What an honor it is to be your 107th NCRA President

As professionals, we continually pursue the path of greatness. We strive to perfect our skills and pursue additional credentials. We are always improving ourselves. We embrace new technology and progress forward in serving new markets. We are a timeless and ageless profession walking boldly into the future.

NCRA is proceeding in its execution of a powerful five-year plan, Vision 2018, which focuses on key issues and opportunities in the stenographic court reporting profession. We are prepared to go into the marketplace and tell today’s generation why court reporting is a career worthy of their time and consideration. The livelihood of our profession is dependent on our ability to resonate with potential students, and I am confident that we are going to make an impact with our efforts.

If you think back to the late-1990s and early-2000s, you may recall that headlines screamed of an immediate nursing shortage. The timing was ideal. The economy suffered after 9/11, and young people were concerned about securing full-time employment after college. The nursing profession took advantage of these conditions to talk about its unfilled need and assured the public that plenty of nursing jobs awaited those who received the necessary training. As a result, many pursued nursing degrees, despite the fact that nursing is a challenging career! Because of the potential for financial success and practically guaranteed job placement, parents across the country were more than happy to support their children’s decision to pursue nursing.

Let’s turn those headlines in our direction. The stenographic court reporting profession is facing a shortage as well. The independently produced Industry Outlook Report offers a startling look at what could happen if we do not produce enough skilled court reporters in just a few short years. It’s as simple as this: The demand for court reporting services will soon exceed what the current pool of court reporters can provide. There is demand for more court reporters. Our profession is not on life support. Our profession is strong. We can guarantee job placement and financial wellbeing for those who consider court reporting as a profession. And this is good news.

In fact, this may be the best news we have received in a long time.

We can prove to today’s parents that court reporting is a profession that their children should pursue. We belong to a profession that demands a closer look. We have something amazing to offer, and at just the right time, too. Traditional college degrees are expensive and don’t necessarily guarantee job placement. Millennials are seeking careers with flexibility and the opportunity to grow and learn something new every day. Most notably, they are fully equipped to be the technological leaders of the future workplace. It seems to me that court reporting is the perfect answer.

What we are going to do is launch a national campaign to put stenographic court reporting in the spotlight. It’s going to be shining bright on us in the months and years ahead. We are going to get more students into schools. We are going to work with our court reporting programs like never before in order to get more students out of those schools. This path ahead does bring challenges. It’s not going to happen overnight, and we have a lot of catching up to do, but I know we are heading in the right direction. [Ed. Note: More info on this project can be found here and in future issues of the JCR. Or visit crTakeNote.com for more details.]

I look forward to our paths crossing because together, we can guarantee our future shines bright. This is our time!

 

Sarah E. Nageotte, RDR, CRR, CBC, is NCRA’s President. She can be reached at president@ncra.org. This column is adapted from her presidential speech given during NCRA’s 2014 Convention & Expo in San Francisco, Calif.

In the presence of greatness

Nancy Varallo, RDR, CRRIn the century-long history of NCRA, special men and women have become stars in our field by virtue of their incomparable excellence and performance at the highest levels, over a period of decades. No name is more renowned in our pantheon of greats than Bill Cohen who celebrated his 90th birthday last fall in New York City. I was privileged to be a guest at the luncheon honoring this icon of court reporting. And what a gathering it was!

Bill’s friends came out to honor him, and they did so movingly, as Bill sat modestly at the head of the long table and each guest rose to say what Bill had meant to them. Many of you know Bill as a great Speed Contest Champion, a winner of three successive national contests in the 1950s. He then retired from competition but has remained for the last half century a commanding presence in the lives of his peers and the students and young reporters he has mentored and taught, including three young reporters he mentors today. Those three were in attendance to bear witness to the lasting influence this man, so generous with his time and talents, has had in their lives.

Bill Cohen_JCRJune14I heard the heartfelt accolades as each guest recounted his special connection to Bill Cohen. It was humbling — and exhilarating. Here were some of the best-known names in court reporting acknowledging their debt to Bill as, fi rst and foremost, a revered role model in their lives. My husband, Ed, stood to thank Bill for inculcating in him a passion for excellence: “I learned from Bill that excellence is always and ever the goal — nothing less.” It’s a priceless insight. Be the best you can be! Always!

I was reminded of Aristotle’s words: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.”

Bill’s career, extraordinary for its length and its accomplishment, is a testament to his enduring ideals. He has graced us all with an unassuming professionalism in his daily work that raises the craft of court reporting to an art. If you want to know how to do it right, watch Bill Cohen and learn.

It’s remarkable to consider how many students, fellow reporters, colleagues, and peers have benefited from the stellar example Bill has set for seven decades. “Awesome” we would say today!

I could not help but wonder, whether the conviction that animates Bill’s ideals lives on in our profession. Granted, times have changed. Life is bruisingly fast-paced. There’s no time. We’re all in a hurry. Bill Cohen has always made time for others. That’s why he is a role model nonpareil. And that is his life’s lesson for all of us: Take the time to share your talents with others.

Being in the company of such a man renews the spirit. I left the luncheon inspired to be the best I can be, every day. To make the quest for excellence part of my daily routine. To make it a habit. I wish you could have been there.

 

Nancy C. Varallo, RDR, CRR, is NCRA’s president. She can be reached at president@ncra.org.

Thirty ways to give back

Nancy Varallo, RDR, CRRFor years, at every NCRA event and state association get-together, I have taken the opportunity to talk about the importance of giving back. For more than three decades now, my life has been dedicated to our shared profession; court reporting is an integral part of who I am. So many good things in my life have come from my decision to become a court reporter! It has been a rewarding career, and I am grateful for it.

I am a cheerleader for court reporting and a staunch advocate of giving back to the profession that has given me so much. I like to encourage my court reporter colleagues to get involved as well, in any way that suits them. It need not require a significant investment of time or money. You might pen a simple post to your Facebook page telling the world what you love about your job or make a short presentation at your child’s school on career day. Take the opportunity where it presents itself. A friendly chat with a neighbor over the backyard fence or at a cocktail party could showcase our unique profession and perhaps become a life-altering encounter for a man or woman whose curiosity you’ve piqued.

I’ve come up with thirty ways that one can give back to the profession. Perhaps not all of these suggestions will suit you, but acting on just one or two is bound to create a lasting impression that will benefit our profession and all of us in it.

  1. Tell someone new what you do for a living. Be enthusiastic! Court reporters, captioners, and CART providers do interesting stuff. It’s great cocktail party conversation.
  2. Point out the TV captions in a public place, say at your gym, a bar, a hotel lobby. Ask your friends, do you know how those captions get there? They won’t know – but they’ll be curious to find out!
  3. Write to your city council or town government, thanking them for having transcripts of public meetings. (And if they don’t provide that public service, ask them why not.)
  4. Tell the attorney you’re working with why a court reporter’s impartiality matters. It’s part of what makes us special.
  5. While you’re at it, tell the nice attorney how realtime services can help him or her.
  6. Write a check and sponsor a student member in your state association.
  7. Give a Career Day presentation at your local high school. Bring your steno machine and write to an iPad.
  8. Mentor a court reporting student.
  9. Offer to talk to a court reporting class about what life after school looks like. Give them good advice. Alert them to some just-out-of-school pitfalls to avoid. Be encouraging.
  10. Thank your Congressional representatives for supporting the Local Courthouse Safety Act — or tell them why it’s important to support it.
  11. Talk to a class of law school students about the nuts and bolts of making the record. (Nobody else is going to tell them!) NCRF has materials to help you with this outreach.
  12. Thank the attorneys for hiring you, a certified court reporter, and tell them why certification matters, for court reporters as well as legal videographers. Certified means professional.
  13. Team up with a court reporter friend or two and put together a short primer of do’s and don’ts of making the record. Your local bar association will be grateful to you for the educational opportunity. Maybe your favorite law firm would like you to come in and address their young associates. Get bonus points for offering CLEs!
  14. Transcribe an interview with a veteran for the Library of Congress Veterans’ Project. You can earn PDCs. And it is a very satisfying thing to do.
  15. Host a Veterans History Project event for veterans in your area. Do it at a court reporting firm or court reporting school. Get your community involved! People like to honor our veterans.
  16. Get involved with students on the NCRA Student Facebook page or other student networking sites. They’ll love it! An excellent way to motivate students.
  17. Sponsor a student’s attendance at an NCRA event.
  18. Write an article for the local ABA newsletter about what to look for in a court reporter. Or write a letter to a local community organization about the importance of accessibility for all citizens, especially our fellow citizens who are deaf/hard of hearing.
  19. Pass along your experience. Write an article for your state association newsletter or the JCR about a valuable lesson learned. Your readers will appreciate the heads up.
  20. Volunteer your services (or find volunteers) for your deaf/hard-of-hearing neighbors. They might love to have CART for church or local meetings.
  21. Volunteer for a state association or NCRA committee. A great way to meet people!
  22. Attend a TRAIN event, upgrade your realtime skills — and then help others do the same.
  23. Share your expertise with your peers; put on a seminar at a court reporting event. Sound scary? Okay, sign up to learn something new yourself!
  24. Send NCRA membership forms to court reporters you know who are not members, and tell them why they should be. Size matters. There’s power in numbers!
  25. Send a testimonial (written or video) to NCRA to support NCRA’s efforts to inform people about the benefits of court reporting as a career.
  26. Write an op-ed for your local newspaper advocating for the use of stenographic court reporters in the courts; explain the value of captioning at community events.
  27. Become involved with your state CSR board. They need your expertise. And you’ll be surprised how much you will learn!
  28. Pay it forward. Remember to thank the people who’ve helped you along the way.
  29. Donate to the National Court Reporters Foundation, which will put your money to good use.
  30. Social media — Facebook, Twitter — are great venues to tell people what you love about your job. No need to vent about rush transcripts and fast-talking lawyers. Create some positive buzz! Celebrate your profession, your career, the unique job you do where you are the expert. Be proud of your role as a court reporter, legal videographer, captioner, or CART provider. You are part of a long and proud history of service to the bench, the bar, and the public at large.

Convention Royale

Nancy Varallo, RDR, CRRNCRA’s Convention & Expo in Nashville, Tenn., was a week to remember. There were fantastic moments, many of which are highlighted in the convention coverage in this issue. But this annual event is about far more than the networking, educational opportunities, and official association business that happen on-site. The convention is a new beginning. It’s our opportunity to celebrate the successes of the past year and set goals for the coming year. It’s the headline event that energizes all of us for the year ahead.

And the energy is palpable. Attendees have shared with me that this year’s four-day event was the most upbeat and fun NCRA gathering they can remember. It really was a “Convention Royale.” This year the installation of the Board of Directors featured officers and directors who were all dressed in tuxedos — yes, the women, too — bringing together time-honored tradition with the contemporary style and edge that distinguishes today’s NCRA.

The educational seminars showcased the state of the art and the emerging opportunities in our ever-expanding profession. You had to be there to appreciate the buzz generated by the panoply of new technologies designed for court reporting, captioning, and legal videography. Our engaging speakers made topical presentations that captured the attention of their audiences. Learning is fun! Ask the 1,100 professionals who were present this August in the lavish Gaylord Opryland resort. There were seminars, vendor exhibitions, cocktail parties, the Grand Ole Opry, and endless opportunities for greeting old friends and making new ones.

If you couldn’t join us this year in Nashville, please join us next August in San Francisco. I can promise you, you’ll love it!

Many of the seminars in Nashville were videotaped and you can view them as e-seminars at NCRA.InReachCE.com. Make sure to peruse the in-depth coverage of convention highlights in this issue.

Did I mention we had a lot of fun? Casino Royale was the theme of the Saturday night party, and I can tell you it was one of the most memorable social events of my entire court reporting career. I’d like to thank everyone for being dressed to the nines and making the evening glamorous and festive.

Coming off of my convention high, I realize more clearly than ever that we have turned a corner as an association and as a profession. We have focus and direction, as our executive director Jim Cudahy explains in his column on page 11. Frankly, I couldn’t be more excited about my year as your president. We’re off to a great start.

Just as NCRA is poised for growth and success, so too is personal growth within your grasp. Last month I asked you to take at least one action to encourage young people to consider joining us in this rewarding profession. I hope you have taken that step. I also urged you to accept the challenge to become realtime ready and certified. There are mentors out there to help you; seek them out.

The annual Convention & Expo is the official kickoff event for the coming year. We all left Nashville with renewed energy to tackle the goals that matter to us. Together, you and I can accomplish great things.