Law Day, May 1, celebrates 50th anniversary of Miranda v. Arizona

Photo by: DES Daughter

Each year, hundreds of law professionals celebrate Law Day on May 1, and 2016 is no exception. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of one of the nation’s best-known U.S. Supreme Court cases, Miranda v. Arizona, this year’s Law Day theme is Miranda: More than words. To help mark the event, the American Bar Association has a number of ideas and resources available on its website to help those interested in celebrating the day within their own communities.

This year’s theme is intended to help those who celebrate Law Day to explore the procedural protections afforded to all citizens by the U.S. Constitution, how these rights are safeguarded by the courts, and why the preservation of these principles is essential to the nation’s liberty.

Activities marking the day, which was first designated in 1958 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, will range from luncheons to mock trials to courthouse tours throughout the nation. The activities will strive to celebrate the country’s legal system and provide consumers with a greater awareness of how today’s courts operate.

NCRA has a number of resources available to assist members with celebrating Law Day, including the materials available as part of NCRF’s Legal Education Program. Other resources to help promote the court reporting and captioning professions are available through NCRA’s Take Note campaign website. Materials include information geared toward potential students and influencers such as parents and school counselors to connect directly with NCRA’s certified and participating court reporting schools and programs.

NCRA members interested in celebrating Law Day are encouraged to contact their local or state bar association to see if they can be part of any planned celebratory events. Other ideas include hosting court reporting demonstrations at local law schools or high schools.

More information about Law Day 2016 and resources to mark the event is available at ABA.org.

Read more about Law Day.

NCRF: Helping lawyers and judges create the record

By April Weiner

Since its creation in 2010, NCRF’s Legal Education Program has helped hundreds of court reporters give presentations to lawyers, law schools, and judges on the importance of and the court reporter’s role in “Making the Record.” The Legal Ed materials teach law students and attorneys how to help the court reporter deliver the best record.

Reporters can deliver the best record when they can hear and understand the speakers, and when they are prepared ahead of time, whenever possible (i.e. providing industry-specific terms and names that may be used).

“If our brain has to suddenly ask itself a question and kind of sound out to our inner self what someone said because they mumbled or [we’re] kind of reading lips for the low speaker, well, that just slowed my fingers down,” says Christine Phipps, RPR, a firm owner in North Palm Beach, Fla., and one of the co-chairs of NCRA’s Technology Committee, who helped orchestrate the committee’s recent revision of the materials.

Another step in delivering the best record is recognizing for whom the transcript is being prepared.

“At the time of trial, a senior partner in the firm will actually be the person using the transcript and, therefore, will be unable to use their memory of what transpired,” says Kevin R. Hunt of Jack W. Hunt & Associates in Buffalo, N.Y., who has given many of these presentations and even authored the sample script. “If a witness nods [his or her] head or points to a place on an exhibit, that will be either open to interpretation as to the witness’s response or completely unknown. Making sure everything is verbal and uttered one person at a time ensures that regardless of who reviews the transcript, they will have an unambiguous understanding of what the witness was testifying to.”

Furthermore, the transcript is critical in the appeals process.

“In most instances, an appellate court can only review the proceedings below from a court reporter’s transcript,” says Teresa Kordick, RDR, CRR, CRC, CRI, CPE, an official from Des Moines, Iowa, and a trustee on the National Court Reporters Foundation’s board. “What is contained in that transcript is the record made by counsel, the witnesses, and the judge. It is essential that attorneys and judges know how to make good record so that the reviewing court can properly decide the case.”

Kordick used the Legal Ed materials as a starting point to modify a presentation to judges at the Judicial Branch Building, which houses the Iowa Supreme Court and Iowa Court of Appeals. Both she and Merilyn Sanchez, RMR, CRR (Ret.), of Chandler, Ariz., one of the founders of the program, stress the importance of tailoring the presentation to the audience.

“The materials are meant to be modular and easily personalized for whatever audience the reporter has,” Sanchez says. “Many lawyers would not be interested in how to schedule a deposition or what to do in preparation to assist the court reporter. You can skip over the basics and get right into the technology demonstration. Some lawyers prefer to leave the technology to their paralegals or second chair attorneys, who might be a better audience for a realtime focus.”

Keeping the law firm’s individual needs in mind helps tailor the presentation.

“If a law firm needs assistance in using realtime, a script is included to use in a realtime demonstration. You can do a quick explanation of what you can do during a realtime demonstration or actually incorporate whatever litigation support software the attorney uses into the basic presentation,” says Sanchez.

The Legal Ed materials have recently been revised to include up-to-date technological advancements in the industry.

“Many lawyers have not kept abreast of the latest technology in making a record,” says Sanchez. “It is important to educate lawyers about realtime reporting, video synchronization, and how to make the best choice for their reporting needs. Legal Ed was designed to assist reporters to educate lawyers at any level of technology sophistication.”

Technological advancements will vastly change how attorneys practice law, says Phipps.

“Streaming realtime, a live feed to everything said as it’s being said, all around the globe is now very simplistic and interactive, bringing the proceedings to wherever you may need to be. Delivering final transcripts to be used in imminent examinations in minutes is an absolute game changer,” says Phipps.

NCRF’s Legal Education Program materials include a sample presentation outline, a PowerPoint presentation, handouts, and a script. There are a number of ways court reporters can take advantage of these materials.

“Take any opportunity available to you to speak with judges, lawyers, and law students,” says Kordick. “It is always appreciated by those groups, and it benefits the reporters if we can make their (and our) jobs a little easier.”

 Law Day is celebrated each year on May 1, and many chapters of the American Bar Association, courts, and lawyers plan special events on this day. This can be a good opportunity for court reporters to be included and present on behalf of the profession. Court reporters can reach out to local ABA chapters or law firms to inquire about being included at these events.

Since the Legal Ed materials are particularly applicable to law students and young attorneys, reporters can also reach out to local law schools and firms to see if they’d be interested in a presentation.

“Use this education program to get your foot in the door with either the lawyers or their support staff and lay the foundation for a great relationship,” Sanchez said.

In addition to benefitting from lawyers understanding the profession better, court reporters can apply to receive Professional Development Credits (PDCs) for giving the presentation. A subset of Continuing Education Units, PDCs can account for up to 1.0 units per education cycle for NCRA court reporting members who are fulfilling their education requirements.

The presentation benefits the firm as well, since it results in improved transcripts that help lawyers do their jobs better, at no cost to the firm.

“Speaking at law schools or law firms is a wonderful opportunity to encourage attorneys to help you help them,” said Hunt. “The goal is a clear and usable transcript, and if they follow the suggestions in the Legal Ed presentation, it will go a long way to ensuring a transcript that meets or exceeds their expectations.”

If presenting to a law firm, the attorneys that attend such a presentation may be eligible to earn continuing legal education credits. Since each state has different CLE requirements, the law firm will have to contact their state bar to determine eligibility.

For more information on the Legal Education Program and to get the materials, visit NCRA.org/ncrf/LegalEd.

April Weiner is the Foundation Assistant for the National Court Reporters Foundation. She can be reached at aweiner@ncra.org.

Thirty ways to give back to the profession

10 ways Infographic_logo_2015Giving back to the profession does 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.

Here are thirty ways that anyone can do to give back to the profession. 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 legal videographers 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. Sponsor a student member in your state or national 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 legislation that supports realtime, court reporting, and captioning.
  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 History 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 and 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 neighbors who are deaf or hard of hearing. 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, LinkedIn — 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.

Value of stenographic reporting shines in legal education program

When NCRA member Ronda L. Colby, RPR, CRR, an official court reporter at the Burleigh County Courthouse in Bismarck, N.D., was approached by a presiding judge to speak during Secrets of the Courthouse, a two-hour presentation offered every other year as free Continuing Legal Education to new attorneys, she turned to the Association for resources and discovered NCRF’s Making the Record program.

NCRF’s Legal Education Program, designed to aid court reporters in teaching the value of stenographic reporting and technology to members of the legal profession, has garnered much praise since its launch in 2010.

“I was happy to discover the PowerPoint presentation and I was able to adapt it to fit my needs and cover the hot topics I needed to emphasize,” said Colby, who noted the courthouse program provides all members of the court a chance to describe their roles in the legal system and inform participants of some of the “secrets” they need to know starting out in the profession.

The program, which is free of charge, provides court reporters with an array of tools that can be readily used or adapted to presentation type to help ensure that the legal system understands the benefits of stenographic reporters in the courtroom. Tools include:

  • a presentation outline for the presenter’s use;
  • a PowerPoint presentation about making the record;
  • several handouts with a cover sheet that can be shared with attendees;
  • a presentation evaluation form for attendees to complete to garner feedback about the session; and
  • a script that might be helpful to less experienced presenters.

“I also followed the handouts provided by the Legal Ed Program to gather my thoughts into an outline to reference while speaking to the group. I believe the resources provided a huge benefit to help me organize my thoughts and yet be sure to cover all the bases. I was very thankful to have this resource when I was a bundle of nerves,” she added.

“The Legal Education Program facilitates the education of the legal profession about the role of the court reporter through the court reporter-led seminar Making the Record, and has been used by hundreds of individuals,” said B.J. Shorak, NCRF’s Deputy Executive Director. “The Foundation has also been invited to present this seminar to law schools around the country. It is one of NCRF’s major programs supported by donors.”

According to Colby, approximately 25 attorneys attended the session. Many, she said, asked some general questions and provided stories and anecdotes to help her relate her points to everyday situations in the courtroom.

“I was thankful for the opportunity to share some aggravations and common misconceptions, along with helping guide them to understand the proper procedure while working in the courtroom. I would definitely recommend others use the Legal Education Program when given the opportunity,” Colby said.

For more information about NCRF’s Legal Education Program, please contact B.J. Shorak, NCRF Deputy Executive Director, at 703-584-9026 or bjshorak@ncra.org.

NCRF’s Legal Education Program earns praise

National Court Reporters FoundationNCRF’s Legal Education Program, designed to aid court reporters in teaching the value of stenographic reporting and technology to members of the legal profession, has garnered much praise since its launch in 2010.

“The Legal Education Program facilitates the education of the legal profession about the role of the court reporter through the court reporter-led seminar Making the Record, and has been used by hundreds of individuals,” said B.J. Shorak, NCRF’s Deputy Executive Director. “The Foundation has also been invited to present this seminar to law schools around the county. It is one of NCRF’s major programs supported by donors.”

The program, which is free of charge, provides court reporters with an array of tools that can be readily used or adapted to presentation type to help ensure that the legal system understands the benefits of stenographic reporters in the courtroom. Tools include:

  • a presentation outline for the presenter’s use;
  • a PowerPoint presentation about making the record;
  • several handouts with a cover sheet that can be shared with attendees;
  • a presentation evaluation form for attendees to complete to garner feedback about the session; and
  • a script that might be helpful to less experienced presenters.

When NCRA member Ronda L. Colby, RPR, CRR, an official court reporter at the Burleigh County Courthouse in Bismarck, N.D., was approached by a presiding judge to speak during Secrets of the Courthouse, a two-hour presentation offered every other year as free Continuing Legal Education to new attorneys, she turned to the Association for resources and discovered NCRF’s Making the Record program.

I was happy to discover the PowerPoint presentation and I was able to adapt it to fit my needs and cover the hot topics I needed to emphasize,” said Colby, who noted the courthouse program provides all members of the court a chance to describe their roles in the legal system and inform participants of some of the “secrets” they need to know starting out in the profession.

“I also followed the handouts provided by the Legal Ed Program to gather my thoughts into an outline to reference while speaking to the group. I believe the resources provided a huge benefit to help me organize my thoughts and yet be sure to cover all the bases.  I was very thankful to have this resource when I was a bundle of nerves,” she added.

According to Colby, approximately 25 attorneys attended the session. Many, she said, asked some general questions and provided stories and anecdotes to help her relate her points to everyday situations in the courtroom.

“I was thankful for the opportunity to share some aggravations and common misconceptions, along with helping guide them to understand the proper procedure while working in the courtroom. I would definitely recommend others use the Legal Education Program when given the opportunity,” Colby said.

For more information about NCRF’s Legal Education Program, please contact B.J. Shorak, NCRF Deputy Executive Director, at 703-584-9026 or bjshorak@ncra.org.

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.