Random Acts of Kindness 2020

To say 2020 has been challenging is an understatement. The pandemic has brought stressors and unanticipated needs to families and businesses around the globe. At Herder and Associates, staff, friends and family are making a difference and is supporting random acts of kindness in 2020 and they aren’t the only one.  We encourage you to do the same.

Court Reporters: Random Acts of Kindness

The Journal of Court Reporting shared the story of a Facebook group dedicated to promoting random acts of kindness within the court reporting community, including monetary donations to those in need.

What started with a handful of friends wanting to raise $500 has grown to more than 1,200 members who have raised more than $21,500. The group has been able to help other reporters with upgraded equipment, payment for a student’s Case CATalyst software, paying for NCRA membership, reimbursing the cost of books, and purchasing a replacement chair for a reporter with back issues. In addition, the group has received donations of equipment that has helped reporters and students in need.

Rotary is doing its part worldwide in the community.

Random Acts of Kindness

Like Rotarians everywhere, Chandler Horizon Rotary tirelessly looks for ways to practice Service Above Self in everything they do to help the community.  As an award-winning chapter of Rotary International,  CHR has raised over $700,000 for charity.  The proceeds of their all-volunteer events are earmarked for charities in Chandler and surrounding communities.  Since becoming President of the Chandler Horizon Rotary just four months ago on July 1, 2020, Marty Herder and Chandler Horizon Rotary have stepped up their “boots on the ground” work, providing random acts of kindness across the city and beyond:

  • Donated eight laptops to the Chandler Unified School District for students in need during COVID-19 so they can study safely from home.
  • Participated in Chandler’s 2020 Back to School initiative, the largest back to school collaborative drive for Chandler Students in need.
  • Feeding the homeless through the Interfaith Homeless Emergency Lodging Program (i-HELP).
  • Donated over 700 vaccines to Rotary International’s End Polio Program
  • Participated in the Red Cross Blood Drive
  • Donated 661 packages of much-needed diapers and 955 wipes to the Fans Across America This organization provides daily living necessities to homeless students and their families, families in transition, and children and victims of domestic violence.
  • Provided hundreds of blankets to the homeless adults with the Aris Foundation.

What can you do to practice random acts of kindness in 2020?

With the pandemic leaving so many in need, it is the perfect time to give of yourself, if you can safely do so. Here are ways to give that don’t take much time or money:

  • Giving blood.
  • Performing small acts like holding doors, saying please and thank you, and giving positive online reviews of small businesses.
  • Connecting job seekers with key people at your company or in your network.
  • Mentoring a new court reporter or someone interested in your area of expertise.
  • Sharing positive Good News stories on social media.
  • Offering solutions like participating in a canned food drive or volunteering at a food bank or soup kitchen.
  • Volunteering to help older adults with grocery shopping or other tasks.

Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

At Herder and Associates, we live each day committed to Rotary’s “Service Above Self” motto, striving to make a difference in the world one small act at a time.    We encourage you to do the same.   Check out your local Rotary Club.  Your life will never be the same.  Cheers!

staying fit during covid-19

I’ve been an advocate of fitness nearly my entire life. In whatever capacity you’re able, I encourage you to get moving. This is especially important during COVID-19. Why? Because exercise decreases stress in the body, stimulates the immune system, and increases productivity. If you love your gym, staying fit during COVID-19 means abiding by new gym rules, which look and feel different than before the pandemic.

Current State of Business

As gyms in Arizona begin to re-open (again), and as law firms are inviting employees back to the office, even on a voluntary or as-needed basis, there are cleaning protocols that need to be in place. Employees and, in the case of gyms, members, need to be educated about new rules and expectations.

JD Supra comments that, “Although it may be tempting to reopen as soon as possible, be sure to take the time necessary and to work with counsel to figure out how to exercise a new normal while avoiding potential risks. This will not only ensure a safe workplace for employees but also help to avoid future litigation.”

I agree with that statement. I’d add that there is no guarantee that any business will be allowed to stay open, especially if protocols are not followed.

Staying Fit During COVID-19

If you love working out at a gym like I do, I highly recommend asking your fitness center what you need to do as a member to keep everyone safe.

  • Go at a less crowded time of day, like mid-day.
  • Wear a mask while working out.
  • Wipe equipment before and after each use.
  • Bring your own water to avoid sharing a water fountain.

These are simple things we can do to make sure gyms stay open.

Why is fitness important?

As if our world weren’t stressful enough, we worry that every sneeze or cough could give us the virus. Perhaps worse is that we become asymptomatic while having the virus and carry it to vulnerable members of our family and community. That’s a lot to process!

I don’t mean to scare you, only to express the importance of following gym protocols, and to impress upon you the reason staying fit now is important.

Researchers studying work and self-reported work performance asked 200 employees at three organizations to evaluate themselves on days they exercised and days they did not exercise.

On workout days, participants reported scores that were 21% higher for concentration at work, 22% for finishing work on time, and 25% higher for working without unscheduled breaks. Most notable was that 41% reported feeling more motivated to work on the days they exercised!

If that isn’t enough to convince you to take a walk during lunch, there are many studies that report working out, even just 30 minutes on most days, results in weight stabilization or loss, less stress, lower blood pressure, and better mental health and quality sleep.

Even if the gyms are closed again, we are heading into the best winter weather in the country here in Arizona. Get outside and walk. Buy an exercise bike and/or weights. There are free videos and apps all over the internet. Staying fit during COVID-19 is key to your overall health and productivity.

Make Your Paralegal a Star

If you’re wondering how to make your paralegal the star, we recommend expressing gratitude for their dedication in this ever-changing world. Shifting from working in an office to working from home in an instant is stressful. Marty Herder, President of Herder & Associates can attest to that. He has spent the past six months providing 24/7 tech support and guidance to attorneys, paralegals. various courthouses and court reporters, as everyone was forced to make the complicated migration from working at the office to working at home. We understand and we are here to help!

How to Make Your Paralegal the Star

What are resources that can be used while running a remote law firm? Take stock of what and who you have available. While you may not be together at the office, you can still work as a team.

  • Client Communication: Is your CRM being used to its fullest extent? Find out if you can send multiple emails to a group. Inform witnesses of their upcoming deposition. Let them know the court reporter may be contacting them directly. Then call us to schedule the deposition. We will take it from there.
  • Shifting Roles: Can technology or marketing be outsourced? If you are the one normally in charge of social media and are overloaded, find out if someone else on the team has capacity or outsource to a contractor, same with tech issues like the internet and computers.
  • Thank Your Paralegal: We’re all in a similar strange boat and can use a gesture of gratitude. Tell your paralegal thank you for their dedication, even while working from home under COVID-19 restrictions. It can go a long way in making them feel appreciated.

As a court reporting agency, we want to extend a heartfelt thank you to all our clients. We understand what paralegals are going through and are dedicated to assisting in any way we can. From having to look for alternate ways to conduct depositions now that in-person is not available, or quite limited, to talking to witnesses, running technology on deposition day, and communicating transcript due dates, Herder and Associates is available.

Know that we appreciate you and will work with you to make sure your firm is not having to file continuances. We are dedicated to making our paralegals shine by taking care of witnesses, and handling everything from scheduling and preparing witnesses for deposition day to on-time transcript delivery.

We are in this beautiful chaos together.

Call Herder and Associates at 480-481-0649 to schedule remote video depositions.

remote video depositions

As a court reporting agency, we understand the value of time, organization, and partnership with paralegals in serving clients. During this time of COVID-19, we’ve had to make adjustments to our Phoenix court reporting but rest assured, Herder and Associates is serving clients with the same integrity and on-time delivery as always. We’re ready to take remote video depositions for you and your clients in Phoenix and across the Valley.

Let’s get ready…set…remote video depositions!

While the world seems to be changing by the minute, we understand your cases are still happening and we are here to help with video depositions in these ways:

  • Scheduling all parties for the remote video depositions.
  • Preparing witnesses, including testing their equipment.
  • Coordinate scheduling changes.

In other words, let Herder and Associates handle before, during, and after the deposition so you can focus on your case and clients.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have scheduled dozens of weekly depositions via Zoom and will continue to do so. That moves your practice, paralegals, and client cases forward, so you’re not stuck in a never ending loop of continuances because you were not able to have deposition transcripts ready on-time.

Why are many attorneys seeking continuances?

The primary reason the parties seek continuances is because they hope physical distancing and stay-at-home orders will be lifted to allow for in-person depositions. Reviewing the daily Arizona Department of Health COVID-19 Dashboard, it would seem this virus is here to stay. At this time, it is simply not feasible for the Court to extend deposition deadlines until a time when they can safely be conducted in-person because we don’t know when that will happen.

For the foreseeable future, remote video depositions are the best alternate to get cases through the court system. We are telling our clients and court reporters to not expect this to change any time soon.

Parties and their counsel should not expect to be able to conduct in-person depositions. The norm, at least for now, is that we are doing remote depositions.

What are the legalities of conducting a remote video deposition?

The judicial acceptance of remote depositions is substantially complete. The Federal Civil Rules Handbook[4] states that, “Generally, leave to take depositions by remote means will be granted liberally.”

In other words, when utilizing deposition best practices, a remote deposition holds the same weight in court as an in-person deposition. The court does not view them differently.

At Herder and Associates, we coordinate all aspects of the depositions on your behalf and to the best of our ability. This includes preparing witnesses and taking care of the technical aspects of a deposition. 

Contact us today to schedule your remote video deposition!

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.