It is a safe assumption that you are familiar with the role of a court reporter. What you may be less familiar with is how those court reporters get assigned to your depositions and court appearances. Here is a story based on an interview with one of our employees at Atkinson-Baker who works in Reporter Calendaring. It provides a behind-the-scenes look into how court reporters do their jobs efficiently.
The Role of Reporter Calendaring
Reporter Calendaring is a department tasked with assigning various court reporters to jobs across broad swaths of the US. The employee interviewed assigns court reporters in cities like New York, Boston, Cleveland, and Washington, DC, for example. He noted that, while the job is extremely enjoyable, the position is not without its fair share of difficulty. Working in this role since 2009, he indicates that the most difficult part of the job is when a court reporter is needed immediately.
The reporter calendaring team at Atkinson-Baker fields calls at all hours of the day, including the early morning hours. The workday starts at 6:00 a.m. for some to effectively place court reporters in the early morning, as needed. Though the job is far from easy when legal professionals need a court reporter “right now,” this employee takes satisfaction in the fact that he is able to help lawyers, paralegals, and their firms receive the services their cases need.
The Worst Day on the Job
Becoming a skilled employee on the reporter calendaring team requires the ability to separate the work from emotional displays that can occur when a client is under stress. It can happen that reporters are needed immediately, but sometimes unavoidable obstacles get in the way of that need.
For example, this employee recalls receiving a call from New York at 4:00 p.m. where the lawyer expressed his desire for a reporter the following morning. The deposition in question was located at the far end of Long Island, a sprawling area. However, no reporter was available to take the job.
Eventually, late in the evening, a court reporter did become available, but this employee had to work with this particular court reporter, as she had another job lined up for later in the afternoon.
Still, the morning job she was placed on was only scheduled to last two hours, which fit everyone’s schedule. But, as sometimes happens, the morning job ran over the scheduled two hours, which resulted in the need to find an immediate reporter replacement – and, unfortunately, in the process he missed his nephew’s birthday party.
While days like these are tough, employees in court reporter calendaring tough it out because it is satisfying to provide legal professionals with the help they need in a timely manner. That said, our employee notes that a thick skin and a certain amount of toughness is needed, in his words, “I work this job; the job doesn’t work me.”
Little-Known Facts about Reporter Calendaring
While court reporters show up on the day of a job, Reporter Calendaring personnel are the unsung heroes who go unnoticed when they save the day. This doesn’t go unnoticed by court reporters themselves, however.
Our employee notes that the regular back-and-forth while placing court reporters has helped him develop meaningful rapport and relationships with court reporters he works with regularly. Part of this rapport is due to the fact that court reporters know too well just how invaluable Reporter Calendaring can be.
At times, the placement skills that go appreciated by court reporters and fellow employees can create unrealistic expectations from clients. While it is easy for clients to assume quality court reporters can be found nearly instantaneously, it can take exhaustive effort in many instances to locate an available reporter in the exact location that is needed.
A Final Word of Advice
Our employee recommends viewing Reporter Calendaring as party planners, with the party being the deposition. The analogy works because the team is essentially working with freelancers to fill a job based on the legal professional’s needs.
Like party planners, then, it is ideal to give Reporter Calendaring as much advance notice as possible. While the team can often work magic under tight deadlines and pressure, just like a good party planner, it needlessly creates the potential for undesirable outcomes. The very best court reporters are high-demand individuals. With advance notice, the team has more time and options to find the best fit.
Contact Atkinson-Baker for more information about court reporting and the benefits of putting our skilled team to work for you.
Court Reporters – The Human Element
Like most industries today, the legal industry has lots of new technology. Much of it is designed to make life easier and more efficient, by removing the need for the human element. But there are areas where technology really can’t compete and where the human element is exactly what is needed to avoid mistakes and to keep the process moving along properly.
Computers Can Make Mistakes
Audio recording options are being used more frequently in , court hearings, and trials. Audio recording relies on technology to collect information; however, it’s possible that the recording could stop if there is a malfunction. This may not even be noticed until someone goes to play it back or tries to listen to part of it, only to find missing information. In some cases, the information could have been crucial, and is simply not there. Obviously, this can seriously affect a case and its outcome.
While technology has come a long way, audio recordings are definitely not foolproof. The speed someone speaks, their accent, or the volume of their voice can all contribute to an inability to accurately record information and testimony. Background noise can also affect the quality of the audio recording.
The Benefits of the Human Touch
There is a big benefit to having a human court reporter present, in that the attorney has a guarantee that everything is being taken down and preserved. The reporter can easily ask a person to repeat what was said, if necessary. This ensures accuracy and reduces the chances of missing or difficult-to-decipher testimony. In this scenario, live court reporters are the best choice; they are always “recording.”
Another benefit to a human court reporter is the ability to produce an immediate transcript. Today’s technology enables reporters to provide a rough draft transcript right away, as the court proceeding or the deposition is happening. The transcript shows up within seconds on your tablet or laptop as an electronic feed.
This is an excellent way to use technology in the legal field, yet to couple it with the human interaction that is necessary for a high quality product and without risk of losing large chunks of information to technological glitches.
In addition, the human reporter knows when to stop “recording.” They only record “on-the-record” discussions and “turn off” when the discussion goes off the record.
Court reporters attest to the accuracy of their record. They ensure the integrity of the record and certify its validity.
There is no better choice for doing this type of work correctly than the human court reporter. While technology can perhaps enhance their work and efforts, having a human being present to take down the testimony and provide it to the parties is the best way to handle a legal proceeding.
Atkinson-Baker offers technological advances that can make depositions easier. We focus on immediate access to the record. Technology is available to attorneys who are interested in receiving an immediate voice-to-text translation, and then make notes or flag important testimony as it is occurring. For more information, visit www.depo.com.
Fortunately, attorneys have options when it comes to deciding the best way to make a deposition accessible and efficient for all parties involved. Videoconferencing and web conferencing are two great options for achieving these goals, albeit with stark differences.
Key Differences Between Videoconferencing and Web Conferencing
Videoconferencing is a court reporting service that conducts a deposition in a room specially designed for videoconferencing purposes, complete with a large wall screen and a reliable, hard-wired connection. Effectively, videoconferencing is capable of providing real-time, two-way audio/video communication between two or more locations. As such, specialized equipment is provided on both or multiple ends in order to establish a successful connection.
By contrast, web conferencing assists the taking of depositions with attorneys and/or the witness in remote locations from each other. The witness in question will be located at the same location as the court reporter, while the attorneys may be located remotely. This remote location functionality allows attorneys to conduct a deposition from the convenience of their law firm, so long as they are using an application such as LiveLitigation, GoToMeeting, or a similar communication app.
Traditionally, videoconferencing has connected people through video streams and has done little else, while web conferencing was originally envisioned as more of a content sharing platform for photos, documents, and files. Today, those lines are increasingly blurred since laptops, desktops, or mobile devices make it easy to have a quality video conference via web conferencing.
This is not to say, however, that videoconferencing does not still have its uses. Plenty of organizations still prefer a room-based video system that only videoconferencing provides.
To best analyze which form of conferencing is best for your deposition and court reporting needs, consider the unique benefits of each.
Benefits of Videoconferencing
Perhaps the greatest benefit of videoconferencing is that lawyers are ensured that the video quality will be unrivaled. A quality court reporting agency is capable of creating a cutting-edge, room-based video system that provides best-in-class screen technology and exceedingly reliable hard-wired performance.
Whereas web conferencing runs with a browser, videoconferencing uses dedicated equipment. In effect, that means a larger pipeline by which the video and audio data can be transmitted. In short, videoconferencing is the best option for law firms that demand the very best in video and audio quality for a deposition.
That said, these results come at a premium, making them a better option for firms with deeper pockets. It must be said, however, that web conferencing has come a long way in recent years, giving firms the ability to have high quality conferences at a lower bandwidth.
Benefits of Web Conferencing
As the newest, state-of-the-art technology for court reporting services, there are a number of unique features available to law firms that choose web conferencing.
For starters, attorneys can substantially reduce travel costs and enjoy significant cost savings by conducting a deposition remotely from the comfort of a laptop, desktop, or even a mobile device. The low-cost solution and remote location flexibility makes deposition web conferencing especially attractive for small or solo law firms that may not have the budget for a room-based video system.
Best of all, results don’t need to be compromised. If anything, law firm efficiency can even improve since attorneys save time by conducting the deposition remotely. Web conferencing has advanced to the point that video quality is more than acceptable for legal proceedings.
It is also worth noting that web conferencing provides far greater ease of use. Web conferencing requires no dedicated equipment and can be supported by a wide range of tablets, phones, laptops, and desktops. These features make web conferencing easier to use, once all these factors are taken into consideration.
Whether a dedicated videoconferencing system or a web conferencing solution is ideal for your firm will depend on your budget and whether you prioritize A/V quality, flexibility, portability, or some combination of these factors.
If you have any questions or concerns about which form of conferencing is best for your firm, contact us for a consultation. Visit us at www.depo.com.
For 30 years, Atkinson-Baker has been a leading provider of court reporting services. To understand the success of Atkinson-Baker requires an understanding of the company’s development over the past three decades.
Sheila Atkinson-Baker, President of Atkinson-Baker Court Reporters, knows the Atkinson-Baker journey better than anyone.
The Origin of Atkinson-Baker
In 1975 Sheila graduated from her local community college’s court reporting program. Attending this program was a natural fit for Sheila’s skills and interests, given that while still in high school she took a correspondence course in court reporting and had always had a natural interest in language.
After graduating from her court reporting program, Sheila spent more than a decade as a professional court reporter before deciding to start Atkinson-Baker in 1987. The decision to create Atkinson-Baker was made in the family room of Sheila’s home, but it was not a decision that was made lightly.
Rather, after more than a decade of working as a court reporter, Sheila saw a unique opportunity for a company like Atkinson-Baker. Sheila had worked in courts in states as diverse as Florida, Wisconsin, and California, and she also had experience doing freelance court reporting while covering depositions.
This level of depth and familiarity with court reporting helped her realize that there was an abundance of court reporting jobs in Los Angeles compared to the court reporters who were available on the market. This insight caused Sheila and her husband to develop a strong working relationship with individual court reporters, which led to covering overflow work that other firms were unable to cover.
The experience gleaned from this overflow work led to the essential insight that led to the creation of Atkinson-Baker: Atkinson-Baker was designed to match clients with the right court reporter for the job, regardless of any extenuating circumstances.
The First Year at Atkinson-Baker
Few businesses can claim to achieve success in their first year of operation, but Atkinson-Baker is just such a company. Sheila recalls the need to bring on more people who could help because of the volume of business Atkinson-Baker received.
Even so, at the root of the company’s success was its family-owned and operated structure. At the core of the business model were three people: Sheila, her husband Alan, and her sister Judy.
Sheila handled the court reporting, technical delivery, and taking care of any and all technical issues that arose regarding services delivered. Alan helped formulate the organizational structure, while also paving the roadmap for the business as a state-of-the-art court reporting firm. Additionally, he handled functions like taking client orders and scheduling services until new people were hired.
Last, but far from least, Judy helped the business run smoothly by handling additional administrative functions, processing, and transcript delivery. Just as important to Atkinson-Baker’s growth, she helped train new employees as the business grew.
The Atkinson-Baker Difference
2017 marks the 30th year of Atkinson-Baker, a milestone that did not happen by accident. From Atkinson-Baker’s first day, company executives and staff have operated the business with a singular purpose: providing clients with the very best support services.
Sheila’s more than three decades of experience in court reporting give her the insight to know what clients need and want. From there, her team and staff work diligently to provide clients with the services that meet their needs. Staying true to these principles have helped Atkinson-Baker transform from a family-owned, three-person team to a thriving business of more than 170 employees and 1,000-plus court reporters today.
Clients who choose Atkinson-Baker receive services from a company that has taken no shortcuts since 1987. At Atkinson-Baker, the company makes a commitment to:
Contact our team for more information about Atkinson-Baker’s history and our services.