NCRA President responds to ABA article on AI in courts

Christine Phipps, RPR

An Oct. 1 article in the ABA Journal asked if the coronavirus pandemic will cause a major shift in how courts handle keeping a record of proceedings. NCRA President Christine Phipps, RPR, responded by sharing the many reasons that court reporters continue to be the gold standard.

The following is her response:

We appreciate your insights into how the current pandemic has caused so many shifts in the way the judicial system is having to function in today’s mostly remote environment that were noted in the article in the ABA Journal dated Oct. 1  and entitled, “Will court reporting undergo a pandemic shift?”

On behalf of the more than 13,000 members of the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA), the country’s leading organization representing stenographic court reporters, captioners, and legal videographers, I would like to take this opportunity to share further with you and your readers why using a human court reporter versus any artificial intelligence (AI) system is vital to not only ensuring that an accurate record is made but also ensuring that participants in any legal proceeding have access to that accurate record.

We should not underestimate the role of the court reporter in an era when we are increasingly dependent on technology. Stenographic court reporters remain the gold standard for capturing the spoken word. It’s not just that they produce the most accurate legal records, including capturing certain interpersonal nuances that digital recordings might miss. Nor is it simply because they are trained to handle complex procedures associated with trials and depositions. Court reporters are indispensable to the legal system because they offer 21st–Century solutions to unyielding situations that demand speed without sacrificing accuracy. Rather than relics of a bygone era, they provide high-tech solutions to our increasingly virtual society.

Today’s court reporters process their shorthand through computers to provide judges, attorneys, and clients with instantaneous, understandable transcripts. No AI technology can come close. Traditionally, stenography is expanded into a readable transcript following the day’s events. But realtime uses computer software that now instantaneously translates shorthand into understandable English. The text then scrolls across the laptop or tablet, much like captioning on a television.

Your article suggests that the use of remote video platforms and AI technology in the courtroom have emerged as two solutions to address both the shortage of court reporters and the need for social distancing. I agree that remote video platforms address the solution for social distancing, and in most instances during the pandemic, the stenographic court reporter working remotely through the use of these video platforms has been the only solution for the administration of justice. This is especially true since courthouses that installed audio recording systems rendered themselves inoperable during the pandemic with no staff able to operate the equipment located at the courthouse. 

Remote video platforms also have been a solution for stenographic court reporter coverage for proceedings in remote areas with a generally low-density resident population to begin with, such as the Florida Keys. The forced pivot of the entire judicial system to remote video platforms, a system otherwise traditionally behind the curve in the advancement of technology, will allow for a much needed broader acceptance for all of us to work remotely, including but not limited to the stenographic court reporter. 

AI lacks the cognitive human element and cannot replace the highly honed skills of a live court reporter to provide an accurate record. AI, in the instance of automatic speech recognition (ASR), is cloud-based and works as follows: The ASR function takes an audio recording of, for example, a deposition that is confidential unless and until filed with the court and feeds that recording into a cloud database, sometimes located outside the confines of U.S. law. The audio is then taken and fed through software trying to distinguish what is said.

It is imperative to understand that many times in the courtroom peoples’ lives are on the line, that every single word matters, and that is the ethical responsibility that guides stenographers in every single proceeding. Stenographers are far more experienced and capable than ASR in making the record, with overlapping speakers, coughs, and noises that obscure spoken words, mumbling, thick accents, and voices that sound alike, which the stenographer better identifies by being present, than ASR can. Only a human being, charged with care of the record, is capable of instantly determining unintelligible speech and pausing the proceedings for clarification. Only court reporters can provide a realtime display of the transcript that has the added value of being able to resolve potential misunderstandings in real time. 

When using audio recording and then using ASR to transcribe or some other transcriptionist, there is an inherent issue with certifying the record. A stenographer includes a certificate page with every transcript, certifying that the transcript is a true record of their stenographic notes. There are many examples of depositions that have been thrown out of legal proceedings because they were not transcribed by the person present in the room who pushed the record button and monitored the proceedings. 

Even in courts that have been forced to implement other methods of recordkeeping, court reporters nearly always remain in place for complex civil litigation and felony criminal proceedings, because they are the most reliable in high-stakes situations. Likewise, in the deposition setting, outside of the courts, where true market demand is at play, court reporters remain the overwhelming choice for attorneys because they know there is no substitute for what we do.

We support the goal of improvement within the legal system to protect the rights of those in the system. Court reporters are the last line of defense for the public against process abuse. The trial is only as good as the record of trial. Our absolute devotion to impartiality and accuracy is designed to ensure a reliable record for readers one day or one hundred years later.

Protection of the measured and faithful administration of justice is the basis for court reporters’ very presence in the judicial process. Our system of jurisprudence demands that justice be blind, but justice cannot be deaf. We offer our support and expertise for opportunities that help to ensure that words spoken on the record are accurately preserved.

As a further note, the stenographic writer depicted in the photo is more than 50 years old.  Stenographic machines, like cars and technology in general, are far more computerized and advanced than their 50-year-old ancestors. Please reach out to NCRA in the future for photos for your articles that depict our current state-of-the-art technology.

Again, on behalf of the more than 13,000 members of NCRA, I want to thank you for this opportunity to speak with you as to why court reporters cannot and should not be replaced by AI systems when it comes to capturing an accurate record. I would be happy to speak with you more about this issue and hope you will reach out, and at a minimum to fact-check articles having to do with the court reporting profession, as NCRA is the association that has represented court reporters for the last 121 years.

Sincerely,

Christine Phipps, RPR

NCRA President

NCRA President Christine Phipps’ speech

Christine Phipps

Disappointed as I am not to see your faces or hear your voices, I am delighted to share with you what is one of the most important days of my life.  Today is like my birthday, the 4th of July, and Thanksgiving all rolled into one … a day to celebrate and be thankful … because we are united in purpose, committed to each other, and faithful to our profession.

Up front, I must admit that I had professional help in producing this video, which is why you might be thinking I look even better on your screen than in person!  But everyone is a Zoom expert these days, so I got a lot of advice from friends.  Some said put palm trees in the background and look leisurely. Others said stage a bookcase full of classic texts and look scholarly. One friend even emailed me a YouTube snippet with Five Video Tricks to Look Thinner . . . some friend!

Well, spoiler alert:  What you see is what you get! Defying the odds, I shaped my own life by focusing on what I can control and what I can change … and that’s the focus I bring to my role as your President.

I want to share just a little about me because my history is predictive of the future I envision for our organization. I promise, it’s a short story – although, in retrospect, it reads like a novel. Growing up in the ’70s, I was surrounded by violence, drugs, and alcohol abuse; sometimes I was even homeless. Yet the absence of parental guidance had the opposite effect of what you might suspect: Somehow, I knew that I could make my life whatever I chose. When I left home at 16, searching for opportunity, I focused on one goal: My family’s cycle of dysfunction would end with me.  And it did.

My mother had very limited choices, which made her a helpless victim of people who proved unreliable and untrustworthy. I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up, but I did know that I had to focus my energy and persistence on finding a career that wouldn’t just feed and house me, but would give me choices about how I live my life, and the ultimate dream would be to find a career I loved so I wouldn’t feel that monotony of going to work every day. My first career was in banking, which paid the bills, but the confines of corporate America were stifling – so I retired at age 25 to complete my degree in court reporting. 

As they say, the rest is history … the love of that little steno machine led me to ultimately launch my own company … one where I could build a true team and define my own corporate norms – like equality, fairness, ethics and transparency – and provide opportunities to others to achieve their dreams at the same time I achieved mine. The 175-people-strong dream team I recruited has responded to this pandemic with extraordinary kindness and personal sacrifice … sometimes cutting their own hours, even not working, so that others in need could get work. I have to give a shout out to my business partner, Richard Applebaum. Richard has been a mentor to me and by my side every step of the way.

This leads me to our very own “dream team,” the NCRA family, to which I owe such gratitude. Thanks to Dave Wenhold, who worked with us in development of the reorganization – I can’t imagine being President without him. Applause to our 2.0 board members, who bring stellar achievements and expertise to the table and can be counted on to weigh in respectfully, pro or con, on our policies and positions. Bravo to Kristin Anderson and Max Curry, my 2016  ”new guard” classmates who spoke up, challenged the status quo, and  stood by me through the disruption that led to the financial and organizational stability that NCRA enjoys today. Max has been a great role model, and it has been an honor and a privilege to serve alongside him with a shared vision for NCRA as President-Elect.

And a huge thank you goes to all my colleagues in the industry – my female warriors out there, who have supported me – because they recognize that we at NCRA are the catalysts. We are the change agents who can meet the challenges of our business … challenges like electronic recorder incursions, technology education – especially related to automated speech recognition and its many pitfalls – and, not the least, replenishing our ranks. I am confident that we can meet these challenges … but only if, together, we focus on what we can control and what we can change. 

We are not starting from scratch; our accomplishments in the last two years are impressive, and we’re moving forward rapidly. 

  • We have instituted a path of financial responsibility in the way we monitor, budget, and view spending … a path that will ensure the future health of NCRA.
  • We are focusing on our core values as a member-driven organization.  Our Strong Task Force has been unwavering in educating those who utilize our services, so that consumers can make informed decisions. Some of our consumers still do not recognize the pitfalls of audio technology, or the dangers when, without their consent, they are provided with electronic recording operators or are utilizing automatic speech recognition instead of stenographers. 

But we are getting the word out! We are actively monitoring and advocating to the FCC … and reaching out to Bar associations and court administrations in every state to make sure they understand the value we provide. In return, we are asking for their help as we work to replenish our ranks.

  • We are advocating for expansion, value, and recognition of certificationWe recently developed the new RSR as an entry-level certification; we are urging certification reciprocity; and we are developing a tool that will enhance the marketability of all NCRA members, especially those with certifications.
  • We are developing programs that address concerns that you have expressed about issues that affect you personally and professionallyissues such as pivoting technologically to remote litigation, handling stress on and off the job, keeping safe and well during this pandemic, and steadfastly confronting the issues of sexism and racism.
  • While market consolidation has ingratiated itself into our profession, we are working to provide opportunities to the thousands of independent practitioners and small businesses owned and operated by our members. 

There is no question, our profession is under attack … and we’re seizing the offensive. We must call out not only those who seek to divide us as a nation by the color of our skin, our ethnicity, by our gender, or by our sexuality – but those whose mission is to diminish us as NCRA members and stenographers. For too many years, those of us in this profession were faceless … invisible extras in courtrooms where only judges and attorneys were visible. For too many years, we were voiceless, the silent persons capturing essential testimony and arguments and breaking news,  just doing our jobs unnoticed.  

But times have changed and our time is now to stand up – from the corners of our courtrooms, deposition rooms, and captions – from behind the video camera and the CAT files – to tell our story and demand respect as the gold standard for capturing the spoken word and providing equal access to millions of people with hearing challenges. 

We must be the heroines and heroes of our own lives, and I have no doubt that we can be.  As Margaret Mead – one of my heroines – said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” 

Our freelancers, mom and pops, and small businesses are not just about creating profit, we are about creating communities. We pump vitality into our neighborhoods and ensure that the American dream is alive and well.  We are that thoughtful, committed small group of citizens that Margaret Mead talks about … and we are stronger together! This is why every stenographer must be a member of NCRA … to be counted among the ranks so we can arm you with information. In the history of corporate America, there has never been an expenditure of advertising funds that will top the public relations value of our united voices!  

We will succeed by focusing on what we can control and what we can change. But how? Here’s one way that I am very excited about, which will prove to be a major boost to our members as their businesses grow.

Here’s some breaking news: A concept is finally close to launch that I developed in 2016 for repurposing our online member search tool to create unprecedented member value. We have transformed it from an outdated system into a sophisticated user-friendly digital platform. I believe this can become a tool more powerful than Google for matching our members to jobs in real time.

There’s much more information to come, but here’s the idea: 

There will be a multi-layered, easy-to-use-and-visualize mapping system that lets member firms register for a listing with the capacity to handle multiple locations. This map will enable focus on just firms, freelancers, captioners, officials, videographers, schools, and our state affiliates.  In the final stage of implementation, members will have the ability to job-blast to certified stenographers and videographers in specific areas and locate credentialed reporters and videographers – even at the last minute – using maps that pinpoint their geographic locations. Ultimately, members will be able to change their pin color on the map based on their availability.

Our challenge of coverage around the country has primarily been one of effective utilization of resources … and I believe that this new tool, along with the legal industry’s transition to remote litigation, will be an industry gamechanger!

This plan also includes an expanded marketing effort to hire NCRA staff to market our brand-new tool to those in search of the professional services our members provide. Bottom line: This expands our reputation as the go-to association, puts money in our members’ pockets, and is a benefit to the people we serve, as well.

Before we log out and return to our individual businesses and personal lives, I have 15,000 more thanks that I wish I could deliver to you in person.  Like you, I hope and pray that we will be released from COVID-19’s clutches and that soon we will be able to shake hands – and hug – once more.  In the meantime, to our entire NCRA family, thank you for allowing me to be your President. You have my sincere gratitude for your consistent high level of professionalism, the pride you take in your work, and the generous contributions you make to our larger community. 

Whether you have just graduated, are a realtime reporter or not, a captioner, or a videographer, each of us is an ambassador who represents all of us every single day. Every. Single. Day. In our inclusive family, everyone is welcome and supported; we stand united, which means that we don’t walk away, even when the going gets rough.

I owe a debt to this profession that changed my family and its future generations … and I am proud to be one of you as, together, we pay it forward. I join you as we surge to meet the challenges of an ever-changing world, as we confront and surmount the barriers placed before us, as we grasp the opportunities that technology presents us, as we have always done. Together, we comprise a force that proves to the world that the integrity of our hallowed profession and the amazing skills of our practitioners endure as the highest standard for the preservation of the spoken word throughout the past centuries, now, and boldly and proudly into the future.

Christine Phipps, RPR, is NCRA’s 2020-2021 President. She can be reached at president@ncra.org.

President Max Curry’s farewell message

Well, the time has come for me to bid you all farewell as your NCRA President!

This has been one of the toughest things I have ever done — managing my company (especially through the crisis), while still reporting some myself, having a family and personal life, and being NCRA President all at the same time, all while leading us as a profession through the year’s events and crises, especially the COVID‐19 crisis!

The last five months have felt like five years, with every day being a struggle. I, as President, together with the 2.0 Board, have faced weekly challenges where decisions had to be made that would affect each of us and our profession for many years to come. That fact did not go unnoticed by me and made the weight of my position even more difficult, but forced the Board and myself to thoughtfully work through each decision to do the best we could for all of our sakes.

Being NCRA President also exacted a personal and professional cost upon me … the loss of dear friends who couldn’t understand my dedication to NCRA, our mission, and our profession’s future and my absence from Elite and from their lives. Also, I lost a third of my reporters from Elite Reporting during this time (11 individuals), because they felt I was absent and not “omnipresent” with Elite, because as you’ve seen this past year, I always lead from the front. They were unable to see the big picture of what we were doing and that my absence was for a higher purpose, my contributing for the common good of our entire profession, for it not only to survive but for it to thrive into the future.

However, I want you each to know now that I know for my having served in this capacity, I have made the impact and difference that I set out to make all those years ago when I joined this Board. Even now knowing the personal and professional costs and sacrifices to me, I would do it all over again and make the same choices in order to achieve the outcome we’ve seen for NCRA.

No one will ever know how tough this job is until you have actually lived it. But with all of this said, I want you each to know what an honor and joy this experience has been professionally and personally. Truly, this has been one of the professional highs of my career and life! I am the better for having served in this capacity and made the journey.

I say “Thank You” to each and every one of you for affording me this amazing honor of being your President and serving our great association and profession through the good times and also through these difficult times, and for your having faith in me to get the job done!

A life well lived is about experiences, and what a truly amazing, unique experience this has been. It will live as a part of me the remainder of my life!

I believe I have done a good job as NCRA President — I hope you feel the same as well, as I have done my best for our profession every day I have served, and I have always kept in my mind who it was I was serving and working for — our profession and you, our members!

NCRA is in so much better condition today organizational‐wise and fiscally. I’m very proud of our efforts as a Board to that end. We didn’t know at the time that we were righting our ship and making NCRA fiscally healthy again, but the act of having done so has better prepared us to weather the storm we are currently experiencing as an industry and nation.

Through the crisis, my Board and I have brainstormed and worked tirelessly as a team to think outside the box, offering enhanced member and general profession value, all while each personally and professionally maneuvering the early stages of the COVID‐19 crisis ourselves. We provided tremendous professional value through truly impactful information research and sharing, development of relevant educational seminars and webinars — who can ever forget Stenopalooza? — all offered timely to support and propel our industry forward and arm professionals with the information and tools necessary to weather this storm and eventually thrive again in our “new normal.” I’m proud of NCRA 2.0 — Board and staff — as truly being a demonstration of what can be accomplished when a group of individuals work effectively for the common good!

I know Christine following me as president will do an exceptional job. She truly is one of the smartest people I know, and she is passionate about our profession. She has become one of my dearest friends and my valued colleague. I trust her, I believe in her to lead us, and I hope you will afford her the same support and trust that you have given me. So often women in leadership are judged more harshly than men. Please afford her the same equality you have given me in regard to performing this difficult and time-consuming job!

Christine, you have my full support in the year to come. My advice: Trust your team, value their opinions, and lead compassionately but always boldly!

I say “Thank you” to my entire NCRA 2.0 family, the Board and staff alike! You have supported me and tempered my path, kept me steady, and you have helped me weather this storm! We have worked as a team without ego, and that is what has made it work!

I want to thank my professional family at home, Elite Reporting staff and reporters. You grasped the big picture of what I was doing and stuck with me and Elite and helped pull some of the extra weight in my absence! You guys rock and are amazing, consummate professionals, and I sincerely appreciate each and every one of you! It has been a rough couple of years for us professionally, but we’ve made it and Elite is now stronger than ever, experiencing a new renaissance, having replaced the reporters we lost and grown beyond that loss with the acquisition and addition of Brentwood Reporting as a part of Elite’s professional family! Good things do find their way to you when you keep your mind, heart, and spirit focused in a positive way, and I never lost faith while walking this difficult path.

No one does it alone, and I will never forget who had my back at home!

I also want to offer a special and sincere thank you to my amazing spouse, James! You have been my steady north and my rock upon which I knew I could always cling and find compassionate support, for you more than anyone experienced this entire process personally alongside me. Thank you for your ear, for listening, for your steady and sound advice, for your love, and for having my back at the times I felt alone and isolated in this job!

Dave, you have been my balancing voice giving me steady and tempered counsel for all things NCRA and profession related. You are the rock of NCRA, and I truly appreciate your friendship and kindness … and appreciate your kicking me in the butt when it needed to be done!

Forrest asked his momma when she was dying what was his purpose, what was his destiny. She answered: “You’re gonna have to figure that out for yourself. Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get!” No truer words have ever been spoken!

So with that, live your life with purpose, open to the opportunities; don’t hide from the scary parts, because some of the greatest opportunities and lessons in life are lived and found there; and embrace the adventure that life is!

Life is like a box of chocolates, you just never know what you’re gonna get! My box of chocolates have been a blessing, and I thank each and every one of you for the opportunity of this journey we have lived, shared, and survived together this last year!

Remember, always stay positive in mind and spirit in all that you do. To truly, truly live is the greatest of all adventures!

Goodbye and my best wishes to each of you for future greatness, success, and blessings! Thank you all.

Max Curry, RPR, CRI, is NCRA’s Immediate Past President.

Christine Phipps set to be installed as only second Floridian to lead NCRA

RESTON, Va., July 20, 2020 — Christine Phipps, RPR, owner of Phipps Court Reporting, Inc., based in West Palm Beach, Fla., is set to be installed as the 2020-2021 President of theNational Court Reporters Association (NCRA), the country’s leading organization representing stenographic court reporters, captioners, and legal videographers. Phipps will take office on Aug. 8 during the Association’s Connect 2020, a virtual event that takes place Aug. 7-9 in lieu of the traditional Conference & Expo that was canceled due to COVID-19.

Phipps is a court reporter with 27 years of experience. She is the second NCRA member from Florida to serve as the Association’s President in its 121-year history.

As a single mother, she founded Phipps Reporting, which now has offices throughout Florida as well as satellite offices in 47 states. She is the recipient of a number of business awards including Woman of Outstanding Leadership by the International Women’s Leadership Association and Most Enterprising Women of the Year by Enterprising Women magazine. Her firm was included in Inc. magazine’s Fastest Growing Companies in America in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019.

Phipps holds the national professional certification of Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) and the Realtime Systems Administrator certificate. She is also a licensed court reporter in New Jersey and Tennessee, as well as an Eclipse software trainer.

“The court reporting profession has been so good to me and my family, and now is my chance to truly give back. I am honored to serve as NCRA President and look forward to working with the Association’s Board of Directors and all of its members to help further promote what court reporters and captioners do and the important roles they play in and out of the courtroom, boardroom, and classroom,” Phipps said.

“We not only preserve the official record, many of us also serve as vital links for members of the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities to access important information. For those reasons especially, it is imperative that we continue to share with the legal community, the business world, and the public just how essential what we do is,” she added.

At the national level, Phipps has co-chaired NCRA’s Technology Committee and Freelance Community of Interest Committee and served on the Association’s Strategic Alliance Task Force, and its Education Content and Vendor Task Force committees. Phipps participated in the rewrite of NCRA’s Deposition Handbook, is a frequent contributor to the JCR magazine, and has spoken at conventions. She has also served as a Director and Vice President for NCRA.

The court reporting and captioning professions offer viable career choices that do not require a four-year college degree and yet offer competitive salaries, flexible schedules, and interesting venues. There is currently an increasing demand for more reporters and captioners to meet the growing number of employment opportunities available nationwide and abroad. Court reporters and captioners rely on the latest in technology to use stenographic machines to capture the spoken word and translate it into written text in real time. These professionals work both in and out of the courtroom recording legal cases and depositions, providing live captioning of events, and assisting members of the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities with gaining access to information, entertainment, educational opportunities, and more.

To arrange an interview with a working court reporter or captioner, or to learn more about the lucrative and flexible court reporting or captioning professions and the many job opportunities currently available, contact pr@ncra.org.

About NCRA

The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) has been the internationally recognized for promoting excellence among those who capture and convert the spoken word to text for more than 100 years. NCRA is committed to supporting its more than 14,000 members in achieving the highest level of professional expertise with educational opportunities and industry-recognized court reporting, educator, and videographer certification programs. NCRA impacts legislative issues and the global marketplace through its actively involved membership.

Forbes has named court reporting as one of the best career options that does not require a traditional four-year degree. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the court reporting field is expected to grow by 7 percent through the year 2028, faster than the projected employment growth across all occupations. According to 247/WallSt.com, the court reporting profession ranks sixth out of 25 careers with the lowest unemployment rate, just 0.7 percent. Career information about the court reporting profession—one of the leading career options that do not require a traditional four-year degree—can be found at NCRA DiscoverSteno.org.

Register now for President Curry’s last NCRA Town Hall

Register now for the next virtual NCRA Town Hall scheduled for Saturday, July  25 at 10 a.m. (Eastern). This will be the last Town Hall hosted by NCRA President Max Curry, RPR, CRI, as he moves into the role of Immediate Past President in August. Curry will take this opportunity to discuss the upcoming NCRA Connect Virtual 2020 conference happening Aug. 7-9. He will also look back at some of the happenings that took place during his tenure, including the shoutout for court reporting by Rachel Maddow of MSNBC, the launch of the Registered Skilled Reporter (RSR) certification, and how NCRA’s Board of Directors and the Association worked to provide virtual educational offerings and a variety of valuable resources to assist members during the COVID-19 crisis.

The NCRA virtual Town Hall meetings also offer members the opportunity to ask questions via the Q&A feature. Members can also catch up on previous Town Halls by clicking here. Only NCRA Members may attend the Town Halls. Why wait? Register now!

Proposed amendments removed

There has been much discussion and review of feedback, which included valid concerns, based on an email sent last month that included a detailed explanation of proposed Constitution & Bylaws (C&B) Changes #1 and #3 that were published in the June edition of the JCR. Your Board of Directors has now voted to remove these two proposed amendments from consideration for your vote at the August 2021 Business Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Per NCRA’s official Professional Registered Parliamentarian, the Board with a majority vote can withdraw those amendments, based on page 295 in Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised (RONR), which states: “before a motion has been stated by the chair, it is the property of the mover (the board), who can withdraw it or modify it without asking the consent of anyone.”

Your NCRA Board of Directors understands the importance of listening to the membership and making decisions that are in the best interests of everyone, and we thank each of you for your important input and feedback as we together move the mission of the Association forward.

Please remember that the August Board of Directors meeting is open to all members to observe, and we encourage everyone to attend. A registration email will go out ahead of time for you to be able to register to receive the link to view the meeting.

 Also, please note that all properly proposed amendments will be under consideration for your vote and ultimate decision at the August 2021 Annual Business Meeting in Las Vegas.

 As this is probably my last message to you as NCRA President, it has been my great honor and privilege to serve you this term. I wish each of you the best in our “new normal.” Continue to stay positive in mind and spirit in all that you do, and good things will find their way to you.

Max Curry, RPR, CRI, LCR, B.C.R.

NCRA President

Amendment revisions

Last week we emailed a detailed explanation of proposed Constitution & Bylaws (C&B) Changes #1 and #3 that were published in the June edition of the JCR. We have continued to receive feedback from a number of members both in favor of and in opposition to the amendments. There were valid points made about the implementation and execution of the amendments if passed. 

Your NCRA Board of Directors understands the importance of listening to the membership and making decisions that are in the best interest of everyone.  I have also been in a Zoom conference this week with the leadership of our National Congress of State Associations (NCSA), in which we discussed the amendments. NCSA has agreed to take the proposed amendments and work with the NCRA STRONG Task Force with an eye toward revising and redefining the amendments’ language. I have faith that these leaders will produce amendments that are fair in their application and unambiguous in their intent. 

Please be advised that the Board will likewise be addressing this matter at our August Board Meeting that will be open for members to observe. A registration email will go out ahead of time for you to be able to register to receive the link to view the meeting. All properly proposed amendments will be under consideration for your vote and ultimate decision at the August 2021 Business Meeting in Las Vegas, Nev. Good governance and leadership mean sometimes admitting that I as President and we as a Board made a mistake and didn’t get it completely right, not for a lack of effort, but simply because, as humans, we are all flawed. Our intent is solid, but proper execution is key. I believe we got this 85 percent right, but that’s not good enough when it comes to NCRA’s governance. 

I wish to take this opportunity to say “thank you” for being a valued part of our profession and a part of this organization. Only through working cooperatively, with receptive ears and open minds in conversation, do we reach positive conclusions.


Max Curry, RPR, CRI, LCR, B.C.R.NCRA President

Register now for the June NCRA Town Hall

Register now for the next virtual NCRA Town Hall, scheduled for Saturday, June 27, at 10 a.m. (Eastern) with NCRA President Max Curry, RPR, CRI. Curry’s guest will be Director Lance Boardman, RDR, CRR, a federal court reporter from Cleveland, Ohio, and a member of NCRA’s Policies & Procedures Committee. Conversation will cover changes in NCRA social media policies, such as advertising, and why these changes are being put into place, as well as information about the upcoming NCRA Connect 2020 virtual Conference taking place Aug. 7-9, and more.

The NCRA virtual Town Hall meetings also offer members the opportunity to ask questions via the Q&A feature. Members can also catch up on previous Town Halls by clicking here. Only NCRA Members may attend the Town Halls. Why wait? Register now!

Message from Max Curry about the 2020 NCRA Conference & Expo

We hope you are well during this difficult period our world is facing.  

We know that many of you attend the NCRA Annual Conference & Expo to obtain your continuing education credits, meet with your peers, and visit with our vendor partners to see what is new in today’s market. As of today, NCRA is still planning to host its regularly scheduled Conference & Expo, August 6 – 9, in Orlando, Fla., but we are also investigating options to provide virtual experiences as well, if need be, so the event proves to be invaluable to all stakeholders. 

As the current COVID-19 situation continues, we will continue to monitor the recommendations and advice of health and security experts on any anticipated measures that could impact our 2020 Conference. We are also in constant contact with representatives from the host hotel to keep abreast of what measures are being taken to ensure the safety of guests.   

When the time is right, we will launch registration to further enable you to make your plans and have greater certainty about how NCRA is proceeding with this year’s premier event. We understand the need for flexibility, and this said, our offerings may look different than previous yearsbut they will still provide valuable content.  

Please know we are committed to helping you reach your personal and business objectives and are working hard to structure opportunities to maximize the return on your precious resources. 

If you have specific questions about NCRA’s 2020 Conference & Expo, please do not hesitate to contact meetings@ncra.org, and we’ll do our best to provide the information you need.  

In the meantime, be safe and thank you for your past partnership and for being a part of court reporting, captioning, and legal video community. Continue to stay positive in mind and spirit. 

Take care,

Max Curry, RPR, CRI

NCRA President

Register now for the April NCRA Town Hall

Don’t miss out on the next virtual NCRA Town Hall, scheduled for Saturday, April 18, at 10 a.m. (Eastern). NCRA President Max Curry, RPR, CRI, will be joined by Director Cindy Isaacsen, RPR, an official court reporter from Shawnee, Kan. Conversation will include NCRA’s May Celebrate Certification Month, the upcoming Stenopalooza event, and latest on the impact of the coronavirus on businesses.

“My membership in NCRA is a priority for me because it shows my commitment to supporting my profession, it gives me access to so many educational and certification opportunities, and it reassures me that I’ve got an advocate in Washington, D.C., who has my back,” said Kimberly Falgiani, RDR, CRR, CRC, a captioner from Warren, Ohio. “But especially in these times of the COVID-19 pandemic, the president’s Town Halls have given me added reassurance that my membership means I am receiving the most up-to-date information and resources that can benefit me and other members directly. For that, I am extremely appreciative and proud to be an NCRA member.”

The NCRA virtual Town Hall meetings also offer members the opportunity to ask questions via the Q&A feature. Members can also catch up on previous Town Halls by clicking here. Only NCRA Members may attend the Town Halls. Why wait? Register now!