Linda Fifield, Vice President with Doris O. Wong Associates, Inc., will assume the role of president of the Society for the Technical Advancement of Reporting for the coming year. She was sworn in at STAR’s recent convention in Scottsdale, AZ. STAR focuses on the development of cutting-edge court reporting technology and boasts 400 professional members from the US, Canada and abroad.
Linda has been involved in the technology side of court reporting since the late 1970s, the infancy of computer-aided transcription. She has served for many years on the liaison committee that advises Stenograph on the needs and wishes of working reporters. She has held numerous committee and board positions for STAR and its predecessor group, and she has presented many seminars highlighting technology and the ever-changing, ever-vital role it plays in the profession. She brings a wealth of knowledge to the reporters on our staff regarding software updates, troubleshooting, and hardware and software purchases. Her knowledge was instrumental in this firm providing interactive realtime on iPads over the Cloud to scores of people, many remotely, for a daily copy arbitration just two weeks after the software’s release.
Linda earned an MBA from Suffolk University. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Official court reporters to be replaced with electronic devices effective January 31, 2017
The Trial Court has decided to eliminate the position of official court reporter in our court system as of January 31, 2017, at which time all court proceedings will be electronically recorded by an out-of-state, nationwide company.
The Massachusetts Court Reporters Association is asking attorneys and paralegals in the Commonwealth to click on the link below to sign the petition in support of 1) certified per diem court reporters for first-degree murder and life-felony criminal trials, 2) the hiring of a certified court reporter to cover civil proceedings and the court reporter's transcript deemed the official record, and 3) the transcription of digital audio recordings of both criminal and civil Trial Court proceedings be conducted by local, approved transcribers and/or certified court reporters and not outsourced.
We now have over 500 supporters, most of whom are attorneys in Massachusetts. If you can help make other members of the Bar aware, it would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you for your support on this very important issue.
“Why Choosing the Right Court Reporter is Critical to Your Success”
You have a big case you’ve been working on, and you’re ready to take discovery. You need a court reporter. The decision on who to hire may be more important than you think.
We know firsthand that not all court reporters or agencies are the same. Transcript quality and service vary widely across the board. What criteria should you use in making this important hiring decision so you can operate optimally and with less stress?
It goes without saying, but it bears repeating: You should only hire a certified professional. There are reporters working today who have no certifications, which means that they have not passed the minimum testing benchmarks set by our national association. In contrast, some reporters have earned multiple certifications attesting to their advanced skill and training, such as the RMR, RDR, or CRR. Certifications matter; request reporters who have earned them.
On your most difficult and complex cases, insist on reporters who can provide realtime, which is a simultaneous feed of testimony from the reporter’s machine to your iPad or laptop. This premium service allows you to review testimony as it is given, make notes and annotations, and download the file at the end of the day. These talented reporters can also provide a clean rough draft to help you prepare for the next day’s witness. Realtime is considered our profession’s gold standard.
Most reporters work for agencies. Scrutinize the agencies you are considering. Hire a reputable firm, one that advances the court reporting profession by its involvement in its professional association, its willingness to embrace the latest technology, and its pledge to engage in ethical dealings. A full-service agency will provide a full complement of litigation support products to suit your needs and can also offer other important services such as conference rooms, videography, video conferencing, audio transcription, interpreters, and access to other vetted court reporters around the country.
Doris O. Wong Associates, Inc., will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year. We have been a trusted partner of thousands of lawyers over the course of our history because we have the most accomplished and experienced reporters in the industry, all of whom work exclusively for us, and we have a pleasant, committed, and accessible support staff who will go the extra mile to ensure your satisfaction. We are not an impersonal national conglomerate in which court reporting is only one of many services. We are independently owned and operated, so we answer to no one but you.
Too much is at stake to leave your choice of court reporter to chance. Call us to schedule your next deposition. We will help you advocate for your client with efficiency and confidence.
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.
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. <
"Objections raised as courtrooms go digital" as reported by the Boston Globe
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