Five ways to love court reporting

Five ways to love court reporting

Five ways to love court reporting

NCRA announced that “National Court Reporting and Captioning Week” will be held February 17-23, 2013, as a way to get attention about what great careers court reporting, captioning, and CART can be. Want to help? Here’s how.

When NCRA announced National Court Reporting and Captioning Week, the JCR got in touch with NCRA’s new Senior Director of Marketing and Communications, Christina Lewellen, to find out more about this new initiative. She described a multi-pronged campaign that will include schools, reporters, state associations, and NCRA working together to promote the profession to prospective students and also to the general public. “Based on member feedback on the NCRA Member Needs Survey,” Lewellen says, “we know that many court reporters feel that the public at large doesn’t understand the importance of the court reporter or captioner. We wanted to do something to draw attention to the profession, and we know that our best advocates are court reporters themselves.”

NCRA will launch the week with a number of press releases to news organizations about the week and the profession to draw attention to how court reporters are integral to the effective functioning of our legal systems, as well as how important captioning and CART are to people who are Deaf or hard of hearing. NCRA’s Government Relations department has also asked that Congress officially recognize the week. Finally, NCRA will be launching a social media campaign that will highlight a new video about the professions in the hopes that it will make more students consider taking classes for court reporting.

But she emphasized, “Getting all of NCRA’s members to do something, even if it is something small, like changing their Facebook picture for the week, can do a lot to raise people’s awareness of the profession.”


One of the best ways to promote the court reporting and captioning professions is to take it to the source: high school and middle school students. Contact your local high school counselor to see if you can come in for a class period to talk about the profession and the many options it offers. As you know, stenographic skills can open many different career options, including court reporting, live-event captioning for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, captioning for broadcast and specialized videography. In addition, the strong marketplace demand means court reporting offers an abundance of long-term career opportunities. “Court reporting is consistently ranked as one of the top career options as it offers both flexibility and significant income potential,” notes Jim Cudahy, CEO and executive director of NCRA.

If you’re nervous about making a presentation, consider enlisting a colleague who can talk while you realtime the presentation. There’s nothing like showing realtime in action to get people excited. If you need additional help in getting started, check out the NCRA website. NCRA plans to post a PowerPoint presentation and basic talking points to get you started.


Court reporters’ participation in the Veterans History Project has been a win-win-win all the way around. Since the inception of the Veterans History Project in 2003, the National Court Reporters Foundation has worked with the United States Library of Congress. The collaboration has been a win for veterans and the Library, as well as the historians who now have access to transcripts of the many oral histories sent to the Library. It has been a win for the many court reporters, captioners, legal videographers, students, teachers, and firm owners who have participated, who talked about how meaningful this volunteer opportunity has been to them. Finally, it has been a win for the profession as a whole, because when court reporting firms and court reporting programs have organized Veterans History Project days, they have reached out into the community and shown people how important eyewitnesses to history really are — and how stenographers are among the few who can turn those oral reports into an accessible written document.

Get involved in the Veterans History Project through the NCRA website, or contact Beth Kilker, NCRF’s Oral Histories Program Coordinator, at


Another of NCRF’s programs for court reporters is the “Making the Record” Legal Education program, a presentation kit for court reporters to help them explain the importance of the record to attorneys and judges. The presentation offers tips on how to present the information and a script and PowerPoint presentation to give you a good start on your own presentation. In addition, you can download the “Making the Record” brochure and copy it for the people attending your session. All of these materials can be found on the NCRA website.


If you are a fan of social media and have a Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn account, you can promote the profession with a few simple clicks. You can make NCRA’s logo for “National Court Reporting and Captioning Week” your Facebook photo, tweet a link to NCRA’s new one-minute video about the profession, or link to one of the articles about court reporting posted on the NCRA website. You can also share your story about court reporting — how you learned about the profession, why it was a great choice as a profession, or what the benefits of being a court reporter or captioners are — and tag NCRA’s website as part of your message.


NCRA has created a number of press releases that members can fill out to show how they are participating in “National Court Reporting and Captioning Week.” If you know local journalists, you are certainly welcome to send the information through yourself. If you are unsure, NCRA can do it for you. Just make sure to fill it out and send it back to with the subject line of “Court Reporting Week.”


For more information or to download or share files, please visit On this page, NCRA has consolidated information for members, state associa tions, schools, and the general media to use during “National Court Reporting and Captioning Week.” The awarenesswebsite, however, will remain available for members to use for other events as called upon.

Making an invaluable difference

Tami SmithWatch just one news report and see how many stats and figures you hear on a variety of topics, i.e., percent- ages of overweight children, economic issues, and how many celebrities are getting divorced. Here’s a real statistic that should touch all of us: Violent incidents in court- houses happen at the rate of one per month.

When you stop and think about it, it’s staggering and quite alarming that our colleagues and John Q. Public are at a risk for harm on a daily basis. NCRA has put a lot of effort into seeing the Local Courthouse Safety Act move closer to becoming a law.


The Local Courthouse Safety Act proposes that we allocate already-existing grants from the Department of Justice to train security officers and other courthouse personnel to deter and react to potentially dangerous attacks. It would also allow local courthouses across the country to request from the Department of Justice some of the millions of dollars’ worth of unused security equipment it has — metal detectors, baggage screeners, and handheld wands — and the DOJ has grant money set aside to train security personnel how to use it.

For many reasons, this legislation is a no brainer. The Congressional Budget Office has indicated that this proposal is “budget neutral,” meaning that there’s no hefty price tag that accompanies the plan. With NCRA’s active involvement in the Local Courthouse Safety Act, we’re simply proposing that some of these resources be dedicated to the safety of courthouse employees and citizens who gather in these public institutions.

Luckily, safety, for the most part, is a nonpartisan issue. Though a few elected officials are not in favor of these types of proposals for purely philosophical reasons (mainly to tamp down “big government” proposals and leave decisions such as these in the hands of state officials), we are fortunate that with some significant co-sponsors and the active involvement of NCRA, we have seen the Local Courthouse Safety Act gain some traction.


The Local Courthouse Safety Act (S. 2076) was introduced by Senator Al Franken of Minnesota with Senator John Boozman of Arkansas signing on as the lead cosponsor. NCRA has been vocal in thanking these senators for their role in kicking off the proposal. In May, the Act passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee with bipartisan support. This means that it is now headed to the floor of the Senate, once the group reconvenes after its fall recess.

On the House side, NCRA’s Government Relations team lobbied hard to promote the introduction of a companion bill. NCRA brought the legislation to the attention of Lamar Smith of Texas who chairs the House Judiciary Committee. With Rep. Smith’s support, legislators from both sides of the aisle signed on as cosponsors, including Rep. Sandy Adams of Florida, who introduced the bill to the House in July. The bill passed out of the House of Representatives in September without opposition.

The Local Courthouse Safety Act remains in the hands of the Senate, and our Government Relations team is working hard on our behalf to do whatever we can to get the proposal passed out of the Senate. Once that happens, the Act would then, of course, be presented to the president to be signed into law. Stay tuned to NCRA’s website and publications to track the Local Courthouse Safety Act as it progresses.


The Local Courthouse Safety Act is just one of many examples of how the collective voice of NCRA can make a difference in each of our individual lives. When we pay our membership dues each year, unlike a cell phone bill or a grocery receipt, we don’t receive a statement that lists “Your income increased X percent because of your new certification” or “the value of the education you received at Annual Convention was worth $X,XXX” or even a little note that points out that, thanks in part to the efforts of our Government Relations team, stenographic court reporting was not eliminated in a certain jurisdiction or state.

But in the case of the Local Courthouse Safety Act, with all of the hard work we have done as an association to facilitate the passing of this proposal into law (fingers crossed!), I think we can all agree that the eventual result could prove to be invaluable. How many years of membership dues would you pay to save a life or prevent serious injury to just one colleague — or anyone for that matter? Collectively, we may be able to make a significant impact on the stats and figures concerning courthouse safety, and that would be a number worth noting.