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Deposition Arbitration Room

How Paralegals + Legal Assistants Can Benefit from Court Reporting Technology in the Cloud

Having worked with many law firms throughout my career in the court reporting industry, I have found that leveraging technology is a powerful way to save a tremendous amount of time and create efficiencies. Using a cloud-based, cyber secure calendaring system and repository allows 24/7/365 access to vital, time sensitive information and documents.

The following services are ways paralegals, legal assistants, and attorneys can utilize cloud-based technology:

1.  Online repository that houses transcripts and exhibits/notices/correspondence for all of your law firm’s cases. For security purposes, check to ensure the repository is SSA 16 compliant as well as the backup locations offsite are encrypted over VPNs and SSL certificates are used.

2.  Mobile app that gives the same access to the transcripts/exhibits/correspondence with the same cyber secure benefits mentioned in Item 1.

3.  Online calendar that shows all of your calendared hearings, depositions, and trials. You do not have to worry whether or not a matter is on the court reporting company’s calendar or if the time/location are correct. Just go online and check.

4.  The calendar would also be available on a mobile app and includes Mapquest directions.

5.  Invoices and Statements: You can check and see if an invoice was paid by logging in or checking the mobile app.

For more information or to learn about our cloud-based technology (Case 24/7), please call us at 800.939.0080.  We would love to work with you.

@rosaliekramm (Twitter)

Kramm Court Reporting (Facebook)

Court Hearings and the Court Reporter

Best Practices for Attorneys re the Court Reporter at Hearings

In many county courthouses throughout California, Friday is law and motion day. Every hour a new calendar is called by the judge with approximately 10 matters.  Attorneys will hire a court reporter to report their hearing if they feel it is important to have a record of the proceedings for a later date.  Many attorneys have more than one matter to cover on any given Friday and will rush in, argue their motion, and then immediately leave.  In these situations, it is tough for the court reporter to get the appearances.  Even though the judge will have counsel state their appearances for the record, later it is incumbent upon the court reporter to track down the address, phone number, and email address of each attorney.  Using the California Bar Attorney Search is helpful, but sometimes attorneys say their names incredibly fast, mumble, or have a common name that is shared by many other attorneys in California.

As a court reporter who has reported hundreds of hearings, I thought it might be helpful to suggest best practices to ensure an accurate and quick transcript.

  1. Find time to hand the court reporter your card with information written on it including who you are representing.
  2. When you state your appearance, speak slowly and clearly.
  3. If you cite a case or points and authorities, be ready to email the documents to the court reporter.
  4. When reading a cite, read slowly and enunciate each word. Don’t feel as if you need to rush and skip over the small words.
  5. If you are appearing via CourtCall, state your name and law firm clearly, and spell your last name.
  6. Let the reporter know if you will need a transcript of the hearing. The court reporter will not assume you automatically want the transcript. Many attorneys don’t want the transcript until and unless there is an appeal.
  7. If you know you will want a transcript before the hearing, have whomever is calling the court reporting agency to let the reporter know beforehand a transcript is being requested to be immediately written up. The agency will not send a court reporter who has a backlog and might not be able to quickly get the transcript out.

Court reporters want to do a good job for you. The more information they have, the more efficient they can be in getting out a transcript.

 

@rosaliekramm

Kramm Court Reporting (Facebook)

Court Reporters, Attorneys, and Interpreters – Best Practices

Court Reporters:  When working with interpreters, court reporters have certain added responsibilities, and there are best practices that a court reporter can adopt to be more efficient.  The first duty the court reporter has is to swear in the interpreter and then use the interpreter to swear in the witness.

The oath includes the language the interpreter will be interpreting.  For example, the oath would consist of the language, “the interpretation you are about to give from English to Spanish and Spanish to English shall be true and correct.”

The interpreter is not to speak in the first person.  If the interpreter says, “He said he wasn’t at the house,” rather than, “I wasn’t at the house,” when the witness is asked where he was at the time of the incident, the reporter needs to set up the answer in colloquy rather than Q/A.  The attorney typically will remind the interpreter to speak in the first person, but if the attorney does not realize it is happening, I will ask to go off the record and inform the participants that the interpreter is speaking in the third person, and the record is not going to be clear.

Sometimes a witness will start speaking in a foreign language to the interpreter.  In that situation, I write a parenthetical as part of the answer to say the witness is speaking Spanish.  For example:  A.   I was at the house and (witness speaks in Spanish).

On occasion the witness and interpreter will both start speaking in a foreign language.  At that point I will write in the transcript as a parenthetical centered on its own line:

(Witness and interpreter speak in Spanish.)

Typically, if that happens, the interpreter will state to the attorneys what the discourse was about, for example, “The witness wanted to clarify that he was at the house the day before the incident.”

The interpreter might say, “Interpreter clarification,” and ask the attorneys for clarification of a word or phrase.  In that situation, the interpreter is set up as colloquy.

Attorneys:  It is a good practice to have a caption, word index, and perhaps a Complaint or expert report of the witness to give to the interpreter before a proceeding, particularly if the case is complex and the subject matter is technical.  The interpreter won’t be surprised when technical words and phrases come up.

Having simultaneous interpretation is a good way to go when the interpreter is comfortable doing simultaneous.  It is a good practice to remind the witness to speak in the first person and to expect the interpreter to do the same during admonitions.  Many times a witness will speak some English and want to go back and forth between English and the foreign language.  When that happens, the record is muddled up with parentheticals.  Have the witness only use the interpreter or speak in English and have the interpreter there on standby for clarification.

Using a check interpreter is common particularly for intellectual property or complex cases.  If you are defending a deposition, you might want to hire an interpreter to “check” the accuracy of the first interpreter.

A good practice when working with particularly Asian interpreters is for a court reporter to provide a realtime screen for the interpreter.  Because of the position of the verb and subject in a sentence, many times the interpreter is more efficient if he/she is able to read the whole question before starting to interpret.

 

I would love to hear comments from any interpreters on any best practices they have come across by a court reporter or attorney.  We always want to learn how to be better than ever.

@rosaliekramm (Twitter)

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Legal Videographers – Audio Files for Court Reporters

One of the many great things about legal videographers that we work with here in San Diego is their willingness to provide audio backup to our court reporters.  I believe the majority of videographers around the USA provide an audio file to court reporters at depositions upon request  The question becomes, in what format?

Historically, an audio cassette backup was made by legal videographers for the court reporter.  Court reporters own(ed) tape players that had foot pedals to speed up or slow down the audio for proofing.  But, as everyone knows, in modern times the audio cassette is becoming obsolete.  “Digital media is what everyone is using,” says Chris Jordan.

Many court reporters are still using audio cassettes.

Currently, we work with videographers that provide a feed directly to the court reporter’s laptop to use in conjunction with their Computer-Aided Transcription (CAT) software.  The videographer has an audio jack with a mini connector for the court reporter.  Other videographers we work with will provide an MP3 file or wav file at the end of the deposition and copy it onto the court reporter’s laptop.

Court reporters are buying transcription software with foot pedals that attach to their laptop or PC through a USB port.  If you Google the key words, foot pedal audio transcription, you will find a myriad of products on the market.  I invite anyone reading this blog to suggest products that they have been successful in using.

I suggest using an old transcriber and cassette tapes is cumbersome and not efficient.  Being able to scope or proof on your laptop without pulling out another machine (just attaching the foot pedal) makes sense.  With so many hearings being digitally recorded and court reporters being asked to transcribe the audio files (where there is no cassette option)  using new products in the marketplace is smart.

Court reporters and legal videographers have to be a team in depositions when working together.  The attorneys know when they are working with “the A-Team,” a great videographer and court reporter.  They recognize the synergy.  I love that my videographer has my back, and I have his/hers.

So if you are a court reporter still requesting audio cassettes from the videographer, check out digital.  There is a reason that the audio cassette is becoming obsolete.

@rosaliekramm Twitter

Moving Up the Ladder – Thoughts of a Court Reporting Firm Owner

As many of you know by now, I have been the owner of Kramm Court Reporting since 1985.  I began my career as a court reporter in 1981 at the age of 21.  I went straight from high school to court reporting school and then out to the work world.  In running my business, most of my education has come from the school of hard knocks.  I have been blessed with smart, generous mentors who have given me time and advice, and I have read many books, articles, and blogs in an effort to learn from the best how to manage and succeed.

I came across an article this week, “Want to Move Up?  Learn to Manage like a CEO.”  The author, Steve Tobak, speaks to the value of learning how to run a business by just doing it rather than getting an MBA or a business education and has come up with five steps.

His first step is, “Focus on critical, trouble areas and leave everything else alone.”  I know that putting out fires and solving problems is my job.  I learned at a very early stage ignoring a situation and hoping it goes away or gets solved on its own very rarely, if ever happens.  All problems need to be tackled immediately.  A firm owner needs a powerful team behind him/her to come up with smart solutions.

Tobak’s second step follows beautifully, “Hire functional experts who are also solid, upcoming managers.”  Every expert, every successful person, everything I have ever read talks about surrounding yourself with people smarter than you are and who are experts in their field.  I would take this advice one step further and suggest a business owner has to hire the best vendors/service providers as well.  I want everyone that interacts with my company or my clients to be the best and to love their job, from our delivery guy to my banker.

The third point is, “Business comes first.”   Any great manager would understand this.  When I read the statement, “Business comes first,” I don’t look at it in a pejorative sense that a business should only care about making money.  In my opinion, business coming first means happy employees and court reporters; fair compensation for work being done.  The moment a company defines “business comes first” as a means to only generate personal income for itself  or management is the moment that that company will start their downward spiral.  Managers, salespeople, and employees need to understand that business does come first, the business of customers, service, and sales in the aggregate.

Tobak goes on to step number four, “Manage up.” He talks about “a critical function of any manager is to provide his boss with what she needs to succeed.”  Communication is key, and it starts at the top.  The CEO, owner of any company, must give permission for managers and employees to speak their mind and allow for give-and-take.  A business owner has to have the ear and trust of their management and vice versa and be able to admit they need information and even help, and the managers need to be free to speak to a business owner when he/she feels something is not on track.  Everyone has the same interest at heart, what is best for the business.

My favorite step of Tobak’s is the last step, “Help to manage the company.”  If an employee or manager sees a situation in another department where help is needed and steps in to be supportive, brainstorm, or even physically works alongside to complete a task, that person becomes invaluable to the owner.  If a manager sees a lack of direction in any area of a company and can step in and begin a process or even define the problem, that person will undoubtedly “move up” in a company.  But if an owner hears, “It is not my job” or “not my department,” you can bet that the owner is going to start looking for someone else to take that person’s place whenever possible.

There are many days I wish I had an MBA, but I don’t.  Learning from the school of hard knocks has taught me a lot about myself, and there is one thing I know for sure, I need the people around me to be a part of the team.  I believe the five steps above all illustrate a common goal, wanting what is best for the company, the clients.  If the management team is helping the owner/CEO work towards that goal in an authentic and focused manner, one can guarantee success.

rosalie@kramm.com

@rosaliekramm (Twitter)

Court Reporting – The Test

I have been following different court reporters around the country on Twitter, and the main topic this week was “hoping and praying” to pass the RPR, CRR, and CMR on Saturday.  I hope everyone passed.  I did say a quick prayer, as I promised, for one of my Twitter pals.

What impressed me the most about the Tweets was the effort, energy, and dedication reporters are putting into making themselves better.  There were Tweets about getting home in time to get an hour of practice in on the machine after a day’s work.  Some court reporters wrote about being nervous that they would be nervous during the test.

The types of people attracted to our profession are perfectionists and achievers.  (I have stopped using the term “overachiever” because I believe the phrase is somewhat demeaning.  If a person achieves something that is great, it is because they chose to put the time and energy into that achievement.)

Perfectionists and achievers have a tendency to put a lot of pressure on themselves, are many times very critical of not being good enough, and sometimes these personality types can be their own worst enemy.  Negative thinking about not being good enough takes a lot of energy with thoughts going round and round in your head until the thoughts take over, pushing out logical thinking.

The successful test taker, I believe, is able to harness the wonderful attributes of being a perfectionist/achiever and force the thoughts to shift.  Many of us have a tendency to slip into old thought patterns.  They are oddly comforting, especially when you are tired and worried about an upcoming event, such as a speed test.  Because this personality type is also typically very disciplined, I know with practice and true intent, the thoughts can shift to knowing you are going to pass the test and that the words will flow through your fingers.  You can trust yourself that you will practice and do what it takes to have the skillset to pass.

It is the nerves that need to be controlled.

Believe me, I have been there.  Here are a couple of tricks I use to pass speed tests:

  1. I use my thighs to push the machine up into my fingers so my shaking fingers are forced to write the words.  I basically bring the machine to the fingers rather than the fingers to the machine.  I do the same thing today when I am writing a really fast talker in a deposition.  It reminds me of a typical sports stance when you bend your knees to get your center of gravity working for you so you are standing strong ready to hit the ball.
  2. I have taught myself to be in a fog (literally) with a blank mind staring, focusing on a spot on the carpet or the wall.  When I am in that foggy state, I am incredibly relaxed and focused.  There is no shaking.  I believe it is what athletes talk about when they are “in the zone.”  This trick I often use during fast and furious depositions.  It is one of my favorite states of being.

One of my goals in life is to keep forcing the negative thoughts from going round and round in my head.  I figure I might as well face the fact I will always do what needs to be done to pass “tests.”  The ultimate trick is to harness those thoughts and shift them to excitement about the future, rather than fear about what might happen.

I hope all of my Twitter friends passed the different NCRA www.NCRAonline.org tests this week.  It is all so exciting.

rosalie@kramm.com

Twitter:  @rosaliekramm

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)

Twitter – Why?

Anyone who knows me knows that I love people, I love talking, and I love success stories.  When I was a young girl, my grandmother used to pay me to be quiet.  She would give me a nickel if I could give her five minutes of peace.   It was tough to earn that nickel because I always had a lot to say.

43 years later, I have Twitter.  The idea that I can communicate my thought(s) at any single moment, control what I communicate, and let people into my life in little sounds bites is mindboggling.  Not only that, but I get to know what is happening in other people’s lives, the people I choose to follow, people who are interesting and enrich my life, people who might be “strangers” that I have a connection with from all over the world.

One of the people I have been following is @AdrianDayton.  I follow him because it was suggested that I do so by @JustinRFrench.  JustinRFrench is my personal social media guru.   (In the world of Twitter, a person puts the @ before a name when you are singling that person out to talk to or follow.)

At the California Bar Association meeting held in San Diego last week, I bought Dayton’s book, “Social Media for Lawyers:  Twitter Edition.”  I have been tweeting for the past four months, messing around, having fun, protecting my tweets, and collecting followers of mostly fellow court reporters who thought what I was doing was funny, amusing, and maybe someday would have value.

Reading Dayton’s book has opened my eyes to the power of Twitter.

I’ve been following Dayton on Twitter for the past month, and I find his tweets and story to be informative and positive with action steps.  I could tell he is a kind, smart man who wants his followers to be successful.  Remember, I love success stories.

Dayton writes in his book about the basics of Twitter, how to get started, the theory of Twitter, and how to utilize the power of Twitter particularly as a businessperson.  I use the word “businessperson” on purpose.  The title of the book reads, “Social Media for Lawyers.”  I would argue that Dayton’s book transcends law and could apply to any business in the service sector.   Dayton goes into why one should follow certain people, how to collect information, jump into a relevant conversation, the etiquette of tweeting, and most importantly how to start “contrarian thinking.”

Last week I listened to @StephenFairley of The Rainmaker Institute speak, and he used the phrase, “contrarian thinking.”  That is my new FAVORITE phrase.  (I used it in soccer this morning when a defender kept stealing the ball from me over and over again.  I needed to start thinking contrary to what would be my normal thought pattern to beat that guy.  I told my team, “We need to start using contrarian thinking,” and we scored.)

I highly recommend Adrian Dayton’s new book.   It is an easy, fast read.  Attorneys would “get it” immediately.  Twitter can be fun, but more importantly, it can be a way to create opportunity.  Dayton gives you the tool of Twitter to be a social media rainmaker.

If you want to follow me, I’m at @rosaliekramm.  I want to hear success story after success story for my fellow court reporters.   Let’s Twitter.

CAUTION:  What you say on Twitter is for the world to read.  No one should ever write anything that is mean, angry, or gives out proprietary information.  The world is watching and reading.  Protect your tweets and be smart.  Twitter is a tool to be respected.

rosalie@kramm.com