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!

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!

Qualities of a Great Court Reporter

Court Reporter

While attention to detail and accuracy are keys to being a great court reporter, they aren’t the only characteristics that set this profession apart from the rest. Here are qualities we think make a great court reporter.

  1. Passion for learning. Whether you’re expanding your vocabulary or studying industry trends, court reporters are constantly learning. It makes you more marketable if you can illustrate your willingness to utilize new technology like real-time reporting. That translates to financial incentive for you.
  2. Focus. If you can concentrate on one subject or person for long period of time, this is a good profession for you. Court reporting requires listening to and recording testimony for hours, sometimes over a period of days. For some people this type of work is exhausting but for you it’s your passion.
  3. Organized. Whether you’re in a courtroom, boardroom, or working from home, you need to be organized so you know when to be at a deposition or appointment, even if it’s virtually. This is especially true if you’re covering more than one case. We recommend an online calendar and an app on your phone so you know where you need to be at all times. If you work from home, the calendar can also serve as work and non-work blocks of time so you know when to schedule time with family and friends.  
  4. Punctual. A colleague once told me that being early was actually on time and being on time was late. While I am not always perfect, I try my best to be on time. As a court reporter, you cannot be late to depositions. If you’re working virtually, build in time to check technology so you can troubleshoot early and start on time. Witnesses and attorneys are counting on you.
  5. Confidentiality. You will likely hear information that is not meant for public consumption and should be kept private. Not only should you act maturely when you hear the testimony, no matter how juvenile it might be, you should also keep it confidential. You’re just there to record what it said, not comment on it.

As a court reporter, it’s your job to be focused and maintain a level of confidentiality that is professional. Continue this as you review and proofread the transcription. Your accuracy could be the difference in the case.

Are you thinking of becoming a court reporter or need to hire a court reporter for an upcoming case? Contact us today!

Navigating the Court Reporter Shortage

court reporter shortage

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

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

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

Keeping Court Reporters Engaged

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

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

Attracting New People

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

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

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

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

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

Local vs. National

Why are you letting your client pay Wall Street page rates in, say, the Grand Canyon State, when the most experienced, highly respected professional court reporters own businesses in your back yard? Insist that your personally-vetted, LOCAL court reporting professional be present at your deposition.

Locally owned companies with a vested interest in the community, in fact, do create a greater economic impact, indirectly supporting more jobs, payroll and output locally.

National “body brokers” of court reporting services, by their very nature, are controlled from central headquarters – which could be anywhere in the world. In many instances, they do not even have a brick-and-mortar business in your state, and they blindly throw a dart into an unknown pool of anonymous reporters. Sound familiar? They are making decisions based on factors which might not have anything to do with what is right, or legal, for one particular location, business or community. Any cost-containment or savings promised by a national firm is illusory, as rates from all over the country much higher than local rates are calculated into their price matrix. In many cases, you are simply throwing your client’s money away.

Several of these national firms who procure exclusive third-party contracts with carriers, have a history of suing individual states (taxpayers), practicing in gross violation of local codes, and even bankruptcy, leaving local vendors, consumers and property owners holding the bag for unpaid services, payroll and leases.

Think of your client first. Operating under an exclusive contract with a supposedly-neutral officer of the court doesn’t even pass the sniff test of impartiality. Does it? You and your client are being charged more for the layers of administration for like or inferior customer service.

Locally-owned, community active, with all the litigation-support services a national agency offers; Arizona Litigation Support, LLC. National certification and experienced, with personalized owner-operated service. http://www.courtreportersaz.com/

Conference rooms, experienced certified reporters and videographers throughout Arizona. We are your cost-containment specialists.

[Statements on this blog reflect the author’s personal opinions and may not reflect the views or policies of any other organizations or institutions with which the author is affiliated, and are not intended to malign any ethical and code-abiding organization, company, or individual.]

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A Career That Rewards Good Character

 

A job that rewards good character.

A job that rewards good character.

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