The current uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic is not relenting.   Stay-At-Home orders, while relaxing in some jurisdictions currently, are predicted to be phased in and out throughout 2020 and beyond depending on expected subsequent waves of the virus.

Courts nationwide have entered orders rejecting extending deadlines and are now requiring that depositions be taken by remote means.   It is time to move forward accepting that our current circumstances are going to be here for a while.

Federal Rule 30(b)(4) provides that “[t]he parties may stipulate—or the court may on motion order—that a deposition be taken by telephone or other remote means.”  Arizona RCP mirror this language.

As discussed in our article Momentum: Use It or Lose It, it is predicted that dockets will be backlogged for months.  One must now seriously consider the devastating domino effect that any further delay in taking depositions will cause to their client’s matter, and their reputation.

There are practical considerations a litigator will face when taking a remote deposition.  Instead of hoping you’ve read the right article, let us do our job.

We walk counsel and their staff through these logistical nuances each and every day.  Our platform is encrypted, password-protected, and is FedRAMP (Moderate) and SOC2 rated.

Obviously, remote depositions require integration of various audio and video equipment.   Not to worry, we’ve got your back.  Whether there are 3 parties or 30, at no additional charge we reach out and conduct practice runs with you, opposing counsel, and the witness to test technology, share best practice, and answer questions.

As impartial officers of the Court proficient with video conference technology, we help ensure the propriety of the process.   There are best practice protocol that you MUST require be carried out, such as the certified court reporter having control of all hosting functions, disabling any chat function, monitoring band-width and audio integrity in real time, simultaneously marking exhibits, and video recording only on-the-record testimony, just to name a few.   There is also a plethora of experience we bring, contributing to the confidence that you are geared up and on point for remote depositions.  These are standard functions that our elite team welcomes providing to ensure the integrity of each proceeding.

Please, do not be intimidated or put off by this technology.  This is what we do.  This is what we’ve always done.  We are your certified technical support assistant from end-to-end for all your remote video conference proceedings.

Bring it.

At this time of social distancing and unprecedented changes to businesses around the globe, we are asking how you’re doing. How are you adjusting your law practice? Many attorneys we talk to say they are now running a remote law firm. Whether staffing at the office is staggered or the office is closed, there are still clients in need of services. As court reporters, we often work from home so we’re offering our best resources to you.

Remote Law Firm

Current Tools – Can they be used to run a remote law firm?

You still have the tools used pre-COVID-19 at your disposal though you may need to rethink how you’re using them.

  • Clients can access their secure portal.
  • CRMs are available to track clients and cases.
  • Cloud services like Box are still available.
  • Phones can be forwarded so you don’t have to use your cell phone number for client calls.
  • WealthCounsel and other industry-specific software likely have greater capabilities than what you’ve used previously.

Most importantly, everyone in your office is still available. A small group can go to the office for signings. A legal assistant can research technology for video calls and using CRMs and software to a fuller capacity. Think about what needs to change and how to adapt to what you already use for today’s circumstance.

Rethinking operations as a Remote Law Firm

Even the most basic of operations, like having a weekly team meeting or initial consultations, require adjustments from in-person to phone or video. We recommend video conferencing services like Zoom, GoToMeeting, or WebEx which offer the security required for attorneys and their teams.

Think collaboratively on team calls. Ask each person to share three things they worked on or completed since the last meeting as well as something personal. Maybe someone needs help finding a particular item at the store or they need tips for homeschooling. Someone else may offer a positive thought or tip for getting through quarantine. It makes people feel wanted and appreciated and may make running a remote law firm be less daunting of a task.

Another consideration is how to communicate with clients during this time. In Arizona, law firms are considered an essential business but many have opted to work remotely to limit exposure to COVID-19. Depending on the size of the firm or client list, some attorneys are sending mass messages through their email and blind copying (bcc) all clients or a group of clients. Others are using social media messaging and/or email newsletters to communicate:

  • Hours of operation
  • Whether the team is working remotely, in the office, or something in between
  • Ways to reach attorneys and paralegals
  • How to schedule appointments (via call, website, email, social media, etc.)
  • Where to check the status of an existing case

If you are keeping even a small team at the office or are a small practice, communicate to clients and prospective clients what you are doing to clean the office.

Keep it simple for your team and your clients and don’t reinvent the wheel when it comes to rethinking operations.

Setting up space at home for working in a remote law firm.

One of the biggest challenges we have heard from attorneys is finding space at home for confidential client conversations. This is especially challenging now because the entire family is working or schooling from home. If you can manage to have a dedicated workspace in your home, we find that works best. If not, then at the least, set boundaries. Communicate to your family when it is your work time, where you will be working, and that during that time you are not available.

Overall, the message for anyone running a remote law firm is to communicate. Whether with clients, staff, or family, make sure everyone is in the loop as much as they need to be. We all want to feel wanted and appreciated, especially now. Remember you have the resources and people in place or readily available to make this work, at least for the short-term.

We wish you the best. Stay safe and healthy.

In need of a deposition? Herder & Associates is currently scheduling remote depositions. Call 480-481-0649 today.

Court Reporting Social Distancing

It is our hope at Herder & Associates that this message finds each of you healthy and as upbeat as possible in these trying times. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends social distancing and some businesses are closed, there are critical depositions that still need to be taken. We want to remain compliant with CDC regulations so when it comes to court reporting and social distancing, we are taking our depositions online. Using video conferencing platforms, we can continue to serve our clients.

Court Reporting Social Distancing

Staying Safe: Court Reporting and Social Distancing

Just because we need to be at least six feet from others or in some places, quarantined, our court reporters can still take video depositions. Take the worry out of needless travel and possibly exposing yourself, your family and coworkers to CoVid-19.

Call the Herder & Associates office in Phoenix, Arizona at 480-481-0649 to schedule a video deposition. We’ve got the phones forwarded to home offices and are ready to serve you and your clients.

We offer state of the art professional hosting and reporting of your video conference depositions.

Our team has been helping the legal community navigate crises and turmoil for 30 years.

Our court reporting services include:

  • Remote laptop streaming and video conferences
  • Depose witnesses remotely from their home or office
  • Remote court reporter and videographer can record your deposition as if they were in the room.

We’ve all seen video conferences go bad.  Real bad.  Don’t waste your time and your client’s money on an inferior service or a random pool reporter. You don’t have time to take that chance. Your reputation depends on you calling the right experts, the elite team of Herder & Associates.

Schedule your remote deposition now at [email protected] or call (480)-481-0649 to share any questions or concerns.   

No matter what your tech-savvy, we’ve got your back. Court reporting and social distancing can work together; we are here to help you navigate your way through this new era. We put Service Above Self, and we will all get through this together, stronger and better equipped to serve. All the best. Stay safe! We’ve got your depositions covered.

ABA Journal – Lawyers face many new evidentiary challenges, such as where electronically-recorded audio was manipulated, and then accepted into evidence in a custody battle to make it appear that a father had used threatening language against another party in the dispute.

“Deepfakes” like this are completely avoided when you DEMAND to have a licensed stenographer instead of Electronic Recording (ER).   Unlike a mere audio file, a certified professional stenographer is a time-tested LIVE Guardian of the Record, an institutionally-vetted and impartial Officer of the Court that is actually both witnessing and transcribing in real-time each nuance of your critical proceeding.  After extensive background checks, National and State certification, and extensive continuing education on best practice and evolving technology, the professional stenographer remains the gold standard to protect the public and provide a verbatim, certified record which cannot be manipulated, corrupted, lost or “deepfaked.”

ABA Journal – “The judicial system needs to learn how to combat the threat of ‘deepfake’ evidence.”

For your Arizona testimony, please contact our elite team at [email protected] or (480)481-0649

https://www.abajournal.com/news/article/aba-techshow-experts-warn-of-deepfake-threats-to-justice-system

Today we are mesmerized by the 50th Anniversary of the first walk on the moon. Our young newly-blended family lived in Central Florida, with “new Dad” a bright engineer working in the space program. He was delighted to wake us up at dawn to gather in the front yard so he could show his new sons “dad’s rockets” as each satellite and Gemini project launched. I miss Dad, the son of non-English speaking Ellis Island immigrants, who learned to speak English in first grade, “from the wrong side of the tracks” who respected the importance of totally assimilating into the country that he loved dearly and later proudly served as a Navy man. Dad went on to become a Villanova graduate and the epitome of the opportunity, freedom and greatness that America has to offer. I’m blessed that the memories are still crisp of the summer of 1969, standing there beneath the palms with my older brother, holding my new baby sister, engulfed by the humid Florida air permeated by the aroma of the citrus groves. We sometimes struggled to keep up as Dad enthusiastically explained jet propulsion, gravity and orbital circumnavigation. We were in awe in many respects, as a family and as a country. We were finally a whole family, reunited, static, safe, loved. And, the country was healing, united for an electrifying snapshot in time as Americans were authoring a new chapter in the history of mankind. Strangers from every walk of life, background, race and religion gathered around TVs everywhere, in stores, offices, restaurants and homes. For a moment, people were uniquely united and proud to be a part of something bigger: Being American.

I’m proud of dad, of his peers, his industry and of our country. They pursued greatness and achieved the impossible. They brought diverse groups of people together through their efforts, even if only for a moment. My heart and respect goes out to all the men and women of the space program who have dedicated their lives to this amazing and noble pursuit.

 

Social Media Ideas For Legal Professionals

It’s no longer a viable option for legal professionals in Phoenix, Arizona to avoid social media or even blogging. If your firm isn’t interacting online and doesn’t have an online presence, and the attorney down the street does, you are missing an opportunity to market your firm and your services in a way, and in a place, in which your potential clients gather. Social media ideas for legal professionals begins with understanding professional standards so you can align you firm with best practices.

As with any profession, there are specific business practices to which the firm must adhere. That is nowhere as true as in the legal profession. An attorney or court reporter must never share information that could be construed as legal advice or legal opinion online. Likewise, divulging sensitive information must be carefully considered, if not altogether avoided.

Here are our best practice tips and social media ideas for legal professionals

Posting articles and information from credible sources on your social media pages and your blog as you’re building your brand and making connections will help improve your credibility and provide content for search engines to better understand who you are and what you do.

Being online, having a website and being active on social media is an ideal way to build your brand. Brand building keeps you front of mind for the time when a reader needs to reach out to you for a legal matter. Brand building doesn’t mean constantly selling to your followers but becoming a thought leader in your industry.

Be selective.

Don’t friend or add everyone you know. Be selective. Set your privacy settings to the highest levels so that your personal information isn’t being shared with the public. If you have a personal page, be cautious about what you share and what you say.

Never share advice.

You never want to share what can be construed as a legal opinion or advice. Never talk about an ongoing case unless it’s already been covered by a major news source or is already public information.

Be ethical.

This should go without saying, but it is important to keep in mind that ethics matter online as well as in the courtroom or your office. Anything you say can, and probably will, be used against you.

If you’ve decided to put your law firm on social media and to start blogging for your Phoenix, Arizona firm, one of our final suggestions is to be consistent. If you add social media and marketing to your overall marketing strategy, be consistent and complete all of your social media profiles fully.

Become a Legal Videographer

Are you looking for a career that has the potential for you to potentially never work the same day twice? A career that won’t have you performing the same task with no uniqueness to your workday?  If you have an eye for detail and are looking for an intriguing career, have you researched how to become a legal videographer?

Legal Videography Today

Technological advancements have made legal proceedings more efficient and legal practitioners who use legal videographers are becoming more effective in the capture of legal proceedings. This mean that there has been an increase in tech-centric legal support careers.

One of those careers is legal videographer. This individual, also known as a court videographer or a forensic videographer is charged with using video equipment to record digital images for court proceedings.  There are times this individual will be called upon to replay the information they have recorded at trial.

A legal videographer is in the courtroom to capture video imagery used in wills, courtroom presentation, reconstructing incidents, documentaries, fraud evidence and more.

What are the steps you need to take to become a legal videographer in Phoenix, Arizona?  Here are a few to consider.

Certification

It isn’t necessary to have a certificate in order to pursue a career as a legal videographer, but it never hurts to pursue one. The courses that a legal videographer takes will only serve to enhance his or her career.

Certificates and additional education to consider include: videography, editing, criminology and/or forensics; the last two will help you if you’re looking to specialize in a specific type of courtroom videography.

Equipment?

Let’s first dispel the notion that a legal videographer in Phoenix, Arizona or any part of the country can use a smart phone as his or her video equipment. You will need to show your professionalism by investing in a video-camera, film or digital, a tripod, handheld lighting, monitors, editing equipment and a high quality microphone. You will also need to invest in a computer that is equipped with video editing software so you are able to edit clips and footage.

Practice your technique by shooting short films on your own. Practice your editing skills. Interview friends and family in different settings so you can hone in on the lighting and the microphone quality you’re capturing.

Don’t feel you need to rush choosing your specialty.

If you want to specialize, many Phoenix, AZ legal videographers do, talk with others in your profession to see how they feel about their specialization. Do you have a particular interest in a legal field in which you’d like to become a legal videographer? Know your personality and that will also help you determine the types of cases you’d feel comfortable being in the courtroom recording.

Professionalism

Shooting a legal video is only a portion of the job of a legal videographer. You will need to edit clips or present raw video to whomever requests it. Remember, not everything you will be recording will be exciting, but you need to pay attention to whatever you’re recording so as to not miss any crucial nuances.

Always having a business mindset will keep you focused and will keep you in demand for your skills.

Legal videographers appear to be in high demand. If you’re looking for a career with growth potential and you love being behind the camera, pay attention to detail and are professional, this may be the career path you’ve been seeking.

For more information about how to become a legal videographer or court reporter, please contact Marty Herder at Herder and Associates in Phoenix, Arizona.

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

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.

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.