Expedite Legal, Enhancing Coverage Nationwide?

Everyone is moving faster than ever into new solutions to problems. Adaptation of technology has spiked like never before. There are many hyped technologies out there that promise the world and don’t deliver. Then there are real companies with a tangible product. After taking the time out to review Expedite’s public-facing materials and after having a brief exchange with Expedite’s CEO, Eve Barrett, I am convinced that Expedite is among the companies out there that has a real product. In this case, it’s also a unique product.

We can think of Expedite as the Uber for legal service professionals. It’s helping link providers, namely court reporters and interpreters, with customers, namely courts, lawyers, agencies. I learned that the product is set up to be flexible. People can register as both a customer and a provider. This means that traditional reporting agencies can make use of Expedite to get coverage or get work. This means that independent court reporters can use it the exact same way.

A post I came across on Expedite’s blog, the Docket, sums business up well. Be willing to stick your neck out a little bit. In my view, there is great importance attached to being a skeptic, but we cannot allow our skepticism to hamper our willingness to try new things. I had touched briefly on Expedite’s model in my shortage solutions series. There was some honest skepticism there. But in normal times, we were experiencing a shortage of reporters partially as a result of the disjointed state of the market. There is no central marketplace to just log in and find a reporter. It’s not like the stock market where you can get immediate data on every business out there. There are a lot of tools out there for finding reporters or finding work. Why not add Expedite to your arsenal?

In my exchange with Ms. Barrett, she pointed me right to the Provider FAQ, blog, and vlog. I saw there’s a provider referral program. If a provider refers a provider and both get verified, there’s a bonus. I asked about whether the same was available for providers that refer customers to the program. It was confirmed that anyone can refer anyone, and the bonus shows up in the next job taken with Expedite. This is a smart way to get people using a nationwide app, and I think a robust referral program is a smart move.

The website and app are both available for customers. The app is available on Apple Store and Google Play. The overall message is one of courage and commitment to us. We’ve all been to the recent educational webinars. Presenters have talked about letting go of fear, adapting, making changes to enhance our businesses. I think Expedite is a major enhancement to many reporting businesses.  I asked pretty bluntly if there’s anything she’d tell reporters in the industry, or even people outside the industry. I’ll end with part of the response I got, as it says all it needs to say about the power of the individual. “My goal with Expedite was to help save the profession by alleviating the critical shortage. I also wanted to create a new business model for court reporters whereby they could work more efficiently, keep a higher percentage, receive payment faster, and market their services on a free platform. I’m just one reporter trying to solve the problems that have plagued our industry for decades.”

Check Out 225 and Beyond (Beware of Busywork)

A few days ago I came across something in the Facebook feed of Realtime Rich. It was an upcoming newsletter by a new professional among us, Euan Williams. Aptly named 225 and Beyond,  it came with a bold statement. There’s a lack of quality written content out there for court reporting. Williams wants to change that. I joked, I said I object, and I signed up. As promised, the newsletter came in my e-mail today. It’s definitely worth the read.

Without stealing any thunder, it describes busywork. It describes how, in our quest to optimize our quest, we can fail to start our journey. It is something every professional and student should get familiar with, and you can read it right here. Logging your practice is also discussed, which I support.

I anticipate this becoming something I’ll blog about often. Great job, Euan. Keep up the great work!

How Organizations & Associations Work

Our lives are built on perception. The perception that someone must do more, or that someone does too much, or that someone is doing something wrongly or rightly can be very powerful. Perceptions can change outcomes. We see it in social movements. We see it in the Pygmalion effect. Think of the power of your own opinion. If you do not like a store, you do not shop there, and that store effectively loses the money it would have made off of you. Some voice that opinion, some vote silently with their wallet, and others buy away. All of these contribute to the reality of that store’s situation. While you read, continue to keep in mind the power of your opinion.

When I was younger, I viewed associations, unions, and groups of people, collectives, as inherently powerful. In that perception, I also expected them to be wise and knowing. “They should be able to fix this. They should be able to fix that. They should know what to do.” Perhaps others believe as I once did, that the association and members work together to create things. Perhaps some believe the members support a group and therefore the group should be able to do everything by itself. There is probably not a simple graphic to perfectly illustrate how everything works. Again, though, there is one overarching truth, the power of your opinion.

Think of something in your life that you wanted and you now have. Did it magically appear in your lap? It’s likely that there were steps you had to take to get what you wanted. It’s likely that there were “vehicles” you drove to get there. Maybe the “vehicle” to something you bought with money was a good job. Maybe the “vehicle” you drove to a good relationship was a dating service, or a night at a bar, or walking down the street in a squid hat. Maybe the “vehicle” you drove to being a successful person was forming good habits, strengthening weaknesses, or playing off strengths. In the context of this discussion, associations, unions, and organizations are all vehicles to get where we want to go.

One jab that large organizations and corporations get is their usually slower reaction. This has to do with organizational structure. When a group is formed with one decision maker or very few decision makers, that group can respond to things at the will of that sole decision maker. A great example is this blog. Not a single person needs to be consulted before something is posted. However, in order to ensure that budgets are spent wisely, many organizations are built up from a board structure. The nonprofit “sector” runs heavily off of volunteer boards. A board of directors is typically a group of people that oversee the management of the entity. Think of them as the manager’s boss. In the case of our stenographic associations, these tend to be professionals from our stenographic community. Larger associations can afford to pay a management team under the board’s direction to deal with legal obligations, filings, and member questions. Even in larger organizations, the team may be very large, with an executive director and many people under him or her, or it may be a very small one-warrior management team. Smaller organizations may have a board that has to devote their own time to doing these things and act as both board and management. Ultimately, think of a board of directors as a group of people coming together to vote on the best way to direct an organization and its funding.

How do you fit in? Maybe you’re not a board member. Maybe you have no desire to be a board member. Maybe you’re “just” a member. You don’t control management, so where does a guy like me come off telling you your opinion has power?  In the association and union structure of an organization, the members give the board and management power and resources to act. Very often there is a constitution and/or bylaws that dictate how someone can run for a board position, how someone can propose an amendment to the constitution and bylaws, or how someone can participate with management and the board as a volunteer. Any member can contribute a great deal to the organization as a whole. If members dislike the way something is being run in an association structure, they have the power to replace the board by running against them. If members do not feel the mission of an organization is being accurately carried out by management, they have the power to submit changes. Association management generally has a duty to follow the law of their country and the bylaws of an organization. This all amounts to a great deal of power being given to members of large organizations. The importance of the association structure is in its ability to be “owned” by the members. Again, for example, let’s say that you log onto the Stenonymous Facebook group and you want to post an article about birds. Let’s say I say “I would prefer not to have posts like this on my group.” There’s no mechanism for you to take over and make it okay to post about birds. In an association structure, if the members want posts about birds, there’s a mechanism to override management and post about birds.

How can one enhance their pull as a member? In many organizational structures, there are groups of volunteer members dedicated to a task handed down by the board and/or management. These are often called committees and/or subcommittees. Committees do not have a direct vote in what the association does or what the board decides, but they are charged with giving input and/or creating things that can be used by the association for its mission. Committee work also helps teach members to work together constructively in a team so that if they ever do decide to run for board membership, they are used to working cohesively with others that may have very different opinions on the “right thing to do.”

Now we get down to the greatest power members have. We are the boots on the ground. We see what is occurring in our workplaces, out in the streets, and on our social media. I’ve been a proud union member of two different unions in the last 5 years. Occasionally, when I hear or see something strange, I’ll let a union person know, or I’ll ask a union person a question. Why? It’s not about getting people in trouble. It’s not about being more friendly with my union leader. It’s not about being a busybody or a know-it-all. It’s not about scoring points at the workplace. It’s about realizing that these management and director teams are human beings. They are not omnipotent giant floating brains.  Often, they have not heard about what we are sharing with them, or they have not thought about it in the way we have presented. Imagine you are now John or Jane Doe, CEO of Your Corporation. Your boots on the ground are your employees and your customers. If someone’s lying about your company behind your back, do you expect your boots on the ground to mention it to you? We are a community. Like any community, we each have great power in protecting and growing the community.

Over the last decade, I have seen something startling in the way that we view our leaders, and sometimes how our leaders view us. For a time, I know people in power were dismissive.  I have friends and colleagues whose concerns and opinions fell on deaf ears, whether that was management or board members. Those friends and colleagues voted with their wallet and they backed away from the association structure. Those deaf ears are long gone or have gone on to support associations that work against our community’s best interest, and yet still there is a pervasive attitude of “what have you done for me lately?” There is a disowning of the community’s triumphs when they come from people who aren’t in our tribe. There is a strong push towards factionalism. This divides our house. This forces us to spend time and energy fighting each other. With the inherent power of members of a community described, and the reasons for an association structure described, it’s my hope that we’ll spend less time beating up on our allies and their organizational structures. There has been a great push to platform each other in recent months. This pandemic showed us that unity is achievable. So if there’s somebody out there that doesn’t get it; if there’s someone that has no clue how powerful they are or why certain things operate the way they do, it’s up to us all to let them know, and in that order. You got this, now go get it.

May Machinations 2020 (Jobs Post)

Plot your course into the future with some of these May 2020 job openings. Of course, this is all with the caveat that things are still closed and that hiring probably won’t happen immediately. That said, this is a good look at the demand for the stenographic reporter in New York and nationwide.

NCRA’s got 93 listings up as of writing. Some of these same listings can be found via the federal judiciary job page and the USCRA job page.  Here in New York, our Southern District and Eastern District Courts both have jobs posted.

DANY’s got a grand jury stenographer job going on in New York County.  Remember, if you’re looking for grand jury work in New York City, check in with the HR people at each of the five district attorneys and the Special Narcotics Prosecutor. It might seem like a lot of work, but you might get tipped off to a job before somebody who waits for it to get posted. The DCAS Reporter/Stenographer Exam has not yet been rescheduled. The New York State Unified Court System maintains its statewide posting for court reporters, but it’s my understanding that there is no hiring going on right now.

Assuming all goes well in terms of the state’s reopening, now is the time to be planning, filling applications, or looking up information about certifications available if the job of your dreams requires a test or certification. If you’ve already got your dream job, be a mentor, do what you can to point others in the right direction. For example, one thing a lot of people come to me and ask about is what the heck to study for the Written Knowledge Test of the RPR. They can’t afford the study guide or they want to self-study.  We can’t give them the answers on the test, but we can point at the RPR Job Analysis, and how that breaks down what you should learn about before you walk into the exam room. If it gets somebody one percent higher, and that one percent passes them, it’s worth it. Finally, as a habitual procrastinator, I can tell everyone interested, don’t wait. I waited to apply for a job opportunity ten years ago. Thanks to my “smart decisions,”  I waited four years for another opportunity at that same job.  It’s not always who you know. Sometimes it’s who you are. If you’re the type of person that waits, that’s okay, but you also have got to acknowledge that that can hold you back. You’ve got to make a personal decision whether you want that to hold you back. Everybody reading this has agency. Everyone has some control over their destiny. Embrace that and make yourself shine.

NYSCRA Student Webinar May 2020

NYSCRA’s got an upcoming webinar that all students are encouraged to register for. RSVP is required for security. I’m going to be talking about everyone’s favorite topic, politics and legislation. My colleagues are going to be discussing important things like CAT software, words, CART v traditional freelance and deposition reporting, money, and associations. If you don’t believe me, check the flyer, it’s happening. As many who saw our last webinar will know, we go through our agenda  and then allow questions from the audience. Questions that we don’t readily have an answer for can be addressed as an addendum or in a supplemental followup.

As for general NYSCRA news, we always need students and mentors signing up for the mentorship program.  Everybody’s got value. Everybody’s got a superpower. So if you want to reach out to a board member and let them know yours, definitely do.  The bottom line is when there’s an event, or a workshop idea, or even just time to spotlight someone in our quarterly newsletter, The Transcript, outreach can make all the difference. Also, if you haven’t had a chance to renew this year, renewals are open and reporters can get a little more exposure via the Find A Reporter feature on the site.

There are a lot of great times ahead. For stenographers and students, this is or will be your association. Come join us on May 20th and let’s all keep 2020 going strong!

 

Stenopalooza was POWerful

It’s going to be old news to all who were able to attend, but yesterday’s Stenopalooza was great. I can only speak to the courses I was able to attend, but I noticed something very special about all of the presentations. All of them blended together with nice and overarching or connected themes of releasing fear, making smart and data-driven decisions, adapting, and learning new skills. The videos of these are going to be available to people that registered, as far as I understand, and it’s impossible to touch on every topic we hit during the 8 hours of coursework, but maybe putting this out there will encourage people who didn’t register this time around to give the next webinar or CEU session a try. At the very least, take a glance at the topics and see if they’re relevant to you.

The day started off with Max Curry, NCRA’s president. He talked about letting go of fear and making smart choices. He discussed introversion, his push to overcome introversion for his professional life and career, and how that positively impacted his life. This hits home for a lot of us. There are a lot of introverts in this field. We don’t like public speaking. We don’t like marketing. We just want to do our jobs and go home. Through Max’s story, we can understand that letting go of fear and pushing past those limitations can broaden our skill base and make us better workers and leaders.  Next, I attended President-Elect Christine Phipps’s “Turning Coronavirus From Pandemic to Opportunity and Marketing Through Adversity.” Almost seamlessly, this presentation built on a theme of making smart choices. The central theme was seeing this as a time to pivot and become the person and resource your clients go to for information and service.

Then we got to the NCRA Strong POW session. I’ve been a volunteer with NCRA’s Strong committee for months now. The work that they put in prior to my joining was extraordinary. Sue Terry, immediate past president of the NCRA, introduced the Strong committee and talked a little about the work we’ve been doing. She encouraged members to research and ask questions about some of the terms and things they’d be hearing during the session. I got to have a conversation with audio forensic expert Edward Primeau. We got to briefly touch on some very important topics, like how having an objective person in the room  helps add integrity to the process of making a record, and how valuable his services are in authenticating audio. At the end of my presentation, I asked whether members would have the courage to ask questions they needed the answers to, and the stage was set for stellar presentations from Cathy Penniston & Alan Peacock, who dove into how people could educate themselves on advocacy materials and products that are found all throughout NCRA’s site, including the Strong resource library. Kristin Anderson & Rich Germosen talked about advocacy efforts they’ve made in official and freelance positions, and gave examples of grassroots advocacy. They made clear and reinforced Cathy & Alan’s theme that everyone can step up and be an advocate. Rich said something that resonated with me on a personal level, “I’m not much of a talker,” when it comes to clients. That reinforces one thing. It doesn’t matter where your strengths are, anyone can make a huge difference. There was a STRONG finish by Strong Chair Phyllis Craver-Lykken, Elizabeth Harvey, and Dineen Squillante. They discussed finding an audience, making connections, and again, gave real-world examples for attendees. We put together a social discussion group on Facebook, Steno Strong, for people to hop online and talk to us. Just do us a big favor and answer the admission questions. It’s just a way of determining who really wants to be in the group and who got caught in a mass invite.

We moved into State of the Industry by NCRA Executive Director Dave Wenhold, Max Curry, and Christine Phipps. Common themes were diversification of work and being able to pivot business and plan for times of stress. The Paycheck Protection Program was discussed alongside the fact that some associations, including our NCRA, have contracts for conventions that require them to attempt to go forward in good faith despite the current COVID-19 outbreak. Dave made it very clear that members should stay tuned for more news about the 2020 convention.  Next up, Alan Peacock & Heidi Thomas jumped in with a fantastic CART / Captioning Intro for the Court Reporter presentation. They discussed mainly broadcast captioning, the need to get the correct words and meaning out to the end user, the people who need the access captioners are providing, and even provided attendees with a list of offensive words that captioners do not want coming out on the screen by accident! I do a good amount of mentoring, and from time to time, my mentees seek information on captioning. All I can say to “old” and “new” reporters is you want to get on webinars like the ones that Heidi & Alan put together, because it’s going to help you, or it’s going to help you help somebody else.

The rest of the afternoon and evening kept up the energy. There was a presentation by NCRA Board Member and past NYSCRA president Meredith Bonn on the Power of the Positive Attitude. Meredith talked a little about how our frame of mind can change outcomes, increase productivity, and proceeded to give attendees a whole host of ways to get themselves thinking positively. Everyone in attendance got suggestions on music, videos, and activities to keep themselves positive and motivated. Motivated by Meredith’s presentation, coursetakers then got to join Lights, Camera, Zoom with Debbie Dibble, Lynette Mueller, and Sue Terry. People got to learn about optimizing their internet connection, fine-tuning their settings for streaming and remote work, and captioning without an encoder. Denise Hinxman and Kelly Linkowski finished our day with Captioning Facebook Live. They talked about bringing our services online to people who may not traditionally use it, like churches or Facebook users. They dove into using OBS Open Broadcast Software to help stream and connect people to captioning and access.

At that point, my computer decided to take itself offline, so I completely missed the Stenopalooza remote social. Maybe it’s best we don’t write about what happens at stenographer socials.

I could never do justice to the hours of work and dedication of every presenter. I’ve given a short summary here just to get people thinking about the next time they have a chance to sign up for continuing education workshops or see a class they’re on the fence about taking. I would say go for it. This was a huge confidence booster for me as member, seeing how NCRA staff put together this session, connecting volunteer and presenters with members and nonmembers that signed up for the betterment of our whole profession. The one recurring theme is that our future is largely in our hands, and by remaining positive, educating ourselves, and educating the public, we all have powers to be agents of change and pillars of community. This event truly brought out the grassroots nature of advocacy as a whole and association volunteers. The more I learn about association structure and nonprofit entity organization, the more I realize just how tricky the whole thing is, and just how talented the people who get involved in nonprofits or advocacy efforts are. I have to say I’m grateful to reporters who are able to open their schedules for advocacy and their wallets for contributions. It’s no easy task, especially at a time when many are hurting financially. Thanks to all of you for encouraging so many reporters to jump in and contribute however they can. Coming off the Stenopalooza high, I know we all can make a difference.

Site Updates May 2020

I don’t often make posts about the blog itself. For the last couple of years now I’ve committed to making it an ad-free experience. Some of you will see that we no longer have to deal with the ugly FTRREPORTING title in the site’s URL. Don’t worry though, all of those links will still work and redirect to their proper pages. Everything should say Stenonymous now. If your browser says this website is “not secure,” that’s a “lie” that you can fix by typing in https://stenonymous.com.

Unfortunately, for a short time last month, the stenonymous.com domain and search box were not working. Guess what? Now they do! Users can sort by relevance, oldest, or newest.  Most of the unlisted pages and all of the uncategorized pages are purged. They were old and had nothing of import, so now readers won’t have to stumble onto them.

The Table of Contents has been updated with anything that wasn’t on it before from this year. I’m still not entirely happy with organizing it this way, but it’s a lot better than the old way.

Let’s talk about content real quick.

  1.  Usually I do a monthly jobs post. This month I’m going to try something different and try posting that around the 15th, because as luck would have it, now that I do a post around the 1st of every month, governments routinely post their jobs immediately after my post!
  2. I’ll be on a short segment of NCRA’s Stenopalooza tomorrow, during the NCRA Strong POW session. If anybody needs CEUs, it’s still available. But I am sure to write a little bit about that this month, so keep an eye out. I’m going to be talking with an audio expert. What I’d really like people to think about is how they can use this information to educate clients and fellow stenographers. Think about the stories that my fellow Strong members are going to talk about and think about how we’re all normal people making a difference. You can be that person.
  3. Despite my general hesitance to cover the organization, STTI held a webinar last Wednesday. Most of what they said seemed reasonable. It was the panelists’ opinion of the direction of the field. It’s only when we got to about 40 minutes in and they mentioned the stenographer shortage that I’d like to address. If you’re somebody who has not really researched the shortage a lot, please be on the lookout for that article this month.
  4. I actually had a freelance writer interview someone in the Open Steno group. As I understand, she’s a transcriber that used Word’s autocorrect features to make her own shorthand. It’s the same concept of steno, shortcuts to words, and it shows you just how valuable what we do really is in terms of inputting the words fast! This is why I have always been a proponent of letting transcribers know there’s a better way. Why force people to invent workarounds when there’s something tried, tested, and working right now with machine shorthand reporting? That’s coming up. Stay tuned.
  5. I have two other things I’m trying to decide how to present. One, some page rate data I had started work on months ago. Two, some really great ideas pertaining to marketing I got from a book I read and what it means for us. Look out for these in late May. If my procrastination talents prevail, perhaps summer 2020.
  6. Far future project. I’m going to look into whether it’s possible to embed my automatic marking program into the website itself to make it more intuitive for people. I talk a little bit about the coding behind it here.  In the meantime, Todd Olivas already has a similar tool, but it might still count Q. and A. as words.

Remember, I don’t censor comments here unless it’s caught in my spam filter or completely off topic, hate filled, nonsensical. Same goes for my Facebook discussion group. That hasn’t changed! All are welcome. Also remember, if you generally like the stuff you see here, you can donate or buy a Sad Iron Stenographer mug. If every reader this month donated $5, we’d be ad-free for ten years. If every reader bought a mug, we’d be ad-free for 20. Don’t do the math on this one, just trust me.

 

Remote Swearing NY Archive (Old Article)

In an effort to help WordPress accurately reflect the reading time of my article, Remote Swearing of Witnesses, I am going to bounce the old article to this page, and keep the new one where it is. This was originally published November 15, 2017. The new one is published March 9, 2020.

Old Article:

You Can Swear Witnesses Remotely

But Only If You Follow The Rules.

It’s tough being a court reporter and notary public. We’re expected to know the law, and expected not to violate the law, and we are in a position where if and when we do violate the law, we may or may not be held accountable for that. Well, many moons ago a grand discussion was held as to whether we New York notaries are allowed to swear witnesses remotely. I can tell you pretty squarely that the Notary Law of New York State says no. That’s what it says. A big, fat, resounding no. It says that because in 1915 the Appellate Division ruled that the taking of acknowledgments over the phone was unlawful. Matter of fact, some stenographers called the Department of State, which issues our notary public licenses, and the Department of State said no.

But, of course, being the most annoying person on the face of the Earth, I wrote Department of State an e-mail. Why would I do that? Succinctly, under CPLR 3113(d) we are allowed to swear witnesses via telephone. You see the problem here, right? So relatively soon I got an e-mail back from Department of State, and I’m going to link it right here in this really long string of words so that nobody can say I didn’t link it. My initial e-mail was something like: There’s the Notary Law which says no. The CPLR says yes. What is it? Sum and substance, CPLR 3113(d) allows it but you must follow the rules exactly as they are in CPLR 3113(d), which I won’t interpret for you because I’m lazy and not a lawyer. Just kidding. The parties need to stipulate to the way it’s being done. There’s a popular line, “attorneys can’t stipulate away the law.” Thanks to CPLR 3113(d), they can! The main idea is the 1915 case of taking acknowledgments over the phone occurred about 90 years before CPLR 3113(d) came into effect, effectively altering the law for taking oaths.

As a closing note, don’t be too confused by the second half of the e-mail. In the Notary License Law packet it states depositions may not be taken on Sunday. It states this in the glossary towards the end. I’m not kidding. Well, I asked if that was still good law, and as you can see, I was given a stellar answer by the Department of State which said that that determination came out of a 1964 interpretation of law by the Attorney General of the State of New York. All we can do now is petition the Attorney General of the State of New York to change this terrible interpretation of law. Gasp.

Any interesting facts about the law or licensing you want to share? Write in the comments below or ask to write for Stenonymous directly! It’s the best unpaid hobby/volunteer writing assignment you will ever do.

June 9, 2019 update:

This issue came up again. Understandably, some people are skeptical about my claims and conclusions, so I wrote the Department of State the following letter. If I receive a response, it’ll be posted. Let me just say that my take on this is as follows: The reason this is important is because we are promulgating a fear that does not need to be by telling people they cannot swear remotely. It’s not about being smart, or pedantic, or whatever. The law was the same for 90 years, and but for this CPLR provision, would still be. Also, for clarification, the notary license law referred to here is the notary license law packet produced by the Department of State. There is not, as far as I know, actual notary law, but there is notary law from other laws, such as the Real Property Law and CPLR. See my Law for Stenographers post if you want more of that. There’s actually really cool stuff in there. As a matter of fact, there’s stuff like errors in the oath are waived unless a timely objection is made pursuant to CPLR 3115. How cool is that?

My contact form submission to DOS:

“Hello. My name is Christopher Day. I had written the Department of State a few years ago for clarification. The Notary Law packet says a notary may not swear a witness remotely, but CPLR 3113(d) has a special provision for swearing witnesses remotely. In my correspondence with DOS, it was stated that a notary could swear in a witness remotely under CPLR 3113(d). I am writing today because many of my contemporaries rely on the notary license law packet, last revised June 2016, I believe, as a guide for their notarial duties. I am just making a suggestion that the next time that the packet is revised, it be specifically stated that if a witness is sworn remotely, it must be pursuant CPLR 3113(d).

I am sorry for this wordy request. Thank you very much for considering what I have to say and all the hard work you do for New York State.”

June 12, 2019 update:

For the sake of completeness, I did receive a response from the licensing services division on my request. It was not very satisfying, and only said that they would take my comment about the notary lawbook, revised June 2016, into consideration.

January 16, 2020 update:

A reader wrote in and mentioned that CPLR 3116(d) may not apply to New York proceedings that do not occur under the CPLR. That’s true! Definitely cover your bases and make sure you have some kind of justification. While I support notaries doing whatever they’re legally entitled to do, I also don’t want anyone facing disciplinary charges for an odd scenario.

Pricing Pages In A Market of Fear

We’ve had fairly extensive discussion in the past about page rates and pricing. We have basic math tables showing a rough guesstimate of the amount of work that goes into making your “goal salary.” We have had posts on supply and demand when demand was high. We’ve talked about attempting to price in risk. We’ve also had heavy discussions on the economic principle of inflation, and that, succinctly, rates must go up periodically to keep any job or field healthy. All of these things kind of coalesce into my opinions on our field’s prognosis. With the coronavirus outbreak, the field has seen a sharp drop in demand. Depositions just aren’t going through for so many of our colleagues across the nation. There are many of us scared to death about keeping business afloat, and so it seems a good time to talk about the flip side of supply & demand.

Right now many states are in lockdown status. People aren’t supposed to be going out, and even those who are, essential employees, are at serious risk. The demand for depositions isn’t there.  This may have the impact of causing prices to dip. Gas prices are going down in some areas. Restaurants are offering specials. Some essential employees, generally underpaid for the valuable work that they do, are receiving raises to ensure they turn up to work. In their case, their essential labor is in high demand. We are not immune to the supply and demand principle. Many of us will feel the pressure to offer discounts, offer specials, basically offer to do the same work for fewer dollars. People need to eat. People need to feed their families. There’s really no shame in partaking in whatever tactic we need to partake in to get our clients to buy into taking deps over Live Litigation, Zoom, or whatever our preferred platform. Even before the outbreak, it was not uncommon to hear of “first dep free,” or “X off of Y deps,” type of deals. It’s a business starter and foot in the door for entrepreneurs and companies hungry for work.

The important thing is to try to be forward thinking. Check local courts. For example, here in New York, Lawrence Marks encouraged parties to postpone proceedings for not more than 90 days from 3/20/20. What does that tell our New Yorkers? If we’re going to do a special or contract, it probably shouldn’t lock us in for more than 90 days because demand can be reasonably anticipated to rise around that time. We have to remain on top of the market and keep an eye on civil court news to try to feel out when demand will spike back up again.  At that point, when the calls are coming in again, it’s appropriate for our rates to go back to what they were pre-outbreak. Many of us are introverts or individuals with no special business training. It is very easy to convince a group like that that they are low value, replaceable, and so on. That’s not true. And in fact, many of us need help with confidence, communication, and leadership to help us in our business pursuits. That’s why we have vendors out there like TALLsmall, Katen Consulting, and Outfluence.  There’s never a good time to stop relaying just how valuable we actually are.

It is true that this is an emotionally stressful time. Just like with stock trading, we will feel pressure to make decisions that may not benefit us in the long run. It’s okay to be emotional. This is a scary and unprecedented moment in history. But when it comes to our livelihoods, it’s worth distancing ourselves from those emotions, sitting down with the latest press release from the local court, and trying to determine about when we can expect things to bounce back in a state so that we can make arrangements with creditors, clients, utility companies; keep the bills paid, and our credit intact. People are hurting. This is a time for spreading solutions and ideas without shame and without shaming. From big picture economic articles like this one, to smaller nuanced technical solutions, everybody has something to bring to this table of survivors and steno stars.

 

 

April Applications 2020 (Jobs Post)

Obviously, this goes up during the COVID-19 outbreak, and many of my colleagues or their families are impacted health-wise or economically. It’s serious stuff. Some of us have lost people or been in danger of losing people. This is a time when mostly everything has slowed down, and for many it may not feel like there is an end in sight. That said, I assure you there is an end in sight, and when this is all over, we’re going to need to pick up the pieces, move forward, and help each other move forward.

There’s a lot of fear and a disruption in our normal lives. So to keep with some semblance of normality, I’m going to move forward with a jobs post. Keep in mind that with this outbreak, many places are running on a skeleton crew, so they may not be actually hiring right now, but when things start to speed up again, stenographic reporters are needed all over the city, state, and country. They’re needed outside the country too, but I’ll let the experts handle that. Remember that if you’re a student or a newer reporter, there are also programs out there designed to find you a mentor. Mentors are no doubt having difficulties too, but they may be able to offer advice or ideas nonetheless.

Running along, NCRA has a good number of job listings up for reporters. They’re also looking for a certification & testing program manager. I know here in New York we have some reporters who are extremely gifted and passionate about certification and testing, so if that’s something you think you’d put down the machine for, take a look. Looking at the federal judiciary jobs page, there are openings in New York, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, Iowa, Missouri, Massachusetts, West Virginia, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Federal courts all over the country want stenographic court reporters.

The NYS statewide provisional court reporter application remains open to anyone with the guts to step up and give reporting for the state judiciary a chance. The courts in this state need people that care about the record and want to do a good job. If you’re looking for a steady job with paid time off, this is a first foot in the door while we wait for the civil service exam together. Before this outbreak and mess, I had a brief e-mail exchange with Michael DeVito, whose contact information is on the bottom of that application. Paraphrasing what he said, any employment prospects are encouraged to contact him. You have someone in the system to reach out to in addition to the unions that represent New York City court reporters and senior court reporters.

Last, but certainly not least, the Bronx DA has a posted position for grand jury stenographer. The DCAS Reporter/Stenographer test remains postponed.

Try to remain positive. I know there has been a marked drop in freelance work.  You are not alone. At the beginning of this, several of NYSCRA’s officers and board members, Joshua Edwards, Diane Salters, Karen Santucci, and Dominick Tursi, got together to show our community an example of a remote deposition. The full video is available. Many members asked additional questions, which I tried to address via this video, and wrote some more information in the description box. If you’re a NYSCRA member or a potential member, don’t be afraid to send e-mails to board members. We can’t wave a magic wand and make everything better, but we can try to use the association’s resources that we all pay into in a responsible way. Remember that you are integral to those resources, and that even if you can’t get a membership right now, you can still throw in support later when work starts booming again. And we are not alone. Many state associations, and the NCRA, have been promoting ways to get reporters back to earning a living for themselves and their family. Many reporters have independently taken the time to host webinars or put up videos to help each other. Many CAT trainers are scheduling remote appointments to help people with their software. As an example, I personally follow Dineen Squillante and Anthony Frisolone. Some help is free, some help is for fee, and the bottom line is that we’re going to get through this together.