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!

Election Day!

election day

Election day! Whether you are conservative or liberal, young or old, whether your candidate comes in 2nd, 3rd, or never made it out of the gate, please remember that we have the privilege of living in the greatest nation in the history of mankind.   Whatever the outcome of this election of these two flawed candidates, please be committed.

Please be committed to be an upbeat, positive force in your community, in your career, in life.

Please be committed to shun the negativity and demonizing of any opinion or person that differs from yours.

Please be committed to step up to bring about the change that you want to see, whether volunteering for a food bank, assisting with elder care, or being a Big Brother/Sister.

There are literally thousands of wonderful ways to contribute that you are not doing …yet.

Join a new charity and totally immerse yourself in “Service Above Self.”

Be committed to do more than spending the next few years on FB posting negative, non-productive posts that lack fact-checking or that depend on media propaganda, (CNN, Fox, MSNBC, et al.)

I’ve been voting since 1976. I’ve come to embrace what Mr. Ross Price shared with me on my wedding day in 1994. Ross was tough as nails, an ex-Marine buddy of my father-in-law, a 65-year old witty, successful liberal Dem from Sacramento. I recall it like it was this morning, sitting at a popular sports bar in Cedar Falls, Iowa, at halftime of a Hawkeye game. When we both got “animated” drilling down on politics, me pontificating about fiscal responsibility, Big Ross suddenly leaned in, began to stare right through me . . . and then started grinning from ear-to-ear to say, “You know what, Marty? What I know for sure is that no matter who has been in office, we all live a pretty good life, a life that is better than 95% of the entire world.   Never forget that.”

That was true throughout his lifetime, and it has proven true throughout my 40 years of voting.   I miss Ross and Dad, but they were spot-on.   Both were committed to community service, had a lifetime of giving back to their communities, and both were committed to bringing about the changes they wanted to see.   Two bigger than life, tough-as-nails, ex-Marines, best friends with wildly different political views, passionate about this great country of ours.

Be led by faith, not fear, and be COMMITTED to make a difference.

Leadership & Law

Steve Hirsch

A good leader leads the people from above them. A great leader leads the people from within them. – M.D. Arnold

Congratulations to our good friend Steve Hirsch of Quarles & Brady LLP, who was recently honored at the 20th anniversary celebration of the William E. Morris Institute as one of the founding members and contributors.

Steve has been part of the Maricopa County legal community for more than 40 years and was instrumental in establishing the William E. Morris Institute. The organization is a non-profit program dedicated to protecting the rights of low income Arizonans through:

  • Major impact and class action litigation.
  • Advocating with federal and state agencies, including the Arizona legislature.
  • Technical assistance, training, and support of three legal service programs in the state.

They like to say they do big things to help low income Arizonans.

Why does this matter?

It matters because leadership and law go hand in hand when helping the community. Social status doesn’t determine your rights or your ability to be a leader. Steve Hirsch uses his legal knowledge to help others and advocate for those that need it most. We need people like him (and you) giving back to the Phoenix community.

Leadership isn’t just about a position or status. It’s about being an example to others.

It’s about inspiring your peers to action. It’s about how a few people can change the world in amazing ways. Without community leaders, there would be no progress to change. In an election year, it can be argued that change is needed now more than ever. What can you do to be a leader in the community?

In this season of giving, we encourage you to find an organization that needs someone with your skills and experience and give of yourself.

And Congratulations to Steve Hirsch for recognition of your work in the community!

Real-time Court Reporting and the Political Debates

real-time court reporting

“Are you getting all this?” That’s the question we’re asking the real-time captioners covering the political debates.

With candidates interrupting and talking over each other, it was challenging to watch the debates, much less report in real-time!

What is real-time reporting?

The world is a fast moving place filled with information. The sooner it can reach the largest audience, the better. Whether it’s real-time court reporting or using your skills for live events in politics, sports, and business, becoming a Certified Real-time Reporter (CRR) opens a host of opportunities. But it’s not for everyone.

Many of us have either speed or accuracy but not both. CRRs type at a rate of 200 wpm at 96% accuracy. It’s quite a marketable skill not only for political debates but also for seminars, webinars, professional sports like baseball and football. Being able to caption in real-time means the information can be seen by a wider audience sooner.

What can we do to make real-time reporting easier for the reporters?

If there is a lesson to be learned from the debates, it’s not to talk over one another. It makes it challenging, if not impossible, for us to get an accurate account of what is being said. Even if we can record, it’s likely the transcript won’t make sense. This is especially troubling if we’re in real-time where an audience is reading our work seconds later.

Similarly, it’s important to speak clearly and audibly. If we can’t hear you, we will need to ask for you to repeat but if we’re in real-time, we can’t ask for repetition and may not transcribe accurately.

Whether it’s a presidency at stake or a sporting event, we want to give the audience the complete story of what’s happening in real-time. That takes skill and a bit of help from the folks we’re captioning.

If you’re looking for a real-time court reporter in the Phoenix area, contact us today!

Tips for a Better Deposition

What Your Court Reporter Wants You to Know

When you hire a Phoenix court reporter, it can be easy to just schedule them for a deposition and forget they need preparation just like you and your witness. The result? A frustrated reporter who may not be able to deliver what you need on the date you need it.

It takes time.

If you’re in need of a rush on a transcript, please let our reporter know when you schedule with them. It takes time to review punctuation and grammar, proofread, and make changes to deliver an accurate transcript to you. They can schedule their work accordingly and your Phoenix court reporting agency will be able to match you with someone who can meet your deadline.

Location matters.

When you schedule a conference room, think about where you, the witness, their attorney, and the reporter will be seated. It’s important everyone feel comfortable, especially the reporter who needs to hear everything that’s being said. It will save time asking for clarification later.

Speaking of clarity…

While a reporter can record sounds like uh-huh or ah-ha, it’s better that they record actual words like yes or no. The more clearly a witness can articulate, the more accurate the deposition. Also ask them to speak loud enough so the reporter can hear and not have to ask for clarification. This is especially true if it’s an expert witness using industry-specific terminology like a doctor or forensics expert.

Witness preparation

It’s not just the reporter who needs preparation, it’s important to work with the witness so they understand what will happen at the deposition and what is expected of them. If it’s an expert witness, allow them to review evidence including their own reports so they can recall details and events clearly.

No more multi-tasking

Your reporter is likely handling the marking of exhibits in addition to recording testimony. Allow them time to do this before asking the witness another question. This will save the time of repeating what’s already been stated just to get it in the record.

Most importantly, communicate with your reporter. They’re part of your team as much as your legal assistants. If the deposition time or location changes, they need to know. Otherwise you might be left waiting.

The best court reporters are the ones who are most informed prior to setting foot in a deposition conference room. Working with us, we can find the right reporter for your next case!

Arizona Court Reporter Shortage – What You Can Do to Help

court reporter shortage

Are you looking for a career that’s challenging, rewarding, and interesting? Court reporting could the right place for you. And don’t worry that you’ll be in courtrooms all day. There are opportunities outside the legal field that make this an attractive profession. And it’s a great time to consider a move to court reporting!

The Arizona court reporter shortage is making it challenging for attorneys and businesses to find people with our training and skills to help with depositions, court proceedings, closed captioning, and more. If there’s a shortage now, then it’s only going to get worse unless we work together.

By the Numbers

By 2018 there will be a need for more than 5,000 court reporters and that number will continue to increase until we figure out what we can do an industry to help [Source: Ducker Worldwide].

In Arizona alone there is already a need for court reporters outside Maricopa County including Pima, Coconino, Yavapai, and Mohave counties. In Greenlee and Apache counties, there hasn’t been a court reporter on staff in years forcing court administrators to use electronic recordings of proceedings in lieu of reporters. [Source: KJZZ]

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.

What You Can Do to Help

Often the biggest challenge is that in counties experiencing a court reporter shortage, no one from a larger area like Phoenix or Tucson wants to move there. They can stay in a more populated area and work as a freelance reporter where they likely make more money than in a rural county job.

In Cochise County, they’ve experimented with bringing in freelance reporters for certain cases with mixed results. Freelancers work their own schedule, not when the county needs them so they can say no to work in favor of being able to work closer to home. Even if this approach works, it’s not a long-term solution.

Looking to the Future

The reality is that if we don’t fill court reporter schools, we will, in the not so distant future, run out of court reporters in rural and urban areas. What can we do today?

  • Work with high school and college counselors to bring a face to our profession.
  • Use social media, blogs, and press releases to share industry news.
  • Share the benefits of being a court reporter with job seekers.

There’s not one solution to the Arizona court reporter shortage but working together we can bring attention to our industry.

If you’re interested in learning more or are in need of a Phoenix court reporter, contact us today!

What Court Reporters Want You to Know About Depositions

deposition

No one likes surprises especially a member of your legal team like the court reporter. The more you keep them in the loop on scheduling and preparation, the better for you and your case. It will save time in getting a final deposition transcript delivered and will build a solid working relationship with a trusted reporter.

Scheduling

Be sure they have time on their schedule for your client’s deposition by notifying the court reporting agency. Include the time and place and notify them of changes or cancellation. If you anticipate a lengthy deposition, let them know so they can make appropriate arrangements for child care, pet care, and other personal obligations.

Witnesses

It’s important your witness understands their role in the deposition and delivers what you need them to deliver as efficiently as possible.

  • Answer the questions asked, nothing more.
  • Speak clearly.
  • Avoid non-words like uh-huh and gestures like nodding.

If it’s an expert witness, they know a lot about their area of expertise and can be wordier than you’d like during deposition. Encourage them to directly answer what is asked in as few words as possible. It will help to have them review reports and evidence prior to the deposition so there is limited need for clarification.

The more you prepare witnesses, expert or otherwise, the better for your case. From a reporter perspective, it saves time and gets the final transcript to you sooner.

Preparation

You’ve scheduled the deposition and prepared witnesses. Now it’s time to make sure everyone has what they need.

  • Have witnesses reviewed pertinent evidence and reports?
  • Does the reporter have accurate information about the time and place of deposition?
  • Does the reporter have what they need in terms of technology and hardware?

It’s helpful to provide witness information ahead of the proceedings so there’s no time wasted on clarifying the spelling of names. Also let the reporter know if you need a legal videographer or interpreter and if it’s a technical or expert witness, provide terminology ahead of time so the reporter can familiarize themselves.

Reporters are good at their jobs and they are thorough. Providing a case caption ahead of time will be one less item they need post-deposition. That means you can get the draft of the transcript sooner which benefits you and your client.

When you call your Phoenix reporting agency, be as specific about the needs of your case as you can be so that we can match you with the right court reporter. Ready for your next deposition? Contact us today!

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2016 NCRA Conference — Let Yourself Laugh

Who in your life makes you laugh? According to 2016 NCRA Conference keynote speaker and humorist John Wagner, “Humor is a powerful tool we can use to help relieve stress and connect socially. Supporting those social networks is critical in helping to get past the edge of our comfort zones.” In other words, make sure you have people in your life who make you laugh!

Wagner engaged conference attendees in laughing exercises that had them literally rolling in the aisles. It was a nice change of pace from the stress of court reporting or running a reporting agency. Sometimes it just feels good to laugh!

Everyone should have a friend whose jovial mood the room. When you send a funny email to an officemate, you love to hear them giggle. You tell a joke just to hear the wide mouth gasp or a belly laugh. That’s powerful!

Laughing refocuses your mind and body.   

Do you ever feel stuck? Whatever you do, it just doesn’t feel right. You can’t make a decision or you make what feels like the wrong decision. Those are signs you’re in your own way. You need to move so you can grow. Whether in career or personal life, there’s always room for change. If we can laugh about it, that makes it even better.

All too often we see people who just can’t get out of their own way. You see them too. They’re the ones who are always busy but never seem to get much done. Does this sound like you? There’s a cure. Try letting the stress out with a good laugh. Then re-focus. Who knows, you may come up with new, brilliant ideas!

Connecting with others for a fun time is one of the best cures for getting out of your comfort zone. It allows you to be free and leave the tension behind, even for a few minutes. Even if you’re not the giggling type, give it a try.

Let yourself laugh. It’s good for your business….and your health!

Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases infection fighting cells.

It allows us to get out of our own head and just be.

Laughter releases stress in your mind and muscles so that you can focus on your life in meaningful ways. Whether you realize it or not, you’re out of your comfort zone and in a more creative space in your head. That can make all the difference to your court reporting business.

It wasn’t all fun and games at the conference. Attendees also expanded their knowledge and skills to learn ways to balance working at home with spending time with family, ways to be productive, and managing transcripts to save yourself time.

Are you an attorney in need of a court reporter in the Phoenix area? Contact us today!

Social Media Tips for Court Reporters

social media for court reporters

Social media has become a part of the professional landscape and whether you’re just starting to test the waters or a social media junkie, you can use it to build your professional reputation, showcase your skills, and make new networking connections. How you use social media makes the difference between building a reputation for professionalism and committing career suicide.

Social Media Tips for Court Reporters

Your updates aren’t just a social commentary or for fun, they’re a reflection of you and your business. Be conscious of what you’re posting and think about who may see it. It might change what you’re posting.

Content matters. Whether you’re tweeting, posting blog articles, or sharing content on Facebook, be aware of how you want to be perceived. Pay special attention to your spelling and grammar. As a court reporter, demonstrating accuracy is vital. Careless errors call your accuracy into question.

Separating business and personal. Having a social media presence can certainly help build your career. It will be up to you whether you choose to separate your personal and professional presence. Consider if you want to share photos of your kid’s baseball game or your sunrise birthday party with your professional contacts and if you want to share your professional posts with your friends and family. Even if you do separate your accounts, remember that professional contacts may still be able to see some of your personal posts. As a good rule of thumb, if you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see it, don’t post it.

Communication takes two. The key word in social media is social. Social media isn’t about broadcasting a monologue but about fostering a conversation. Good content will naturally drive conversation, giving you a chance to demonstrate your knowledge and professionalism.

Ready to listen. Part of any conversation is listening. Social media can be a wealth of information. In addition to building your own reputation, you can learn best practices from other seasoned court reporters.

Finally, a good rule of thumb when it comes to posting, always keep in mind the image you are creating. Your posts should be a clear reflection of the image you want to put forth whether that’s your role as a grandmother or as a highly regarded court reporter.

If you’re a court reporter seeking more clients or an attorney in need of a court reporter, contact us today.

3 Reasons for Taking Breaks During the Work Day

taking breaks during the work day

Do you feel like you have so much to do and little time to do it? You’re not alone. Even though many court reporters work from home, we’re working throughout the day. We might even skip lunch just to get one more project completed. We think working continuously means we’re getting more accomplished but this isn’t true. Often we’re less efficient if we’re constantly sitting in front of the computer. Taking breaks during the work day is actually beneficial for us physically and mentally.

  1. INCREASED FOCUS AND PRODUCTIVITY. Just as prolonged or aerobic exercise can drain your physical energy, prolonged periods of focus and concentration can drain your mental energy. Taking a break to get coffee, visit a co-worker, or eat lunch allows your brain to recharge. You will be more focused and productive when you return to your work space.
  2. IMPROVED PHYSICAL WELL-BEING. Leading a healthy lifestyle requires a balance of healthy eating habits, hydration and physical exercise. Many court reporters spend their days sitting behind a desk, hunched over a computer. This often leads to pain and discomfort in the neck and back. It’s important to get the blood flowing by going for a walk, stretching, or getting in a quick workout.
  3. NUTRITION. Eating regular meals allows you to consume nutrients that your body needs to function properly. In addition, carbohydrates and other nutrients provide energy to compete the physical and mental tasks required during your work day. Working for long periods of time without a break for lunch or at least a healthy snack (almonds, peanut butter and celery, or protein shake) can lead to mental fuzziness, fatigue, or feelings of stomach discomfort and nausea. Include a break for lunch in your schedule and help to further improve your energy level and ability to function.

Breaks offer the opportunity to visit with friends without feeling guilty that the work isn’t getting completed. The work will be there when you return and you will be refreshed and ready to finish the day. Next time you want to skip lunch, take a break and have a healthy snack. Notice that you feel less pain and discomfort and are actually more alert and productive.

Here’s to a healthier YOU!

For more information about court reporting or hiring a court reporter, contact us today!