advice for paralegals

What does our ever-changing world teach us about running a law practice? For many, it means being open to change, even if the change is thrust upon us like it has been this year. For court reporters, lawyers, and paralegals, it means having to adapt processes to continue to serve clients while keeping everyone safe. To say this year has been challenging is an understatement! We’ve got advice for paralegals to continue to serve clients with regard to depositions and client management.

Disaster Planning

In Phoenix and all of Arizona, the worst disasters we’ve experienced are likely related to weather – snow, rain, and dust storms. While these are an inconvenience, they don’t cause work stoppages or force changes to how business is done. COVID-19 changed the landscape. If you’ve been forced to work from home or modify the office schedule, you understand the importance of disaster planning.

We often think of disasters as huge events like 9/11, but there are procedures that can be put in place for events like COVID-19.

  • Does your firm have a plan to move people, phones, computers, and internet access? Does the plan keep client data confidential? VOiP services for phones and data and Zoom for meetings will help your firm stay connected. Get the team trained before there is another disaster.
  • Business Continuity. Even if the team is working from home, at least part-time, does it feel seamless to clients? If you’re not sure, ask them. Even during a disaster, it is important to continue to serve clients at the level you’ve done in the past. It can make all the difference as the world gets back up and running.
  • Stay Connected. How will your team stay connected to each other? How will they stay connected to clients? Pick up the phone and call employees and clients. It can be as simple as checking in to say hello, ask if they are okay, or more personal like a birthday message. It is especially important to stay connected; no one likes to feel alone.

Advice for Paralegals: Once the disaster plan is in place and operating, sit back and take note of what is working and what is not.

Having trouble working from home? Establish a routine, even if that means an open/closed sign on your home office. Communication with family and your team is also important. They need to know when you’re working and, for your family and friends, they need to know when you’re available for social time. The routine will help you stay focused and productive.

Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t forget to take time for yourself. Take a walk. Meditate. Listen to music. Watch less of the news. Video chat with friends. Whatever helps you wind down, do that.

At Herder and Associates, we are focused on continuing to deliver high-quality service to our clients, as we have always done. We’re all in this beautiful chaos together and we are dedicated to assisting you with depositions and are continuing to offer video depositions so that you can continue to serve your clients. 

Call Herder & Associates at 480-481-0649 to schedule a remote video conference deposition today!

My big brother Bob enlisted at 17 and served our country

in Southeast Asia at the tail end of Vietnam.

Eagerly walking in his shadow, I admired him as tall, broad shouldered, outgoing and bright.   Every kid in the neighborhood admired his athleticism, leadership, compassion, and how he was always there for the little guy.  Especially me.  He was always upbeat, fearless and ready for adventure.

Bob left home like most of our heroes:  Eager, patriotic and determined. He spent two honorable tours in combat as a teenager, then a young man, before becoming morbidly sick with malaria, typhoid, and other unknown illnesses due to chemical exposure.  Slipping into a coma, our family was advised that he was not expected to survive.  I remember mom hysterical, crying, shaking, barely able to hold the phone.

Through prayer, luck, and dedicated medical staff, Bob came out of his coma, and immediately removed his yet undated toe tag. He was eventually shipped home weighing only 130 pounds, his yellow skin hanging off his 6′ skeleton. It was hideous.

Bob returned, but the brother we knew was gone, replaced by a shell of a man.

Instead of reveling in his shadow, he now was the shadow.

It took my brother many years to recover, and he has had to endure an entire lifetime of life-threatening physical maladies and multiple system failures from his exposure to Agent Orange, disease, and the psychological ravages of combat.  Until recently, we as a family cannot remember a time that Bob hasn’t been sick or suffering physically or emotionally since his service to our country over four decades ago.

His duty assignment today is battling Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, as he still endures the psychological scars of kills and destruction. Bob has never given up, he was never a quitter.  He’s at peace now and thankfully is blessed with the love of a good woman.

But, like many vets, my brother struggled to fully integrate into a society that spit on him, that takes our freedoms for granted.  He faces a society that still dismisses the challenges he and other veterans face each and every day, while half the population whines and feigns outrage over everything from school prayer to words that hurt their feelings.   Bob, like many of our heroes, struggles with an inefficient government-run healthcare system that has proven deadly, drowns in bureaucracy and regulation, while it laboriously rations out benefits, medical treatments and procedures, as if he was begging for something unearned.

Sometimes we lose our heroes in one tragic moment.

Other times we lose them slowly and tortuously over time.

Let us never forget their sacrifice.

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.

The Coronavirus has us all worried about how to stay safe and healthy while supporting our favorite eateries, many of whom are offering curbside service. This got us wondering how we could continue to serve our Phoenix court reporting clients. What if more of our clients utilized our dual-encrypted, password protected remote video depositions? Over delicious takeout from Blue 32, we realized we had the answer.

Is your case starving for a discovery deposition? Herder & Associates is here to help!

Rather than postponing depositions 60 or 90 days or more while we are under a Stay at Home order, we can take it to a video conference. From the safety of your home, we can take depositions from your clients so that you’re ready when the courts open again.

Today’s technology is outstanding with both the American Bar Association and the National Court Reporters Association encouraging court reporting agencies like ours to utilize the technology, especially during these uncertain times.

In our article What You Need to Know Before Scheduling a Deposition in Phoenix, we discuss the importance of understanding the scope of work before calling to schedule a remote video conference deposition. While these standards still apply, we will also want to make sure all parties have the technology in place and know how to use it.

  • Webcam enabled device whether a computer, tablet, or smartphone.
  • Good internet speed and hardware if necessary.
  • Choose a quiet, private place.
  • Only the essential apps or programs open on the device so streaming is not interrupted.
  • Make sure to allow time for testing the technology before the appointed deposition time.
  • If testing leads to issues, you can always call in via phone to the videoconference.
  • Turn off all notifications on the chosen device. You do not want the stream interrupted.

If one of the participating parties does not have the technology, you are only as good as them. That makes it essential to test prior to the deposition time. Find a private, family-free, relatively quiet space to conduct the remote video conference deposition. We know this may be the most challenging part of the process and we understand. We have been cooped up with our families too!

Once you find the right space and time for the deposition, get it scheduled! There is no need to put it off while the financial clock eats away at firm resources and your client’s patience.

We are here to serve you curbside. Call Herder & Associates at 480-481-0649 to schedule a remote video conference deposition today!

Trial lawyers and judges across the country agree on one thing right now:  There is a dire need to keep moving forward, to proceed with hearings and depositions by virtual and remote means.  This is not the time for delay tactics or gamesmanship, as it is predicted that dockets will be packed and backlogged for months whenever things resume.  Courts are already becoming overwhelmed with pending cases, rescheduled court dates and other deadlines.

The Covid-19 shutdown will undoubtedly end up delaying cases even further than most could have ever anticipated when they first chose to be idle.   At this point one must consider that each delayed date exponentially impacts the others in a case in a domino effect, with each delay critically impacting your client’s case. 

Will your client wait?   Will your practice?  

Our current reality of social distancing calls for physical distancing, not for locking up all progress and productivity.  We must be committed to keep any momentum going, no matter how small or incremental.  Keep moving forward, today, and the next and the next. 

Commitment Ignites Momentum

Procrastinating (or accepting your opponent’s desire to do so) won’t help you win your case.  Don’t let your circumstances define your progress.  This doesn’t mean that you ignore the reality of our current situation.  It means that you proactively find a solution to promptly overcome the challenges that you’re up against, just like you have your entire career.   Assess, Adapt and Overcome.

Even the Supreme Court announced on Monday that it would hear arguments by telephone over six days in May. 

You’ve spent countless hours, years, building solid momentum in your career and in your practice.   Why let it come to a screeching halt, or unnecessarily concede to slog through decreased productivity and lost momentum?   

“We’re going to have to completely rethink how much has to be done in person, how much can be done using technology” Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht recently shared with ABC News.

Many of your clients may be suffering massive losses right now, but that does not change the fact that they fully expect you to quickly figure out how to keep the momentum of their case moving forward, no matter what. 

T.Harv Eker said,  “The world doesn’t need more people playing small. It’s time to stop hiding out and start stepping out. It’s time to stop needing and start leading.”

Pro Tip:  First, identify a handful of key people who have a proven track record, a superior work ethic and reputation, and the desire to help you move forward.  Herder & Associates Court Reporters is your experienced resource to help you navigate your transition to encrypted, password-protected remote video proceedings.  It is time to move past any hesitation or roadblocks you have and keep the momentum going.   

Call today: (480)481-0649 or email at: [email protected]  

Be well and stay healthy.

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.

 

(From the Arizona Court Reporters Association publication ArizoNotes, Spring 2019, Volume 47, Number 1 )

Hi friends. First, my thanks and appreciation to our ACRA board and our AzNotes editor for their selfless contribution each and every week to our profession. Also, a shout-out to all of those who have served before over the years. Thanks to each of you, we as a court reporting family are better situated, better prepared and better informed.

My father-in-law Harold, (“H”) was a force to be reckoned with. Direct, bold, successful, yet extremely generous with his time. I particularly enjoyed and respected his business acumen and sense of community participation. H was a Rotarian, and he planted the seed of volunteerism from the day I first started dating his lovely daughter, Ann.

One day after a depo a client, who I also respect deeply, brought up joining Rotary. With an infectious smile, he invited me to breakfast at the Chandler-Horizon Rotary Club. That was 17 years ago. At the time Ann and I were overwhelmed. We were building a brand new business. We had a two-year old and a newborn, and we had just moved into a new house in the middle of nowhere, miles further out than I’d ever commuted before. Also, I was commuting back and forth to Los Angeles several times a month to comfort mom during her battle with cancer. I remember driving to my first Rotary meeting thinking, “What am I doing? I’ve got no time in my schedule doing charity work for strangers.”

I could not have been more wrong. I, like many, had no perception of the profound and positive influence a life of “Service Above Self” would have on me, my family, my friends, and most importantly those that we serve.

The Chandler-Horizon Rotary Club is an award-winning, dynamic Chapter of Rotary International . We work tirelessly throughout the year, volunteering with many organizations and causes to provide extra hands, love, and our commitment to help in order to make sure that as many needs as possible are met.

Is it exhausting? Sometimes. But, it’s been one of the most joyful and rewarding decisions of my life. The men and women of our Rotary “family” like most volunteers, are the most kind and giving human beings you will ever know. Whether its Saturday mornings at food banks, Friday night fundraisers, or weekdays volunteering at a local shelter, each week is a new opportunity for adventure with other enthusiastic community volunteers from all backgrounds and walks of life. I have learned that volunteerism is an amazing way to broaden your life experience while having a tangible, positive impact on your community

When Hurricane Harvey hit land, we Rotarians hit the ground running, tirelessly collecting supplies and emergency funds for victims, and sending a team to Houston to rebuild homes.

In 2018 alone I was privileged to be a part of many of our ongoing fundraisers and efforts for the Desert Cancer Foundation of Arizona, Foundation for Burns & Trauma, building storage rooms for The Clothes Cabin, helping build a well in Nigeria, fundraising for an eye clinic and water project in India, providing natural disaster Shelter Boxes to Haiti, working with Hope Crisis Animal Assistance, participating in The Rotary Third Grade Dictionary Project, boxing food for Feed My Starving Children, United Food Bank, and the Chandler Food Bank (Azcend).

In December, there was the tearful, but rewarding “Juguetes para ni?os” (Toys for Tots) in the expansive barrio of Puerto Penasco, Mexico helping “Santa” distribute 100s of toys, clothes and food to poverty-stricken masses of children.

I’ve stood crying with veterans of all ages organizing the Healing Field at Tempe Beach Park, and laughed with grateful 4th graders during the Back-to-School Backpack Project.

Apparently passion is contagious, as both of my teen daughters have spent their high school spring breaks and vacations on mission trips volunteering around the country. My youngest (16) went to Malawi Africa last summer with a team to support the medical clinic and orphanage.

Ask anyone who knew me 30 years ago, and they’ll tell you that Rotary and a life of “Service Above Self” has changed my life in more ways than I’ll ever be able to repay.

We’re all in this chaos together, with our insane schedules and busy beyond comprehension, right? But, think about this: The need is equally overwhelming. The world needs more people like YOU.

So, wherever you’re at in life, whatever you current level of service work or charity is, the next time you ask yourself, “What can I do?”
The answer is simple: “More.”