NCRA leadership, award winners, announced in local media

Announcements about new leadership, award recipients, and grant winners who were elected or recognized at NCRA’s 2014 Convention & Expo, held earlier this month in San Francisco, have been making their way throughout local media outlets. Among them, an article that appeared in the local Gazette Newspapers serving Jefferson, Ohio, announcing Sarah Nageotte’s installation as 2014-2015 President of NCRA. Other recent media pick-ups have included an article about Nancy Varallo, NCRA’s Immediate Past President, that appeared in the Worcester Telegraph, a brief about Doreen Sutton being installed as 2014-2015 NCRA Secretary-Treasurer that appeared online in the Arizona Republic, and the announcement of Mary Beth Johnson, professor of court reporting at the Community College of Allegheny County, being named 2014 Educator of the Year, which was posted on also carried an article about Shannon Bevin, a court reporter from Whitestone, N.Y., who was awarded the 2014 New Professional Grant of $2,000 by the NCRF.

Read more convention highlights.

In the presence of greatness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

NCRA President Nancy Varallo: TechCon is the must-attend event for cutting-edge technology

NCRA President Nancy Varallo gives her welcoming address at TechCon.

NCRA President Nancy Varallo gives her welcoming remarks at TechCon.

In welcoming remarks to attendees at NCRA’s TechCon 2014 taking place in Atlanta, April 11-13, President Nancy Varallo called the conference “the must-attend event” for those who are interested in cutting-edge technology and the specialized programs the association offers—programs like the Realtime Systems Administrator workshop and the Certified Legal Videography Specialist program.

She urged attendees to take advantage of TechCon’s diverse audience, which includes court reporters, legal videographers who support stenographic court reporters, and legal professions who are attending to broaden their technological horizons.

“There’s always change afoot in our marketplace and we need to keep pace, and how better to stay abreast of market trends than mingling with the technological leaders in our profession,” she said.

Read Nancy Varallo’s welcoming remarks here.

NCRA president to local music teachers and boosters clubs: Tune into court reporting

In recognition of National Court Reporting & Captioning Week, NCRA President Nancy Varallo sent an invitation to local music teachers and music boosters clubs in her local area to share a flyer with their students that highlights the benefits of a career in court reporting, as well as the correlation that exists between talent for a musical instrument and success as a court reporter. Her firm, The Varallo Group LLC, in Worcester, Mass., plans to donate $50.00 to each school music program or music boosters club that forwards the flyer to its music students and parents.  Varallo invites other firms and groups interested in doing the same to celebrate National Court Reporting & Captioning Week to download a generic form of the flyer to personalize and distribute to local schools and clubs in their area. Find it here.

NCRA clarifies inaccuracies in Charlotte Observer article

In response to a Feb. 9 Charlotte Observer article, NCRA President Nancy Varallo, RDR, CRR, submitted a letter to the editor to address several inaccuracies. Primarily, the article, “N.C. weighs necessity of court reporter; ‘it’s all about the money’” cites a figure that NCRA debunked several years ago indicating that transcript turnaround time was cut from 138 days to just 12 by switching to digital audio recording. Varallo notes, “That statement originated from the Utah Administrative Office of the Courts in an effort to provide an effective talking point in favor of switching to digital recording. A review of one year’s worth of transcripts determined that there were only three instances when transcripts took longer than 30 days to produce, rendering the original claim not only implausible but impossible.”

Varallo also expanded on the technological value that court reporters bring to the courtroom through realtime and modern CAT software. She concluded by noting, “Solely citing cost savings as a reason to sacrifice the integrity of the court record is a dangerous course for North Carolina’s court system to undertake. We have countless examples of court recordings failing to work, recordings being lost, and recordings being nearly completely inaudible.”

NCRA will continue to advocate in favor of official court reporters working in the courtroom as they have been proven to be the most effective means of capturing the record.

To read the full editorial, click here.

Firm Owners Executive Conference showcases new markets and adjusting to change


Enjoying Opening Reception

Hundreds of the profession’s top leaders and firm owners gathered in Orlando, Fla., this past weekend for NCRA’s 2014 Firm Owners Executive Conference. The event overwhelmingly focused on how to capitalize on new market opportunities, respond to change, and shape firm strategy to succeed well into the future.

“There’s always change afoot in our marketplace and we need to keep pace, and what better way to stay abreast of market trends than by mingling with the leaders of our profession,” said Nancy Varallo, RDR, CRR, NCRA president.


Keynote speaker Ari Kaplan signs books for conference attendees

Educational sessions at the conference included a presentation by keynote speaker Ari Kaplan, Esq., who explored the reinvention happening in today’s legal marketplace; a panel of legal clients who provided an open and honest feedback session about how court reporting firms can better serve them and become an indispensable component of their teams; a lively discussion about new markets into which court reporting firms are venturing; and the presentation of the fourth annual Firm Owners Economic Benchmark Survey.


Jim Cudahy, NCRA CEO and Executive Director, and Nancy Varallo, NCRA President

The event also featured the popular Vendor Speed Dating session where sponsors had the opportunity to quickly inform the audience about their latest offerings. The event also provided many valuable networking opportunities for maximum information sharing among agency leaders.

Watch for more coverage of the 2014 Firm Owners Executive Conference in future issues of the JCR Weekly and in the April issue of the JCR.

Boston strong

Nancy Varallo, RDR, CRRI live outside Boston, and for me and my family, terrorism struck close to home last April 15 when two bombs went off at the fin­ish line of the Boston Marathon. There were deaths and grievous injuries, and our city’s easygoing self-confidence took a hit. Terror­ists had struck. Would they strike again?

On that terrible day, the Boston Red Sox were playing at Fenway Park. Diehard fans, like me, had low expectations for our Sox this season because the prior season was a disaster. The Sox had collapsed, riven by locker room tensions, ego-driven mal­contents on the field, and a manager who failed to bring the team together. The Red Sox finished dead last in 2012. Could they improve on that in 2013?

Red Sox icon David Ortiz rallied his team with defiant words, “This is our city! Stay strong!” Only days later the Red Sox played again, and 38,000 fans crowded Fen­way Park—as usual. The city of Boston was not going to be cowed by fear of terror­ism. For baseball fans out there, you know how this story played out. The new Red Sox grew long beards as a sign of team cohesion and solidarity in the face of terrorism and, most importantly, played to win. And win they did! Against all odds, they upended the experts’ predictions and finished first in 2013—and then won the World Series. What a turnaround!

The 2013 Red Sox hit the jackpot for many reasons, but for those of us who watched them play the 162 games of base­ball’s long season, the biggest reason was easy to see: they played to win, every day. They never gave up. They never coasted along; they always gave it their best shot.

We are court reporters, and the lessons for us are clear: be the best reporter you can be. Every day. Don’t be dispirited by competition or fear of technology. Resolve to perform better today than you did yes­terday. Don’t be complacent. And week by week, in the daily grind of a long year, you will succeed.

Like my city of Boston, the Red Sox adopted “Boston strong!” as their man­tra. Those two words were mowed into the centerfield grass of Fenway Park, and Boston Strong became the calling card of the revitalized Red Sox, their credentials as players: You can’t beat us down! We will claw our way back and find a way to win. And they did.

We court reporters have all the tools we need to win our competitions in the mar­ketplace. Realtime services are unbeatable. Nobody except stenographic court report­ers can reliably deliver top-drawer realtime. It’s our calling card, and our ticket to suc­cess. Our marketplace is impressed by good realtime; they know what an advantage it is for them; they know how to use it. It’s up to us to deliver it, day in and day out.

2013 was a magical season for the Red Sox and all the fans of Red Sox Nation. My trips to Fenway Park were exciting and, yes, inspiring. My beloved Sox were showing us how it’s done, one game at a time. And the ultimate prize was theirs: the World Series.

What’s your World Series? Where do you want to be professionally this year? What goal of yours is out there, waiting for you to make it a reality? Credentials matter. Do you have your RPR? RMR? CRR? Now’s the time to go after them.

The World Champion Red Sox had an exuberant victory parade through down­town Boston, where the city came out by the thousands to cheer their baseball he­roes. I can’t promise you a ticker tape pa­rade through town, but when you achieve your goals, you will be amply rewarded. Set a goal, work hard, reach your goal. How sat­isfying! How rejuvenating to your self-con­fidence! Be Court Reporter Strong this year, and experience a renewed sense of pride in yourself as a topnotch professional.


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

Ten ways to give back

JCRW_10ways_Graphic-01Inspired by Nancy Varallo’s “Thirty ways to give back” post in November, we’ve highlighted ten ways you can give back to the court reporting profession. We hope the list will once again inspire you this year.

For the full graphic, click here.

NCRA Convention & Expo

2013 NCRA Convention & Expo

Nearly 1,100 people, including ncra members, court reporting Students, and exhibitors, attended the Association’s 2013 Convention & Expo in Nashville, Tenn., in early August. Incoming NCRA President Nancy Varallo, RDR, CRR, of Worcester, Mass., welcomed attendees during the Premier session on Friday morning, inviting court reporters to set themselves “on fire” with their passion for the profession and encourage young people to enter the profession. Professional speaker Mack Dryden connected with the audience as he explained his seven steps to success.

The four days of convention were packed with seminars on everything from punctuation to technology to networking opportunities to the speed contests and an attempt to beat the standing Guinness World Records record of 360 words per minute set in 2004. Many attendees came into town on Thursday to take part in special all-day workshops held by vendors and the popular Realtime Systems Administrator program. In addition, attendees enjoyed testing new products and hearing about recent innovations in stenographic gear from 45 exhibitors. Other highlights included the association’s annual business meeting, the announcement of 20 newly certified RSAs, and the President’s Casino Royale party, and much more.