This summer is drawing quickly to a close. How time flies, it seems! Our focus and attention is now looking forward to autumn and all the activities associated with the kiddos headed back to school.
I, for one, am not quite ready to let summer go. For me, one of the most fun things to do during the scorching Memphis summers is go to the movies. And what a movie blockbuster season it’s been! At times it seems as though we are inundated with tons of action flicks and there’s critics in the press with a bit of negativity about the superhero films. My response? “Who cares!! The more action, the better.”
Top of my “best of” lists this summer?
- Black Panther
- Avengers: Infinity War
- Solo: A Star Wars Story
- Ant-Man and the Wasp
- Mission: Impossible – Fallout
- Incredibles 2
My absolute favorite, by far, is Incredibles 2. Animated films are not strictly for children at all. I had no hesitation, qualms, or embarrassment in the least attending this summer movie. The adult humor scattered throughout the film is wasted on the young ones! This movie was much anticipated by Yours Truly and was a long time coming — 14 years, to be exact. This movie is brilliant and it has many lessons to be learned for court reporters.
Helen and Bob Parr a/k/a The Incredibles, work hard side by side to make the family dynamics successful. The working mom (Elastigirl) has the confidence to head to the job each day knowing her husband is staying at home with their three kids and performing “heroically” with the day-to-day mundane activities of meal prep, school, and homework.
As a freelance court reporter, it is sometimes easy to forget about the importance of teamwork — especially in today’s ever-changing technology-driven environment. Our profession has become (and viewed by many) a cottage industry (by definition, working at home with your own equipment). Sure, we go to the job and do our magic on that “little machine,” but rarely interact much with the participants.
When I started my company several years ago, I associated myself with a local videography firm to handle videotaped deposition requests. Nearly 50% of the depositions I handle are videotaped.
The roles of the court reporter and videographer are intertwined, and there’s significant synergy and teamwork between myself and my videographer from start to finish!
Our teamwork begins by the videographer arriving approximately an hour prior to start time. This enables him to set up his equipment and do any necessary testing prior to my arrival, which is 30 minutes before the deposition is scheduled to begin. My arrival after the videographer allows him the opportunity to set up at his leisure and no worries about anyone hovering. It’s then my turn to set up. Setup is quick and easy for the court reporter: boot up the computer, attach your tripod to your machine. The videographer then provides a direct audio feed to my computer and we’re ready to go!
Once all the parties, attorneys, and witness are situated and before we go on the record, I always make a quick check to ensure that everyone has their microphone clipped on their lapels. A quick acknowledgement by myself to the videographer lets him know that we’re ready to go on the record. Our teamwork is like a well-oiled machine and the process works smoothly throughout the day.
Once the deposition is concluded, our teamwork continues through the production phase. At times video-text synchronization is requested. Video-text synchronization captures the witness’ testimony via videography along with the certified court reporter’s transcript. A trial-ready CD or DVD allows you to show the witness’ words appearing on screen as they are being spoken. Adding a video component to the deposition process brings the written words “alive”! Video depositions capture the witness’ facial expressions, pauses, change in tone, demeanor, and mannerisms that will never be captured with the written word alone.
In an effort to aid the videographer in his production role, as the court reporter, I can provide him with a timestamped transcript for the process of syncing and/or editing of the deposition. The videographer and court reporter, doing two different functions or tasks, working in cooperation with each other, can create an excellent multimedia tool for later use in the courtroom.
2. Make a Professional Fashion Statement:
My favorite character in the Incredibles films is definitely Edna Mode. Edna knows how to make a fashion statement: the iconic all-black suit and gigantic eyeglasses! During the first Incredibles movie, when Bob made the suggestion that perhaps a cape could be in order for his updated supersuit, Edna responded emphatically with the line, “No capes!” Again, wise Edna knew the importance of appropriate attire for Bob’s specific job.
For court reporters, our professional appearance should be top of mind too. When I started court reporting so many years ago, my first employer stressed to me about dressing professionally. Her uniform always consisted of a blazer and either a skirt or pants.
Reasons to dress for success:
- builds confidence, composure, and self-respect
- vital to communicating who you are (a valuable participant in the judicial process)
- you only get one first impression
More often than not when I arrive at a law firm, the receptionist will assume that I’m an attorney – a great thing! After all, we are respected partners and equals in the deposition and judicial arena, working side by side with the attorneys on their important cases.
3. Success Takes Time:
Prior to the start of the Incredibles 2 at the theater, some of the voice actors for the characters shared how they were so thrilled to be in the second movie. The work, time, and effort to produce an animated film is intense. As I said at the beginning of this post, it took 14 years between the original movie and the sequel.
Every court reporter should strive to become realtime-proficient. It takes time to do so, and you cannot become an overnight success. Hard work and determination are the key factors in becoming realtime-proficient.
Be familiar with your CAT software capabilities and let your software work for you. My software has options to power define entries from the writer. Whenever you can keep your hands on the writer and add entries, it gives you just that extra bit of time to do things quickly and make your feed even more clean on the fly. The prep work is essential to maintain or exceed that goal. My writing is constantly evolving. Writing short is paramount to the success of my translation rate, for keeping up with the fast talkers and, also, being kind to my body — specifically my back and hands.
4. New Ways Can Be Intimidating:
When Mr. Incredible took over the duties of the stay-at-home parent, he struggled with helping Dash with the math homework. It was a frustration because he didn’t know how to complete the homework in the desired and expected way.
Change is intimidating for court reporters sometimes as well. There are so many technological advancements in our profession each day, and it seems such a daunting task to keep up with it all. It should be noted that there are some fantastic tools available to assist court reporters to be more productive, efficient, and valuable to attorney clients and legal professionals. Court reporters should keep in mind that in order to be effective and stay relevant, we must keep abreast of technology, embrace it, and never be skeptical of the newest innovations.
One final Edna-ism from the first Incredibles movie:
I never look back, darling. It distracts from the now.
We all look at the past and reflect on everything we’ve done in our personal and professional lives. Sometimes we spend far too much time worrying about things we should have done or could have done differently.
- “Why didn’t I start realtime sooner?”
- “I should have upgraded to that new laptop before my old one crashed.”
- “I wish I knew more about my CAT software.”
- “I wish I had passed that next level of NCRA certification right after graduation.”
Again, while it’s good to think about the past, it’s best to move forward and set goals on how to move forward in a positive way and focus on the present. Concentrate on making a positive impact today and find your Super Power!