For the last several years, the reporters at Neeson have been using the Stenocast realtime system with a lot of success. Stenocast uses Bluetooth technology to send realtime data from the court reporter’s software to the recipient’s laptop and software using a “dongle” in the user’s USB port (whether in the litigation setting or for some of our hard of hearing clients who attending meetings and the like). Stenocast’s realtime system replaced all those annoying wires and allowed clients flexibility in where they sat in the room without regard to a wire length. Stenocast was definitely a vast improvement over the old wired system.
Well, perhaps describing Stenocast’s system as a “router” is a misnomer. For the last several years, the reporters at Neeson have been using the Stenocast realtime system with a lot of success. Stenocast uses Bluetooth technology to send realtime data from the court reporter’s software to the recipient’s laptop and software using a “dongle” in the user’s USB port (whether in the litigation setting or for some of our hard of hearing clients who attending meetings and the like). Stenocast’s realtime system replaced all those annoying wires and allowed clients flexibility in where they sat in the room without regard to a wire length. Stenocast was definitely a vast improvement over the old wired system.
This all seemed to result in a colossal failure of the Stenocast system. Back in the old days, pre-realtime, all court reporters needed to worry about was their own equipment. With the advent of realtime, reporters have had to become experts at USB hubs, serial ports, firewalls, computer lockdowns – all coupled with keeping up to date with the latest software and hardware enhancements. So you can imagine my frustration when these scenarios happened over and over again:
- Freezing of the Stenocast “send” unit
- Freezing of the Stenocast “receive” USB dongles (Bluetooth receive devices)
- Having realtime up and running for the first hour, and then having everything freeze
- Inability to make what worked the day before work again (especially when nothing had changed from the previous day!)
- Changing USB hubs only to find each one would fail after a period of time (both for the reporter computer and the receive computers)
- Hieroglyphics randomly appearing where text was appearing properly
- A lack of timely customer support and an ability to solve the issues on the part of Stenocast
My expert court reporter friends should know that I had ensured all settings on the reporter computer were properly expressed, and the settings on the receive computers, including in the software itself, were all correct (I am a Realtime Systems Administrator as qualified by the NCRA and am the main troubleshooter in our office).
So, what to do? On this job we were providing on-site realtime to several people on multiple platforms such as LiveNote, Summation and Bridge; additionally, we were streaming to LiveDeposition where sometimes over 30 people were logged in – clearly the realtime was crucial!
In my next blog, I will discuss using LiveDeposition’s new streaming router which works with all software platforms and completely avoids USB ports altogether.
It’s often challenging, given all the interruptions in our day, to get things done. How many times have you started your day saying, all right, I’m going to get this, and this and that done today, and then by day’s end you haven’t even touched what you intended to do? Staying on task, short of emergency situations, can be very difficult to do in our bombarded world.
Now you can imagine being a court reporter, someone who has to listen to every single word spoken and render the spoken word into shorthand, and thinking about writing it in such a way so that it is translated back into English. Talk about concentration!
Below are some tips I have developed to help me stay on task – whether I am reporting, proofreading, emailing or performing any other office related tasks that require my full attention.
- Turn off the email. It’s very commonplace to be connected to the internet in most office settings. When I’m writing shorthand, there’s nothing more distracting than seeing that little email box come up when I’m receiving email, giving me a glimpse of the sender and the re line. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lost my train of thought…I feel like Pavlov’s dog, I can’t help myself from looking!
- Set times for checking email. Even when I’m on a job, I know I will have opportunities during the day to check email. So once I’m on my lunch break, for example, I will activate my Outlook and check on emails. By setting times, I know I won’t miss too much and emergencies can still be dealt with.
- Don’t let email eat up all your time. Once I’m checking my email, I only look at the sender and re line to see if anything looks urgent. If it does look important, then I will read that email and respond. If the email is going to require more thought, I will flag it and look at it at the end of the day, when I can give it my full attention. I used to think I had to respond to everything immediately, and in the process sometimes made silly mistakes simply because I was in too much of a hurry.
- Get up and move! While on a job, I will insist on a break at least every hour and a half to hour and three quarters. I will always walk to the bathroom (who doesn’t need the bathroom after that length of time?) But even if it’s just a short break, I will get up, walk the hall, and just move. When proofing or working at my desk, I set an hour time limit, then give myself 15 minutes off to get a coffee, walk down the hall – I do something else completely. I find that moving helps my concentration enormously once I sit back down again. It’s like resetting the mind and body.
- Limit interruptions. If I really need to hunker down, I will first of all close my door. I find that a closed door often stops those little interruptions that can wait. At times I will tell my staff that I work with or even my family, please don’t disturb me; I will be available on the top of every hour I am behind closed doors to deal with anything you need. By setting boundaries with those people around me, it helps me focus for that period of time and does not interrupt my train of thought.
- Minimize distractions. I don’t know about other reporters, but when someone starts clicking the top of their pen, or jingling the change in their pocket, all I seem to hear is that ambient noise and it’s so distracting! I have no hesitation politely interrupting the proceedings and asking the person to stop doing whatever is causing the noise, explaining I’m having a hard time concentrating. It’s amazing the power that small thing has over my attention!
- Be comfortable. There’s nothing worse than sitting for hours on end and feeling uncomfortable. I try to select wardrobe pieces that make sitting and either writing on my machine or keyboarding more comfortable – for example, I leave the pencil skirt at home that day and wear a comfortable pair of slacks and top. The heels also stay in the cupboard; instead I opt for a nice pair of flatter heeled boots – easier on my back as the hours go by.
Discipline is the key to staying on task, and that means not only providing yourself a structure within which to work, but also teaching others around you how to work effectively with you as well.
One technology that has become mainstream in the court reporting industry with high tech firms is that of streaming in realtime – not only the text, but the audio and video components as well. Only a few short years ago one would have these choices to connect with those in other areas:
While we always encourage our clients to leverage the latest technology in discovery, trial or hearing, some of the tools of our trade make perfect sense for lawyers in trial preparation. One such example is a web-based program called GoToMeeting. As long as all participants have access to a computer, laptop or tablet that have a webcam, microphone and internet access, meeting from almost any location in the world is possible. Not only can you meet online, but you can share documents or even your computer with others easily.
In looking at the various options, the question you need to ask yourself is: How important is this witness/meeting? The sliding scale answer is as follows:
All court reporters are the same, right? Obviously the answer cannot be “yes” because court reporters are people, with various skills and abilities that they bring to the table. Follow these tips to ensure you get the right person preparing your client’s legal proceedings.
- Experience – If your case is the retelling of a slip and fall, for example, a vast amount of experience is probably not necessary given the vocabulary that will come into play. If, however, your case involves technical terminology – from medical, to engineering, to source code – you will want to ensure you work with a court reporter who has had exposure with the type of case you are working on, or a proven ability to research the correct spellings and to understand the context of what you are speaking of. Remember, a misplaced comma can change everything!
- Requirements – Do you have any special requirements for your case? Will you need expedited transcript? Will you need realtime reporting or rough drafts? If so, be sure to seek out court reporting firms that possess the talent to deliver. If you need realtime reporting, having a qualified court reporter makes all the difference in the world, from the accuracy of her immediate work, to providing basic technical support, to being able to deliver the final product in a timely way.
- Neutrality – The creation of the record is for all, and no special favours or pricing should be in place for one side versus another. Many corporations counsel represent have strict anti-gift giving and incentive policies in place, and have an expectation that these policies are de facto in place at law firms and their service providers as well.
- Judgment – What type of court reporter do you like to work with? How do feel about interruptions when you are mid-stream in a cross-examination? Is that important to you? Speak with your potential court reporter in advance to ascertain if they can work within your parameters and that they exercise good judgment in asking clarification questions and interrupting for whatever reason.
- Certifications – Another way, apart from experience, to find competent, qualified court reporters is to inquire as to their certifications. Shorthand reporters should have at a minimum a CSR designation from their province or state; professional court reporters also tend to obtain other qualifications from the National Court Reporters’ Association (NCRA) in the United States, such as Registered Professional Reporter (RPR), Certified Realtime Reporter (CRR) and Registered Merit Reporter (RMR). These independently administered certifications can provide comfort to those booking court reporting services that the reporter’s skills and ability have been tested and that they have achieved certain markers.
At Neeson & Associates, we are proud of our court reporters and make it our business to understand the needs of our clients so that the right court reporter can be matched to the case’s requirements.
Canadian court reporting companies can provide the types if technological support to help law firms accomplish their goals. With the internet and more sources producing documents that could be important to your litigation, it is important to work with a firm that can provide streamlined solutions to organize and manage large amounts of data.
American and Canadian court reporters are recognizing that when it comes to litigation support, they are often partners with the law firm throughout the process. They can provide a crucial organizational role that maximizes the effectiveness of legal professionals as they work through relevant information for their clients.
Through the process, law firms are able to take advantage of new technology that is making a difference for attorneys in the conference room during litigation and in the courtroom at trial. In a multimedia age where information can be delivered via multiple platforms, an experienced court reporting and litigation support firm can help bring diverse elements together for legal teams.
In Canada, that often means serving the needs of both the Canadian and American legal communities and understanding the needs of both during litigation and in the courtroom. That comes from experience. Choosing a court reporting firm with experience with give firms the versatility to work across borders while also utilizing technology that streamlines and packages information and evidence.
In a new video from advocatedaily.com, Kim Neeson talks about how changes in how court reporting happens in Ontario courtrooms could mean more time-intensive work for legal professionals. This new proposal might also produce critical errors that could make a difference in cases. You can see the complete video here on YouTube.
Could new cost-cutting measures that will separate court reporting from transcription cause problems that could have an impact on the legal system? That is the question being asked in a new article appearing on advocatedaily.com.
Kim Neeson, owner of Neeson & Associates Court Reporting and Captioning is bringing her experience to the subject. The entire article can be found here.
Toronto court reporter Kimberley Neeson says that cost cutting measures that have already restricted court interpreter resources and are now threatening court reporting could impact the administration of justice.
A new article on advocatedaily.com is highlighting this emerging issue and draws from the experience of the owner of Neeson & Associates Court Reporting and Captioning. The entire article can be found here.
Computer-aided real-time transcription (CART) can help enhance the courtroom experience for people with disabilities. On advocatedaily.com. Kimberley Neeson is writing about how the technology is offering accessibility in the legal field, and is also offering tips about how this technology can be used to maximum effect in the courtroom. The entire article can be found here.