A&L Expectations – Advice to Videographers

Below is an email sent by Kim Heaton, owner of A&L Legal Video.  I asked her for permission to publish it.  In my opinion, this is right on point and great advice for all legal videographers.

Subject: A&L Expectations

Hi Guys,

I hope this email finds you are doing well.

It’s high time I sent this email out to each of you.  I have had numerous issues lately.  So I’m going to spell out my expectations and nip this stuff in the bud.  If any of you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to call me or respond to this email.

  1. DON’T EVER WEAR JEANS TO MY DEPOS.  Please dress and conduct yourself professionally.  Keep your comments about the case to yourself.  Never use swear words or tell off-handed jokes.  If you do not conform to this request, you will no longer cover videos for A&L Legal Video.
  2. When an attorney stipulates confidential or attorneys’ eyes only, you are to mark the DVD, and the FRONT of the paperwork *CONFINDENTIAL*   or *AEO*  and the time span.  Do not write it on the back of the worksheets.  If the media is not marked accordingly, and is sent out to the client(s) it can potentially be a liability issue…If you do not conform to this request, you will no longer cover videos for A&L Legal Video.
  3. When you experience technical issues; audio, video, etc…MARK IT ON YOUR WORKSHEETS.  Mark the time it happened and what went wrong.  If you don’t, you will no longer cover videos for A&L Legal Video.  I’m done with spending a lot of my time fixing problems and taking a lot of heat from my clients.  I’m done with being blindsided by my clients about issues because I wasn’t told of it by you.  I understand there’s going to be tech issues…it happens…However, I won’t tolerate not being informed of it.
  4. Wear your headphones at all times.  If there are any noise issues; cell phone interference, master gain too high, audio too low, FIX THE PROBLEM  RIGHT AWAY!  Do not use table mic’s in a normal depo setting.  Table mic’s should only be used if you’re in a depo with more than the average amount of attorneys.  Leave the table mic volume off until someone (who is not mic’d) starts to speak.  When they’ve finished speaking, turn the table mic all the way down.  Table mic’s are notorious for picking up ambient noises and will drown out the examiner, witness, etc.   If you do not conform to this request, you will no longer cover videos for A&L Legal Video.
  5. I would appreciate your invoices in a professional and logical format.  Not on an email!  The information I want on your invoice is: Case Name, Case No., Witness name, Volume No., Job No. (if any), Name and address of depo location, hours (time of arrival to off the record), lunch time, # of tapes used, parking (if any) with receipts, shipping cost (if any), TOTAL
  6. If you are covering a depo for one of my clients and shipping everything to them, you are to mark on the worksheets any costs such as parking and/or shipping.  That way, they can bill their clients accordingly.  If it’s not on the paperwork, don’t bother billing me for it.  Some of my clients have had to eat the parking/shipping costs because they’ve billed their clients prior to getting my invoices.  (I’m having to wait on you to get it to me).  Please email or fax your invoices, to me, within two days of the depo.

Some of you have worked with me for years.  I apologize if I sound harsh and authoritative.  I am at the end of my rope with some of these issues.  It’s not fair that I have to go through this, let alone, my clients.  My business, my reputation, and my clients are ALL very important to me.  Please take heed to my requests/expectations.  Questions, comments, feedback are all welcome.

Thank you for your consideration.

Kim Heaton
A&L Legal Video

rosalie@kramm.com

Flying Tips for Traveling as a Court Reporter – National Reporting

 

Holland

Holland

There are a lot of things to think about when traveling as a court reporter flying to different deposition destinations.  The first thing to decide is if it is possible to bring your steno machine, computer(s), and personal items all as a carry-on – no checked luggage.  One has to anticipate the exhibits that might get marked.  Typically, for a one- or two-day deposition with no streaming, I can get away with carrying everything on the plane.  I have a double-computer Swiss Army computer bag that can hold a purse, a plastic bag of toiletries, and a couple of blouses along with my laptop.

I love my travel gadgets, including my Bose headphones, IPOD (with Frank Sinatra singing “Come Fly With Me”), and electrical charger made for airplanes.  (See September 2008 blog.)

If I fly Southwestern, I make sure I get a low enough number, 60 or less, so there will be no chance of running out of luggage space up top for my steno machine.  It takes discipline.  Set an alarm so you check in 24 hours before your scheduled flight time.  The few times there has been a lack of bin space, I carry my machine on my lap and let them check the bag.  Stenograph (www.stenograph.com) has a cool “Jet” bag that is made just to fit your machine so it is easy to carry your steno machine separate from your case.  If you fly from Chicago to Milwaukee, you will need the “Jet” bag because the plane is so small, no bags are allowed.

Flying first class is the ticket.  All I can say is gather miles, miles, miles.  Use a credit card to buy everything and stick to one carrier.  It is easy to buy a coach ticket and upgrade to first class.  It takes some planning and often a phone call.  I have my miles with American Airlines.  Rather than booking online, I spend the extra $25 to talk to a service agent.  Service agents know the airline business inside and out.  They can make suggestions and create opportunity that might not be available online.  A little charm on the phone goes a long way.

If you travel first class, there is always room for your bags, the security lines are shorter, and you have space to work on your computer and edit jobs.   You will get to your deposition destination relaxed and ready to go.

I love flying to work in other cities around the country.  It is super fun to be walking the streets of Chicago, New York, San Francisco and being a part of the commerce energy.  Compare that to adventure of being in Houston, Jackson Hole, and Tucson.  As a court reporter, the world is your oyster.  If you are great at what you do, you can go anywhere.  Be ready.

rosalie@kramm.com

 

Laura’s High School Graduation – Class of 2009

Laura’s High School Graduation

My niece Laura graduated last week from Our Lady of Peace (OLP) High School.  I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Senior Awards Ceremony in the morning with my brother George.  The awards were given out in the school gymnasium.  The seniors all wore white caps and gowns.  What struck me about the ceremony was all of the different talents were in that room.

There was Sammy Silva getting an award for being an athlete, now the California 1600 meter state champion.  There was another student getting an award for acting, another student getting an award for genetics.  My own Laura Gros got an award for art.  I was so proud of all these young women.  It brought tears to my eyes (how embarrassing).

Sitting there on a wooden bleacher, I started thinking back to my high school class.  It doesn’t seem that long ago I was at an awards ceremony at Helix High School for my senior year (1978).  It made me wonder, as a person gets farther away from high school, does a person embrace their unique talents and nurture them, or does a person become complacent and tired from day-to-day living and let their talents seep away?

Hopefully, we are smart enough and lucky enough to find careers that exploit our talents.  Parents, teachers, and mentors are the key to help steer and support young people towards their destiny.

When I hear someone say, “I hate my life,” I have to think that something happened to that person along the way where they didn’t get a chance to grow and flourish in what they innately do best.  The good news is, it is never too late.  A person’s talent is theirs forever and ever.  No one can take it away.

I wish for the OLP class of 2009 to find joy in their individuality and for each of them to live a life in which their talent is like a huge fire with flames leaping out.  It takes energy, desire, and commitment.

As a matter of fact, I wish for everyone on the planet to be “on fire.”

rosalie@kramm.com

Top 10 Things Court Reporters Looking for Work Must Do

Top 10 Things Court Reporters Looking For Work Must Do

  1. Have an updated resume – this may sound obvious.  I get about two or three resumes a week, another two or three cold calls, and some email blasts.  I am constantly surprised how casual reporters are looking for either staff positions or overflow work.  Many of the people who contact me have no resume and expect to be put on my list just because they called.  At the very least I would like to see a resume with a name, CSR number, address, and places the reporters have worked.  It would be great to know what CAT system you are on, which version, and know what machine you are writing on.  I want reporters with great equipment working my clients.
  2. Don’t call or email me and the first thing you ask for are our rates we pay reporters.  I had someone call today and said, “I am moving to San Diego and am calling court reporting firms to find out what they pay.  What are your rates?”  I didn’t even get a “Hello” or “My name is…”  This person will never work for my firm.  I wouldn’t want her in front of my clients ever.
  3. Be a member of a local or state association.  I want to know that the reporters who work my clients are proud to be reporters and keep up-to-date about what is happening in the field.  Not being able to afford membership is no excuse.
  4. If a firm is not “hiring,” and you are a brand new CSR, but you really want to work with that firm, ask to sit in with some of the seasoned reporter(s) or the owner.  Be available and have a positive attitude.  Be grateful and happy that you are doing something rather than just sitting home.
  5. Be available, available, available.  Tell calendar/scheduling persons for different firms you are available to do anything last minute.  Take a shower when you wake up, get dressed, and be ready to go on a moment’s notice.
  6. Accept that things are slow.  It is what it is.  I understand people are frustrated, scared, and worried.  It is okay to state the obvious, that you are slow and need work, but then stop.  Don’t talk too much about the past and how unfair everything is.  Have a mindset that you are going to be working again soon.
  7. Read.  After you shower, get dressed, and are waiting for the phone call, read the newspaper, create a list of proper names you can put into your main dictionary of banks, national and local companies that are in the news.  Keep focusing on being better than ever.
  8. Sharpen your skills.  If you write realtime, work on speed and accuracy.  Practice, practice, practice.
  9. Have a Blackberry or PDA in which you can receive email.  Many firms these days send out email blasts for reporters, and the first one to email back gets the job.
  10. Attitude is everything.  Things are going to get better.  We are going to be super busy in the future.  Be a better reporter when things turn around.  Don’t be stagnant.  This is the best profession ever.

    rosalie@kramm.com

Deposition Reporters Association – Assembly Bill 1461 aka Fairness

Deposition Reporters Association – Assembly Bill 1461 aka Fairness

I am the DRA Rep for San Diego and Imperial Counties.  What does that mean?  I have responsibility for getting critical information to my members.  Being a member of DRA has a myriad of advantages including receiving newsletters that go to the heart of what we do as professionals, describing the latest news, resources, and political action.

The big issue of the moment is our assembly bill that we need to get passed.  Please help us in any way you can get this through.  Our bill is about fairness.  If I, Rosalie Kramm, commit acts that go against the CCP, I jeopardize my CSR license and can get fined.  If a firm that is owned by someone who is not a CSR commits the same act, no CR Board has no jurisdiction over that firm to make them stop.  Anyone on the side of fairness would argue for this bill.

 

 

ASSEMBLY BILL 1461

 

 

April 24, 200

AB 1461,

authored by Assembly Member Ira Ruskin and cosponsored by DRA and CCRA, is an attempt to close an existing loophole that allows some court reporting entities to circumvent regulations imposed on all California Certified Shorthand Reporters and most California deposition reporting firms, particularly regarding the issue of gift-giving.

 

On April 21, 2009 this matter was heard in and passed out of the Assembly Business & Profession Committee by a 7 to 3 vote.

Proponents of the bill:

DRA

CCRA

COCRA

Consumer Attorneys of California

Consumer Federation of California

Court Reporters Board of California

International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (Local 21)

Service Employees International Union

 

Opponents of the bill:

Thomson Reuters

California Deposition Agency Owners & Reporters Association (Veritext, Barkley Court Reporters, Esquire/Paulson Court Reporters, Sarnoff Court Reporters, Golden Gate Court Reporters, US Legal, Merrill Corporation)

 

DRA and CCRA were very well represented by our respective lobbyists, Ed Howard and Jim Cassie, and we thank them for their efforts.

 

We will keep you advised as to the status of this very important bill and may be asking for your support when this matter comes up for future hearings. 

 


John Squires, President
Deposition Reporters Association

 

Have Your Banker Be your Ally

Have Your Banker Be your Ally

Today I was visited by my very favorite banker in the world Chris Burr of Security Business Bank (www.securitybusinessbank.com) and his cash management specialist Lisa McIntire.   Anytime I get to have a face-to-face meeting with Chris, I am thrilled.  He is smart and cares about his clients.  The first thing Chris ever said to me when I met him five years ago was, “Banks are in the business of making money.”  That might seem like an obvious statement, but it is a fair one.  As a client I was put on notice that Chris was a vendor like any other vendor.

I used to put banks (bankers) on a lofty pedestal believing they were heavily regulated and that every bank was the same, basically the same interest rates, fees, programs, blah, blah, blah.

I found Chris through a referral.  I needed a construction loan to do some major remodeling of my building.  I had been banking at BofA.  At BofA everyone seemed to be really young and “new” to the banking world.  I get the sense that the big banks constantly hire young people and let the seasoned people go because it is cheaper on their payroll.  I wanted a banker that I could talk to and trust and who would be around longer than six months so we could have history.

Since meeting Chris, he has not only helped me with my construction loan, but he has spent hours helping me strategize for the future in regarding big purchase items.  I run a court reporting business, and I know court reporting in and out.  Chris knows banking.  Today Chris and Lisa gave me a presentation on electronic deposits, a system that allows us to deposit all checks without ever going to the bank.  Using electronic deposits allows us to create custom searchable fields and generate reports of how much, from whom, and when money has come in.

I have asked Chris to keep me apprised of all new services and features that are offered to clients, even those services may not seem applicable to my company.  I believe having your banker as your ally is a “best business practice.”  I sleep better at night knowing Chris Burr is on my team.

rosalie@kramm.com

Olympiad – Music – Passionate Exuberance

Being an Olympiad – Music – Passionate Exuberance

When I was in high school I was on the Helix track and cross country teams.  It was a place for anyone who wanted to participate in a sport could be on the team, even if that person “sucked.”   I always thought I was a great runner because I was passionate about being an athlete.  I LOVED working out and running.  It did kind of bother me that I would be the “best runner” the first couple of days of hell week, and by the end of the second week of the season, even the new people were beating me (after I showed them the ropes and was their “mentor”).  I would rationalize the fact that everyone was faster than me thinking, “Boy, there is a lot of unbelievable talent here at Helix.”

One day in my sophomore year, my second season on the track team, my coach pulled me aside and said, “Rosalie, I hate to burst your bubble, but you’re slow.”  I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach.  I became incredibly sad, depressed, and almost quit the team.  But I never believe in quitting.  One of my mantras in life is, “I will show them.”

Luckily, the fast runners appreciated what I could bring to the team – passionate exuberance.  Carol Keller, the CFI champ four years in a row, paced me one race my senior year so I could run a six-minute mile and get a varsity letter.  The best time I could ever do alone was a seven-minute mile.  I needed to get the six-minute mile to get that varsity letter.  Carol lost that race to girls who couldn’t believe they were beating the great Carol Keller.  Carol swallowed her pride and ran with me to the finish line losing for the first time in her high school running career.

So what does this story have to do with being an Olympiad and music?   When I was doing road-runs with the track team, I would sing.  One day I pulled a huge banana leaf off a plant while we were running down the street.  I got in front of the runners and pretended it was the Olympic flag.  I started humming the Olympic song – humming really loud – I yelled, “Let’s pretend we are in the Olympics.”  All the girls laughed at first, felt a little self-conscious, but within seconds we were all humming at the top of our lungs the Olympic song.  Our team was so connected at that moment we would have done anything for each other.  Singing as a team became a norm.  Most of our road-runs from then on consisted of singing, humming, laughing, and aspiring to be great!

I never would have lettered in track if it weren’t for singing and pretending.  Carol Keller was one of my “Olympic” team members that day running behind the banana leaf.  In musical comedies, everyone stops what they are doing and starts singing and dancing in unison.  One would think it could never happen in the real world.  That day our track team stopped and were running and singing in unison.  It was the same feeling I got when I was watching those old movies.  With music and “passionate exuberance,” anyone can become a varsity runner, maybe even an Olympiad.  Trust me.

rosalie@kramm.com – Lettered in Track (Varsity)

What happens with the original in So.Cal.

Attorneys – What to do with the original in California?

California is a huge state, and when it comes to Northern California and Southern California, the state becomes even more huge.   The California Code of Civil Procedure Section 2025 is interpreted by Northern California reporters in a much different manner than Southern California reporters.

Northern California reporters believe that the original cannot be stipulated away by law.  Southern California reporters allow the original to be stipulated away for 98% of the depositions.  Who is right?  Who is wrong?  What does that mean to attorneys when it comes to the bottom line – $$$$?

I would suggest that anyone reading this blog and wants to know the language of the law to Google CCP 2025 and read.

But for people who want to know what is happening in the real world, here we go.

Southern California:  Typically, at the end of a deposition an attorney will say, “Usual stipulations?”  The other side will say, “Sure.”  Then it is up to the reporter to say, “And what are the ‘usual stipulations’ in your world?”

Everyone will usually go off the record to come up with some time frames and who gets what.  Then the attorneys go back on the record and state something like this, “We stipulate to relieve the court reporter of her duties under the Code.  The witness may sign the transcript under penalty of perjury rather than going to the reporter’s office and having to sign it before a notary.  The original will go to the witness’ attorney who will have 30 days to get the transcript read and signed, and then the original will be lodged with the witness’ attorney.  The witness’ attorney will provide the original upon request for any hearing or trial.  If the original is lost or destroyed, a certified copy may be used in lieu of the original.  Is that stipulated?”   The other counsel all agree, “So stipulated.”

What does that mean exactly?  Number one, many younger attorneys think this is something they have to do by law, relieve the reporter of her duties.  Number two, the notary thing doesn’t apply in California any longer, but attorneys don’t realize it and put it in the stip anyway.  Number three, many times the witness’ attorney will take the original transcript, tear it apart, copy it, and never buy a certified copy.  Tearing apart an original has destroyed the integrity of the original – but it is common practice that happens every day.  Some attorneys who receive the original then call the court reporting agency who produced the original and ask for the ASCII insisting they have a right to it since they received the hard copy original or they want the original re-bound, a free condensed transcript with word index, blah, blah, blah.

What else does this mean?  This means that attorneys are helping to finance their opponent’s lawsuits.  If an attorney goes by CCP 2025, it creates the situation in which the other party’s counsel needs to buy a copy or have the witness go to the reporter’s office to read/sign the transcript.  Otherwise, one side is paying for all of the transcripts, and the other side is tearing apart originals to create copies.

Northern California:  Reporting firms/reporters don’t allow the stipulation away of the original.  The reporter many times doesn’t want to get into a verbal disagreement with counsel and will just sit there, write down the stipulation, and not say anything.  Then the firm that that reporter works for will either (a) keep the original in-house and write the standard go by code CCP letter, ignoring the stipulation; or (b) send out the original to the witness’ attorney and charge the noticing attorney for an extra copy without saying anything at the deposition.  (This practice also happens in other states around the U.S.)

Attorneys Be Warned:  If you travel to Northern California or any other state, if you take a deposition geographically anywhere in the USA other than Southern California, your stipulation is probably going to cost you money.  It is going to cost you the price of a certified copy.

Is this fair?  Is this a good business practice for court reporting firms to implement this?  That is not for me to espouse to.  This is the way it is.

Therefore, I suggest that noticing attorneys coming out of Southern California go by the California Code of Civil Procedure when it comes to handling the original transcript.  There is a provision in the Code which allows a witness to read a certified copy and to send to the reporter any changes he/she wishes to make via certified letter.

Southern California is the only place in all the United States of America where the “California stip” is used.  Everywhere else the attorneys and reporters don’t know what you are talking about, and you might be charged lots of $$$$$$$$ for saying, “Let’s relieve the court reporter of her duties under the Code…”

Camaraderie – Happy Surge

Camaraderie

Definition:  “a spirit of friendly good-fellowship”

I love being around people who have a “camaradieic” spirit.   I get energy from people.  Belonging to clubs and associations that are working toward a common goal is exciting.  Being a part of Rotary (San Diego Downtown Breakfast Rotary Club) gives me a tremendous amount of energy.  Our club is made up of lawyers, bankers, real estate and insurance people, jewelers, doctors, and a myriad of other professions.  We laugh, sing, share a delicious breakfast in a magical setting atop Symphony Towers in a room of glass walls.

The spirit of Rotary for me is a spirit of giving back and sharing energy with people around the world.  Last week a group of Rotarians in our club was invited by Melissa Blackburn, woman extraordinaire, to volunteer at the Women’s Resource Fair, a fair with the goal of helping homeless women and their children with education, medical care, and providing breakfast and lunch.  I got to be in the breakfast crew, handing out Danish.

All of the women I came into contact with were polite, ready to smile, and grateful.  One woman stood out for me.  Maybe she was a little crazy or maybe not.  She was an elderly Asian woman.  Her husband was there with her, the only man I encountered (other than volunteers) all morning.  I suppose he was there to take care of her.  After drinking her coffee and eating her Danish, she came back up to our table, stood in front of us and started singing.  She had a sweet, soft voice.  She sang a song I hadn’t heard in years, a song I used to love to sing at church.  It starts out, “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.”  Out of nowhere a couple of tears came to my eyes.  A wonderful feeling flowed through me.  Then I quietly sang along with her.  The little Asian woman gave me a wonderful surge of happy energy.

One of my goals in life is to surround myself with people who give happy energy surges and to stay away from people who are energy sucks.  I never know where the great energy may come from.  Being in groups, clubs, and associations where one has comrades and a common goal is a great source for happy surges.

Team S.O.S.

Team S.O.S.

One of my passions is soccer.  I grew up on soccer fields playing with my brothers while my Dad refereed games.  About four years ago I started scrimmaging with a great group of guys who  played in an over 50 league, the Huff-N-Puff league.  After a couple of months of scrimmaging on Thursday nights one of the players, English Chris, asked if I would be their coach.  At first I thought he was joking.  I have a lot of soccer experience being a referee, but never have I coached.  The last thing I needed in my life was another role where I was in charge.

After a lot of cajoling and the players insisting I would be more of a facilitator for subs than a coach, I agreed.  Three years ago was my first game as coach, S.O.S. vs. Aces.  My coaching duties have expanded to being a “real” coach including planning strategy and creating set plays.  What I love about my team is their respect for each other, passion for soccer, and their humanity.  S.O.S. is made up of really good souls.

I will give weekly updates about our games.  We lost this week 6-3 against the Jaguars.   Iiro (Finland), Chris (England) and Simon (Lebanon) scored for S.O.S.  Lonn (USA) was our goalie.  The game was super exciting.  Next week we play the Aces.  I can’t wait.