please email jlandsman@ncra.org with your changes.
  2. Meet our NCRF Board of Trustees.
  3. Check out our Foundation programs.
  4. Foundation scholarships: 2020 New Student Scholarship applications are now being accepted.
  5. Donating is simple and appreciated. Keep Tuesday Dec. 1 in mind. That is #GivingTuesday, and NCRF will host a major fundraiser online. Giving Tuesday is a global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world. You may text to 41444 the keyword guardians for our NCRF 2020 #GivingTuesday campaign or click the link below.
  6. NCRF Bylaws
  7. On Oct. 2, NCRF Executive Director Dave Wenhold selected the Stenograph Luminex II winner. Three-raffle ticket donor and NCRA member Mary Jo Legg, RMR, of Hollywood, Md, was the lucky winner.
  8. Questions? Email Jill Parker Landsman, NCRF Manager at jlandsman@ncra.org or call 202-262-7878.

Mental health awareness webinars draw high interest among members

Response to the free webinars held last week to mark NCRA’s Mental Health Awareness Week drew high interest from members. A total of six live webinars led by mental health experts aired throughout the week observed Oct. 5-9. They were offered to help members invest in their own mental health by learning more about how to take care of themselves. The discussions ranged from the ramifications of working in the legal industry to strategies to create more resilience in everyday life with better self-care.

“I want to thank everyone who attended the webinars held to mark NCRA’s Mental Health Awareness Week,” said NCRA President Christine Phipps, RPR, a firm owner from North Beach, Fla. “I hope you found them valuable and were able to collect some helpful insights and potential tools to encourage and maintain strong mental health for yourself and for those important to you in your life. Please stay strong during these stressful times and remember that each of you are part of the NCRA family. Together we are stronger,” she added.

Although no CEUs were offered for these sessions, the National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF), which sponsored the sessions, felt that the important topics addressed should be made available to all NCRA members and arranged to have each of them recorded for future viewing. NCRA members can access the webinars on the Association’s Mental Health Resources page.

The sessions included:

An Honest Discussion on Mental Health Issues in the Legal Field from
All Stakeholders,
which was an open town hall discussion conducted by
Dori Foster-Morales, Esq.; NCRA President Christine Phipps, RPR; and the Hon. Beatrice Butchko of how our jobs in the legal field affect our mental health and how we can protect ourselves. The discussion confronted some of the myths and fears about mental health and provided insight and understanding into how we can help ourselves and others when it comes to mental health issues.

Back to Basics: Mental Health Essentials during the Pandemic, which
was led by Raymond J. Kotwicki, MD, MPH, DFAPA, the Charles B. West chief medical officer at Skyland Trail, a nationally acclaimed treatment organization for adults with mental illnesses based in Atlanta, Ga., and a nationally recognized speaker on issues in psychiatry, mental health, professionalism, and wellness. The session focused on the psychological impacts the COVID-19 pandemic has had on all of us, from social isolation to increased sleep disturbances and chronic worry and anxiety. Kotwicki also talked about how to differentiate when feelings are “normal” during such unprecedented times and when they suggest more serious problems, and more.

Balance and Self-Care in a World of COVID-19, Deadlines, and Virtuality, which was led by Vicki Akenhead Ruiz, FAPR, RPR, CMRS (Ret.), a former court reporter and a past NCRA president. Ruiz talked about approaches to dealing with the stress coming from working in the courtroom and how stress affects reporters. In addition, she shared tips for dealing with loss and how to strengthen your overall mental health.

Self-Care: Managing Life with School, Family, Work – and a Pandemic,
which was led by Dr. Sherry Cooper, LMFT, who addressed how to balance the responsibilities of being a student and taking care of yourself. Dr. Cooper also introduced the topic of self-care, its importance to your overall well-being, ways to engage in self-care, and the repercussions of neglecting self-care.

Practicing Mindfulness, which was led by Debi Galler, the general counsel of Green Street Power Partners, a developer, owner, and operator of solar projects throughout the United States based in Connecticut and a mindfulness practitioner and trainer. Galler explained how mindfulness can play a meaningful role in the lives of legal professionals and how mindfulness can change the structure and function of the brain in the areas of attention, emotional regulation, and memory. 

Self-Care 101, which was led by Aigner Fells, MS, a psychotherapist who provides therapy for individuals, couples, groups, and families and takes a holistic approach to bring awareness to her clients and helps them work to develop strategies and reach desired goals. She discussed the issue of burnout syndrome and how self-care can set the stage to counter burnout, which, in turn, releases physical and emotional toxins. Throughout the webinar, participants learned about the effects of burnout syndrome and how to be better equipped with tools and strategies for implementing self-care as part of their daily routine.

NCRF Luminex II drawing, provided by Stenograph, hits raffle donation record

Mary Jo Legg, RMR

NCRA member Mary Jo Legg, RMR, of Hollywood, Md., an NCRA member for 40 years, was the lucky winner of this year’s NCRF Luminex II writer fundraiser. Her name was drawn by NCRA and NCRF Executive Director Dave Wenhold, CAE, PLC, on Oct. 2 on Facebook.

The Luminex II writer was donated by Stenograph, which has donated a new machine for a fundraiser raffle for the past several years to support the National Court Reporters Foundation.

This year’s raffle began on Aug. 7 and spanned eight weeks since NCRA’s live conference was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and replaced with the NCRA Connect Virtual 2020 event. Donors used NCRF’s Mobile Cause donation platform to buy one, three, or six raffle tickets.  

“Everyone at the Foundation, including the NCRF Trustees and our supporters, are grateful to Stenograph for the chance to raise $11,460 to advance our mission and outreach,” said NCRF Chair Cathy Phillips, FAPR, RMR, CMRS, an official court reporter from Collierville, Tenn. “We see how valued the Luminex II is since we had continuous raffle donations from the start of our NCRA Connect virtual conference up to the morning of Oct. 2, the day of the drawing. Thank you, Stenograph, for your generous donation and to everyone who bought a raffle ticket for your support of NCRF and its programs.”

Legg said she learned about her good fortune by checking her Facebook page.

“Wow! Although I’ve entered this drawing every year that it’s been held, I never expected to win,” she said. “I had completely forgotten about the drawing. When it popped up on my Facebook newsfeed, I figured I hadn’t won because the drawing occurred two hours prior, but I decided to watch it to see if I knew the person. I had to listen three times to Dave Wenhold announce my name before it began to sink in. So excited to try the Luminex that everybody raves about! Thank you so much!”

To learn more about NCRF and its programs or to donate, visit NCRA.org, or contact Jill Parker Landsman, NCRF Manager at jlandsman@ncra.org.

It’s not too late to invest in yourself with free webinars

There’s still time to register to catch the last four in a series of live webinars happening as part of NCRA’s Mental Health Awareness Week being observed Oct. 5-9. These webinars are filling up fast and are designed to help members learn more about how to take care of themselves through a series of free sessions that range from a discussion of the ramifications of working in the legal industry to strategies to create more resilience in your everyday life with better self-care.

Although no CEUs are being offered for these sessions, the National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF), which is sponsoring these sessions, feels that these are important topics that should be made available to all NCRA members. All webinars are being offered on Zoom and will take place in Eastern time. All of the webinars are being recorded and will be made available for later viewing by members on the NCRA Mental Health Resources page.

Remaining sessions that will be offered live this week include:

Balance and Self-Care in a World of COVID-19, Deadlines, and Virtuality taking place Oct. 7 at 3 p.m., Eastern time is being led by Vicki Akenhead Ruiz, FAPR, RPR, CMRS (Ret.), a former court reporter and a past NCRA president. Ruiz will talk about approaches to dealing with the stress coming from working in the courtroom and how stress affects reporters. In addition, she will share tips for dealing with loss and how to strengthen your overall mental health.

*Special for students*

Self-Care: Managing Life with School, Family, Work – and a Pandemic, is being offered Oct. 7 at 7 p.m. Eastern time. The session is being led by Dr. Sherry Cooper, LMFT, who will address how to balance the responsibilities of being a student and taking care of yourself. Dr. Cooper will also introduce the topic of self-care, its importance to your overall well-being, ways to engage in self-care, and the repercussions of neglecting self-care.

Practicing Mindfulness is being presented on Oct. 8 at 1 p.m. Eastern time. This session is being led by Debi Galler, the general counsel of Green Street Power Partners, a developer, owner, and operator of solar projects throughout the United States based in Connecticut and a mindfulness practitioner and trainer. Galler will explain how mindfulness can play a meaningful role in the lives of legal professionals and how mindfulness can change the structure and function of the brain in the areas of attention, emotional regulation, and memory. Galler will also teach participants exercises that can help them reduce stress and work effectively in emotionally charged and challenging situations.

Self-Care 101, is taking place on Oct. 9 at 12 noon Eastern time. Aigner Fells, MS, is a psychotherapist who provides therapy for individuals, couples, groups, and families and takes a holistic approach to bring awareness to her clients and help them work to develop strategies and reach desired goals. She will discuss the issue of burnout syndrome and how self-care can set the stage to counter burnout, which, in turn, releases physical and emotional toxins. Throughout the webinar, participants will learn about the effects of burnout syndrome and how to be better equipped with tools and strategies for implementing self-care as part of their daily routine.

Previous webinars that will be available for viewing by members are located on the NCRA Mental Health Awareness page and include:

An Honest Discussion on Mental Health Issues in the Legal Field from All Stakeholders, which was an open town hall discussion conducted by Dori Foster-Morales, Esq.; NCRA President Christine Phipps, RPR; and the Hon. Beatrice Butchko of how our jobs in the legal field affect our mental health and how we can protect ourselves. The discussion also confronts some of the myths and fears about mental health and will provide insight and understanding into how we can help ourselves and others when it comes to mental health issues.

Back to Basics: Mental Health Essentials during the Pandemic, which was led by Raymond J. Kotwicki, MD, MPH, DFAPA, the Charles B. West chief medical officer at Skyland Trail, a nationally acclaimed treatment organization for adults with mental illnesses based in Atlanta, Ga., and a nationally recognized speaker on issues in psychiatry, mental health, professionalism, and wellness. The session focuses on the psychological impacts the COVID-19 pandemic has had on all of us, from social isolation to increased sleep disturbances and chronic worry and anxiety. Kotwicki also talks about how to differentiate when feelings are “normal” during such unprecedented times and when they suggest more serious problems, and more.

Getting some help with mental health

Survey results from the JCR Weekly

What are you doing to make time for yourself and provide self-care?

4.5% — I meditate.

24.2% — I try to eat healthfully.

40.6% — I exercise regularly.

10.7% — I make sure I take a lunch break.

20.1% — Chocolate!

Providing self-care right now is more important than ever, and NCRA members are finding different ways to make it happen.

Christina Diaz, RMR, CRR, CRC, a freelance reporter from Lindenhurst, N.Y., is practicing mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR).

“I started a daily practice of MBSR, and although there are many variations, what has been extremely helpful for me is simply sitting quietly for about 10-12 minutes each day,” Diaz said. “During this quiet time, I direct my attention to a simple short phrase, repeating it over and over again. If my mind wanders, which it inevitably and constantly does, I simply begin again. Following my quiet time, I write in a notebook everything that comes to mind, whether or not I think it makes sense, just let it flow, without editing, without judgment. I just clear out all the extra chatter that floats around.”

Diaz said that within the first couple weeks she felt more clear-headed and balanced, and she has even noticed it has benefited her work.

“I was less reactive, and I felt like I was better handling the daily stress and the uncertainties of life,” Diaz said. “What a welcomed gift!”

Read her story here.

For NCRA Mental Health Awareness Week, being held Oct. 5-9, members can learn more about how to take care of themselves through a series of free sessions that range from a discussion of the ramifications of working in the legal industry to strategies to create more resilience in your everyday life with better self-care.

Registration is open now for these free, members-only webinars.

  • Oct. 5 An Honest Discussion on Mental Health Issues in the Legal Field from All Stakeholders
  • Oct. 6 Back to Basics: Mental Health Essentials during the Pandemic
  • Oct. 7 Balance and Self-Care in a World of COVID-19, Deadlines, and Virtuality  
  • Oct. 7 (special for students) Self-Care: Managing Life with School, Family, Work – and a Pandemic 
  • Oct. 8 Practicing Mindfulness
  • Oct. 9 Self-Care 101

Some members shared on NCRA’s social media how they are making time for themselves and providing self-care:

Trying to exercise minimum 30 minutes per day. Going to bed earlier … although that means I am getting up even earlier.

Rich Germosen, RDR, CRR, a freelancer in North Brunswick, N.J.


Stepping away from editing to go for a walk, using a meditation app, reading about an inspirational person every day. That’s how I try to stay positive.

Jessica Shines, a student in Chicago, Ill.


This is so timely! I just wrote a little something about how I combat Zoom gloom.

Lynette Mueller, FAPR, RDR, CRR, a freelancer in Memphis, Tenn.


I am taking care of myself by working out, meditating, and eating as healthy as I can when I can. It’s super hard to do that with juggling all of these jobs as a mom, court reporter, biz owner, and fiancée.

Denee Vadell, an official in Edison, N.J.


Not only do I love my job as a CART captioner, but my other love is yoga. I’m a certified yoga instructor just about to complete 500 hours of training. I have a regular yoga and meditation practice every morning to help me seize the day. And I leave my mat out all day to remind myself to take breaks in between classes and meetings to stretch or to just breathe.

Anna Castle, RPR, a CART captioner in Mokena, Ill.


I’m volunteering my services for affinity groups and social activism that I believe in, which helps me feel more connected and part of my communities. Part of my mental health is transgender advocacy and language justice work, outside of the standard university and museum and conference spaces of CART — even as I enjoy those, too. By distributing my time across the work that earns money, the work that feels socially generative, and my close nourishing relationships, I feel more productive, balanced, and rejuvenated than when I worked less overall.

Cory Dostie, a CART captioner in Albany, Calif.

Finding Uncle Earl

A Veterans History Project to honor one of our American heroes

By Early Langley

One month, almost to the day, before the Marines of the Fifth Division hoisted the American flag atop Mount Surlbachi over Iwo Jima, my Uncle Earl Zimpfer was killed in combat by a sniper on Luzon on January 22, 1945. Victory escaped him and it was not until four years later that the message of his remains reached my grandparents. 

I never met him. The only living relative who knew him is my Aunt Ethelyn, who lives in Ohio.  She is now 99 years old and not able to speak well.

The quest to find Uncle Earl came to light after being on the Board of Trustees of the National Court Reporters Foundation. Having been assured that the honor of his memory would best be preserved under strict temperature and storage controls at the Library of Congress, I agreed to submit all original documents. It was not easy.

However, when I found out that the paper on which Uncle Earl wrote to my Grandmother Margaret Zimpfer was so thin that the ink bleeds through, I thought it best to scan everything, make a book, and ship it to the Library.  

I hope that you’re as inspired as I am to be part of this honored project.

Early Langley, RMR, RSA, is a freelance court reporter from Danville, Calif.