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Court Reporting & Golf – The Similarities

I was chatting with Chris Jordan, my husband, last night about my writing.  He was monitoring a text stream I was doing for a client via Remote Counsel.  Chris commented on how my writing reminds him of golfing.  I said, “What?”  He said he can tell I write differently than I did when he first met me 17 years ago. 

I am getting older, almost 50, and my writing style has changed.  I don’t pound as hard as I did when I first got out of school, and I look for shortcuts whenever possible.  If I am building a job dictionary, my tendency is to write Mr. and the first syllable of a person’s name, and that becomes my brief.  I used to wait until a break to create briefs so attorneys watching my writing through interactive realtime would never see any of my briefs written on the fly or shortcuts.  As a seasoned court reporter, I know the attorneys will not freak out if I create briefs before their very eyes, and they know how to read through them.   My stress level is nothing compared to when I was a new court reporter.

So what does that have to do with golfing?

When Chris first began playing golf in college, he says his tendency was to whack the ball with all of his might.  It was not a game of finesse or laying up shots.  It was a game of hit the ball super hard, get to the next shot, and end up being frustrated by the 18th hole.  These days, as a 51-year-old, Chris has slowed down his stroke, is more conscious of form, and the ball goes a lot farther and where it is supposed to go. 

As a new court reporter, one might have the tendency to pound the keys, worry about every stroke being perfect, and by the end of the day be exhausted.  My advice is to remember to take deep breaths and focus on stroking fewer keys (use briefs).  Especially learn the briefs for objections.  The attorneys say the same thing over and over, for instance, lack of foundation; calls for speculation; not reasonably calculated to lead to admissible evidence.  A court reporter can do some dramatic catching-up learning the briefs for objections

The less pounding, the fewer strokes a court reporter makes, the less stress you will place on your body and your mind. 

By the way, my new sport is going to be golf.  It will be a great escape from the day-to-day court reporting world.

rosalie@kramm.com

@rosaliekramm (Twitter)

COURT REPORTING – WHAT'S UP WITH THIS RECESSION?

In California court reporters have had a tough year.  The recession has hit our profession hard.  I have been reading and collecting www.law.com articles and blogs written by attorney groups for a seminar I am on a panel on for the Deposition Reporters Association convention tomorrow.  Attorneys have been hit hard by the recession.  I can cite you layoffs of staff, associate attorneys, and commercial buildings becoming empty of lawyers.  I personally know young people who just passed the bar and have nowhere to work.  Two of the new licensees I would hire in a half-second they are so smart, diligent and progressive in thinking.  They are becoming their own rainmakers out of necessity.  One of my business clients recently told me, “There is no capital to fund lawsuits, but tremendous opportunity is out there.”

In these tough times I believe many reporters are asking themselves, “What are my choices?”  Court reporters coming out of school need mentoring and monitoring.  Seasoned court reporters have a full calendar, and then the jobs cancel.  Attorneys are looking for ways to save their clients money, and if that means settling a case or going to trial with no discovery, and they think they can get away with it, they are canceling depositions.

I was reading an article in the Wall Street Journal this morning about what I will call the “science” of the recession by David Ranson, Director of Research at H.C. Wainwright & Co., Economics, Inc., “Why The Recovery Will Be Robust.”  He writes, “The fourth quarter GOP growth rate of 5.7% (annual) announced by the Commerce Department should be a ray of sunshine,” but then he goes on, “many panned it as either a statistical anomaly or an unsustainable blip…or the governmnet’s ‘stimulus’ package.”  But then, pay attention, court reporters, he writes, “History refutes all three interpretations.”  Ranson says, “We are witnessing the natural resilience of a free-market economy; a strong rebound is normal at this stage in the business cycle.”  Ranson goes on to state, “The great majority of U.S. recessions and recoveries are V-shaped , i.e., the more deep and precipitous the drop, the steeper and more vigorous the bounce.” 

Many of the experts are predicting an upswing of the economy starting in the spring of 2010.  Law firms are now starting to hire again.  Today I read an article that cites MoFo raising their first-year attorneys’ salaries back to 2008 dollars. 

This recession shall pass.  From my past experience, having owned a court reporting firm since 1985 and surviving two recessions, we will be incredibly busy once again.  There are going to be exhausted court reporters begging to be off calendar. 

The question is, what are court reporters doing now to get ready?  When times are slow we have a choice.  We can sit back and worry or sharpen the saw.  As we all know, the cleaner we write, the faster we scope.  The more sophisticated the dictionary, the faster we scope.  The more efficient we are in utilizing our CAT software, the faster we scope.  When reporting firms are calling you begging you to work, the faster you scope the more you can take more work without going crazy – and if you use a scopist, allow her/him to be more productive. 

Let’s all make a commitment to learn at least 2 new “macros” we can do from our steno machines in realtime by March 10.  Tweet to me what you decide your 2 new tricks are.  I will choose 2 and let you know what they are.  I need to sharpen my saw, too.

Students, I would like you to learn 5 new briefs for phrases by March 3.  Let me know what phrases you choose and the briefs.     

Let’s use this time to work as a profession to get ready for the onslaught of work that is coming.  I don’t want anyone turning away work because they are spending all of their time scoping or their scopists get overwhelmed.  Let’s be ready for the ROBUST RECOVERY!

Rosalie@kramm.com

@rosaliekramm (Twitter)

Getting out of Court Reporting School – Speed or Accuracy? (My opinion)

Yesterday I received a Tweet from a court reporting student, “As a student, what is more important?  Speed or accuracy?”

My friend @stenoknight believes in accuracy.  She wrote an excellent, detailed article about how she got out of school.  I highly recommend it to court reporting students and young court reporters who want to improve their writing.  http://bit.ly/7rOL8a

I have a different philosophy about getting out of school.  I lean on the side of speed.

Both Stenoknight and I got out of school in less than two years, and I don’t believe either one of us is right or wrong.  I would suggest court reporting students choose the method that makes sense to you.  Take a bit of both philosophies if you wish.

I was intense in court reporting school.  I would go to class every day, never missed school.  During breaks or lunchtime, I would sit in the classroom with my machine and be constantly writing.  At night I would write the news, which was way too fast for me, or Frank Sinatra songs.  (I love singing along with Frank, and I could with all of the words in front of me on my paper notes.)  That may sound silly, but I believe all of the writing, writing, writing kept me focused. 

Learn briefs.  They will save you so many strokes and make your writing more accurate. 

I still push for speed.  I want to write super fast.  I have clients who talk up to 350 words per minute.  I love the crazy spurts, because it gives me a chance to clear my mind and really write and to be in the proverbial “zone.” 

I believe practicing with speeds that are too fast teaches you not to think.  You are forced to clear your mind, let go, and just write. 

In focusing on accuracy, you are constantly thinking.  Of course, accuracy is the name of the game in the long run. 

My advice:  Learn briefs, practice all of the time, and constantly push yourself with speeds faster than you can write.  If you are in a 90-120 class, write at 130-140, 150 speeds, and then slow down again to 90-120.  Your brain is going to get tired.  At some point, your brain is going to stop thinking, and that is when you will be in the zone and writing effortlessly. 

In answering the question, speed or accuracy in school, I vote for speed.  I love to write fast!  It is exciting to me.  Learn your briefs and then GO FOR IT!!!!!!!!!!!!

rosalie@kramm.com

@rosaliekramm (Twitter)

Tricks & Tips for Telephonic Depositions (attorneys and court reporters)

Teleconference = Deposition at Mt. Vernon

Everyone is looking for opportunities to save costs these days in litigation.  Many attorneys are choosing to take depositions telephonically so as to not incur travel costs and to save travel time.  Here are some ideas on how to make the telephonic deposition go smoothly.

  1. Have the reporter with the witness.  The reporter is able to swear in the witness and hear every word.  As everyone knows, with teleconferences, if two people speak at the same time or there is any type of line interference, it is hard to hear or understand.  Having the reporter with the witness ensures a better record.
  2. If because of scheduling conflicts, or whatever reason, the court reporter is not with the witness, have a notary public swear in the witness onsite.  Sometimes attorneys ask a reporter to swear a witness in over the phone.  This is not considered to be legal or proper.  The reporter has no real idea who is sitting at the other end of the line.
  3. Advice to reporters (especially if there are multiple people on the line):  Rather than writing down each person’s information, including address and phone number(s), just get the attorney’s full name and website.  It is much easier to look up the attorneys and create your appearance page(s) from a website than from scribbling down information over a phone.
  4. Reporters, speak up if you are not understanding something, can’t hear, or don’t know who is speaking.  Before the deposition starts, make a statement, for example, “Please identify yourself before you speak.  There are multiple voices, and it is difficult to differentiate between them.”  If someone starts speaking, and you are not sure who it is, you may interrupt with, “Excuse me.  Who is speaking?”  After a while, people will get the hang of it.
  5. If possible, get a service list before the deposition begins and start inputting your appearance page or get a copy and check off names.  You will need to know who the different participants represent.  Once again, it is often difficult to get that kind of information with spellings over the phone.
  6. If the firm you are working with agrees and/or if you don’t mind giving out your personal email, give the participants your email address and ask the participants to email you who they represent.
  7. Be confident.  Nobody enjoys doing a telephonic deposition (or at least most people don’t).  If you are polite, organized, and ready for action, your day may turn out to be one of the best ever!

rosalie@kramm.com

@rosaliekramm (Twitter)