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Organize Your Legal Office For Success

Organize Your Legal Office For Success

Whether you’re a solo law practice or whether you work within a larger firm, getting and staying organized could lead you toward higher productivity and more billable hours.

Time is in short supply for lawyers, paralegals, and court reporters. You continually have client demands on the books, and you may feel pressure to bring in more clients and up their billable hours, but how do you do that when you’re already feeling overwhelmed and overbooked?

Organizational skills and organizing your law office will:

  1. Feel more in control
  2. Find needed information more quickly
  3. Clear your head
  4. Offer a better first impression for prospective clients and colleagues
  5. Amp up your productivity. You may find you have more time for yourself because you’re better organized at the office.

What can you do to become better organized?

Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day, 168 hours in a week; how you use those hours will either lead to a feeling of accomplishment or a feeling of overwhelm.

Productivity as not as much about managing time as it is managing tasks and your schedule.

Organize your desk. A CNN Money survey found “the average person loses an hour a day because of disorganization.” Can you afford to lose that daily hour?

Consider the items you use on a regular basis and place those items within reach. Limit the number of personal items on your desk, they will eventually overwhelm your workspace. File items you don’t use regularly. Make certain your desk chair, monitor and keyboard are ergonomically aligned; feeling better will help productivity.

Your desk is your command center. It should be up to flow smoothly and to help you work more productively.

Do a thorough clean-up. Before you organize your desktop, open all the desk drawers, cubbies and file cabinets and determine if what’s in there is necessary to your practice. Make three piles – trash, file, recycle – and use only these piles.

Recycle and discard virtual clutter. What does your computer desktop look like? Do you have thousands of unread emails? Take time and put those items into folders. Clear up that area of your workspace because having a cluttered virtual desktop is as overwhelming as is physical desktop clutter.

Don’t open an email or touch a piece of incoming paper without having an action plan. Act upon each email or document. Whether that action is to delegate it, take your own action upon it or to trash it, if you touch it you have committed to an action.

Personal productivity. Plan the next day before you leave the office. If you have your to-dos, appointments and other task items written down, you can jump right into work when you walk into the office the following day. Writing down your to-dos and tasks and tracking client projects keeps you focused on helps you meet deadlines you’ve set.

Enhanced productivity isn’t all about adding more billable hours to your week, it is as much about gaining balance in your work and your professional life as it is about billable hours.

If you’re a Phoenix court reporter or attorney wondering how to get more organized to enhance your productivity, we’d love to hear from you on what methods you use to organize your legal office for success.

To double space or single space?

To double space or single space

Raise your hand if you ever took a typing class in school. <Me: raises hand.> If you’re of a certain generation, Gen X or older, it’s quite likely taking a typing class was part of your high school graduation requirements. The answer to the question of whether to double space or single space is a nagging one. I recently asked on social media if my friends were single or double spacers and was a bit surprised at the answers.

Truth be told, I was shamed into becoming a single spacer. 

My need to double space came from my time in school writing papers on an electric typewriter. Because of the spacing, we were taught to use a double space. While a seeming simple change, double vs. single still causes controversy to this day.

Controversial because it was pounded into us that we needed to hit the spacebar twice between sentences, losing points for careless single spacing. Up until 2005, I was in the corporate world using a computer and slamming the space bar so hard I needed a new keyboard every quarter.

Then a lovely young editor pointed out that while she loved my writing, she hated editing my double-spaced work. That’s when I was shamed into my journey to not only single space but to save the company in new keyboards.

In the legal world, there are two schools on this issue.

Some attorneys will tell me that double spacing is what they’ve always done and will continue to do. It’s the way they learned and they’re not changing. Others still feel the wrath of typing teachers from their past and simply can’t live the single (spacing) lifestyle. An attorney friend of mine said that her firm’s standard is double spacing. Then she reminded me of our typing teacher from high school and almost shamed me into living the double (spacing) lifestyle again!

There are a few who have embraced the single spacing lifestyle but I haven’t found many.

Seriously, I wondered how I had been so easily shamed into single spacing when what feels like the rest of my generation is still slamming the spacebar twice.

If you’re a Phoenix court reporter or attorney wondering what to do, I recommend asking your peers or reviewing the standards for your firm. There’s no right answer to double space or single space, no matter how hard the younger generation pushes us into single (spacing) life.

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What does the court reporter shortage mean for earnings?

court reporter shortage mean for earnings

You’re called for a deposition and in the room is your attorney, opposing counsel, and the court reporter. You’re sworn in and asked questions related to the case in question and you provide answers to the best of your knowledge and leave. While the deposition may be over for you, it’s really just beginning for the court reporter who can earn in the six figures for their quiet work at depositions and other venues. There’s just one problem – a court reporter shortage.

According to Ducker Worldwide, there will be a shortage of more than 5,000 reporters by 2018 including 120 in Arizona and 2,320 in neighboring California.

What does the court reporter shortage mean for earnings? It means new reporters start at average annual earnings of $42,000 and median pay is $51,000; it can be even more in urban areas like Phoenix. For those with experience, they can make well into the six figures.

The reason is simple economics and the law of supply and demand. Court reporters are the product and the price is their salary. When the supply is low and demand is high, as it is today, salaries increase.

Because of the court reporter shortage, Arizona courts only require a court reporter at certain types of cases.

According to the Arizona Supreme Court, human court reporters are only required in cases involving a Grand or felony jury trial, death penalty murder cases, some sex crimes, and parental consent for abortion. That leaves a lot of cases without a human court reporter.

Without a person to record the proceedings, courts are forced to use digital technology and then hire freelance court reporters to transcribe from the recording.

The problem is that the technology is good but not great. Often portions of testimony or exchanges is inaudible in a recording leaving the reporter no choice but to mark it as inaudible and move on.

As an industry, we need to be better about communicating not only the opportunities for court reporters in legal, business, political, civic and educational venues, but about the earnings potential.

Interested in becoming a court reporter? Check out the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) list of approved court reporting programs.

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Court Reporter Facts and Myths

Court Reporter Facts and Myths

When we say, “court reporter,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Is it someone sitting at a steno machine in a courtroom? Do you think it’s a dying profession? We’re here to share court reporter facts and myths so you can learn and share more about this exciting and growing profession.

Myth: The only place you will find court reporters is in a courtroom.

The digitization of the courtroom has meant a decline in the demand for reporters in courtrooms and higher demand outside in business, sporting events, politics, and civic meetings.

You can find our reporters working from home as real-time reporters and closed captioners.

You might find them working as travelling freelance reporters in rural Arizona counties where there is a court reporter shortage.

Others can be found transcribing recordings from town hall, HOA, or Board meetings or live seminars and webinars.

Wherever there is a need to translate the spoken word is where you might find a court reporter.

Myth: There are more than enough court reporters.

The truth is that there is a court reporter shortage happening right now. Outside Maricopa County there are court cases that require an in-person court reporter by law. That often means sending one of our Phoenix reporters to cover the case. While it is a cost-saving measure for courts in our state and across the country, it’s often challenging to find a reporter willing to take the case.

Not only is there an increased demand in the legal field, but in non-legal fields. Couple that with a decrease in court reporting school enrollment and it’s a potential for a major court reporter shortage in the not so distant future.

Myth: No one wants to be a court reporter. 

If we’re going to get through the shortage, we’ve got to be working together as an industry to spread the word about the benefits of court reporting. We find that the more we’re sharing our experience on blogs and social media, more people are interested in this career.

While being a court reporter takes a special set of skills – focus, attention to detail, punctual, organized, accurate and fast transcription – many people don’t know the benefits of being a court reporter. Because there is such a high demand and low supply of reporters, the earning potential right out of school is higher ($40,000 average) than for many four-year degrees. With a bit of experience, reporters can earn in the six-figures all while making their own schedule.

For those seeking an exciting career working with a variety of clients, we think court reporting is a great choice! Do you have more court reporter facts and myths that need busting? Contact us today; we’d love to talk to you!

Details Matter in the Courtroom

Details Matter in the Courtroom

When CNN Supreme Court reporter Pamela Brown incorrectly referenced the Third Circuit instead of the Third District in this report, we cringed a little bit. While there are other stories that are more impactful to the average American, to court reporters, the details matter whether you’re a reporter for a major news network or a member of a legal team.

Legal Details

Brown’s gaffe was in reference to Supreme Court pick Judge Thomas Hardiman who serves on the bench of the Third District, not the Third Circuit Court. In the scheme of what a court reporter should know about the system, it’s kind of basic. As courtroom experts, we know the circuit courts are numbered (Phoenix is in the Ninth Circuit) and used for appeals while district courts are part of the state or regional system and are named by state (Arizona District Court). Most people outside the legal field may not have noticed the error but as court reporters, we’re trained to hear the details.

Details Matter in the Courtroom

Whether we’re taking depositions or hearing cases in a courtroom, the details matter not only for the attorneys that hire us but for their clients. In the big picture, what court reporters capture has potential to reach the highest courts of the nation so it’s imperative that we’re recording exactly what’s being said without prejudice.

There are times that it is challenging to hear witnesses, understand an accent, or manage conversations between attorneys who don’t see eye to eye in the middle of a proceeding, but it’s up to us to capture what is being said and by whom.

Help Us Help You

As your trusted court reporter, we ask you to help us capture the details by speaking one at a time, coaching witnesses on the importance of speaking clearly and loud enough for us to hear, and providing witness names to us ahead of the deposition or hearing. Sounds simple but too often we hear from reporters that they have to stop a deposition to ask for clarification and repetition when it could have been avoided with the implementation of a few key items.

We appreciate your help and look forward to working with you in the future!

Preparing an Expert Witness

preparing an expert witness

On first glance it may seem like an expert can be found online and just added to a schedule of depositions but the truth is that you’ve got to spend time preparing an expert witness. And please don’t just pick one from Google! Ask for referrals from trusted colleagues before heading to court for your next case.

Prep Time

Too often we hear from our court reporters that a witness, even an expert, has not been properly prepared to testify or be deposed. Allow prep time for them to review facts and information related to the case, including their own reports and prior testimony, to prepare for their deposition. Otherwise it can lead to a long day for everyone; it’s more efficient at the deposition if you’ve prepared ahead of time.

Mastery of Facts

Allowing time also means your expert witness has a mastery of the facts and is ready to not only give a deposition but also face opposing counsel in court. There’s nothing worse than having an ill-prepared expert who may hurt rather than help your case!

Relatable

We’re each an expert at what we do but not all of us can explain it in a way that relates to an audience outside our field. It’s the role of your expert witness, even in the most technical of cases, to have witnesses who relate well to the jury. Even if the information they’re delivering is complex, it needs to be explained in a way that plays well with the jury.

The Right One

Think about the case strategy when selecting witnesses. You may have the best forensics expert in the field but if they aren’t personable from the stand in a way that engages the jury to your side, it may not work to your advantage. Instead, find an expert who can not only explain evidence but who understands the importance of speaking to the jury.

Once you find the right one, take time to prepare your expert witness. It could be the difference for your client. If you’ve got the witness ready to go and need a court reporter for the deposition, give us a call!

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Herder & Associates Announces New Scottsdale Deposition Center

Herder & Associates, announces that their new Scottsdale location has opened in the heart of Old Town Scottsdale, January 23, 2017.

Adding to our other locations throughout Arizona, we have dramatically upgraded our presence in Scottsdale to a prime Old Town Scottsdale location, bordering downtown Paradise Valley, just north of the Scottsdale Civic Center at the beautiful Scottsdale Place.

“We outgrew our original Scottsdale location and sought a dramatically-upscale face-lift. It was personal journey for me, as my wife and I lived in this amazing ZIP code for over a decade and started our family here. Now our Scottsdale office is ideally located on Scottsdale Road just one mile north of the prized Camelback/Scottsdale Road intersection, which anchors Scottsdale’s Entertainment District,” says Marty Herder, CEO.

Herder & Associates is a full-service professional court reporting agency. The firm offers state-of-the-art, nationally certified professional court reporters for every aspect of litigation, hearings, and arbitration testimony with conference rooms throughout the state of Arizona.

It’s their goal to establish a relationship with their clients based on trust and expertise. Herder & Associates understands the importance of choosing the right team for your Arizona court reporting needs. The firm of Herder & Associates has earned a reputation as a leader in Arizona for court reporting due to their commitment to delivering a world-class experience for all clients with a focus on accuracy and timely delivery.

Our staff, services, and use of best-in-class technology make the firm the clear choice when you need a court reporter on hand.

Herder & Associates specializes their services to fit your every need. They pride themselves on having the fastest, most accurate, and conscientious professional reporters in the industry. The company focuses on real-time reporting in order to deliver prompt materials to those who need it. With dedicated and experienced court reporters on the team who have worked with all types of arbitration and litigation cases, you can receive an e-transcript daily as well as rough drafts so that you can review the materials and prepare for the future.

Schedule your next deposition by calling Herder & Associates now at (480) 481 0649, and you will know the peace of mind that comes with relying on the most professional and respected court reporting and litigation support services available.

Speak Now – Habits that Can Ruin a Deposition

habits that can ruin a deposition

Have you been in a conversation when one person talks over the other? It’s difficult to understand what each person is saying and you might miss points they’re each trying to make.

What does it feel like to be the observer of an argument? Or worse, to be in the middle of one? It’s uncomfortable. It may even come to the point where no one knows how it got started and the best choice is to stop arguing.

Whether it’s missing parts of conversation or being uncomfortable, your court reporter has likely experienced these and more habits that can ruin a deposition.

One at a Time

No matter your role at the deposition, our court reporters request that you each speak one at a time. It’s the only proven way we can record an accurate account of what’s happening. When you speak over each other, even if we can put the bits and pieces of conversation together, we’re left with a transcript that may not make sense to anyone, including you.

Volume Control

When I was growing up I had a brother whose volume would get louder if he felt his point in a family discussion wasn’t being heard. Don’t let that happen to you or your witness! As long as the reporter can hear you at a reasonable volume, there’s no need to yell.

Use your words

We live in a society of texting and short cuts but when you’re in a courtroom setting, remember you’ve got to speak using real words. Umms, uh-huhs, ahhs, and nodding can’t be transcribed.

It’s likely someone will ask you to verbalize and that only serves to waste time. If you’re an attorney, we urge you to coach witnesses on these finer points of being a witness.

If you’re an expert witness, please speak clearly. Remember that while reporter may be familiar with technical terms, don’t assume they know everything you’re saying. Be patient as they may need to ask for clarification.

The court reporter may be the quietest person in the room but we’re also observing and recording everything that’s being said to preserve it for the record. Remember that the next time you want to speak over or argue with a witness or opposing counsel. Habits that can ruin a deposition can also ruin your relationship with a valued Phoenix court reporter!

Navigating the Court Reporter Shortage

court reporter shortage

It’s challenging to build a business but even more so when you’re navigating the court reporter shortage that’s happening over the next few years.

By 2018, it is estimated that 5,000 reporters nationwide will be retiring. Not only that but the average age is about 53 years old, well above the 41 year old average for all other careers.

We see two distinct challenges – keeping current court reporters engaged in their work while at the same time attracting more people to this profession. It’s challenging at best but we know we have a bit of time and we understand what it takes to be a great court reporter.

Keeping Court Reporters Engaged

As with any professional, it’s important to recognize and appreciate their accomplishments. Gone are the days of sitting in a courtroom taking testimony. More than two thirds of court reporters are now working directly with attorneys at remote locations or even from home.

That’s good for the industry for two reasons — There are still job opportunities in spite of courtrooms digitizing and working from home is more flexible. We find when we’re working from home we can actually get more done in less time which means we can spend more time with friends and family. It’s a win-win.

Attracting New People

When it comes to navigating the court reporter shortage, we, as an industry, have to be communicating the benefits of this career. Flexible schedule, earning potential, and no degree required are among the most attractive.

We’re a fairly unique industry in terms of skillset which poses challenges to attracting interest but also opportunities for the right candidates. Attention to detail, good grammar, punctuality, maturity, and confidentiality are among the qualities of a great court reporter.

We believe this near-crisis can be averted if we’re focused as an industry. It won’t be easy but we can work together to make sure courts and attorneys have what they need to move ahead.

If you have the skills we need, we’d love to talk to you about a career in court reporting!

Are you an attorney in need of a court reporter for an upcoming case? Contact us today.

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A Career That Rewards Good Character

 

A job that rewards good character.

A job that rewards good character.

Do you know a young person looking for a SWEET job hookup?   Check out our video with ESPN’s Scott Pentoney, and then visit   crtakenote .com    BOOM!    

VIDEO:  http://goo.gl/gY1LnS