Step Away from the Phoenix Law Office and Embrace Spring Fun

Phoenix Law Office

While the rest of the country is experiencing snow, wind, and ice, even as they’re springing their clocks forward, we encourage you to step away from the Phoenix law office and embrace spring fun! From Cactus League Major League Spring Training games to arts and food festivals, the valley is hopping with activity for singles, couples, families, and winter visitors.

Let’s root root root for the home team!

Whether you’re a Diamondbacks, Cubs, Giants or a fan of the dozen other Major League baseball teams that play in the Cactus League, take an afternoon off from your Phoenix law firm to enjoy America’s past time with your colleagues and families. Lawn seats are perfect for young families as it gives the kids space to play. Older kids, and their parents, can enjoy up close seats right behind home plate to see veterans and up and coming rookies take to the field.

Missed the Cactus League season? Check out the Arizona Diamondbacks regular season games under the roof in a cool-ish 75 degree environment. 

Take a hike. 

Whether you’re a novice or seasoned hiker, this time of year is perfect for a day outside. Wear hiking shoes, sunscreen, hat, and sunglasses and bring water and snacks. You never know when you may go off trail by accident and need a few supplies to get you back to the parking lot. Not only that but if you’re not used to being outside in the Arizona sunshine, you will dehydrate more quickly making water and a sports drink or electrolytes an important part of your hiking backpack.

Not ready for a big hike but want to enjoy the cool weather?

Google “hiking Arizona” to find resources for the best trails. If you’re not sure where to start, I recommend a nature walk at the Riparian Preserve in Gilbert, the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, or Papago Park. Other options include festivals and food centered events like the Aloha Festival in Tempe.

Anything to get you out of your Phoenix law office and into the sunshine is perfect this time of year! Have fun. Stay safe. We will be here to help you and your clients when you get back.

If HAL 9000 were Alexa…

If HAL 9000 were Alexa

If you’re a fan of sci-fi movies, the name HAL 9000 is likely familiar. Developed long before Siri or Alexa, HAL 9000 is the artificial intelligence that controls the systems of the Discovery One spaceship in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. That got us thinking about if HAL 9000 were Alexa, what would it be like? We took our search to YouTube and found this video that gave us a chuckle:

Open the pod bay doors, Alexa. 

Alexa: Searching for cod recipes online.

The video continues through a series of misheard commands that would undoubtedly lead the spaceship to unintended places. If you’ve tried to use Alexa, you likely had some of these moments yourself!

What does HAL 9000 have to do with court reporting?

For years we’ve been hearing about how speech recognition software like For the Record may replace the verbatim court reporter but these claims ignore important aspects of the role of Phoenix court reporters.

The claims ignore that trial and deposition testimony is filled with unique challenges that speech recognition cannot overcome like people talking over or interrupting each other or low talkers (remember that Seinfeld episode?). If we utilize speech recognition technology in conversations or meetings where people frequently interrupt each other or talk over one another, such as in a deposition, it’s likely to be a poor recording that is challenging for a court reporter to transcribe.

The problem with digital recordings is that they aren’t done by humans.

Variations in the pronunciation of words, unwanted ambient noises, homonyms, as well individual dialects and accents create challenges for a machine that is simply recording. “There” and “their,” “air” and “heir,” “be” and “bee” are all examples. There is no way for a speech recognition program to tell the difference between these words based on sound alone.

This software also faces other problems with the type of hardware used to input the sound, as the results can have a huge impact in how the software will interpret the speech.

The idea of replacing a sworn officer of the court who is also witnessing and recording each of these nuances leaves keeping of the official record vulnerable and open to inaccuracy. In spite of challenges in our industry including a court reporter shortage, the Certified Professional Court Reporter remains the gold standard for producing a real-time verbatim record.

If you’re in need of a court reporter for an upcoming deposition, contact Herder and Associates today!

Press Release: Leader in Court Reporting in the Southwest Accelerates Growth with Relocation to Central Business District of Phoenix

This press release was originally published here

 

Herder & Associates Court Reporters are pleased to announce the relocation and expansion of their Phoenix headquarters to the prestigious Renaissance Center, Two North Central, Suite 1800, Phoenix, Arizona, 85004. They are poised for growth as they join many of Arizona’s elite law firms. 

“Bigger, stronger, and faster are our growth goals,” says founder Marty Herder, “With five offices throughout Arizona, the decision to expand our headquarters in the Phoenix area was a logical step in our business strategy. This move increases our ability to serve current and future clients across the state and country.”

The investment in expansion reinforces Herder’s 40-year roots in Phoenix and provides the leader in Southwest court reporting firms the technology and manpower necessary to support continuous growth in an evolving market. Herder & Associates is the turnkey reporting firm for Arizona depositions in an inspiring and energizing environment.

Located in the heart of Phoenix’s central business district, One Renaissance Tower is in the heart of downtown.

Its exclusive location offers the best access to government buildings, Arizona State University downtown campus, and professional sports and entertainment venues. Fine hotels and the Metro Light Rail Station are nearby making it easily accessible to clients and exciting for the team to explore downtown Phoenix shopping, restaurants, arts, and theatre including CityScape which is just across the street, or take in a Suns basketball game or Arizona Diamondbacks baseball game.

Herder & Associates is a leader in the court reporting industry. The firm offers state-of-the-art, certified professional court reporters for every aspect of litigation, hearing, arbitration testimony, with a diverse range of clients. State of Arizona and federally-approved contract vendor, with an excellent reputation for integrity and professionalism in both the reporting and legal industry.

Superior cost-containment with personalized professional service. Full-spectrum elite national experience providing tailor-made service for your litigation. Specialties include large complex civil litigation requiring full commitment and organization during discovery of an elite team of experienced professional reporters. Visit www.CourtReportersAZ.com.

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What the Court Reporter Shortage Means in Arizona

Court Reporter Shortage

It’s estimated, by Ducker Worldwide that by this year there will be a court reporter shortage of 5,000 within five years meaning that demand will exceed supply. The combination of many court reporters being close to retirement age and a dearth of younger people pursuing the profession is leading the shortage.

What does this mean for the courts and for attorneys?

This shortage highlights the need to recruit younger people to the field. To retain the highest level of customer care for attorneys in Phoenix, Arizona and their clients, the profession literally cannot afford any of the current court reporters to retire early.

Recruiting new court reporters to the profession is not as easy as it once was because court reporting schools are also going out of business. This is especially true in rural areas which might not only experience a shortage of court reporters, but a complete lack of them.

The shrinking base of court reporters and a smaller pool of potential candidates to replace them has many court officials seeking options to ensure accurate records of court proceedings are captured and maintained.

What can be done?

Phoenix, Arizona attorneys and the courts themselves need to find ways to support and help regrow interest in the career. The salary and the flexibility the career offers should potentially lure new professionals into the career.

The starting salaries for court reporters is estimated at $43,000. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a 14% growth in salary per year through 2020. The reason for the salary growth is because the supply of court reporters is low and the demand remains high and that leads to salary increases. It is hoped that the salary level for even beginning court reporters will be an incentive for them to pursue training in the field.

Many court reporters work on a contract basis with various courts and this means they can work as often, or as infrequently, as they like. They are essentially able to set their own earning potential. Some court reporters, on certain cases, could earn more than six figures.

Why is there a court reporter shortage and what does it mean to the public?

A shortage of court reporters means a dearth of qualified professionals available to deliver service to attorneys who are representing their clients in courtroom proceedings. 

While electronic recording devices have been introduced into some courtrooms they are no replacement for an experienced court reporter who can pick up on nuances in conversations and request something be repeated it if wasn’t clear.

Technology is no a solution to the court reporter shortage, though because with technology comes technical problems. Additionally, even if the proceedings are recorded, the record still needs to be transcribed. Litigation firms do not anticipate a decline in the need for court reporters.

Court reporters provide service during court proceedings and they also prepare transcripts for appeals and other judicial review processes.

To entice a new crop of court reporters to the field, current court reporters in Phoenix, Arizona should be urged to communicate what they enjoy about their careers. It is up to those in the legal profession to help the public understand the need for these professionals in courtroom proceedings.

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Before You Hire A Court Reporter, Ask These Questions

Hire A Court Reporter

You’ve been handed a case and need to hire a court reporter. Where do you go and what do you ask? While search engines may provide a start for your search, we encourage you to call and ask these questions. Just like with any important hiring decision, you want to make sure you’re onboarding the right candidate for the job.

What is your experience?

While court reporters are an average age of about 53 years old, that doesn’t mean they all have the experience you need for your case. In fact, they may be new or second career reporters so it’s important to ask about the type of cases they’ve worked. Rather than spinning your wheels trying to find a reporter, contact an agency like Herder and Associates who can match you with the right reporter, follow a process, and deliver a final transcript by deadline.

Are you certified and trained?

This is an especially important question for a couple of reasons. Arizona is a transient state meaning many people aren’t from here and they tend to move here and then to another state. Not all states require court reporters to be certified so it is important to ask. In Arizona and surrounding states, certification is a requirement. The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) offers certification and continuing education (CEU) so that reporters are up to date on technology and best practices.

How much advance notification do you need to schedule a deposition?

At Herder and Associates, we strive to provide the most qualified court reporters to all of our clients. While we’re always working to meet your timeframes, the more advanced notice you can give us, the better it is for us to be able to schedule the right court reporter for your case or project.

What is the cost and timeframe for transcript turnaround?

When you call to schedule your deposition, we will provide the cost and timeframe. If you need an expedited transcript, please let us know at that time. Prices may vary depending on how soon you need the final transcript. The more information you can relay to our team, the better we can provide the product and service you desire.

Before you hire a court reporter, ask these questions to be sure you’re getting the reporter that can work best with your legal team. Have more questions or need to schedule a court reporter? Contact us today.

Apps for Legal Professionals

Apps for Legal Professionals

Years ago I wrote an article called Time Management Isn’t about Managing Your Time that’s likely still floating on the interweb somewhere. The idea was that we always have 24 hours in a day so it is pointless to manage our time. Rather, we need to manage how we’re using our time. I’ve found one of the ways to do this is to embrace apps for legal professionals.

Increased Efficiency

My favorite tool for running a small business is Google Drive which includes Google equivalents of MS Word, Excel, a calendar, and other tools. Safely store and share documents with multiple parties or share links to documents that includes view-only or editing options. That means using less space on a computer and sharing documents without sending a separate email. I like this because it’s efficient, especially for those working in teams. Other cloud options include DropBox and iCloud.

Words Matter

DragonDiction is a voice to text app that allows users to dictate text messages, emails, and social media statuses. This is the perfect app for the legal professional who is on the go and needs an efficient way to communicate.

Along with DragonDiction is Evernote which allows users to make lists, take notes, and search via smartphone or computer. Pretty slick and easy to use for the busiest of freelancers.

Legal Specific

DroidLaw is a free app providing access to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Evidence, Appellate, Criminal, Appellate, and Bankruptcy Procedure, and the U.S. Constitution. Available for purchase are state codes and laws and other resources useful to legal professionals. If you’re an iPhone user, LawStack is another option with similar resources.

If you’re a legal news hound, try LegalEdge. This app includes news alerts, updates, and case filings from across the nation. For general news, set up a Google Alert for certain terms and automatically receive news and blog posts about that topic straight to your email on a recurring basis.

It’s worth noting these apps for legal professionals including our Phoenix court reporters, all have free options available if you just want to give them a try. Leave a comment and let us know what you like to use and have fun managing your time!

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What does the court reporter shortage mean for earnings?

court reporter shortage mean for earnings

You’re called for a deposition and in the room is your attorney, opposing counsel, and the court reporter. You’re sworn in and asked questions related to the case in question and you provide answers to the best of your knowledge and leave. While the deposition may be over for you, it’s really just beginning for the court reporter who can earn in the six figures for their quiet work at depositions and other venues. There’s just one problem – a court reporter shortage.

According to Ducker Worldwide, there will be a shortage of more than 5,000 reporters by 2018 including 120 in Arizona and 2,320 in neighboring California.

What does the court reporter shortage mean for earnings? It means new reporters start at average annual earnings of $42,000 and median pay is $51,000; it can be even more in urban areas like Phoenix. For those with experience, they can make well into the six figures.

The reason is simple economics and the law of supply and demand. Court reporters are the product and the price is their salary. When the supply is low and demand is high, as it is today, salaries increase.

Because of the court reporter shortage, Arizona courts only require a court reporter at certain types of cases.

According to the Arizona Supreme Court, human court reporters are only required in cases involving a Grand or felony jury trial, death penalty murder cases, some sex crimes, and parental consent for abortion. That leaves a lot of cases without a human court reporter.

Without a person to record the proceedings, courts are forced to use digital technology and then hire freelance court reporters to transcribe from the recording.

The problem is that the technology is good but not great. Often portions of testimony or exchanges is inaudible in a recording leaving the reporter no choice but to mark it as inaudible and move on.

As an industry, we need to be better about communicating not only the opportunities for court reporters in legal, business, political, civic and educational venues, but about the earnings potential.

Interested in becoming a court reporter? Check out the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) list of approved court reporting programs.

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Social Media and Free Speech

Social Media and Free Speech

The current political climate has lent itself to conversations about free speech, including what people are saying on social media in Phoenix and across the nation. How can we censor ourselves from conversations in which we don’t want to be involved? Can we police who is using social media? How far is too far when it comes to first amendment privilege? The answers are still unfolding in part because social media is relatively new media and with anything new comes a testing of the legal system. 

President Trump and Twitter 

We’ve never had to ask ourselves if the President can use social media on their own private account or if they can, does it count as an official statement, but we are now! President Trump is, at least at the time of the publication of this blog post, using Twitter to directly communicate with the American people.

There are two dynamics at play here.

The first is that his views are arguably not widely accepted, at least not on the left, so many people simply don’t agree with what he is saying. Those that do agree with him are getting in discussions, some heated arguments with the other side, and it’s making some of the media question the President. The other issue at play is the President’s right to interact on social media in a private account and it has the potential to redefine free speech.

The media will likely be arguing whether the President has the right to have a private account until he is out of office which makes for lively debate no matter which side you’re on. The question for the rest of us is how we protect ourselves and what “protect ourselves” really means when it comes to social media. At this point, it’s personal choice and action.

Self-Policing Social Media 

We can’t control what anyone says on social media, no matter what their job title is, but we can protect ourselves. Social sites like Facebook and Twitter allow users to block and unfollow other users. That gives everyone a choice. You choose to listen to the banter or shut it off. 

Personally, I block and unfollow on a regular basis. From political and religious commentary to inappropriate images, I have a standard that I follow. It is my own standard and I don’t make an announcement or message people that I am unfollowing to tell them why. I keep my stress and interaction to a minimum and you can too.

Social Media and Free Speech 

People have the right to say what they choose on social media. They DO have free speech just as much as I have the right and ability to block them. For those that choose to talk about subjects that some of us, including prospective clients and employers, find controversial, they will have to face consequences. For ten Harvard students, they have to face that even though they shared images in a private group, they still got found out and identified, and are no longer able to attend Harvard.

The social media lesson? We don’t know how this will all shake out in court but we do know that what you say, no matter who you are, impacts your future in positive or negative ways and the choice is all yours. Choose wisely.

Using Technology to Serve our Clients

using technology

My father-in-law recently got (another) new cell phone. The reason? He said his smartphone was too smart for him and went with one that was easier for him to use. While that may work for him, using outdated technology, or none at all, in business may not be the best option. Instead, consider how you’re using or could be using technology to serve your clients.

Busy Court System

With 45 jury trials and 254 non-jury trials in Arizona every week, there are a lot of depositions that need to be captured and we’re here to facilitate the process using videoconferencing. Our Phoenix court reporting firm Herder & Associates is streamlining the process by using technology to help our clients.

Why Videoconferencing Makes Sense 

Our clients and court reporters tell us one of the most challenging parts of their jobs is coordinating schedules and getting everyone in the same room for depositions.

Videoconferencing takes the guess work out of who-is-available-when and allows teams to work collaboratively via the internet. Using our videoconferencing suites in downtown Phoenix, legal teams are able to complete depositions faster and more efficiently than their competitors. Not only that but there are less travel costs for all parties involved so it just makes sense to embrace technology.

Benefits of Using Technology

In addition to saving money and time on travel, using technology means teams are more efficient. They’re more likely to stay alert and focused and because they can all see each other like they would if they were in the same room, they’re better able to communicate. Our court reporters can ask questions to make sure we’re delivering the transcript in the format and timeframe needed by our clients.

It is our hope that our tech-equipped conference rooms are a benefit to our court reporters, attorneys and their clients, and the community. It is our belief that if we each do our part, we can keep the court system moving forward as efficiently as possible.

Are you in need of a court reporter or videoconferencing space for an upcoming deposition? Contact us today and let’s get your team on our schedule!

Related Articles:

Arizona’s Herder and Associates Expands Technological Services

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Reasons to Become a Court Reporter

Reasons to Become a Court Reporter

I often utilize social media to connect with other professionals, including being part of a Facebook group for court reporters. I recently asked, “What was your reason to become a court reporter?” and was amazed at the different answers. Here’s a sampling for you. Leave your reason in the comments; we’d love to hear from you!

Reasons to Become a Court Reporter

Family member. Reporters keep it in the family! Some said their father or mother was a reporter while another woman said her sisters were reporters. Still another said her mom didn’t want her to be a teacher like her sister so she became a reporter! Seems it’s a family business. 

Words matter. A love of words and language was popular among the reporters who answered the unofficial survey. It makes sense since reporters need a vast knowledge of industry-specific, legal, and/or medical terms to be able to do their work. 

Money. Quite a few respondents said simply that money was the motivating factor to become a court reporter. I thought that was an honest answer. One said her sister’s standard of living changed when she became a reporter and she wanted the same for herself.

 Second career. After 20+ years in one career, I might consider retiring but for those motivated, they’ve chosen reporting as a second career. They’re back to school and are ready for a new adventure! 

Love of the steno machine. There were some folks who said they love the keys and secret language of the steno. 

Flexible schedule. For those that have a hobby like playing golf or are needing to care for family, court reporting offers a flexible schedule and above-average earning potential with salaries starting at $40,000 or more. 

Variety. Many reported being tired of being tied to an office doing the same work over and over. They love that they cover different types of cases in different places; no two days are the same and they love it.  

Introvert tendencies. If you love being the quiet person in the room soaking up the conversation, consider a career in court reporting! 

Military assignment. Two men said they were assigned by the military to be court reporters. You don’t find many male reporters! While there are approximately 32,000 reporters in the U.S., only about 10% are male. 

Sounded intriguing. 14 years ago I heard a commercial for a fundraising walk that was 60 miles in three days. Sounds crazy but I signed up and completed it that year and again the next because the commercials were intriguing to me. It was the same for the reporters we asked; they heard a commercial and thought it sounded like an interesting career.

If there’s one takeaway in asking the reason someone became a Phoenix court reporter, it’s that they are passionate about their work. I love when people love what they do. It inspires me and I hope it inspires you too!