Preparing an Expert Witness

preparing an expert witness

Are you preparing an expert witness for an upcoming court case? Understand that it takes time to find the right expert and to prepare them for your case. Because they are specialized in their field or on a particular topic, they may be challenging to handle. Couple that with your expertise and familiarity with the case, and the interaction could be challenging. Remember why you’ve hired them – to offer their insight and experience that can ultimately help or hinder your case.

Begin by asking why you need an expert to testify.

There are a variety of reasons to request an expert witness to testify. These include clarifying or explaining a complex portion of the case for the jury, requirement of the law depending on the jurisdiction, or an expert to oppose another expert witness. Forensic experts are perhaps the most commonly seen not only on television shows but also cases like the Casey Anthony or OJ Simpson trials where evidence needs to be explained in a way the jury can understand.

Once an expert has been hired, address the key reasons they are needed for the case.

You’re the attorney so you know the case best. You know why the witness was hired so you can focus them on that portion of the strategy whether that’s the cause of death for Caylee Anthony, OJ’s leather glove, or something else. That way your legal team can make the most of preparing an expert witness, including requesting that they begin developing their testimony. Oftentimes witness prep time is limited so it’s important to focus them right from the start.

Let the expert give the tough testimony.

Preserve your relationship with your client by letting the expert talk about unfavorable portions of the case rather than you. That will maintain the trust you’ve developed with your client which is especially important if they are also one of the witnesses taking the stand. Rogue witnesses or clients are only good for plot points on television or in the movies. In real life, they can screw up a case and make your job a lot more challenging.

Preparing an expert witness is about what they say, not necessarily how they say it.

Some experts have the false impression that they need to sound a certain way to be taken seriously and that’s not true. They simply have to offer their expertise to support your client’s case. Jurors tend not to play well with experts who are arrogant, for example, and tend to connect more with folks who are like them. Take that into consideration when you hire an expert.

As with any other witness, remind them that it is okay to ask for clarification or to say they don’t know the answer. They’re people just like us and the jury will appreciate the honesty. Preparing an expert witness, or any witness, takes time and effort from the legal team but it is worth it when the case ends in favor of your Phoenix client.

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Best Practice Tips and Social Media Ideas For Legal Professionals

Social Media Ideas For Legal Professionals

It’s no longer a viable option for legal professionals in Phoenix, Arizona to avoid social media or even blogging. If your firm isn’t interacting online and doesn’t have an online presence, and the attorney down the street does, you are missing an opportunity to market your firm and your services in a way, and in a place, in which your potential clients gather. Social media ideas for legal professionals begins with understanding professional standards so you can align you firm with best practices.

As with any profession, there are specific business practices to which the firm must adhere. That is nowhere as true as in the legal profession. An attorney or court reporter must never share information that could be construed as legal advice or legal opinion online. Likewise, divulging sensitive information must be carefully considered, if not altogether avoided.

Here are our best practice tips and social media ideas for legal professionals

Posting articles and information from credible sources on your social media pages and your blog as you’re building your brand and making connections will help improve your credibility and provide content for search engines to better understand who you are and what you do.

Being online, having a website and being active on social media is an ideal way to build your brand. Brand building keeps you front of mind for the time when a reader needs to reach out to you for a legal matter. Brand building doesn’t mean constantly “selling” to your followers but becoming a thought leader in your industry.

Be selective.

Don’t “friend” or add everyone you know. Be selective. Set your privacy settings to the highest levels so that your personal information isn’t being shared with the public. If you have a personal page, be cautious about what you share and what you say.

Never share advice.

You never want to share what can be construed as a legal opinion or advice. Never talk about an ongoing case unless it’s already been covered by a major news source or is already public information.

Be ethical.

This should go without saying, but it is important to keep in mind that ethics matter online as well as in the courtroom or your office. Anything you say can, and probably will, be used against you.

If you’ve decided to put your law firm on social media and to start blogging for your Phoenix, Arizona firm, one of our final suggestions is to be consistent. If you add social media and marketing to your overall marketing strategy, be consistent and complete all of your social media profiles fully.

Steps to Become a Legal Videographer

Become a Legal Videographer

Are you looking for a career that has the potential for you to potentially never work the same day twice? A career that won’t have you performing the same task with no uniqueness to your workday? If you have an eye for detail and are looking for an intriguing career, have you researched how to become a legal videographer?

Legal Videography Today

Technological advancements have made legal proceedings more efficient and legal practitioners who use legal videographers are becoming more effective in the capture of legal proceedings. This mean that there has been an increase in tech-centric legal support careers.

One of those careers is legal videographer. This individual, also known as a court videographer or a forensic videographer is charged with using video equipment to record “digital images for court proceedings.” There are times this individual will be called upon to replay the information they have recorded at trial.

A legal videographer is in the courtroom to capture video imagery used in wills, courtroom presentation, reconstructing incidents, documentaries, fraud evidence and more.

What are the steps you need to take to become a legal videographer in Phoenix, Arizona? Here are a few to consider.

Certification

It isn’t necessary to have a certificate in order to pursue a career as a legal videographer, but it never hurts to pursue one. The courses that a legal videographer takes will only serve to enhance his or her career.

Certificates and additional education to consider include: videography, editing, criminology and/or forensics; the last two will help you if you’re looking to specialize in a specific type of courtroom videography.

Equipment 

Let’s first dispel the notion that a legal videographer in Phoenix, Arizona or any part of the country can use a smart phone as his or her video equipment. You will need to show your professionalism by investing in a video-camera – film or digital, a tripod, handheld lighting, monitors, editing equipment and a high quality microphone. You will also need to invest in a computer that is equipped with video editing software so you are able to edit clips and footage.

Practice your technique by shooting short films on your own. Practice your editing skills. “Interview” friends and family in different settings so you can hone in on the lighting and the microphone quality you’re capturing.

Don’t feel you need to rush choosing your specialty.

If you want to specialize, many Phoenix, AZ legal videographers do, talk with others in your profession to see how they feel about their specialization. Do you have a particular interest in a legal field in which you’d like to become a legal videographer? Know your personality and that will also help you determine the types of cases you’d feel comfortable being in the courtroom recording.

Professionalism

Shooting a legal video is only a portion of the job of a legal videographer. You will need to edit clips or present raw video to whomever requests it. Remember, not everything you will be recording will be exciting, but you need to pay attention to whatever you’re recording so as to not miss any crucial nuances.

Always having a business mindset will keep you focused and will keep you in demand for your skills.

Legal videographers appear to be in high demand. If you’re looking for a career with growth potential and you love being behind the camera, pay attention to detail and are professional, this may be the career path you’ve been seeking.

For more information about how to become a legal videographer or court reporter, please contact Marty Herder at Herder and Associates in Phoenix, Arizona.

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.

Moving Your Phoenix Law Firm?

Moving Your Phoenix Law Firm

With the New Year comes new decisions like moving your Phoenix law firm. At Herder and Associates, we’re set to move our headquarters to the prestigious Renaissance Center in central Phoenix as we grow our court reporting firm. The move increases our ability to serve current and future clients in Arizona and across the nation. Relocating is exciting but it also comes with decisions and planning.

Why are you moving your Phoenix law firm?

Whether it’s to move out of your home office into executive suites, add people to your legal team, or to grab space at a prestigious location, there are considerations to be made. If you’re moving simply to be in the new development, we caution you to look at the complete picture before signing a new lease. Consider the following:

  • What’s the cost to get out of your current lease? It could be cost prohibitive to leave your current location if you have to break a lease.
  • What’s the cost per square foot at the current location versus the new location? Brand new offices tend to have a higher per square foot cost than older buildings.
  • Why do you want to leave your current location? If it’s because you want less walls and more open workspace, think about renovating instead of moving. It may cost less and get you the same results.

It’s grand to think about having the corner office with a view of downtown but if your current office is suiting your needs, it might not be time to move. On the other hand, if your law firm is poised for expansion and has the resources to move, it may be worth it to have a new address and more space.

What’s the cost of moving?

The costs of moving aren’t as simple as packing boxes. In addition to the cost of breaking a lease that I mentioned earlier, there are costs like hiring professional movers and the design and build of the new office to fit the needs of your firm.

  • Office furniture – Are you going to move old furniture into your new office? Either way you’ll need to either get rid of it or move it. If you get rid of it, there’s the cost of purchasing new furniture.
  • Wiring for technology – The new space may need to be hardwired for internet, phones, and servers.
  • Data Security – Even if you don’t have someone full-time on staff, consider hiring an IT firm to act as Chief IT Officer for you law firm ensuring your client and case information is securely stored and safe from hackers.

As your Phoenix law firm expands, there will likely be additional cost considerations.

What’s your plan for moving?

If you’ve decided it’s time to move your firm, plan ahead to make sure moving day is as smooth as possible.

  • Hire professional movers. Ask their advice about what you pack, what they pack, and if the move needs to be over a series of days or weeks. The larger your firm, the more likely the move will need to be done in phases.
  • Assign a team member to coordinate the move. They can communicate with the movers as well as with the rest of the team to develop a timeline of what needs to be done and by whom.
  • Don’t move everything. Take stock of what you need to move, what can be placed in storage, and what can be thrown away or recycled. You may even be able to sell old office furniture though likely not for the same amount as what you paid for it.

With a fair amount of analysis and planning, we’re sure your move will be a good one!

For us, the investment in expansion reinforces our roots in Phoenix and enables us to serve our clients, delivering high quality transcripts accurately and on-time. Contact us today to schedule your next deposition.

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The Best Court Reporters in Phoenix Have These Qualities

Best Court Reporters in Phoenix

Just this week I saw a post on social media asking where current phone books could be acquired and the comments were hilarious. While one response was to set up a time machine and go back a few decades, most were along the lines of, “check Google,” and, “as long as you’re here in this neighborhood group, just ask us.” While I don’t know why they wanted the yellow pages, I suspect they were a student conducting research or someone seeking a simpler way of finding information. If they were looking for the best court reporters in Phoenix, I would’ve recommended they call Herder and Associates!

Our full-service court reporting agency specializes in utilizing state of the art technology and certified professional court reporters for every aspect of litigation, hearing and arbitration testimony, and audio transcription. 

If you’re an Arizona attorney in need of a court reporter, keep these qualities in mind.

Technical Expertise

We specialize in large, complex cases which means there is no room for technical errors. Our court reporters use the latest technology to capture and transcribe testimony and are familiar with industry-specific vocabulary and medical terms. While this should be the standard, it isn’t always the case; we’re dedicated to making sure you’ve got the best court reporter for your case.

Accuracy 

Whether you’re calling someone from the yellow pages or you’re an attorney reviewing witness testimony, what you’re reading has to be correct right down to the last word. In addition to being the record of exactly what was said at the legal proceeding, our work must be free of errors, typos, and grammatical errors.

Speed 

When it comes to the best court reporters in Phoenix, it’s not enough to have a high rate of accuracy. Our court reporters are also able to type quickly while listening and capturing all of the speakers throughout a case. When legal teams talk over one another or when a witness simply points to answer a question, it can make for a challenging day!

Focus

A distracted court reporter isn’t nearly as effective as a focused one for the simple reason that in order to capture what is happening, they need to concentrate. There’s no checking messages or updating social media when they’re working. Not only that but proceedings can be long and tedious so reporters need to be on their game and able to effectively deliver the transcript on-time and accurately to our clients.

Whether you found us in the yellow pages, Google, or another way, we’d love to work with you. We strive to work with the best court reporters in Phoenix who have a combination of qualities that include speed, accuracy, technical expertise, focus, and experience. If you’re looking for the best of the best, give Herder and Associates a call to schedule your next deposition.

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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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Social Media Tips for Legal Professionals

Social Media Tips for Legal Professionals

Where do you go when you want a referral for an electrician, accountant, or attorney? Most people take out their smartphones and head to social media sites like Facebook and ask their friends for recommendations. That’s great but if you’re a lawyer, paralegal, or court reporter, how do you connect with your community? You might think because of the confidentiality of your work that you need to stay away from social. We politely disagree and offer our social media tips for legal professionals that include having a consistent presence and new website content.

Why are you using social media?

Your friends might be using social media for ranting about their boss but we caution you (and them) to be more focused in your online efforts. Even on a private page someone can screenshot what you’ve written and send it to someone else that you may not want to see it.

If you’ve been involved with a divorce or family law case especially, you can appreciate the enormity and seriousness of what can happen when you use social media certain ways. What used to be he said she said is now exhibits of text messages and social screenshots. It also happens to businesses who fail to use social the way we think it should be.

Who is your target client?

I often hear that legal professionals, and others, have no time to manage social media and I ask why. They tell me how they have to create content for multiple social media sites, message contacts, and manage comments. My next question is to find out who their target client is.

Once you’ve identified your target or ideal client, focus marketing efforts, including social media, on the sites where they are spending time. If they’re 30+ year old professionals, consider Facebook and LinkedIn and avoid Instagram and Pinterest as the latter are for the younger crowd.

What do you post on Facebook, LinkedIn, and blog?

On first glance it may appear you can post the same on your Facebook business page and LinkedIn profile updates but I caution you using this strategy. The reason is that the audiences are different.

  • Facebook is family-centric, a place where people go for recommendations, so you want an engaging presence. Mix news with facts and ask questions.
  • LinkedIn is where you connect with other legal professionals or find people to hire for your team – court reporters, legal assistants, paralegals, attorneys.

LinkedIn also has a publishing feature which is beneficial to establish you as the expert in your area of law. In addition, I encourage you to blog consistently (2 times a month minimum) on your own website because Google loves new content. Keep in mind users, whether on LinkedIn or your blog, are attracted to catchy headlines and content. The more you can entertain while telling a relatable story, the better to connect with your audience.

The next time someone is looking for a recommendation for a legal professional, we want your firm to be the one that is mentioned! Have fun and let us know how you’re using social media tips for legal professionals.