CIVC Partners’ Investment in Magna Legal Services

The North American Legal Chronicle reported on Jan. 12 that CIVC Partners, a Chicago-based middle-market private equity firm, announced that it has invested in Magna Legal Services.

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15 minutes a day for Michelle

By Rich Germosen

A few weeks after the NCRA Convention & Expo in San Francisco, in September 2014, I started a practice page on Facebook. My goal was to get more consistent with my steno practice. I would always practice, but then life would get in the way and I might not practice for a week or so. I wanted consistency and accountability. So I started the 100-day-challenge practice page on Facebook where you would report your practice once per day in a post. Members would encourage each other to keep their streaks going.

When I first started, I posted both my exercise and my steno to the 100-day exercise page I was already part of. Anne Vosburgh, a reporter friend who was in the practice group, suggested I make a 100-day page for just steno. She told me: Make the page and they will come. After a year or so, I made the group secret and put in the rules that you will be removed if you’re not participating. We’re now a relatively small group of anywhere between 130 to 140 members.

I felt if I had a page to post my practice to, that it would keep me going so that I would not skip any days of practice. It is so easy to not practice. But, today, it feels strange not practicing. If I have a job at 9 a.m. in New York City, I set my alarm for 3:59 to get my 15 minutes in before catching the train. The rules for the group are simple, or I think they are at least: Practice 15 minutes per day for 100 straight days without missing a day and post your practice once per day; for instance, “Day 1/100: 15 minutes of Q&A at 250,” or whatever it was. If you stop practicing, you are gently removed from the page.

I keep track of everyone’s milestones, and everyone encourages everyone else. We have a handful of students on there, but the majority of the people in the group are working reporters who want to improve. Personally, I feel I’ve improved a lot. Since starting the page, I’ve received three medals total, my first at the Deposition Reporters Association’s contest in 2017, third place in the 190 wpm Q&A; second place in the Q&A Realtime Contest in Las Vegas at NCRA’s 2017 Convention & Expo; and third place in the Q&A Speed Contest at NCRA’s 2018 Convention & Expo in New Orleans. Likewise, just about everyone who is on the page has mentioned that they see the improvement when they practice, as well as a decline if they take time out from practice.

Michelle Grimes and the 100-day-challenge group

In 2016, one of the members of the group, Michelle Grimes from Chicago, shared with us that she had cancer. Michelle felt safe in sharing with us that she was going through treatments. Through all of this, Michelle somehow kept practicing. It was very inspiring. She completed three 100-day challenges in total. While Michelle was going through treatments, another one of the group’s members, Allison “Allie” Hall, RMR, CRR, started something new by posting an extra 15 minutes for Michelle. It inspired several other people to post “15 minutes for Michelle” in addition to their regular 15 minutes. This means people were putting in a total of 30 minutes per day: 15 regular minutes and 15 for Michelle. We had a lot of members doing the extra 15 minutes for Michelle.

On May 11, 2017, Michelle passed away. She practiced right up until a week or so of passing. The thought on the page was if Michelle could practice through all this, we should practice consistently. Going from 15 minutes to 30 minutes was extremely challenging, especially on days where I’ve been on the record for 7 hours. I find I have to get my practice done before leaving for my 6 a.m. train. It doesn’t sound like a lot more, but 30 minutes is a lot more to do for 100 consecutive days.

I started a countdown of 100 days before the NCRA Speed Contest as a Michelle Challenge. We started on April 24, 2018. The 100th day was August 1, 2018, the day of the Speed Contest in New Orleans.

Nine members participated in the Speed Contest Michelle Challenge. She has left quite a legacy: She inspired us all to never stop improving and to keep practicing. I dedicated both of my NCRA medals — one in 2017 and one this past Convention in NOLA — to Michelle Grimes. She inspired me to practice more and always to improve and get better. Ron Cook, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, received a medal in NOLA and also did the Michelle Challenge prior to Convention, as well as Traci Mertens, RDR, CRR, CRC. We had a lot of qualifiers, including Allie Hall and Melanie Humphrey-Sonntag, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC.

I am confident, if it were not for Michelle Grimes and our special challenge to honor her, I would not have gone ahead and done 30 minutes per day for 100 days. I would have had good intentions, but deep down inside, I know it was all Michelle pushing us all to be better writers. I encourage you to start your own practice group and make it a goal to improve a little bit each day.

Rich Germosen, RMR, CRR, is a freelance court reporter and agency owner from North Brunswick, N.J. He also holds the Realtime Systems Administrator certificate.

Court reporters see stenographer shortage ahead: ‘People think this is an archaic profession … it’s not’

NCRA member Mae Fisher, RMR, CRR, a freelance court reporter from Orlando, Fla., was profiled in an article about the court reporting profession posted by the Orlando Sentinel on Jan. 11.

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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.

Local television news station commended for providing captions during tornado

The State Journal Register, Springfield, Ill., posted an opinion piece on Jan. 4 that commends Channel 20 TV news for providing captioning services during the recent tornado crisis that hit its viewing area.

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Nominations for NCRA Board of Directors sought

Serving on the NCRA Board of Directors is an excellent opportunity to use your leadership skills to help advance the premier organization that continues to empower the court reporting and captioning professions. As a Director, you will serve with others as fiduciaries to steer the organization towards a sustainable future by adopting sound, ethical, and legal governance and financial management policies as well as by making sure NCRA has adequate resources to advance its mission.

Declare your candidacy or submit recommendations to boardnominations@ncra.org by Jan. 18, 2019. As a courtesy, please contact your candidate directly prior to submitting his or her name.

A Web-based, no-obligation orientation will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 9, for anyone interested in seeking future Board service. This briefing will help you gain a better understanding of the process and expectations of serving on the Board. To sign-up for the Webinar, please click here.

NCRA member shares technology finds from Consumer Electronics Show on NCRA’s Instagram

NCRA Technology Committee member Kelli Ann Willis, RPR, CRR, has taken over the NCRA Instagram account, @ncraofficial, this week from the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nev. We talked to her about what she is planning.

JCR Weekly | Tell us about yourself.

KAW | I am an international realtime court reporter. I have been reporting since 1983 and realtiming since 1994. I have been a techie since my teens.

JCR Weekly | What interests you about the CES?

KAW | CES is the Super Bowl of the tech world!  It is the place where all new technology is showcased. I have been watching reports from the CES floor for years!

JCR Weekly| What are you hoping to find?

KAW | I cannot wait to see the new TVs, computers, and anything else that catches my eye! I am going to be on the search for anything techie that can help court reporters.

JCR Weekly | What new technology do you think will be interesting to NCRA members?

KAW | Computers, cell phones, and AI will be a focus.

Be sure to follow us on Instagram at @ncraofficial to see what Willis finds.

Letter from the President: Moving forward in 2019

By Sue Terry

It’s a great new day at NCRA! I want to communicate with you some recent changes in the leadership of your organization.

As previously announced via social media and email to you, our members, I’m pleased to announce the return of Dave Wenhold, CAE, as NCRA’s Interim CEO & Executive Director and lobbyist. Jeffrey Altman of Whiteford, Taylor & Preston has also returned to serve as NCRA general counsel. Both bring forward-looking vision and vast institutional knowledge, as well as a historical background of the culture of our Association that can serve us all as we bring our membership into the future.

I’m also pleased to announce the four new Board members who stepped up at a moment’s notice to fill the recently vacated Board positions: Jason Meadors, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC, of Fort Collins, Colo.; Sarah Nageotte, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, of Jefferson, Ohio; Brooke Ryan, RPR, of Sacramento, Calif.; and Heidi Thomas, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, of Acworth, Ga. They represent teamwork and diversity of opinion with unwavering respect for the principle that they are endlessly committed to the mission of NCRA and protection of our profession.

NCRA is grateful for your continued loyalty and support and understands that membership is a choice we all make. I’ve been honored to be able to represent your interests and will always have you, the member, in mind when decisions are made that affect your future and the health of the profession. All the best for 2019!

Epiq Acquires Garretson Resolution Group

Legal services provider Epiq, based in Atlanta, Ga., announced in a press release issued Jan. 7 that the firm has acquired Garretson Resolution Group, a service provider of mass tort, class action, and other high-volume legal dispute resolutions services to law firms and other parties.

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Applications open for VCRA scholarship

The Virginia Court Reporters Association (VCRA) will be holding its Education Day this year on March 23 in Richmond, Va., where it will award a scholarship of up to $1,000 to a student who has passed at least one of their court reporting program’s tests of a minimum of 160 words per minute.

Applicants can be from any state and be enrolled in a court reporting program that is either online or brick and mortar. Eligible students must also submit an essay and possibly be interviewed via telephone by a member of VCRA’s Education Fund Committee. The deadline to apply has been extended to Jan. 31.

The scholarship is being funded by the Carolyn M. O’Connor Education Fund, which celebrates the life of Carolyn Morris O’Connor. The fund was set up to honor O’Connor’s memory and the great contributions she made to the field of court reporting.

For more information, contact VCRA at VCRAexecutivedirector@gmail.com. Interested students can also download an application here.