Category: Uncategorized

Court Reporter vs. Legal Transcriptionist: What is the Difference?

Transforming the verbal communications in legal settings into written documents requires transcribing; a task both court reporters and legal transcriptionists perform. However, the two positions vary greatly when it comes to skills and education. Both are used by attorneys, law firms, courts, and other enterprises, but where and how they transcribe legal discourse is very different.

Court Reporter Transcribing

Court reporters are physically present at the legal proceedings when they transcribe; done in real-time as it occurs. During court proceedings, legal depositions, and other legal interactions, a court reporter will be expected to use their skills to take down word-for-word what is said by all parties present. This is a complex and specialized skillset that involves extreme attention to detail and focus, along with professionalism to work with other legal professionals.

Court reporters often have at least two years of college education. Some states require a specific degree to become a court reporter and certifications to ensure their competency level. Court reporter education requisites often include proficient grammar, legal terminology, medical terminology, and a general knowledge of legal proceedings. In addition, many court reporters must also be notary publics to certify transcripts and oaths during proceedings.

 Legal Transcriptionist Requirements

Unlike a court reporter, legal transcriptionists are not usually present during the legal proceedings they transcribe. Legal transcriptionists, like medical transcriptionists, create written documents from audio recordings. This can be done anywhere and many will work from home or in an office. While court reporters must be able to accurately and quickly transcribe verbal communication as it occurs, legal transcriptionists have the luxury of listening to a recording that can be replayed for clarity, if needed.

There is not a set education level needed for legal transcriptionists, but a comprehensive understanding of grammar and legal terminology is expected. Most states do not require any type of formal certification or ongoing education, as is needed for court reporters.

While the end result may look the same, the skillset between court reporters and legal transcriptionists is very different. Court reporters also can own the legal documents they transcribe and have the opportunity to make extra income selling copies of the testimony they transcribe. Expert Depos invites court reporters to join our network for free and learn more about selling copies of their transcripts to increase their earning potential.

Tips for Fostering a Good Court Reporter/Attorney Relationship

Accurate transcripts of court proceedings and depositions are integral to winning legal battles in and outside the courtroom. Attorneys rely on precise, unbiased court reporters to give them the detailed information they need to build their cases. Creating a solid relationship with court reporters they use frequently can benefit attorneys; ensuring they continue to receive the quality service they need for their profession. Here are tips to help attorneys foster a good relationship with the court reporters they use to get the most benefit from their services.

Preparing for Depositions and Court Hearings

If an attorney will need a court reporter for a deposition or court hearing, providing enough notice and information allows the court reporter to prepare for the event. While last minute depositions can occur, whenever possible it is desirable to give advance notice of the date, time, and location where the court reporter will be needed. In addition, providing the following information can help ensure the court reporter is prepared for the deposition or hearing:

  •   Names of deponents
  •   Number of depositions or length of time expected for the depositions or hearing
  •   Is real time transcription needed?
  •   Turnaround times required for transcripts
  •   Any specialized content; such as medical, technical, or scientific text

Knowing what to expect can help the court reporter or firm ensure the correct preparation, equipment, and time allowance is used for the service.

Mutual Respect and Clear Communication

Attorneys and court reporters with good working relationships have mutual respect for each other’s time, expertise, and schedules. Clear communication before and during depositions and other encounters can foster beneficial interactions. Attorneys should ensure the court reporter receives the needed breaks for meals, since “working lunches” are not possible while transcribing. It is also respectful to ensure a court reporter is able to extend their session, not assume they can stay longer than initially planned.

All professional relationships are more productive when both sides show respect and communicate their needs. Considerate planning and communication can ensure attorney/court reporter relationships thrive for the benefit of everyone involved.

Whether you are an attorney or court reporter, Expert Depos can be of service. Court reporters can sell copies of their certified witness depositions for extra income, offering a great source of information for attorneys and legal investigators.

Effective Ways a Court Reporter Can Assist in a Case

Winning court cases often comes down to the details. Having an accurate, detailed account of every court appearance, witness testimony, and deposition can make a substantial difference in preparing a winning argument. Court reporters offer the specialized service of detailed transcripts of legal proceedings, which can assist attorneys in preparing the best case.

While it was once common for courts to provide a court reporter, this is no longer the case. If an attorney wants the benefit of a detailed transcript of legal proceedings, they need to obtain the services of a qualified court reporter. Hiring a court reporter is a worthwhile investment that can ensure legal teams have the unbiased recording of word-for-word discourse that can impact their case.

Top Benefits of Using a Court Reporter During a Case

Memory and even audio recordings are unreliable. It is vital to legal proceedings to have an accurate account of every word that is said. Court reporters specialize in creating realtime transcripts of depositions and court proceedings that create a lasting record for use by attorneys; both during a trial and for future legal actions. Some of the top benefits of hiring a court reporter to record all proceedings pertaining to a case include:

  • Accurate recording of testimony for counseling witnesses and checking for discrepancies in accounts from one day to the next
  • Recorded account of court proceedings for future legal actions or appeals
  • Record of depositions, even those not admissible in court, for planning trial strategies
  • Realtime recordings to assist the hearing impaired or to translate for language
  • Less expensive and more accurate than relying on audio recordings that will also need to be transcribed after the proceedings

Having access to the transcripts in both realtime and in legal preparation for a case can be invaluable. Attorneys on both sides of a case can benefit from the professionalism and accuracy of an unbiased court reporter to record the details of all legal proceedings.

Are you looking for copies of transcripts to witness testimony? Check out Expert Depos, your source for certified witness depositions.

Depositions and How They Are Valuable to Litigation

Nearly 90% of lawsuits are settled before trial, and the face-to-face questioning sessions known as depositions are often pivotal to the outcome. Part of the discovery process, depositions are a powerful tool that both parties can and should use to understand the evidence available, discern details, and ultimately create a strategy for success.

Preview

The primary value of a deposition is to give each side a fair preview of the evidence. Learning all of the facts pretrial is crucial to avoiding surprises that could impact the outcome. Additionally, depositions are used to create support documents for future actions.

Preserve

Depositions also serve to preserve witness testimony. If a witness is unable to appear in person during a trial as a result of death, serious illness, or location and travel restrictions, a deposition may serve as their official testimony.

Obtain

In general, depositions allow for broader questions than would be permissible during a trial. A deposition can be a way to gain admissions from a witness or obtain testimony that is unfavorable to the opposing side. Getting a witness to commit to testimony is vital. Once the witness is committed to their testimony, counsel can prepare to impeach opposition with inconsistencies or contradictions.

Evaluate

Depositions offer the opportunity to evaluate a witness or other party’s understanding or awareness of issues in the case. It’s also a chance to take the measure of a witness: are they credible? Are there gaps in their knowledge? How do they present themselves?

Depositions are one of the primary methods of learning the strengths and weaknesses of a case. The integrity, presentation, and knowledge gaps of a witness can be used to determine their strength at trial. All answers provided during deposition questioning are transcribed and printed. Experienced counsel can use the written deposition to predict the likely outcome of a trial, and thus can make a determination on which witnesses to enlist, whether to settle, and for how much.

The Best Tool

All phases of discovery are important, but depositions provide the best tool for seasoned counsel to educate themselves about the facts of the case, evaluate witnesses, and plot the most effective strategy. Search for a witness, and buy a certified transcript copy of the deposition directly from the court reporter. Simple as that. Try it now.

What Attorneys Need to Know About Their Court Reporter at a Realtime Deposition

Recording a realtime deposition can be a valuable tool for attorneys and requires the expertise of a court reporter with realtime service certifications. For attorneys requesting realtime services from a court reporter, it is important to understand what to expect and how to best prepare. Knowing what is involved in the process can help ensure the realtime deposition goes smoothly for the attorney, court reporter, and other entities involved.

Preparing for a Realtime Deposition

To record and transmit in realtime for a deposition, the right equipment and tools must be available. Attorneys will need to have a laptop that has the correct drivers, software, and ports to receive the realtime transcript. If it is the first time an attorney is using their laptop for a realtime deposition, it will need the correct drivers and software uploaded before beginning. Or, ask the court reporting service to provide a “plug and play” computer the attorney can use. Computers used for realtime depositions should have:

  • Realtime software
  • A serial port
  • The correct drivers
  • Access to internet

If software and drivers need to be loaded onto a computer first, attorneys should relay this to the court reporter and plan to meet at least a half an hour before the deposition. It is also important to ensure the room where the realtime deposition will occur has Wi-Fi or internet connections available.

Before the deposition begins, it is helpful to ensure everyone understands the importance of clear and concise communication for a realtime transcript. Instruct the witness(es) and others to avoid interruptions or speaking over one another to allow for an accurate transcript.

What to Expect During the Realtime Deposition

Court reporters that are certified to perform realtime depositions are trained for accuracy. The transcript that appears will be precise, but it is common for small discrepancies to appear in realtime. Attorneys should not be concerned if they see steno or grammar issues. The transcript will be edited for grammar or typos for the final transcript. Once the deposition is over, the court reporter can provide the final transcript, which is edited and can be imported into the realtime software to replace the rough draft.

While some small discrepancies can occur, if something happens during the deposition that is inaccurate, feel free to get clarification from the witness for the court reporter. The court reporter may have misheard the witness. While these errors most likely would be corrected in the final transcript, it is best to ensure complete accuracy.

Realtime depositions can be valuable and require a court reporter who specializes in this service. Understanding the nuances of this procedure can help attorneys streamline the process and get the most from their realtime deposition.

Need a copy of a deposition? Search Expert Depos to find the witness testimony or deposition you need.

Meta: Attorneys can benefit from the use of court reporter realtime depositions. Understanding how to prepare for these specialized sessions can help both court reporters and attorneys save time and ensure accuracy.

Top 10 Skills of the Best Court Reporters

What differentiates the top-paid, successful court reporters from other colleagues in their industry? Like any profession, there are those who excel at court reporting and possess the skills that make them more valuable. Honing these skills can help those new to the field obtain higher pay and prestigious positions. Here are the top 10 skills of the best court reporters to emulate for success in this specialized field.

  1. Focus. Court reporters must be able to stay focused and not be easily distracted. The key of court reporting is catching every word and meaning during proceedings, without ever losing focus.
  2. It is always important to be on-time as a professional and court reporters are no exception. The best court reporters plan to be at their designated court at least 20 minutes before they are scheduled to begin, to ensure they do not delay the court proceedings.
  3. Professional appearance. Top court reporters dress appropriately and professionally to blend within their court setting.
  4. Attention to detail. Court reporting is all about details. Meticulous attention to detail is a skill the best court reporters possess.
  5. Grammar specialist. Grammar is an essential skill for court reporters. Adding in the correct punctuation and using the correct version of words can impact the meaning of the deposition.
  6. Business etiquette. Working with members of the court requires business etiquette and manners befitting the environment.
  7. Impartial and stoic. Excellent court reporters can remain stoic and impartial while recording any type of discourse, regardless of the topic. Personal opinions and reactions are never revealed by the best court reporters.
  8. Confidence. Successful court reporters are confident and poised when working in front of others; speaking up to clarify information when needed.
  9. Research and prepare. Court reporters at the top of their field do the necessary research and preparation before their assignment; knowing the court, judges, and background for the case.
  10. Accuracy. Not only the grammar, spelling, and punctuation need accuracy; all dates, numbers, and corresponding information must be accurate in transcripts.

Embracing these skills can help you achieve success as a court reporter and gain the experience needed to excel and become one of the best in your field. With experience can come greater earning potential. Find out how you can earn extra income by selling copies of your transcribed documents. Take the court reporter tour on the Expert Depos website.

Meta: Do you wonder if you have the skills necessary to become a successful court reporter? Review the top 10 skills the best court reporters possess to excel in this specialized career.

Court Records and Proceedings: What is Public and Why?

Attorneys, journalists, professors, and other professionals will often cite court records and proceedings
in their line of work. Most court records are deemed public record, allowing almost anyone to access the
information by request. Transcripts of depositions and court testimony can often be obtained through
the court system or by purchasing copies owned by court reporters. However, there are some
exceptions on what can be made public and what cannot.

Federal Regulations Regarding Court Records

The right to obtain court records is protected under the Freedom of Information Act of 1966, signed into
law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. This law gives citizens the right to access most federal agency
documents, including court records, with a few exceptions. Some information pertaining to national
security, law enforcement protocols, and trade secrets may be labeled confidential and not considered
available to the public.

While the laws can vary on what information is available from state agencies, most follow the federal
guidelines on what information from courts and other agencies is deemed public. The exceptions are
also followed. In most cases, the following information is protected and not made public, even when
revealed in court proceedings and records:

  • Mental health records
  • Juvenile court records and proceedings
  • Drug and alcohol treatment and court records
  • Social security numbers, bank account numbers, and certain other financial information
  • Domestic violence proceedings
  • Paternity and adoption court records

These records are kept confidential to protect those involved in these cases. Records may be sealed or
off-limits, except to members of the agency involved.

Court Reporter Transcripts

Unless they contain confidential information protected by state or federal laws, most court reporter
transcripts can be obtained by the public. This can be a lucrative extra source of income for court
reporters if they sell copies to attorneys, journalists, and other interested parties.
Court reporters who wish to earn extra income by selling copies of their legal transcripts can join Expert
Depos for free. Check out our court reporter tour on our website to learn more.

Tips for Newly Licensed Court Reporters

Entering the specialized service of court reporting can be exciting and nerve-racking. Even with
extensive training and preparation, there will be situations that may be confusing for newly licensed
court reporters. It can help to know some of the common issues other court reporters have
encountered and overcome. Here are some tips that can make the transition into the real world of court
reporting easier.

Planning and Preparation are Key

Everyone, regardless of their tenure or position, has to go through a first day on the job and learn the
nuances of their profession. The same is true for every court reporter. To make it easier, be prepared
and plan ahead for those first days and assignments. Research the court or law firm you will be working
at; know the lawyer, deponents, judges, other names, and research the location. Plan to be early to
avoid feeling rushed.

Common Court Reporting Errors

Attention to detail is important for all court reporters. However, there are a few details that are
commonly missed by those beginning their careers. Plus, court reporters will find that unlike their
training, court and depositions can vary greatly depending on where they are held, and the other
professionals involved. Here are a few common errors made by court reporters you’ll want to avoid:

  • Possessive grammar. Court reporters need to be grammar experts, but possessive punctuation
    can be tricky. Remember that “it” does not use an apostrophe for possessive; only “it is” is
    written as the conjunction “it’s.”
  • Use Ms. Women, married or single, should be referred to as “Ms.”, unless specifically referred
    to as “Mrs.”
  • Certificate page date. When the court reporter signs the certificate page, the date should be the
    date the page is signed, not the date of the assignment.
  • Attorney tables. While it is common for plaintiffs to sit on the left and defendants on the right in
    the courtroom, this is not always the case. Assign the left or right tables based on where the
    attorneys sit—never assume the seating is standard.

There is so much to learn as a new court reporter, but with experience will come confidence and
improvement of skills. Another tip for new court reporters – there also comes an opportunity to add income
by selling transcript copies on Expert Depos. Check out the site to learn how to join for free.

Meta: As a new court reporter, there are bound to be some errors made. Use these tips to avoid
common mistakes and improve your skills as a court reporter as you gain experience.

Elements of a Great Legal Tech Conference

Legal professionals flock to legal tech conference events every year, seeking ways to improve themselves and their careers. While conferences provide an unparalleled level of access to networking opportunities, education on upcoming advancements, and industry buzz; all legal tech conferences simply aren’t created equal. There are those which will always stand above the rest, and most of those standout conferences have a few things in common.

The best and most effective conferences will provide attendees with a variety of benefits, so it’s important for content planners and organizers to offer more than just a high-profile keynote speaker. Here are a few elements shared, at least to some degree, by many of the best legal tech conferences.

Inspiration and Innovation

Legal professionals are certainly looking for things they can put into practice right away, but they also want to know what they should be looking out for months or even years down the road. For this reason, legal tech conferences should feature a good balance between practical measures, which can inspire immediate improvement and the innovation of the near future. Attendees should leave with a clear vision of not only the ways they can apply what they’ve learned in the present but also an idea of developments coming down the pipeline they should keep an eye on as they advance.

Speaking of inspiration; keynote speakers are, well, key. It’s easy to shoot for a recognizable name, whether or not they’re actually legal tech insiders, but it’s not always best. Great legal tech conferences may have keynote speakers with minimal experience in the industry itself, but the message they deliver should always be relevant and inspiring. Speakers should always be the kind of people legal professionals want or need to hear from in order to grow and develop professionally, in one way or another.

Amenities and Accommodations at Legal Tech Conferences

Enormous convention halls offer space for plenty of programming and exhibitions, but they can also affect everything from the flow of the schedule to the attendees’ ability to network.

A tightly-packed programming schedule in a sprawling convention center means attendees are always rushing from one spot to the next, with little downtime to eat, network, or take a deep breath. Great conferences will offer enough programming to keep everyone busy, but not so tightly scheduled no one has time to discuss ideas and network. The best conferences also offer a bit more in the way of healthy meal options, access to quality-of-life conveniences, and space to work together.

What are some aspects of tech conferences you’ve loved in the past? Share your best conference experiences in the comments.

Trends that are Currently Shaping the Legal Industry

There’s no doubt that the face of the legal industry is changing, thanks in no small part to the always-connected global network. Rapid-pace advancements in technology are driving change across most industries, and the legal profession is simply no exception. As law firms work to integrate new technology, while also managing the dramatic age gaps introduced by four separate generations working alongside one another, new approaches to old problems are beginning to take shape.

Social Media and the Legal Profession

When it comes to tech driving change in the legal industry, few things have the power of social media. It’s not just the place where firms promote their services, reach out to potential clients, and work to woo new talent. Social networking sites have the power to discredit witnesses, bolster strong cases, and provide discoverable evidence under amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

Another effect of the ability to network beyond borders through social media is an uptick in globalization efforts throughout the industry. Firms are collaborating with peers in other countries and taking a truly international approach to law, but they’re also changing the way they do things at home.

The proliferation of powerful devices and tailored online services today allow more flexibility than ever before. From allowing professionals to telecommute, to the establishment of truly virtual law firms. This best-of-both-worlds approach allows professionals to establish a work/life balance while still serving clients and employers effectively.

Outsourcing and Specialized Web Services

From databases designed to help locate and utilize depositions at lightning speed, to pure outsourcing via external contractors, tech innovation is pushing more firms to evaluate how they staff, where they spend money, and how to create greater flexibility with existing tools and services.

It’s not all about cost, either. Outsourcing some tasks is another way of building the all-important work/life balance necessary for productivity. Tools and services exist today which allow a single professional to manage what would have required dozens of man-hours in generations past.

From streamlining operations to saving money and creating a more hospitable work environment, tech trends are driving the legal profession in a new direction. What would you like to see next? Let us know in the comments.