Meet the Guinness Challengers

Guinness ChallengeDuring the NCRA Convention & Expo, six stenographic reporters attempted to break the standing world record of 360 words per minute. Although no new record was set, the challengers excited and inspired many.

During the event, six challengers attempted to take down verbatim speeds of 370, 380, 390, and even 400 words per minute. While no one broke the record, Kislingbury came close with a 94.54 percent score on his transcription of a 370 wpm leg.

Spectators of the event sat in absolute silence as the recordings were played, but the buzz picked up between recordings, as people leaned over and told each other that they could barely make out the individual words. The event emcee, Bruce Matthews, RDR, CRR, of Cleveland, Ohio, provided commentary and man-on-the-street interviews as the six challengers transcribed. As the event drew to a close, people rushed the stage to congratulate the challengers, and throughout the convention, they were stopped and thanked for promoting what professionals in this field can truly do. After the event, we caught up with the six challengers and asked them to offer insight on the attempt to break the record.

Dee Boenau, RDR, CRR, CBC, CCP

Sarasota, Fla.
CART provider, captioner, and convention reporter
Years on the job: 21
National Realtime Champion 2010

What appealed to you about competing in the Guinness World Record?

I thought it would be an opportunity to bring positive exposure to the field of court reporting and captioning.

How did you train for this competition?

If I trained for this competition, it would have destroyed the solid foundation of my realtime writing.

What advice would you give to students or reporters about increasing their speed while maintaining accuracy?

Don’t drop the Qs and As to gain speed. In my opinion, realtime writing is the focus now and into the future. Learn a basic theory, and then build upon it by shortening the theory. If you can’t think of ways to shorten the theory on your own, there are plenty of resources and forums full of ideas.

Would you consider competing in another Guinness attempt?

Absolutely! I’m even faster now as a result of listening and practicing to the higher speeds.

Was there anything that surprised you about the event?

I was surprised Mark did not break the record, but after transcribing a take myself, I can understand how two more minutes would have helped him in the transcription process. I was pleasantly surprised at how inspired, supportive, and happy the audience was even though the record was not broken.

Kathy Cortopassi, RMR, CRR, CCP, CBC,
and Realtime System Administrator

Dyer, Ind.
CART provider, captioner, firm owner
Years on the job: 29

What do you hope to gain from competing in the Guinness competition?

The pride in myself that I tried. The respect of my peers that I did, as well. Plus, it would have been nice to beat the pants off Mark Kislingbury!

What was it like for you up on the podium?

I heard the crowd rooting for us. I did hear the shock at how fast the dictations were. Quite frankly, I was equally shocked at how fast 400 wpm was compared to what I had been practicing. I agreed with them 100 percent! But during the dictation, I was so pleased, thankful, and shocked that we could hear a pin drop in the room. Awesome!

Did anything go through your mind as you tried to get the words down, or did you just find your focus point?

When I do speed contests, I focus on “the voice.” It’s me and the voice — that’s it. I have tunnel vision during the dictation. I actually got more confidence as Mark Kislingbury kept turning down the opportunity to transcribe 400, 400, 390, 390 … so, thanks, Mark!

Would you consider competing in another Guinness attempt?

I would do it again tomorrow if I could. Now that I feel more confident that it is within reach, it is doable, it is possible, I want at it now. Challenge us — and keep challenging us — for we certainly will not reach any higher than we are right now.

Mark Kislingbury, RDR, CRR

Houston, Texas
Court reporter, freelancer, CART provider, captioner, and firm owner
Years on the job: 30
Four-time winner of NCRA’s Realtime Contest
Seven-time winner of NCRA’s Speed Contest

How did you train for this competition?

I practiced every day, multiple times a day, between 450 and 500 wpm, for a year and a half. I usually put in 5 to 10 minutes per session.

Did you go into the event with a specific strategy?

I always drop Qs and As the moment that I sense that putting them in will risk that I drop words. (To the teachers who may tell students, “Never, under any circumstances, drop Q&A symbols on purpose, because they are important,” I respond, “Never, under any circumstances, drop words, because they are important.” I maintain that, if it’s so fast that you’re going to drop either symbols or words, then the Qs and As are the first to go because they can be replaced 95 percent of the time in the correct place; words cannot.) However, I was most concerned about combating nerves. So, I made the event, in my own mind, not about me but rather about the fact that I and the other participants were doing this for the profession, for other reporters and students, to inspire them to see what’s possible. This had the effect of making it more of a “noble cause” than a “test,” and it worked wonders in removing any test nerves.

Would you consider competing in another Guinness attempt?

I would love to. I want to keep improving, to pave the way for future young people to see what’s possible.

Diane Kraynak, RMR, CRR

Midland, Mich.
Court reporter, freelancer, and firm owner
Years on the job: 38
Seven-time winner of NCRA’s Speed Contest

What appealed to you about competing in the Guinness World Record?

Fame! I wanted to get in the book to show my grandkids – and have fun trying! Also, it was a great way to promote our profession.

What was it like up on the podium?

As we were writing, I knew the audience was there but everyone was so quiet, it was no problem.

What advice would you give to students or reporters about increasing their speed while maintaining accuracy?

My advice on speed-building: Make sure your heart is in it when you’re practicing. Otherwise, it’s wasted time. Twenty minutes of practice can be as worthwhile as two hours. I always practice at the speed of whatever contest I’m trying to pass and for the exact amount of time it will take, so that I know what I’m in for and how long I have to hang on. When I was speedbuilding in college, I remember practicing at about 20 wpm faster than where I was. I don’t like feeling that my fingers are out of control and slapping at the keys. But it’s whatever works for the individual. There’s lots of advice out there, and try everything till something works!

Was there anything that surprised you about the event?

How the room filled up! I didn’t think that many people would come.

Stanley Sakai

Seattle, Wash.
CART provider, captioner, and firm owner
Years on the job: 3

What do you hope to gain from competing in the Guinness competition?

I already have seen gains in my day-today writing on the job. I wanted to sit among the greats of this profession and hopefully demonstrate the extremely hard work I’ve put into this craft despite the relatively short time I’ve been in it. Also, I’m hoping through exposure from the competition to bring youth into a profession that is often mistaken as menial, secretarial, and moribund by my 20-something-year-old peers who for the most part never consider becoming a stenographer (provided they even know that stenographers still exist).

Would you consider competing in another Guinness attempt?

I’m hooked. I love the excitement, the attention/respect from peers, and that when training to compete in one of these, it only improves you professionally. There is nothing to lose and much to gain.

Was there anything that surprised you about the event?

I was surprised how all the other contestants were just normal people, too.

Looking back, what was the best part of attempting the new record for you?

Forcing myself to practice at insanely high speeds has made my realtime beautiful. Very seldom does the pace of normal speakers feel overwhelming to me anymore.

Kathryn A. Thomas, RDR, CCP

Caseyville, Ill.
CART provider
Years on the job: 15

What appealed to you about competing in the Guinness World Record?

Why not try to be the best?

What do you hope to gain from competing in the Guinness competition?

The gain’s already happened. Sitting down and writing a total of eight minutes of Q&A won’t bring as much gain as the past year and a half of training did.

Did you go into the event with a specific strategy?

My strategy was simply to write as fast and best I could. Sounds like a cheeky answer, but that’s it.

What was it like for you up on the podium?

I love the stage, so I was completely comfortable. I was aware of the crowd until the dictation read-on, at which time I went into my own world. Until it was transcription time and I had to deal with the audible interviews — then I needed to put in earplugs and put on my headphones to muffle the noise.

Was there anything that surprised you about the event?

The spirit and enthusiasm of the audience was incredible.

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 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.

NCRA and you: Taking on the industry’s biggest challenges together

Jim CudahyA little more than a year ago, the NCRA Board of Directors launched an effort to create a five-year strategic plan for the association. The process began with face-to-face discussions with members at the 2012 Convention & Expo in Philadelphia and continued with a comprehensive membership needs assessment in September and October. Going right to the membership, we wanted to know what you saw as the biggest challenges within the court reporting industry and in what areas you felt NCRA could have the biggest impact on the industry, on your business, and on your career.

The Board then held two strategic-planning retreats – one in November and one in March – to synthesize what we had learned through our conversations and our membership needs assessment. And then we put pen to paper and wrote a strategic plan. Our success as an organization and even as an industry will be dependent upon our collective ability to succeed in advancing six strategic priorities.

EDUCATION. There is no bigger challenge for the court reporting industry than getting more students into court reporting programs across North America and getting more qualified court reporters out into the marketplace. Education, thus, is the first priority of Vision 2018, the NCRA strategic plan. Here, initially we will follow the guidance of the Vision for Educational Excellence Task Force (VEETF) in three key areas: Assessing the long-term demand for court reporters and captioners to allow court reporting programs to shape their recruitment campaigns accordingly; attracting more youth to court reporting through an innovative Web-based initiative to teach rudimentary theory to prospective students in a low-cost manner; and, finally, isolating best practices of those schools that graduate the highest percentage of students and finding ways to incorporate those best practices into standards.

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT. The biggest reason that court reporters join NCRA is to build the knowledge and skills needed to advance in a competitive industry and to gain recognition of such achievement through certification. Keeping our certification programs strong, therefore, along with offering an ever-improving array of continuing education opportunities, is NCRA’s second strategic priority.

AWARENESS AND OUTREACH. It is difficult to have a conversation with any member in which he or she does not express the need for more people within the legal community and beyond to have a stronger appreciation for the role of the stenographic court reporter. That has been a major focus for NCRA in recent years and will remain so under our new strategic plan.

ADVOCACY. Going hand-in-glove with our Awareness and Outreach strategy is Advocacy, working at both the national and state level to represent the interests of court reporting and the constituents served by our industry.

RESOURCES. One of the key benefits that members indicate they get out of NCRA is access to information — about technology, about industry trends, about how to better promote your services to your prospective clients and beyond. In digging a little deeper, what we have learned is it’s not just about information — it’s about packaging this information into tools that members can put to immediate and long-term use.

MEMBER VALUE. Our sixth and final strategic priority is probably both the most obvious and the most ambiguous, and that is Member Value. In a way, if we deliver in the way we intend in the first five strategic areas, we will in the process be creating more Member Value. And that’s sort of the point: our strategic priorities all should crosspollinate and complement each other. Beyond that, however, we want to continually enhance the value proposition we offer to our membership in such a way that every court reporter, captioner, legal videographer, firm owner, and instructor — anyone who has a stake in the stenographic court reporting industry — would be crazy not to be a member of the National Court Reporters Association.

Finally, we are taking on some major new challenges with our new strategic plan. Our ability to do so is dependent upon our ability to mobilize the court reporting community to assist us. This year, the NCRA Board is asking our volunteer committees to take on more ambitious charges that are pegged more specifically to the strategic priorities I just described. In so doing, we hope and expect that members will play a more direct and meaningful role in executing the tactics that advance our strategy. That, in turn, will make volunteering that much more of a fulfilling endeavor and, in so doing, will encourage a new corps of volunteers to step forward to allow NCRA to do even more and to do it better than ever before. That is our vision. Now we’re going to make it happen, together.

In your Association: NCRF- Get to know us

National Court Reporters FoundationMaybe you’re like I was a few years ago: Familiar enough with the National Court Reporters Foundation to know it did good things — isn’t that what foundations do? — but not quite familiar enough to be able to list three reasons why I was an Angel, which is a donor who supports the Foundation with an annual donation of at least $1,000.

Or maybe you’re someone who has heard the acronym NCRF but never really knew what it was all about and, therefore, never felt particularly compelled to support it with your time or resources.

Well, either way, I’m here to deliver a message: Your Foundation wants to be your new best friend!

Like best friendships, reciprocity is always a cornerstone. Any one-way street usually dead-ends at some point. But relationships where you both give and get back seem to be the most rewarding.

In a nutshell, here’s what there is to love about your Foundation:

NCRF supports students and new professionals. We’ve all been there, and it goes without saying that the scholarships, grants, and complimentary NCRA memberships provided by NCRF are credibly needed and appreciated by the future of our profession: court reporting students.

The Veterans History Project and the Legal Education Program are two NCRF initiatives that stand on their own in terms of the value they add to our communities. But the extra value they add to NCRA members through the awesome marketing opportunities they create is definitely underestimated and underleveraged. Also, did I mention you can obtain free PDCs by participating in these programs?

Each year, through the Santo J. Aurelio Award for Altruism, NCRF recognizes and honors one outstanding court reporter at the Annual Awards Luncheon at convention whose altruism throughout his or her service to our profession has been extraordinary and exemplary. Always powerful and moving.

And hot off the press: As a result of a recent strategic planning session NCRF is creating new and exciting tools and initiatives for court reporters to use not only in marketing themselves and their firms but also in touting the profession as a whole.

As you can see, NCRF creates and supports projects and programs that support court reporters, our profession, and our communities. Pretty noble work, right? What’s not to love? And it is all made possible by the financial support of NCRA members and other generous donors. So, here’s to the engagement of every member with NCRF and to a long and prosperous relationship rooted in mutual support.

2012 | 2013 Annual Review

There has never been a better time to be a part of NCRA

Jim CudahyWhen I accepted the NCRA Board of Directors’ offer to serve as the association’s executive director and CEO in May 2012, I presented a vision of the future that largely was built around what I saw as the top priority — the need for a “game-changing” initiative that had the capability of altering the landscape of court reporting education. More to the point, I felt that we needed to take steps to get far more students enrolled in court reporting programs and to increase the percentage of qualified court reporters emerging from schools.

The urgency behind the educational initiative we launched a year ago, as well as a number of other priorities, initially emerged as findings from Writing Our Future, which effectively had become NCRA’s de facto strategic plan. But we needed more than a de facto strategic plan; we needed an actual strategic plan. Our new strategic plan, which, based on the five-year horizon it encompasses, is entitled “Vision 2018.” As they should, our priorities are designed to stretch NCRA’s capacities and capabilities to take on new challenges, to try new approaches, and to make wider and more efficient use of available resources, most notably our volunteer capital.

Vision 2018: 6 Strategic Priorities

Vision01Ask any court reporter, captioner, or CART provider in which three areas NCRA should focus its primary efforts, and in virtually all cases one of three answers would be some version of building wider recognition and appreciation of stenographic reporting. This point was reemphasized to us in last fall’s membership needs assessment, and thus Awareness and Outreach serves as the first of our six strategic priorities.

Court Reporting and Captioning Week

A major success story for NCRA earlier this year was the introduction of a new concept within our awareness efforts: Court Reporting and Captioning Week. The idea was to get members to focus disproportionately on awareness efforts during a single week in February. NCRA provided an array of tools on our website — from press release templates to customized logos highlighting NCRA certifications to presentations and more — and then we took to social media, digital newsletters, and other media to encourage the entire court reporting community to get involved. The results were astounding with not just members but schools, state associations, and vendors taking up the cause. In 2014, we will have the second annual Court Reporting and Captioning Week while we otherwise push the entire court reporting community to work on Awareness and Outreach throughout the year.


In 2012-13, NCRA continued a sustained effort to work with other organizations from the legal fi eld and deaf/hard-of-hearing community to reach out to their members in an attempt to build awareness of court reporting, captioning, and CART. This included visits to and/or exhibits at several meetings and conventions — e-Courts in December and the ABA’s Tech Show in April, as well as a visit to the National Center for State Courts and the National Association of Court Management. We also published an article in the January/February edition of Court Manager magazine on the merits of using realtime in a judicial setting. Overall, we attempted to better connect our outreach efforts with our overarching Awareness and Outreach efforts, something we will do more in 2014 and beyond.

New Public Relations Capability

In late 2012, NCRA commissioned Bendure Communications to serve as the association’s public relations agency. Bendure has proven to be the ideal partner for NCRA in that its model is not that of the large-scale agency that takes on all the work. Instead, Bendure follows a model of rapid-fire exposure for hundreds of members simultaneously. Whether a member has earned new certification, taken part in the Veterans’ History Project, or otherwise earned some distinction large or small, they now have the capability of quickly getting word out to their local media through NCRA and Bendure. The overall effect, then, is a consistent, growing drip of media exposure for the industry at large.

AdvocacyLegislative Boot Camp

In March, 75 state leaders came to the Washington, D.C., area for three days of intensive training through NCRA’s Legislative Boot Camp. This program always includes a “Hill Day,” during which we take leaders to Capitol Hill and allow them to roam the halls of Congress, meeting face to face with members of Congress to talk about issues of significance to court reporters. This year, we encouraged both houses of Congress to support legislation known as the U.S. Local Courthouse Safety Act. This legislation would allow local courthouses without metal detectors and other types of security equipment to procure it at no effective cost from the federal government. NCRA’s efforts were buoyed by the Capitol Hill visits by 75 of our members, and we will persevere to get this legislation passed.

State Mini-Boot Camps

The popularity and effectiveness of Boot Camp at the national level has led to several requests to conduct customized versions of the event at the state level. Over the past year, we have hosted events in Tennessee, Mississippi, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Maine. Our government relations staff then has the opportunity to hone and sharpen messaging and tactics based on the specific c legislative threats and opportunities within those states.

State Support

While NCRA certainly has a major presence in Washington, D.C., our legislative efforts occur on a more consistent basis at the state level. From mobilizing efforts to adopt or strengthen state certification for court reporters to counseling state associations on grassroots efforts to protect the positions of officials, from pursuing legislation aimed at instilling higher ethical standards to governing the relationship between court reporters and their clients, our government relations team plays a key role — often behind the scenes — in helping our members at the local level.

FCC Captioning Standards

For many years, we have worked with organizations from the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities to demonstrate the importance of captioning standards to the Federal Communications Commission and others. This past year, NCRA had a productive meeting with FCC representatives to discuss the need for captioning standards and to bring the perspective of realtime captioners to the table. We are confident that discussions will continue to fully engage our allies within the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities. Beyond that, NCRA works on an ongoing basis with the U.S. Congress to advance issues related to captioning, most recently in pushing a bill that would require closed captioning in movie theatres and on in-flight movies. Obviously such captioning does not require the services of a realtime captioner; however, it is by pushing for overall availability of quality captioning that we are able to demonstrate both the differences between captioning of live events and static content and that NCRA’s pursuit of captioning standards is not just about serving the interests of our members.

Realtime Writers Act Grants

During this period of federal government sequester, securing funding from Congress for any purpose has been nearly impossible. Nonetheless, this year — as we have in years past — NCRA was able to work with court reporting schools across the country to get more than $1 million in distributed grants to support the Realtime Writers Act we guided through Congress many years ago. At a time when our schools can use such funding more than ever, NCRA once again was able to deliver.

Ethics First

For 2013-14, we bid adieu to NCRA’s Ethics First Task Force, as it has completed several years of work in casting attention on the importance of court reporters and the clients with whom they work conducting business in accordance with established ethical standards. The Ethics First Program is a great example of how a task force of NCRA volunteers can mobilize for a cause, do great work, and then pass the torch to NCRA staff to carry outits vision on an ongoing basis.

Last August, the NCRA Board commissioned a sustained effort that had as its ambitious goal to increase the number of students enrolled in court reporting schools and to increase the percentage of qualified court reporters emerging from those schools.

Vision for Educational Excellence Task Force (VEETF)

With a year of meetings and conference calls under its belt, VEETF presented three separate initiatives to the Board in June, all of which were approved and incorporated into the coming year’s budget.

1. Market Demand Study

One area of focus coming out of VEETF will be to commission a comprehensive study to determine the demand for court reporters, captioners, and CART providers over a defined period (three to five years). Such market intelligence will inform schools’ student recruitment efforts, allowing them to point to more specific data than currently exists of demand not just on a general basis, but within geographic and specialty-area pockets.

2. Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)

This will be a bold, new approach to expose large audiences of potential court reporting students to the career opportunities available through stenographic court reporting. Using the MOOC concept, which is gaining traction and popularity in education circles, NCRA would build a portal through which it would offer modulated educational sessions at a low cost to teach a simplified theory. While the supporting elements need to be constructed, the general concept is that would be students would have the ability to learn a simplified theory through use of an iPad/tablet app or a steno-overlay keyboard, so as to avoid the large initial cost of purchasing a steno machine. The concept, further, is for large numbers of students to take part in the course either informally through the Internet or through a structured, distance-learning program via high schools.

3. Court Reporting Instruction

A large challenge that all schools face is that the percentage of students that successfully emerge from their programs to become court reporters is alarmingly low. For an abundance of reasons, this must change. The third VEETF subgroup focused on what can be done to dramatically improve graduation rates. Hope exists here because some court reporting programs graduate a much higher percentage of students than the average. We need to know what it is that distinguishes these programs from others, and NCRA has embarked on a second study that will seek to isolate the variables in court reporting instruction that breeds such levels of success before finding ways for all programs to emulate those best practices.

This year, NCRA launched a new website,, which replaced our website. The new site included new content and messaging that focuses more distinctly on the individuals who visit the site and the questions they might have about court reporting rather than on pigeon-holing existing NCRA content to fi ll an alternative need of student recruitment.


Throughout the year, NCRA purchased social media advertising that used micro-targeting techniques to focus on individuals with a higher propensity to consider court reporting as a career. To supplement these efforts, NCRA ran advertising in the Wall Street Journal Student Edition and in School Counselor magazine to reach out directly to students in classrooms, as well as to the many high school guidance counselors who serve as gatekeepers to the decisions of millions of youth across the country.

Enrollment Down, Number of Programs Reduced

The reality on the ground throughout the country points to the critical need for education to be a major strategic priority for NCRA now and in the years ahead. While enrollment in programs on a national basis tends to see ebbs and flows, in 2012, we saw several schools close their doors, and we saw enrollment down 8 percent from the year prior. Those numbers are not sustainable either for schools themselves or for the long-term viability of the industry. We have seen numbers rebound. We do know that our macro-level recruitment support can have a positive effect, and we feel confident that our larger efforts to support court reporting programs and to improve court reporting education will lead us to a new era of growth for schools and the industry.

Professional DevelopmentBeyond anything else, NCRA’s bottom-line benefit to its constituents is providing the tools for court reporters, captioners, and CART providers to build the knowledge and skills to advance their careers and then to get recognition of their achievements through certification.

Best-in-class events

NCRA’s TechCon, now heading into its third year, offers a suite of technology-focused programs (CLVS, Realtime Systems Administrator, and Trial Presentation) and brings them to a singular venue so that networking and economies of scale can take place where it makes most sense. In 2014, we will take TechCon to Atlanta, Ga., and we believe the continued buzz that this event has created will allow the program to grow and thrive.

The Firm Owners Executive Conference took place in February adorned with a new approach to networking and new content focused around the general concept within NCRA’s new resources strategy. Firm owners reacted positively to educational content that challenged the status quo, which compelled them to look inside their businesses to see whether they were doing enough to understand and meet the needs of their clients. They heard directly from attorneys, branding specialists, and through survey data, from themselves. Beyond that, we reorganized social events and a dinner to allow for enhanced networking, all of which had a positive effect on the event. In early 2014, we head to Orlando.

Our convention in Nashville, as you’ll see throughout this issue of the JCR, was a highly successful event with a broad array of educational options and networking opportunities. We look forward to welcoming the court reporting, captioning, and legal videography professions in San Francisco next summer.

ResourcesOne of the key benefits on which NCRA members rely is the association’s ability to package and deliver information. They look for information about technology, trends in the profession, and how they can better position their services to clients. In packaging information, what NCRA does is create resources. As the industry evolves, as competition becomes more fierce, it is incumbent upon us to respond in kind with the resources members need in a new world.

Firm Owners Economic Benchmark Survey

Once again, we presented the results from NCRA’s Firm Owners Economic Benchmark Survey at the Firm Owners Conference. This year, we incorporated more market intelligence into the mix. That is, we asked more questions of firm owners about what types of companies hire court reporting firms, who within the companies makes the hiring decision, and what factors do they use to make the decisions. NCRA has at its disposal the ability to gather such information on a larger scale and make it available to all firms and freelancers to inform their business practices.

New Markets Task Force

A generation ago — maybe a little longer than that — the concept of using a stenographic court reporting machine to provide broadcast captioning led to an entire new application of the skills of NCRA members. In drips and droves, we hear of members who ply their craft in boardrooms and in other nontraditional environments. Are there opportunities out there that can be leveraged to open new markets to court reporters? What haven’t we thought of? What could we do to investigate, promote, or accelerate such new applications? That will be the purpose of NCRA’s New Markets Task Force that will begin work in 2013-14.

The New NCRA Sourcebook

The NCRA Constitution & Bylaws mandates that NCRA publish annually a directory of members. For decades, NCRA had watched distribution of its membership directory — the Sourcebook — dwindle, this as members grew accustomed to NCRA’s online Professional Services Listings (PSL). We changed tactics and began distributing a slimmer version of the Sourcebook to every NCRA member as a way to breathe new life into an old product, make the product more valuable to advertisers, and to kick-start a new era of networking for every member. We have also revamped our PSL to serve as a closer companion to the print edition of the Sourcebook.


Vision06Each year, when their membership renewals arrive, NCRA members must make a calculated decision — does the value provided through NCRA membership meet or exceed the cost of dues? Our ability to attract more members and to keep a higher percentage of our current members is contingent on our ability to deliver on an understood Member Value proposition.

New Customer Service Center

In December, NCRA made a major change to its internal operations by moving to a full-service, external customer service center known as BrightKey. By all accounts, the service provided to members and customers contacting NCRA has been superior to that which we had witnessed in recent history — requests are being fulfilled more quickly, complaints are down, and follow-up is occurring in expedited fashion.

The idea here is to leverage one of NCRA’s most significant and recognized products and brands, the JCR, by launching an online complement, Beyond packaging the content that is contained within the JCR on an ongoing basis, we will take the JCR and turn it into a full-fledged news service, pumping out content to members and the full marketplace on news-cycle-type basis that is more in line with the way people consume news and information in today’s age.


I’d like to say a few final words about NCRA’s volunteer capital. As a volunteer driven organization, NCRA simply could not exist without the time, effort, and expertise of the seemingly endless line of members who step up to fulfill key roles within the association. While a number of NCRA committees have done great work in recent years, some have not reached their potential based on a lack of clear purpose. For 2013-14, we have revamped our committee structure. Most notably, committee charges are more ambitious and are, as much as possible, specifically linked back to elements of the strategic plan. The Board further is empowering committees while providing additional resources that will allow them to work more independently, but within a strategic framework that is designed to ensure that everyone is pushing in the same direction. I have never been as energized as I am right now about presenting our accomplishments for the past year and outlining our path for the coming year. There has never been a better time to be a NCRA member, and I thank each of you for your continued support and involvement.

Skilled for Success

Wendy Hill Ballroom Dancing
There are many court reporters who partake in activities outside of the courtroom. Sure, some of these activities may have started out as a hobby to unwind after a long day at the office. But as time passed, the skills gained from these activities have become a great benefit. In many cases, these skills have kept reporters focused or even helped to improve dexterity and posture. From sign language and yoga to knitting and ballroom dancing, these skills have made a difference in and out of the courtroom.


Freelance court reporter Susan Heierman, RDR, CRR, from Shelby Township, Mich., has been knitting since she was a teenager. But last August, she started knitting lace shawls. As Heierman describes it, the complex lace-pattern shawls are extremely challenging and require a lot of concentration. She has to be on her toes for the twists and turns that can come when working on a pattern. “I think I’m a better reporter and knitter because of my ability to concentrate. The two go hand in hand,” she says. She adds that having it handy allows her to knit just about every day. “I often keep smaller projects in my car to work on while I’m waiting to go in for my deposition.”

The dexterity of knitting also keeps her fingers nimble, an advantage to her as a court reporter. Heierman adds that it also helps keep both her profession and her knitting skills in perspective. “Like reporting, knitting can be frustrating. It’s like those days when you have a witness who wants to talk 350 wpm, you just have to hang in there. You know you will be a better reporter and knitter because you have persevered.”


Helga LavanHeierman isn’t the only reporter who has affinity for fabric. Helga Lavan, RPR, from Hicksville, N.Y., has been a court reporter for 20 years and a quilter for almost as long. A neighbor introduced her to quilting, and Lavan has been at it ever since. “Sewing helps me become a better court reporter by keeping my mind sharp. With quilting one is always wondering how to piece a project together, as well as trying to keep on top of the latest gadgets and gizmos in the sewing market.”

When she compares her growth within the field of sewing to her career as a court reporter, she relates it’s important to embrace the changes in technology. “It is in this way I can produce a beautiful quilt and an accurate transcript with ease. As I sit before my sewing machine, I am immediately transformed.” Lavan says her mind lingers and often thinks about a job that may have caused some anxiety or a situation that arose on a job that frazzled her. She uses the time while quilting to think how she can address those situations the next time she is faced with them. “With each project I tackle — either producing a transcript of a proceeding that included a fast-talking, mumbling witness or creating a new quilt with challenging piecing — I learn to be patient and forgiving. If something doesn’t work well, next time I will remember to do it differently.”

It seems as though with each machine — whether it’s for sewing or writing — Lavan finds similarities. When she goes to quilt shows and sees other’s finished pieces, sometimes she thinks, “I could never do that.” But before long, she’s buying the kit or pattern to tackle the project herself. She used to think, “I can never be a realtime reporter,” and while she’s still mastering her skills for certification, she now fully believes it’s an attainable goal.


Lucinda Plexico from Atoka, Tenn., is a CART provider at the University of Memphis and has worked as a sign language interpreter for 11 years. In 2010, she started providing CART and is currently pursuing certification. She recalls when she began offering educational CART at the university: “I was first given the opportunity when one of our hard of- hearing students enrolled in the law school. I followed him through all three years of law school, and it was an amazing experience.” Her sign language skills have helped prepare her for CART work, and she states it’s the same general idea of listening followed by the mental process of translating the spoken word. “I believe both skills require a great deal of hand eye coordination and memorization, and a high degree of language competency such as grammar and vocabulary.”

Plexico adds that interpreting gave her knowledge of the educational setting and environment, as well as what to expect. “Physically, both jobs incorporate the same long hours of sitting, listening, and language processing, so I felt better prepared for those aspect,” she explains. aspects.” And it comes in handy when communicating with the hard-of-hearing and deaf students who need CART. “I do believe it would have been more of a challenge to gain CART skills if I didn’t have the interpreting skills first because the two are so similar. Interpreting has enhanced my skills in the areas of manual dexterity and listening and has given me access to collegiate-level terminology I might not have otherwise had,” she says.


Vicki Britt, RPR, from Sacramento, Calif., is a freelancer who is also a certified Pilates instructor. What started out as a hobby turned into a skill she uses to help others when she teaches Pilates. Not only has it been a big stress reliever, it has increased her posture in the court, helped the tension between her shoulders after a long day of reporting, and helped her stay calm by using correct breathing during tense or fast situations in the court. She took her first Pilates class more than 15 years ago and was hooked immediately. Seven years ago she started teaching after getting her certification. “Our court reporting profession and lifestyles are sedentary. We commonly carry stress in our shoulders, neck, and lower back. Conscious breathing and connecting your movement with your breath helps the body relax. All of this helps me keep a clear, quieter mind when I am working,” she says.

Even though she has been dancing and exercising most of her life, she didn’t realize how much exercise helped after a long day in the court until she started taking Pilates. “I’m very aware of my posture when I’m working. I’ve also used the stretches to release tension when I take breaks or have been sitting for long periods of time. Pilates has also given me a better balance between work and life and made me a much happier, healthy person.”


Britt isn’t the only one who has taken to the mat and found it helpful with court reporting. Kimmel McDiarmid, RPR, an official court reporter who lives in Pittsboro, N.C., swears by yoga. McDiarmid has been doing yoga for close to two years and her only regret is that she didn’t start ten years earlier when another reporter recommended it. “I wish I’d listened, and I hope that lots of reporters who read this give it a try,” she says. But she recommends taking it slowly, advising that beginners shouldn’t jump into it too fast and, as she puts it, turn themselves into a pretzel. “I’m talking about learning to breathe to be calmer, to stretch to be healthier, and to give yourself some of your time and attention every day.” The great thing about yoga, as McDiarmid points out, is you can do it anywhere since you don’t need special equipment or a lot of space. “I find times like, for example, brushing my teeth to do tree pose. If I’m at the stove or doing dishes, I do my breathing or stand on one leg to build bone density.”

In addition to relieving stress, yoga has taught McDiarmid to be calmer. Before doing yoga, she said she was less able to cope with stress or let it dissipate. “I still work hard to get the record exactly right and get every single word, but my overall platform is just a little calmer now,” says McDiarmid. It combats stiffness because when the body becomes more flexible and stronger through continued practice of yoga, the muscles are more elastic. “An added benefit is that when I do get stiff from sitting in the courtroom in a static pose at my machine, I have great tools to loosen my body quickly and gently.” Her yoga teacher has even taught her and other court reporters inconspicuous stretches they can do during a 30- to 45-second pause in proceedings while the attorneys are consulting or meeting at the bench. McDiarmid also notes, “When there’s no chronic pain, it’s easier to report and sit. When the stress is lower, it’s easier to clear the mind and just write.”


For Willi Hill, retired court reporter, from Orange, Calif., her career would have likely been cut short if she hadn’t found ballroom dancing to keep her back and shoulders strong. Thanks in part to the dancing, she worked for Los Angeles County Superior Court for 25 years before retiring in January 2001. She remembers vividly how her introduction to the dance floor began. It was 1985 and she wanted to lose 30 pounds, so she went to her doctor for diet pills. Her doctor agreed to a one-month prescription but also told her to start an exercise routine, and not just any exercise. He asked her to choose an activity that she really enjoyed in hopes she’d stick with it. Shortly thereafter, she saw an ad for a free dance lesson, which Hill describes as a one-hour free dance lesson along with a sales pitch. She signed up and was hooked right away.

At first, Hill went alone but her husband began to join her. “When dancing, I was able to put everything out of my mind except the music and movement,” she says. Hill remembers the tips provided, such as keep your back straight, shoulders strong, and be sure to get your weight on each foot as you turn in order to keep your balance. “In the courtroom, because of my stature (under five feet), I always made a special effort to secure the right-sized chair and backrest so that my feet touched the floor and I could maintain a straight back.”

Hill adds that she sometimes joked if she hadn’t found ballroom dancing, she would have been on the psychiatrist’s couch. “Ballroom dancing was very therapeutic for me. It was physical exercise as well as an emotional outlet,” says Hill. In fact, she enjoyed dancing so much that she started dancing competitively and over the years collected quite a few trophies as well as costumes. Now 72, Hill no longer competes or does shows, but dancing will always be part of her life. She and her husband, who passed away in 2009, took to the floor for years. “We met many wonderful and inspiring people. I will always be grateful to have found it and to have finished out my career with Los Angeles County.”


Linda Wolfe, RMR, from Sarasota, Fla., started playing tennis in 1991 and over the years began captaining United States Tennis Association teams. Wolfe mentions that tennis and court reporting are not only physical but mental. “I love tennis because if you make a mistake, you have to mentally move on and not dwell on your bad shot. Much like court reporting, if you miss a perfect stroke, you either try to correct it immediately or move on. You can’t dwell on what you just heard in a deposition or the bad tennis shot you just made,” says Wolfe.

Wolfe has owned her court reporting company since the early 80s and found owning the business has helped in many ways when it comes to working with tennis teams. “Court reporting requires you to be organized, and recruiting team players, organizing matches, and then playing the match requires skills the average team captain does not possess. I found owning a court reporting business helped me juggle the demands of tennis teams.” But it’s not just about being organized. It’s about keeping cool under pressure, especially in court reporting. “The room is filled with tension, but you have to write on your machine under intense pressure,” she says.

She also believes her skills as a tennis player affect her court reporting. When she doesn’t play tennis for a week, she feels sluggish and not as acute mentally when, for example, five attorneys are making their point in a deposition or courtroom. Wolfe says without a doubt that tennis has been a wonderful stress outlet. “All the angst in the courtroom disappears when I am outside playing next to a pond with lily pads (like our public courts in Sarasota), where birds are chirping, the sun is setting, the cool breeze is relaxing and all the pressure of the day disappears when I am playing.”

Profile: KristiI Herrera, RPR, CCP, CBC

Kristi HerreraCART provider and captioner

Currently resides in Dallas

GRADUATED FROM: Court Reporting Institute of Dallas

Being able to provide CART for people who would otherwise struggle to communicate has been incredibly rewarding.


When I was in my 20s in court reporting school, a teacher mentioned that she used to provide CART. Prior to that, I never even knew that career existed. I became more intrigued the more I looked into it. I have always had an unexplained attraction to people with hearing impairments. Coincidently, I took a year and a half of American Sign Language in high school, which I am able to use today. I certainly didn’t think I would still be a CART provider seven years after fi rst looking into it, but now I can’t imagine missing a semester. I would like to eventually get into a court, but I think I would still have to hang on to one evening class a week to wean myself off CART. The people are just too great!


Being able to provide CART for people who would otherwise struggle to communicate has been incredibly rewarding. The people I work with are so grateful, and they are not shy about relaying that fact.


My LightSpeed! Being able to pack all my equipment into a laptop bag makes it so much easier to get around college campuses on busy days.


My favorite movie is Silence of the Lambs. I have a tattoo of the moth to prove it!


Despite becoming a mother at 15 years old, I graduated from high school a semester early and also spoke at my graduation.


SPHULT simultaneous
KHRAPBT cochlear implant
WRAB We’ll be right back.
AEUFD advisory

Think like an Olympian

Think like an Olympian

“I give up!”

“You expect me to practice two to three hours outside of class every day?” Do these words sound familiar? Have you felt the despair of trying to get over that hump at 120 wpm or 180 wpm and wanted to give up? Do the demands of work and family overwhelm you? To quote from a popular song by Kelly Clarkson, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

We, like Olympians, choose our own paths. Olympians aren’t necessarily the most talented in their sport; they just want the gold the most, and they never give up. All of us have it within us to think like an Olympian. Here are six tips to inspire you in your quest for success in your court reporting career.

1. Have a vision. Olympians possess a clear vision of where they are going and what they need to do to get there. They visualize what success will look like before they compete. A professional golfer studies the green and visualizes the ball on its journey into the cup. Tennis professionals anticipate where their opponent’s serve will land. Olympians anticipate obstacles and how they will overcome them. They think big and are fearless in their pursuit of the gold. They don’t just hope or wish for victory; they make it happen.

2. Do whatever it takes. Olympians possess a “whatever it takes” attitude. Call it commitment or perseverance; Olympians just don’t give up. It’s not that they don’t feel the pain, fatigue, or disappointment; they just work past it and never let it defeat them. As Vince Lombardi said, “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.” Olympians have the will to persevere.

3. Practice makes perfect. Olympians are tenacious and possess an incredible work ethic. They are disciplined and maintain a regular practice schedule, regardless of outside distractions. They have an uncanny ability to focus on the task in front of them. They never need the encouragement of parents, coaches, or instructors to practice; instead, selfmotivation propels them forward.

4. Be coachable. Olympians can put their egos aside and accept coaching from their instructors. They are adaptable and open-minded, and they have the ability to filter all of the advice thrown at them and focus on useful information that will lead to achieving their goal. They seek out mentors to aid them in their quest for success and heed their advice.

5. Remain optimistic. Olympians maintain a positive attitude whether they win or lose. They exude confidence. Olympians strive for perfection, but they don’t allow their mistakes or self-doubts to overwhelm them. They rebound quickly from failure and view an obstacle as an opportunity for improvement. Attitude determines outcome. As noted author Frank A. Clark says, “If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably does not lead anywhere.” Stay on your chosen path.

6. Embrace stress. Stress can actually motivate us and lead to growth. Olympians know how to break free from their comfort zones and cope with stress and adversity. They can control their emotions and can accept routine mistakes rather than be consumed by them. Stress is a part of everyday life. Set realistic goals for yourself. Maintain a routine as much as possible, eat healthy, and get moderate exercise to help keep your stress level under control.

Take a moment and assess where you are in your court reporting education.

Do you have a clear vision of your future? Can you see yourself taking depositions or captioning, and are you willing to do everything in your power to get there? Can you tune out distractions, accept life’s little setbacks, and press on? Keep your self-doubt and emotions in check, think like an Olympian, and you, too, will be successful in all of your pursuits. As Arnold Palmer said, “The most rewarding things you do in life are the ones that look like they cannot be done.” The path to becoming a court reporter can be challenging, but with the variety, independence, and flexibility it offers, it is worth all of the effort.


By Special Assignment: The American Legion

Debbie DibbleNothing is more inspiring than reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in a room full of United States veterans. These men and women have served in every conflict our country has seen — many of them veterans of one, two, or even three wars — and now, as they are in their 70s, 80s, and even 90s, they continue to serve their country through the American Legion. No one is more passionate about service and this country than our veterans.

I received a call late on a Thursday, asking if I would be interested in reporting and preparing a transcript for an American Legion meeting all day on Saturday and half a day on Sunday. Since I didn’t have any commitments, I accepted the assignment.

I truly had no knowledge of what the American Legion was, does, nor what the assignment entailed, but I hit the road extra early to arrive with plenty of time to figure out what it was I could do for them. At the end of my day and a half with these phenomenal service people, the answer was not what I did for them, but what they did for me.

About an hour into the day, a gentleman was repeatedly mentioned, and his name was so familiar to me. I couldn’t place him for sure, but then my mind and fingers were extremely busy at the time. On a break, I finally remembered how I knew him: At my last convention as the president of the Utah Court Reporters Association, I had coordinated a two-site Veterans History Project Day. This man, Terry Schow, was my veteran liaison. He was appointed executive director of the Utah Department of Veterans Affairs by Gov. Jon M. Huntsman, Jr., on July 1, 2007. This man has connections! He helped me get the word out to the veterans of Utah, and he helped to coordinate the medical staff to facilitate our event.

As I progressed further into the day, I realized that this was a major meeting of the state chapter of the National American Legion. Each one of the veterans at this convention represented the districts and then the individual posts that comprised the Utah State Chapter of the American Legion. Each one of these leaders would be going back to their chapters and instituting their activities and programs throughout the state.

At a break, I approached Schow and reminded him of our affiliation. We discussed what a great success our Veterans History Project Day had been, and he said that he would love to be involved if we could do it again. So I shouldn’t have been surprised when, during a lull between speakers, I was called upon to present to their membership.


Here is what I said:

I actually hadn’t planned on doing this, but what a wonderful opportunity for me to be here and to meet and associate with all of you veterans.

I am fascinated by the military: the people, the traditions, the loyalty, the dedication.

I did not grow up in a military family and really had no association with military personnel until I married into a military family. And you all are so intriguing to me. You are so unique. I have two boys who are absolutely obsessed with the Military Channel, and so I am gradually learning things that I should have learned perhaps many years ago.

I thought it was interesting when the Lieutenant Governor was speaking and sharing the exchange with his daughter, asking him and his wife why they love America so much. The thought occurred to me, I really do wonder if anyone who hasn’t served like you all have served and sacrificed can truly understand the devotion that you have for America. America is a part of your heart and soul. And I don’t know that we — those of us that haven’t served in the military — can truly understand that. But we can respect it, we can cherish it, and we can preserve it.

So the reason I’m here is because there is a program that I’m sure many of you are familiar with — actually, what brought it to my mind was Terry Schow. I recognized him because I worked with him on this very project a little over a year ago when I was the president of the Utah Court Reporters Association.

The program is called the Veterans History Project, and it is sponsored by the Library of Congress. And the National Court Reporters Association, of which I am a member, has partnered with the Library of Congress to record these statements.

And we actually did a Veterans’ History Day at both your Salt Lake facility and your — I call them care facilities rather than nursing homes, because I think they provide places of care for our wonderful veterans — at both your Salt Lake care facility and your Ogden care facility. We had teams of court reporters at both locations, and we invited the veterans to come in and speak to us. And we recorded those histories and sent them to the Library of Congress.

I have the rare privilege of being one of the few people in the small town of Kamas, Utah, who plays the piano, and so I perpetually am given the privilege to play the piano at funerals. This provides me the opportunity to learn about people, their families, and their lives.

When one of our revered veterans passes away, their families tell their stories, and I sit up there behind the piano and think to myself, Did somebody record these histories?

For those of us who haven’t been in the military, haven’t been in one of these conflicts, don’t have military family, if your histories, your stories, your experiences aren’t preserved, this incredible wealth of knowledge will forever be lost. You are the only opportunity, the only one with this wisdom whereby we can record these memories, and to record these events for posterity, for forever perhaps, and it pains me to see that opportunity pass.

I obviously wasn’t prepared to do this today, but tomorrow maybe I can bring some brochures that I have left over from our Veterans History Day. The court reporters in Utah would be thrilled to report your histories. We will come to your homes. We can take some of your pictures, perhaps your memorabilia. All of that stuff, they have a special place for in the Library of Congress where they collect these things.

And you don’t have to do it through us. Kits are available online for you to submit your own histories. If you have them already prepared — many of you have shared your pamphlets and books with me today. You can download that information and submit those histories.

If you haven’t already recorded your experiences and don’t have the facilities or tools to record your history and would like to be interviewed and have that recorded by a court reporter, we would be happy to assist you.

I’m going to try to not get too mushy now — though I appreciated those last people who came up and were a little emotional. I was afraid I would embarrass myself in front of you all with my sentimentality. It’s just something that I do.

In the movie Battleship, the best part of that whole movie is when their battleship has been sunk and they go to the “retired” battleship that is now serving as a museum. All of the young’uns don’t know how to operate it. And the veterans, in slow motion, walk up in formation and say, “What do you need, son?”

The respect, the passion, the knowledge that our veterans have is priceless. It can never be replaced. We are so grateful for all you have done and all you do to teach and train and carry on the traditions and inspire the legacy.

My two boys did a Veterans Memorial at our local cemetery for their Eagle Scout project, and they held their Eagle Court of Honor in the cemetery. The Color Guard was comprised of our local veterans, who conducted the flag ceremony. It was so inspiring. I couldn’t ask for a better example for my boys.

I thank you for your service, not only when you were in active duty, but the continued service you are doing through the American Legion and the examples and opportunities you provide for our youth. We need to record your histories and these memories that you hold in your hearts.

On another note, we also are very sensitive to the feelings you have about your service. We know that these were often distressing and difficult experiences, and you may not want to talk about them. Or you may not want to talk about these traumatic experiences in front of your family or loved ones. We understand and we respect that. This is not something you have to do, just an opportunity that we would love to provide, if you’d like to participate in this program. I will bring some cards. I will bring some brochures. Please get in contact with the Utah court reporters, and let’s record your histories.


As the saying goes, the more you serve, the more you receive. As it turns out, present in the audience of this state convention were senators, representatives, and even the lieutenant governor of the state of Utah, all of whom are strong political supporters of our military and — as was later explained to me — have military family members with histories they would love to have preserved. They got information and made arrangements to follow up with me, and all gave me business cards and indicated if we “ever need anything, give them a call!”

The motto of the Utah American Legion is “Freedom Is Not Free.” We have such a rare privilege and special opportunity to serve these people through the Veterans History Project. These are the people who have paid the price for our freedom. It is so little to ask us to sacrifice an hour or two or even a day to serve these men and women who have sacrificed their time, their limbs, their health, their very lives for our freedoms. This is an opportunity to serve our country and our profession and for us to grow personally.

My day with the American Legion was priceless, both on a personal level and a professional level, as relationships were begun that will not only portray court reporters in a positive light, as hard workers, service-oriented consummate professionals, and dedicated Americans. In addition, Terry Schow, who was elected to the national executive committee of the American Legion, gave me his card and his contact information, as well as an invitation to call him if I ever needed anything.

Spending the weekend with these decorated war veterans inspires me to be better, to do more, to be more appreciative, to show more gratitude, and to find ways to serve. Organize a Veterans History Project day in your community, in your city, in your state. Go to your local rest home and visit with the staff. Find those veterans. Be conscientious of the sensitive nature of their experiences, but talk to their families and make a future appointment with them. Preserve this piece of American history, and serve those who have served.

The American Legion will receive their transcripts, and the invoice will be marked “paid in full … and then some!”

CART-Wise: A different sort of court reporting

Linda ChristensenWe court reporters all understand the traditional Labels of reporting (freelance, official, captioning, CART). As I enter my 30th year in the court reporting business this October, my résumé reflects the good fortune of holding various titles: freelance reporter, official reporter, CART provider, transcriber, stenographer, mentor, teacher, and trainer. I continue my love affair with this strange little machine, which captured my attention and my heart three decades ago.

In 2005, I was wooed by the opportunity to hold yet another moniker: sports reporter. I am still technically a court reporter, but I am speaking of a totally different type of court — a court with a net, a racquet, a fuzzy yellow ball, two players competing against each other, and a mysterious method of score-keeping.

Over half of my year is now spent traveling the world with professional tennis players. Instead of sitting in a courtroom or deposition conference room, writing hundreds of pages of testimony (what I call the marathon type of reporting), I sit in interview rooms around the world at tennis tournaments writing sprint testimony. Questions and answers in my reporting world are between the international journalists — think of them as the attorneys — and the top tennis players in the world — the witnesses.

The expert testimony I hear, write, and transcribe these days involves jargon related to a tiebreak in the third set; a serve up the T; playing surfaces, such as Rebound Ace, clay, grass, indoor hard, Har-Tru, and “la terre battue”; or string tightness of kevlar, polyester, or synthetic gut.

In a profession that has been threatened from its inception by electronic recording, video, and, most recently, speech-recognition software, I’ve always giggled over the improbability of a computer understanding a Vietnamese or East Indian neurologist describing medical procedures at 200 wpm. My same (sometimes smug) philosophy for defending job security holds true as a sports reporter. I wonder how translation software would handle spitting out English words while a Spaniard from the island of Mallorca is talking about winning La Coupe des Mousquetaires at the French Open, reciting, at break-neck pace, his set-by-set scores, and admitting at one point he had his “doobits” [doubts], even though he was playing on his favorite “soyr-fraz” [surface].

Tennis players often want to acknowledge coaches and trainers, naming the villages they are from in Serbia or somewhere in the Pyrenees. (Oh, and was that player’s French tennis club membership in Colomiers or Coulommiers?) “Hey, Mr. Computer Software, let’s see how the journalists enjoy your accuracy on that spelling dilemma.”

Here’s how my court reporting works. After a player completes his or her match, the press corps almost always want to speak with him or her. Questions range from game-plan tactics, rankings, recent injuries, and, of course, some gossip.

I write the interview wirelessly to either my or a colleague’s computer. At the Slams and various other Masters 1000 and Premier tournaments, we work in pairs or trios. With other, smaller tournaments, I work solo.

Following the press conference, a nifty little transcript is produced, and by the time the journalists return to their tiny cubicles in the press room — Voila! — there is the expected transcript in their inbox. From there, the journalist can write a piece for his or her newspaper or magazine or perhaps use the transcript in his or her role as a commentator for tomorrow’s next-round match. Journalists are assured, because of our presence in the press conference, that the player quotes will be written verbatim. It also reassures the journalists that they do not have to tape record the interview or hunt and peck around their own laptops and produce, in quadruple the time, some written product to meet their newspaper’s or agency’s deadline.

Do I love my job? Absolutely. My motto: “Do what you love and love what you do.” As I write this, I am sitting at Roland Garros — my sixth French Open and my 11th trip to Paris. How could I not love my job?

From this tournament, I take the Eurostar through the Channel Tunnel to London for the Queen’s Tournament, continuing on to Eastbourne in the south of England for another grass-court tournament, and finishing up my European tour at Wimbledon — or as we court reporters call it, Wim or Wimby. This is an annual adventure for me — seven weeks in Europe as a court reporter.

As silly as it sounds, I would perhaps like to add yet another title to my résumé: court reporting cheerleader. We all know how bemused juries and witnesses become during trials while watching our hands fly around a perplexing-looking machine with a few keys. Imagine how people from around the world react when they observe our process. Whether court reporter or “court” reporter, we remain a profession surrounded by mystique and intrigue.

My love affair with this funny little machine remains as fresh as it was 30 years ago.