The major focus of court reporting school is to write faster. As a student, this process becomes ingrained in your psyche. It is your quest. You practice for months on end, pass a test, and the seemingly never-ending cycle continues.
Why does speed matter? For one, it allows you to write comfortably. Nothing is worse on an assignment, or more exhausting mentally and physically, than struggling to get every word and playing catch-up all day. Having speed also allows you to write more cleanly, which will translate into better read-back on the job and less editing time afterwards; and when you get more experience under your belt, you will be able to provide clean realtime feeds to counsel, a skill which is becoming more in demand with each passing day. Lastly, speed matters because you will be in a better position to actually listen to the testimony that is unfolding before you and to learn what the lawsuit is about. You will produce a better transcript if you understand the reason for the lawsuit and the parties’ positions on the issues.
Having adequate speed is one thing; having a speed cushion is even better. A cushion will help you hang on during the fast spurts, endure very long-winded technical answers, and accurately record heated arguments between counsel in colloquy.
In a nutshell, having speed puts you in control. You will be able to report all day with less stress and with confidence knowing you are getting the job done.
The truth is, and working reporters will tell you, that you can never write fast enough. There are some witnesses that challenge even the most experienced reporters, which is why many continue to practice long after they have graduated from school.
So it may surprise you to learn that, as crucial as speed is, it isn’t everything! What good does it do if you can write at 225 wpm but you don’t know how to punctuate or if you have inadequate word knowledge and choose the wrong word in context? Your work product is being examined by intelligent and discerning people. You wouldn’t want your reputation tarnished by errors, in black and white, for all to see.
Court reporting is part science and part art. The science is the technical aspect of writing the words on your machine. The art is using every tool at your disposal, along with your judgment and experience, to produce a transcript that accurately reflects what transpired. This is your core responsibility.
A reporter must be competent in both areas, the science and the art, to be successful.
So while you are pushing for speed, remember not to overlook the other components that will make you a better reporter. All accomplished reporters I know care about every word, its spelling and usage. They think about, sometimes agonize over, punctuation. They know enough to research what they don’t know. They read newspapers and magazines to improve their word knowledge and to keep abreast of current events and the world around them. They are members of NCRA, and they attend its seminars. They are organized, have excellent time management skills, and pay attention to detail. These attributes are just as important as speed. Being proficient in both areas will make you a reporter in high demand.
Friday, April 1, 2016
We are pleased to announce that we are celebrating our 49th anniversary! It seems like yesterday when the doors to this office first opened. So much has changed, yet so much has remained the same: Our commitment to quality and customer satisfaction continues to be the driving force behind all we do. Our distinguished reporters are the finest our profession has to offer. They have participated in thousands of depositions and hearings and have dutifully recorded the millions of words spoken over the course of our long history. Our certified verbatim transcripts are delivered with enormous pride and satisfaction.
It has been our privilege to be silent partners at your conference tables all these years. In the quiet performance of our duties, we have listened and learned about every topic imaginable, we have been entrusted with recording personal and private stories, and we have been first-hand witnesses to a wide range of human emotions. We hold all, including our opinions, in confidence.
We would like to take this special occasion to thank everyone who has contributed to our success thus far, and we look forward to another great year that will bring us to our golden 50th.
Monday, January 11, 2016
As detailed in this article published on January 2, 2016, Boston Globe 'Objections raised as courtrooms go digital', Superior Courts in Massachusetts have started installing a new digital system to record criminal trials, which could eventually mean the phasing out of the 40 court reporters who work as officials. This system, developed by For The Record, will cost $5 million to install and implement. This does not, however, take into account the COST of courtroom monitors, the COST of transcribing these digital files, the QUALITY of the transcripts produced in this manner, or the TIMELINESS of transcript delivery. To replace certified professionals with a recording device has proven to be a misguided solution to fixing a bottom line. Court reporters, specifically machine writers, constantly improve their skills and invest in the latest ground-breaking technology, at their own expense, to be able to provide clean realtime feeds that judges and counsel rely on. Digital recordings are an inferior substitute for nationally certified court reporters.
Below is the response to this article from our state association:
Massachusetts Court Reporters Association is proud of the important role that official court reporters serve in preserving and producing the record in criminal and civil proceedings across our country every day. The presence of an official court reporter in the courtroom at the time of the judicial proceeding is the most accurate and reliable way to make an official record and the justice system is served, as it has been for generations, with a trained court reporter present to capture the proceedings.
The court reporter is in the courtroom for the sole purpose of recording the spoken word and would, thus, never “forget to flip the switch” resulting in important testimony or argument going unrecorded. Without the presence of a court reporter, there is no opportunity to interrupt the proceedings for an unheard word, nod or mumble.
Stenographic reporters have played an integral role in bringing state-of-the-art technology into the courtroom. In fact, this technology offers many advantages when compared to digital audio or video recording. For example, a realtime court reporter's stenographic notes are translated instantly, displayed on a computer screen and digitally archived to a computer. Realtime court reporters create a verbatim text record of the proceedings for instant review and use by attorneys and judges. In fact, realtime is the only "voice-to-text" technology that meets the rigorous demand for accuracy that exists in the legal environment.
Several courtrooms that replaced court reporters with alternative methodologies have now switched back to court reporters. States such as New Mexico, New Jersey and Texas have found that the recording systems left much to be desired. Problems with inaudibles, blank tapes and overall system failures caused courtrooms in these states to return to the use of court reporters for major cases.
Kathleen Silva, President
Massachusetts Court Reporters Association
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Tuesday, September 22, 2015
Doris O. Wong Associates, Inc., owes its success of almost 50 years in large measure to the extraordinary professionals on its staff.
Most of our reporters have been with this firm for over 25 years, which is just astounding in this day and age when loyalty in the workplace is declining. They all work exclusively for this firm.
All of our court reporters have been vetted by our state and national organizations through rigorous skills and written knowledge testing. Several have gone on to earn our profession’s most prestigious credentials, the Registered Diplomate Reporter, Registered Merit Reporter, and Certified Realtime Reporter.
In addition to their degrees in Court and Conference Reporting, some of our reporters have Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in other areas such as human biology, education, Chinese, and music. They also have varied interests outside of court reporting. One reporter is fluent in French and Japanese; another plays the viola da gamba; others selflessly volunteer their time to help those in their communities.
All of our reporters are members of the Massachusetts Court Reporters Association and the National Court Reporters Association. Their support of their professional organizations demonstrates their commitment to their profession and their pledge to continue their education, especially in the areas of realtime writing and technology.
Every reporter on our staff has pledged their support of NCRA’s Ethics First initiative which seeks to educate our fellow professionals, clients, and the general public about the importance of maintaining impartiality and neutrality in the performance of our duties so as to ensure an unbiased legal system for all. We refrain from gift-giving as a means of obtaining future business or favoring one client over another.
Call on our uniquely talented professionals for all of your deposition needs. Your case matters to you. Every word matters to us.
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Tuesday, August 18, 2015
By Connie Psaros, RPR, Vice President
Court reporting students, probably more than students in any other field, fail their tests almost weekly. As a student, you press on day after day, week after week, and beyond, only to see “FAIL” on your graded paper. You can fail because of one missed word. One. And just when you finally pass a test, the process begins anew and you will most certainly meet with failure again the very next week. The cycle can be downright demoralizing.
But take heart.
Every reporter before you has failed, repeatedly, and has come out the other side to a career they love, and you can too. As students you’re expected to fail. You’re learning. You’re not there yet. Probably no one has told you, though, that failure has value, and breakthroughs can come as a result. The key is analyzing why you are failing and doing what you can to move ahead and face your next speed hurdle with renewed enthusiasm and sense of purpose.
This is why reading back and examining your writing is so important to your progress. Read back everything. Be self-critical. Why are you failing? What mistakes are you making? Are you making the same mistakes repeatedly? Try to be as specific in your analysis as possible. There could be several reasons: the same fingering errors; unreadable notes; hesitation; dropping; problems with numbers, synonyms, punctuation; lack of concentration; poor practice habits; time constraints.
Having this information is valuable! Now that you know what is holding you back or giving you trouble, you can address those areas and form a strategy to mitigate or eliminate them. There may be several areas that need your attention, which is common. Don’t get overwhelmed or be too hard on yourself. You are a work in progress. The good news is that there are workable solutions to any issue you may have. Ask for help in overcoming your particular problem area. Reach out to your teacher or a working professional for advice, or ask NCRA for a virtual mentor. You’ll be surprised at how helpful they can be.
Court reporting school is all about the journey. Only those who have gone before you know what you are going through now. The journey will have more failures than successes for sure; but if you heed the lessons that your failures offer, and make a deliberate and steadfast effort during your daily practice sessions, you will become a better writer and PASS that certification test one day!
So the next time you see “FAIL” on your test paper, add the word “FORWARD” to remind yourself to learn from the mistakes made and forge ahead.
The following is the quote from Charles F. Kettering that inspired these comments. May it inspire you too. “Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success.”
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Wednesday, July 29, 2015
There has been much discussion in the press lately about the allegations made against Bill Cosby by several women who are accusing him of assault and rape. Then comes the news that Mr. Cosby’s deposition transcript has been released in violation of the settlement agreement made years ago between the parties.
While this office does not know first-hand the particulars of the agreement, whether the deposition was sealed or not, whether some pages were already publicly available, or whether the court reporting agency actually sold the transcript to The New York Times, this case does raise concerning issues regarding transcripts in the possession of court reporters and court reporting firms.
Doris O. Wong Associates, Inc., does not consider transcripts public record and does not release any transcript without the consent of all counsel who were present at the deposition or a court order. Every once in a while, we receive calls from people looking for transcripts -- of expert witnesses, for example – that they can use in separate, unrelated actions. Although we would welcome the income, we refuse to automatically honor these requests, believing it would be unethical and in violation of the trust placed in us as keepers of the record.
As part of our efforts to safeguard information contained in all transcripts in our possession, we adhere to WISP regulations. We send electronic transcript files and accompanying exhibits to counsel via a secure, encrypted, and password-protected platform that offers a layer of protection that e-mail attachments alone cannot.www.doriswong.com
Mr. Cosby’s attorneys say they will vigorously investigate how his transcript became public. In this firm’s opinion, every deposition transcript, whether of a celebrity or not, deserves and receives protection from those who have no legal right to it.
Friday, June 26, 2015
The National Court Reporters Association will hold its convention & exposition in New York City July 30th through August 2nd. It is the largest annual gathering of court reporters, captioners, scopists, legal videographers, trial presenters, and other legal services professionals. Registrants will attend a myriad of continuing education seminars, network with their peers from around the country, and visit vendor booths that showcase the latest in writing machines and computer-aided transcription software.
NCRA’s annual business meeting will be held as well as the installation of its new officers and directors. Always of particular interest at the convention are the National Speed Competition and the National Realtime Competition where our elite vie for court reporting superstardom and immortality.
Those who compete in the Speed Contest transcribe a literary take at 220 wpm, a legal opinion take at 230 wpm, and a two-voice testimony take at 280 wpm. The contestant who qualifies on the three tests (95% or higher) with the highest average for the three is the winner.
The winner of the Realtime Contest must produce an unedited transcription of straight matter at 200 wpm and two-voice testimony at 225 wpm. To qualify, one must have an accuracy rate of 95% or higher on each segment, and the person who has the best combined score among the qualifiers wins.
Court reporters are employed as freelancers, officials, captioners, and CART providers. There is currently a nationwide shortage. For more information on how you can pursue a career in this field, visit http://www.crtakenote.com/. In addition, a documentary called “For the Record – A Court Reporting Documentary” premiered at the SXSW Film Festival earlier this year. In case you missed it, here is the link: http://www.courtreportingmovie.com/. Enjoy!