Why Active Readback’s No Steno Man is Wrong

Some have seen this video. I got around to it. I have honest reservations about giving someone like him more press and attention, but then, my audience outnumbers him by a lot, so if you all have the data, it’s a force multiplier and family he doesn’t have. You can tell Readback is terrified of us because they don’t have the guts to leave the comments on and get called out on their lies. Let’s take advantage of their fear.

He likens court reporting to medical transcription. I made a short TikTok on that. I’ve spoken to Mitch Li from Take Medicine Back. Emergency room physicians are being pushed out for nurse practitioners in the same way big money is trying to push us out for digital. Guess what? The doctors largely don’t like that their scribes were pushed out, and the quality of medical transcription has been suffering because of its lean to automation. As a matter of fact, as a young reporter, I was getting requests to get involved with medical transcription (MT). That was only ten years ago. Nowadays the Association for Health Documentation Integrity says there’s a transcriber shortage.

Wow, sounds like the exact excuse they’ll use in court reporting.

It’s so bad that they STILL want to attract court reporters to do medical transcription. So how good was automation for MT anyway?

“Automation is so wonderful, please God send the court reporters to save us.”

Well, isn’t it interesting that jerks like no-steno man (NSM) created problems in an industry that they didn’t bother to stick around and solve? “Oh, people are dying from the reckless automation of something important? Exit stage left. Time to try court reporting!” Guess what? We’re not medical transcriptionists, and we’re not letting you destroy our industry without a fight, you jackalope.

Ultimately, I decided to eviscerate your puffery with cold, hard, facts.

His entire line about automating medical transcription and making it cheaper is fluff. What good is cheap, useless, garbage? And make no mistake that automatic speech recognition, natural language processing, artificial intelligence, or whatever fancy label we want to put on it, is just that. The objective science that exists today says that it’s 25 to 80% accurate from all the major players. When was the last time you had a 20% untran and called yourself “neartime?” This also kills his argument about the technology being revolutionary. He’s comparing our 99% real-world accuracy rating to AI’s 80-at-best average accuracy and calling it revolutionary. This is more like if Google maps led you the wrong way down a one-way street about 20% of the time. It’s not acceptable and we shouldn’t be forced to pretend that it is. If they’re not using full automation, they’re using human transcribers, and that means there are zero efficiency gains from a manpower perspective. This is a hide-the-ball trick of saying technology is better than it actually is to fool investors and consumers. It only fools people who have not seen the trick before.

Next strawman argument by the liar: Court reporting costs have gone up. In actuality, we’re working for less than we were 30 years ago adjusted for inflation. Let’s call this out for what it is, a ploy to get court reporters scared of demanding the rates and pay that they deserve. Less money in our wallets means less money for us to spend on our associations to fight for us. The push to get court reporters to accept less has been largely successful in the last decade, and it has been driven by low-intelligence businesspeople that look at the labor expense as something to be cut no matter who it hurts. There are over a million lawyers in the United States and about 30,000 of us. We’re a rare commodity and need to start acting like it — keeping pricing reasonable, but not abusively low.

Notably, NSM refers to the democratization of technology and talks a good game about how realtime is too expensive for the little guys to afford. Anir Dutta of Stenograph also referred to the democratization of technology in the Speech-to-Text Institute podcast. What does this tell us? This is a coordinated buzzword in whatever business circle they’re all playing in. They’re using democracy as transfer propaganda. Who doesn’t like the sound of democratization in a free society like the United States? This ignores that in actuality adopting his active reporting model would likely hurt democracy in the form of disproportionately hurting the quality of black and minority speakers’ records. We have put immense effort into ensuring everyone has an equal record. Are we willing, as a field, to allow technological snake oil to kill the equality we stand for every day in every proceeding?

The puffery in the advertising is on full display:

Active Readback gets several things wrong in their advertising.

This looks intimidating to a stenographic court reporter that doesn’t grill it a bit. First, questioning our accuracy. How dare they? I just gave the science. They’re not guaranteed accuracy. Nobody can guarantee accuracy. What happens if a word is wrong? Does everyone get the service for free? That would be a guarantee. Tellingly, they make no such promise. Audio available? Stenographers have been using audio for years. It’s called asking nicely or getting a subpoena. Lawyers don’t want to re-listen to depositions anyway, that’s why they hire us. Exhibit handling, stenographers literally led the way and trained clients on that after COVID. The rest of it, hey, we can give all that away for free too, but we like our businesses to be profitable instead of losing $13 million a year like VIQ Solutions. We need profitable businesses so that we can continue to provide the same great service we have for over half a century. NSM’s investors must have their mouths agape. He’s not charging what the market can bear, and that’s a recipe for low returns and disaster in business. I’m pretty sure I learned that in business 101. What’s this guy’s excuse?

The low, flat rate that he talks about in the presentation isn’t really that low, which tells me that this process isn’t automated. Just to break it down, there are stenographers working for less than $4 per page in New York City right now. Assuming 60 pages an hour, that’s $480 for two hours. Lawyers can get the tried and tested stenography for a little bit more than the brand new maybe-this-works-maybe-it-doesn’t Active BS. This isn’t a sell, it’s an embarrassment.

“Active Readback, charging 72% of what a stenographer charges for half the quality, guaranteed.” (Parody)

Final point I’ll address is his mention about the shortage and how the stenotype is “hard on its operators.” We’ve been cremating our shortage despite some of the biggest names in the business, Veritext and US Legal Support, actively sabotaging us. Additionally, our technology is a lot easier on the hands than the Mechanical Turk game that Active and others are probably playing. Mechanical Turk lets services crowdsource transcribers. When people buy into active reporting, they’re likely buying into inefficiency and hurting workers.

Stenographers, I cannot stress this enough: Hold your ground. Our industry is worth $3 billion and we control most of that. The people that are trying to convince you to give up and run away are not doing so out of the kindness of their heart. These are liars, nothing more. Now that I’ve peeled back the curtain and exposed some of the flaws, I hope you will follow the Protect Your Record Project motto of “connect, educate, advocate.” I hope you will follow the STRONG motto of “we are strongest together.” I hope that if you found this blog post helpful, you will take the time to donate below.

I also hope that Active Readback will come on here and comment. We do not cower behind censorship like them. Perhaps that is all the world needs to see to know whose version of events is truest.

The more money I make from my media, the harder I can fight.

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Pre-Launch: Project Phoenix

As far as coincidences go, I could not have planned a better name to coincide with recent events. If you have not yet answered the Phoenix Pre-Launch survey, please do so. I anticipate being able to release more information soon™️ as we ford into 2022. This is the first major move in a re-imagining of our education. If current data is any good, this will benefit independent contractors and small businesses across the country.

Sneak peak: About 40% of respondents say they would not change their answer to question 6. I’ll be writing about why I think this is a great thing soon. In the meantime, please share with anyone you think might be interested! I am currently devising a way to make this project and product more valuable while responses come in. Happy new year, everyone!

This survey was designed to understand and address the needs of court reporters and freelancers. The more I know, the more I can do.

Additionally, the new donation system is up on the homepage at Stenonymous.com. I would like to thank everyone that has donated. I see you and I am grateful. I am still familiarizing myself with the Stripe dashboard and whether there is a way to send a personalized thank you through that. If not, I know most of you, so I’ll be reaching out shortly. At this time, it is my intention to give the product of Project Phoenix free to anyone who spends $225 or more on Stenonymous this year or last year. As soon as I have been able to run the numbers on it, I’ll hopefully be able to make that a promise “velocius quam asparagi coquantur.”

Stenonymous Upgrades Payment System and Announces Matching Pledges!

In order to facilitate the exponential growth of the blog and payment for services I plan to provide through it, I have upgraded the payment structure to work through Stripe. Check out the new system below. Please note that to the extent you are able to justify future payments to me as a business expense, you may do so, this is all above board and reported income.

Please know that my general plans remain unchanged. I will be recovering the next few weeks and updates will likely be sparse. This blog, based on its stats, may have achieved the threshold for major systemic change. This means that regardless of what associations do or do not do, I will likely be able to begin doing things that will achieve my original goals of better reporter pay and treatment, as well as larger revenues for existing stenotype services businesses.

Yesterday, about 0.5% of this field came out in open support for me and nearly 3% of you read about my ordeal without a single negative comment. It is the love and support of my loved ones, including all of you, that will make a recovery possible. I cannot overstate how grateful I am to everyone. In the spirit of passing on the love that has been shown to me, I pledge to donate all of today’s donations equally to National Court Reporters Foundation, Paying It Forward (Allison Hall), Protect Your Record Project, Project Steno, and Open Steno. Next year, by or before February 27th, I will also match the donation made to each of the three today up to $1,000 each. If you want to see me lose $5,000 next year, or if you want to see these wonderful organizations be collectively $10,000 richer next year, help me collect $5,000 today for these amazing endeavors. If 3% of the field were to donate $30, each organization would receive over $5,000 today and an additional $1,000 next year. This is the collective power of stenographers.

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Can we do it? I think so.

*Please note, I will have to deduct combined Stripe/WP fees of approximately 5%. About $200 was donated before I realized that, so I will eat the fee on $200. It would be too cost prohibitive to eat the fee on the thousands of dollars that may be raised from this post.

Fundraiser Results:

A little under $800 was donated. $160 has been sent to each organization. An additional $160 will be sent to each next year. Lower than I’d hoped, but not bad for an impromptu fundraiser! Thank you to all of you that made this one possible. Looking forward to going bigger.

Court Reporting Antitrust Conspiracy Explained

*The initial version of this post was written in a vulgar, ranting, raving, and confusing manner due to a medical episode I was having. Sorry for how that was written. I have scrapped it. It held no creative or intellectual value that cannot be reproduced at a later date. Many of the people I named and cursed at are actually good people that I admire.

See the new version below:

This time, with love.

The “conspiracy” is simple. It is very similar to what Purdue Pharma did to healthcare. Lies and misdirection, as well as possible government corruption. I should note that in our case, because the government has not yet investigated to my knowledge, it is hard to tell if we’re seeing tacit parallelism or a fully-planned plot. That said, numbers do not lie, and there are problems with the numbers.

Veritext, US Legal, STTI, and others publish misleading and demonstrably false info. There is likely a baseline assumption that it won’t matter in 10 or 20 years because AI will “take over.”

Data starts coming in that AI sucks. We can also extrapolate from our own experiences and Testifying While Black that recording and transcribing will simply never be as good as us. Nobody notices because we’re not data scientists or actuaries. I notice because my love for court reporting leads me to embrace media, math, computer programming, science, etc.

Our associations, either by design or habit, just keep staying the course. Old tricks don’t work in a new and modern world. I start to change minds with a $10,000 budget and become suspicious of the association management industry. Dave Wenhold, whose intelligence and charisma I openly admire, becomes suspicious to me. This is about where I start to deteriorate. How do I use my media to bring people to associations that shut down new ideas without debate; as NCRA did for Amendment 5 this year? How do I support associations that give responses so boneheaded a six year old could do better? Even my beloved NYSCRA seems intent on crushing new ideas quietly and behind closed doors.

NYSCRA also seems oddly inert whenever I suggest anything that would strengthen the association.

Then, like with Purdue, there is potential government corruption. There is a concept called the revolving door, where someone on behalf of the company catches the ear of a government official and the government official just so happens to do what the company wants. Then the government official retires to a nice new job with the company. So far I’m told California Court Reporter Licensing Board officials have actually done this — which is incredibly suspicious. California may well be the state with the strictest regulations for court reporting. It refuses to regulate digital court reporting. Consumers should probably demand the complete dissolution of the board. It would be like heavily regulating snack foods but refusing to regulate pretzels.

Let’s not forget Arizona, where my public comment was completely ignored by Director Byers, even though I sent him an e-mail well before my personal issues began. Very convenient for AAERT and anyone who thinks courtrooms should be investing in recording equipment.

There are also issues here in New York. It is apparent that members of the public are being told no spots are open and the government is sitting on provisional applications.

I cannot say for sure what we are seeing. I do see a pattern of passive aggressiveness toward court reporters from corporations, associations, and government — a passive aggressiveness that peculiarly fades any time someone questions it.

The antitrust conspiracy may not be an actual conspiracy. But if I was designing a plot to exaggerate and exacerbate the stenographer shortage, it would look exactly like what we are experiencing today.

Selling to Veritext? Read This.

Veritext has become synonymous with the private equity (PE) model. It’s a model of buying, holding, and flipping companies for profit, often on a ten-year timeline, and occasionally loading the company up with debt via a leveraged buyout. Private equity companies seek out fragmented markets, seek a company in that market, and begin consolidating by buying up or merging with other companies in the business.

Court reporting itself is fragmented and the market is worth about $3 billion. Maybe 3,000 or 4,000 firms fight over that $3 billion and most of the money ends up going directly to stenographers. We’re in Jeffrey Hooke’s Myth of Private Equity book. That’s how cookie cutter this PE model is.

Media’s failure to report accurate information makes it harder for investors to make good decisions.

Succinctly, many of our agency owners are getting older. There’s nothing wrong with them selling to Veritext or any other company with big money.

What we must realize as a field is that big money only translates so well to big power. Big money is concerned with siphoning more money to the bottom line. People like me support the workers that make that bottom line possible. Put it this way. If you were facing murder charges, would you want $100 or 100 minds working on your case? This is why every dollar donated to me moves mountains versus digital court reporting’s decades-long “investor money bonfire.” Most of our money goes back into reinforcing our education and skills. Most of theirs goes into marketing. This means that any consumer actually looking at the facts is picking stenography.

Selling to Veritext? Enjoy the money. Feel free to shoot lots of information over to the stenographic free press. Contact@Stenonymous.com.

Black Friday Sale — Verbit News for Free

Thanks to a posting by Cassandra Caldarella from Cover Crow, I stumbled across a November 23 article by Verbit. They’ve got another round of funding (series E), and the valuation is upward of a billion dollars. But before my general critique and news, let me just share that I shared all we’ve uncovered with the author of that November 23 article, Rhys Dipshan. Verbit claims it serves the court reporting industry.

“Verbit Secures $250 Million Series E Funding With Plans for Europe Expansion” 11/23/21

I object. In reality, the court reporting industry largely rejects Verbit. It’s only die-hard digital proponents like Kentuckiana and shops mired in controversy like US Legal Support that continue to support Verbit’s revenue stream, ostensibly through business-to-business transactions. The mainstay of the workforce, stenographic court reporters, have largely rejected use of Verbit because automatic speech recognition in its current form disproportionately harms minority speakers while we stand for an accurate record no matter who is speaking.

There’s a hint that Verbit may not be in a rush to go public.

This is likely a ruse. There isn’t a real reason to delay going public. If it was a good company with solid financials, an underwriter would jump on it, buy the shares, and sell them to the market. Verbit, despite all its investor money, may not be as healthy or strong as it attempts to portray in the media. This is similar to VIQ Solutions, the digital recording company with the transcription subsidiaries that lost $13 million this year.

Let’s not forget that in July, Verbit was floating the idea of going public in 2022. I laughed at it and gave some predictions. Now the company does seem to be pedaling back some on that front.

And we’re just getting started. We know that Verbit’s technology isn’t very good because it’s previously admitted it takes 8 hours to be ADA compliant. But now that they have millions of dollars, perhaps that will be used to massively expand their programming team and make a massive technological leap that has somehow been undiscovered by IBM, Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, and Google.

NOPE. They’re expanding sales and marketing.

A “plan” for a feature does not constitute a feature. It’s an easy way to generate buzz without doing anything.

This gives us, the court reporters, two nuggets of information. 1. The idea that technology is always improving is illusionary — if a breakthrough technology was almost ready to disrupt us, they’d be putting the finishing touches on that, not hiring people to sell what they’ve already got.

2. My idea to make me the “universal salesman” for stenography is exactly what these businesspeople are doing and we should totally copy it. Count all the times Livne has been in the news or media since 2020. He’s never had anything particularly important to say, but he gets in there because he’s in control of a lot of investor money. At least at some media outlets, it is not ideas or truth that control, it is wealth and power. Special thanks to my donors over the last few days — and a very special $1,000 donor — you have all allowed me to run another advertising campaign, starting in a few hours.

Finally, Verbit gives us an idea of our own collective power by referencing the $4 billion addressable market. We know the median pay for us is somewhere around $61,000 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If we believe BLS and assume there are 21,000 of us, that’s $1.281 billion. I’ve argued that BLS statistics are inaccurate and it seems more likely there’s about 28,000 of us. That’s $1.7 billion. If we trust Tom Livne that there is a $4 billion market, we control roughly half of it — roughly half the market is going directly to stenographers in the form of income. Verbit, on the other hand, has previously stated its revenue is in the millions. $1.7 billion (stenographers) versus “in the millions” Verbit. Why does Verbit get more attention? Because the money and power is centralized.

But why trust Tom Livne? The market research reports I’ve perused, and particularly a 2021 report by Anything Research, put our market at more like $3 billion.

2021 Premium Report on Court Reporting & Stenotype Services, by Anything Research.

So while our market is likely to grow, it seems well behind previous five-year forecast of $3.157 billion provided by Kentley Insights in 2019 — though we will see where we are in 2024 or 2025.

A $3 billion market where ostensibly 57% goes directly to stenographers. Court reporters, do you see now why everyone is so interested in telling you that your job is defunct? Your existence is holding companies and CEOs back from having a larger slice of the pie — a $1.7 billion slice — and if doing away with you means minority speakers might go to jail on a botched transcript or captioning consumers might be in physical danger, who cares? You should just give up and let it happen.

Alternatively, realize that you are just as smart as the businesspeople and start acting like it. They’re riding off of your ignorance. They’re riding off of your unwillingness to look at the numbers and see what they say. Everything seems so scary and uncertain when others write about these issues. But the issues are not so hard to understand when Christopher Day writes about them. That’s because my goal is your enlightenment. The goal of salespeople is to keep you from questioning the purchase.

Is Stenograph Sabotaging Stenographer Software Support?

It was reported to me that a call to Stenograph’s support yesterday took an entire 30 minutes of wait time. At the end of that 30 minutes, the call disconnected. The stenographer called back and was then forced to sit on the phone waiting about another 15 minutes. 45 minutes from call to resolution for someone that paid $139 for help with upgrading their software, on top of the support contract, which cost about $700 a year! I was just kidding about it being reported to me, I was physically present when it happened.

And this is not an isolated incident. It’s been an ongoing problem for months — Stenograph’s shoddy service, that is.

This is on top of reports that Luminex II is cracking in the same spot on the shell for multiple reporters. Maybe we should all start comparing notes and seeing if we are being sold defective products.

The problem is so bad that it simply cannot be hidden.

“I haven’t called today, but the last few weeks I had to call several times, and I have to wait a long time. Twice I just hung up and figured it out for myself.” -Stenograph Customer*
“Happened to me last week. It was actually worse than the IRS, and that’s saying something.” – Stenograph Customer*
“They’ve always been that way. Eclipse blows them away.” – Stenograph Customer*
“Switch to Eclipse and it won’t be a problem lol” – Stenograph Customer*

It wasn’t all bad news though. They pull through for some of the people some of the time.

But they don’t fool all of the people all of the time. Stenograph is taking our money for support and then keeping us waiting on queues like we’re an inconvenience. They’re relying on our politeness and silence. Let me be the one to break the silence: This is wrong. We were propagandized for years to tell us that we needed support, and now the quality of that support is declining while Stenograph tries to build and sell its ASR business off our backs and with our money.

I suppose it ultimately doesn’t matter if Stenograph is sabotaging us. It leaves us to seek solutions to the problems we’re perceiving. Stenograph owners, the science shows ASR is a snake oil market. Make me a fair offer on the company, see if I can crowdfund the purchase. Much better than a boycott — we can get those trainers raking in the dough and make your employees happy too! Mr. Dutta can move on to some industry that doesn’t have a man with a blog. We all win. ChristopherDay227@gmail.com.

The alternative is to boycott Stenograph and buy it when it’s up for bankruptcy. It’s just business.

*There is no evidence that any of the comments were from Stenograph customers.

US Legal Support Switches to Ultimate Staffing in Its Bid to Betray Industry

US Legal, in furtherance of its scheme to inflate the shortage numbers, overcharge consumers, and cover up its questionable practices, has apparently moved its LinkedIn recruitment to a company called Ultimate Staffing despite concerns that digital court reporting will hurt minority speakers.

Stenographers across the country should be feeling confident. It’s time to ask for a raise. We were barraged by false claims that the shortage could not be solved. It has been about two months since I first pointed out there was an honesty problem with the company. The company’s response to the social pressure? Run, hide, and hope no law enforcement comes knocking. Prior to my allegations, Rick Levy from US Legal spent a good amount of time trying to convince reporters that the company was on our side.

Image originally posted 9/9/21, Stenonymous.com

What is he doing these days? Pretending that I don’t exist. That’s a perfectly normal thing to do when someone is accusing your outfit of fraud. Right?

It is not my actions alone that are making the difference, but the actions of court reporters across the country. It is all of you educating each other and sharing my posts. It is all of you continuing to supply me with information and monitoring questionable behavior in our industry. It is all of you sending donations so that we can spread word of what’s happening in our field. It is all of you that have filed complaints where appropriate. It is all of you that are bringing my research to attorneys. We are collectively making a difference just like I said we could.

As of today about $6,751 has been spent. Over 260,000 impressions have been made. About $2,800 from donations must still be allocated. Seeing how we are changing the course of a $3 billion industry with less than $10,000, I must ask my colleagues that have not donated to consider doing so. Financial security for me would only free up my time to fight for your financial security and the future of working reporters across the country. In two months you have seen the shortage go from impossible to solve to an expansion of the USL partnership with Project Steno. Trust that every single dollar will make a tremendous impact and that I will not stop until every last one of you has the respect you were robbed of these last two decades.

To my friends in US Legal Support leadership, you can still start recruiting stenographers and paying them fairly. If you do not, you risk 30,000 court reporters making me a millionaire and a full-time advocate. Abuse thrived in silence and now yours has told us all that we will ever need to know about you.

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Court Reporter EDU is FoS

So I stumbled across the CourtReporterEdu.org website. A pleasant website that is facially neutral. You look at it, and it doesn’t seem to be anything “bad.” It talks about stenographers and shorthand. It has a picture of a stenotype. Looks like the kind of marketing stenographers should be doing.

Then you, reader, head on over to a magical place, court reporting info by state.

And when the reader goes to look at their state, they’ll infallibly get a long list of schools that have “court reporter programs.”

From my review of the New York schools listed, none have a digital court reporter degree. The few that mention digital court reporting sell the digital court reporting as a “continuing education” program. In short, they’re selling continuing education for a degree track that does not exist. Some of these schools have zero mention of digital court reporting on their website. Some schools, like BMCC, you reach out to admissions, and they know nothing about the program.

So, of course, I ask Ed 2 Go what the deal is, because Mark Pugal from Ed 2 Go has been trying to sell me on Digital Court Reporting for like a month now.

And of course, I trust, but verify.

BMCC asked for my concerns, so I put them out there.

Now, just to explain, in part, why I think CourtReporterEDU and possibly Ed 2 Go is being dishonest: (1) In many of the schools listed, when one goes to independently verify the existence of the program, it doesn’t seem to exist. Attempting to verify the program with the schools that actually do seem to offer it leads to this roundabout “we don’t have that program, but actually we do” response. Maybe at the point colleges are selling programs with no future and are so insignificant the admissions department doesn’t know they exist, or they don’t exist, we’ve gone too far. (2) Even where the program exists, it is selling students a course in something that is not the industry standard and does not have as many opportunities. (3) Putting a stenotype on your homepage and then diverting people to digital court reporting via esyoh.com and Ed 2 Go is just dishonest. Even if we forgive everything else, the way this page is set up is to confuse people and lend legitimacy to digital court reporting that it does not deserve.

At the bottom of this page is a video walking people through that part. Now for a bit of speculation. We know from the WHOIS lookup that the registrant’s address was in Florida. The server the site is hosted on appears to be in California, but that’s likely irrelevant.

Luckily, one of the schools actually advertising the program gives us a peek into who might be promoting it. Wagner College lists Merritt Gilbert and Natalie Hartsfield.

Merritt Gilbert is apparently in Florida and connected to BlueLedge. BlueLedge, as some may remember from a prior post, are aggressively marketing digital as the answer to the stenographer shortage exaggerated and exacerbated by STTI, Veritext, and US Legal. The author of that article stating digital reporting is the answer to shortage? Benjamin Jaffe. Who is Benjamin Jaffe? BlueLedge.

Who is Merritt Gilbert? BlueLedge.

Who is Natalie Hartsfield? Digital, BlueLedge, Florida.

Now here’s where it gets really interesting. Remember when I wrote yesterday that US Legal has been on inactive status in New York since 2001? BlueLedge, according to Florida Department of State, has been dissolved since 2019.

And just for anyone who thinks “maybe there are two BlueLedge companies in Florida,” take a look at that mailing address, 101 E Kennedy Blvd. Guess what the address for BlueLedge is.

If you guessed 101 E Kennedy Blvd, congratulations.

How is it legal for a dissolved company to misdirect the public, searching for stenographic reporter training, to Ed 2 Go and digital court reporting? It might not be, but it’s going to depend on us asking our various government agencies to look into this as a matter of false advertising and possibly operating illegally in the state. I reached out to my New York State Education Department as it pertained to this course being sold to New York consumers. Maybe this is something the members of each state association can tackle.

This situation blew my mind. We cannot stand for this. We have to fight and understand that we are playing against people that do not play by the rules or within the bounds of our self-imposed moral code. I have collected these images and ideas in a central place. Please use them to do good. I should note that at least one consumer was extremely confused and came onto our message boards asking about how to buy a stenotype for digital court reporting. We must act with compassion. Consumers are being lied to and we are the only people with the knowledge to explain it to them. They WILL stumble onto our message boards confused because they ARE being bombarded by lies.

Addendum:

After reaching out to ESYOH well after this article, they took action! The scheme is now less potent because of their valiant actions.

Where the schools used to lure students to a splash page, they now lead to box about degrees.

Is US Legal Giving Digital Reporters Benefits?

I hold myself out as an advocate for court reporters and people pass me info. A few have stated some large firms are offering packages to digital court reporters that are not being offered to stenographers, such as sign-on bonuses. I always ask for some kind of corroborating information so that I’m not publishing false statements. Today, I have some corroborating information.

In this Zip Recruiter ad, US Legal advertises that it offers family-friendly benefits to its employees, including retirement benefits, insurance, paid parental leave, and an EAP. It then goes on to describe a digital court reporter position. As I see it, either it’s (1) a clever play on words where they talk about the benefits that employees get and then hand the digital court reporters an independent contractor “job,” because employers can save a good 40% by misclassifying employees — seriously.

And up to 30% of workers may be, shockingly, misclassified.

OR (2) if it’s not a play on words and they’re actually offering all of these things to digital court reporters, then the fraud that I have been talking about just became really easy to explain: US Legal is, as far as we can tell, making the public claim that they cannot find stenographers. We know that stenographer rates are as much as 30 years behind inflation. We know that US Legal failed to use coverage apps or directories like PRO Link, Expedite Legal, and Cover Crow. In fact, corporate rep Rick Levy, who was on the board of NCRA at one time, attempted to pretend that he did not know what Sourcebook was. We know that US Legal is and was aggressively recruiting digital reporters on LinkedIn and did not attempt to do so for stenographers. We know that US Legal posted an impossible equation to JD Supra in order to convince readers the stenographer shortage was impossible to solve. We know that US Legal acquired and apparently destroyed StenoTrain. We know US Legal inflated the shortage numbers by a factor of six to convince the public stenographers were unavailable and that the shortage was impossible to solve. We know that US Legal’s Chief Strategy Officer Peter Giammanco and Rick Levy both had no problem bullying the women in our profession and others, but they give me carte blanche because they’ve worked out that I’m not afraid of them. We know that digital recruitment isn’t going well because they’ve had to publish their recruitment advertisements every day for months. Even if we want to excuse all of the company’s behavior, how do we excuse this? Reporters are 88% women and yet maternity leave was out of our grasp. All of these benefits that could bring reporters in, I have not seen offered to stenographers. Again, how can the company make a good faith claim stenographers are unavailable when the truth is that the company has done everything in its power to crush the stenographic modality?

If benefits are being offered to digital reporters, I’m happy for those digital reporters, but it’s only a matter of time before the companies turn on them too. We have to let digitals know what’s going on, get them working steno, scoping, and all the things that are going to improve their skills, and lead our industry by example. These big-money types won’t have a choice but to use steno if everybody they’re hiring is taking that money and putting it down on stenographic education. Here’s a hint: That’s happening right now.

We have a choice, as people, to not be complicit in our own demise. It is very clear that the company wishes to exaggerate shortage claims in order to sell attorneys the inferior digital court reporting product at inflated and unreasonable prices. Either we become very open and honest with the attorneys we work with that this fraud issue is ongoing or we risk our jobs being stashed and undervalued. Our value is not directly tied to our productivity, but to our ability to communicate our value and negotiate a better deal. We are players in a game where we hold most of the leverage. Our nonprofits are bigger. There are more of us. We do the vast majority of the work that makes the business and industry viable. We are the consumers of the software and equipment companies that are supposed to support the industry. We are each contributors to local economy — our money doesn’t just sit in the bank, it supports local businesses. There are so many court reporters in this country that we could singlehandedly run candidates for office. Again, we hold all of the leverage. My only suggestion is that we start using it unapologetically. Remember, when the shortage narrative was accepted without question, we were lied to. Now this industry has facts and figures that tell us we were lied to, and there’s a shocking amount of silence. Now that this industry has been shown we defeated stenographer shortage twice before, it’s only a matter of time until we defeat it again, and on that day court reporters would do well to remember every single person and company that said such a thing was impossible. Remember them and remember that when they had a choice to uplift young reporters or peddle garbage, they chose the latter.