U.S. Legal Support Charged the Equivalent of $4.90 on a Copy Sale in CA

Thanks to my amazing network of sources, I got my hands on another document that gives us a more complete picture of what attorneys are dealing with.

In brief, US Legal wanted $550 for a 112-page transcript copy. That boils down to the equivalent of $4.90 a page. The lawyer wanted to pay $0.25. The court more or less split the baby and said $2.50 was reasonable.

Three major highlights: Herein it talks about US Legal charging for things the attorney did not explicitly order. I cannot think of anything that would support my contention that the company has an honesty problem more. But since over a thousand people have liked my Tweet about Giammanco, I guess that’s old news.

But more than that, reporters making less than $2.50 on a copy should realize that a court just came to a conclusion that $2.50 is reasonable. Guess what New York companies have been paying reporters for the last decade? About 25 cents. Hey, New York, it’s time for a raise. Even our court copy rate of $1.00 falls well short of what California calls reasonable. This isn’t greed, it’s basic math and economics.

But more than that, we now have good evidence of the cost shifting I wrote about. By undercharging original clients and inflating copy costs, the larger companies in my field are overcomplicating the market. Add that to the despicable lies of Veritext and US Legal, and you have a pretty compelling reason to never do business with either.

And in its own defense, US Legal wanted to make the argument that all the court reporting companies charge inflated prices, an argument which was, thankfully, flatly rejected.

They’re not alone though. I’ve reviewed documents showing Naegeli attempted to charge about $11.50 a page on a copy sale in Washington State. But that story is for another day. In the meantime, court reporters, remember that your worth is what you are able to negotiate. It is not tied to what anyone dictates to you. Don’t believe me? There are plenty of other role models to look at.

Though not too many of them are fighting for you the way you could.

PS. For anyone feeling a little lost, court reporters tend to charge by the page. Original transcripts tend to be more than copies of that same original. Depending on the market, we are about 30 years behind inflation. So while systematically underpaying court reporters, companies like USL are actually charging ridiculous amounts to satisfy their bloated management overhead. Because we stenographers are a heavy ethics culture and fairly connected to each other, the companies have an interest in breaking us and replacing us with digital reporters despite evidence that utilization of digital reporting disproportionately impacts minority speakers.

Stenonymous Challenged To GET CERTIFIED By New York Court Reporter!

As the registration window for the Certified Realtime Reporter certification by the National Court Reporters Association opened, I received a real challenge from one of the gems of our profession, Amelia Moller. She wanted me to show our students and newbies how it’s done, so that’s exactly what I intend to do. I’m going to register and try to get my CRR certificate this November! Amelia and I are going to do this together and shoot for that CRR, and we’re asking you to join us in our push for certification.

And there’s good news for students and new professionals that want to join the challenge: I upped the stakes and set my own challenge for the Paying It Forward team. I challenged them to use all donations from the next seven days to sponsor* new or young reporters that are going to try to get their certifications this round. The criteria for such sponsorships will be set by them. Allison Hall and Traci Mertens have proven themselves to be trustworthy with our money and a major force in breaking down the financial barriers that stop young or new professionals from succeeding. If you’re looking to sign up for your Registered Skilled Reporter exam or Registered Professional Reporter exam and simply do not have the funds, it’s time to reach out to Allison Hall and/or Traci Mertens.

Check out the video announcement of this challenge. Feel free to donate to Allison Hall on any of the platforms listed below the challenge launch video! Any amount of money is extremely helpful and goes to making sure students and court reporters have support they need.

(LAUNCH VIDEO LINK)

Venmo: Allison-Hall-89

PayPal: allie441@gmail.com

Google Pay: allie441@gmail.com

*Any funds not used to sponsor students will be moved to the Paying It Forward general fund on October 21, 2021. The fund assists students and young reporters in need. I have no control over the fund, nor do I make any money from the fund. It is vital for stenographic reporters in need to reach out today.

For more information about machine shorthand stenography, check out NCRA A to Z, Project Steno, Open Steno, or Stanley Sakai’s Quick & Dirty Steno.

Find Your Voice With StenoMasters

When I first found out my good friend Joshua Edwards was creating the nonprofit online speaking club StenoMasters, I was excited. I wrote about it right away. If you read the FAQ, the intention is to keep the dues as low as possible. It’s not a source of personal enrichment. I consider it a community and a chance for us to come together.

In my view, we are headed into a period of time where it will be vital for the stenographic reporter and his or her family to pick up some speaking skills. There are so many forces in life that will demand your silence. A club like StenoMasters is going to give you a safe place to develop your voice so that when the times comes you’ll be ready. Please join me at the inaugural meeting. It’s free! Even if you just go to lurk or observe, you will be helping others find their voice by providing them with that audience that so many of us struggle to speak in front of. If you have the time on October 4, it’s worth it. See the flyer below!

Can’t I just write everybody else’s speech?

Fear Public Speaking? Try StenoMasters!

I’ve been writing this blog to help people look at the issues in our field differently and realize that they, as individuals, can change outcomes. Many of us struggle with fear and anxiety, whether it’s about a boss, a work situation, a life situation, or even the simple act of speaking up for ourselves. This blog is about bringing comfort through knowledge and often points out there’s always a way forward.

Here is a way forward for our future public speakers. Years ago, one of my best friends, NYSCRA President Joshua Edwards, asked me to attend a Toastmasters meeting. Toastmasters is a public speaking club. It helps people overcome their fear of speaking or enhance the skills they already have through practice. Toward the start of a meeting they had “table topics,” improvised scenarios for randomly-chosen guests to speak about. As luck had it, the very first time I attended I was chosen to talk about what I would do to sell clothing irons to people. I stood up, said I would lose my job, and launched deeper into an explanation about how I would sell those irons that only my Facebook friends can see because Facebook does not want me to touch the privacy settings on that one.

But I am Christopher Day!

At the conclusion of the meeting they asked “will you come back?” My response? “No, I enjoy my debilitating fear of public speaking.” I did come back a time or two and always listened to what Joshua had to say with great interest. He went on to become President of that Toastmasters chapter, participate in at least one regional contest, and sharpen his already-formidable speaking skills.

Now he’s setting up StenoMasters, an online speaking club. A Facebook group and page will be made soon. This will be geared toward stenographers, but it is not going to be exclusively stenographers, so if you have friends or family that want to jump into public speaking with you, have them check it out. There are many amazing options to learn about speaking and presenting. Because StenoMasters is going to be a nonprofit club, I assume it will be the most value for your dollar in public speaking practice, and I am very happy to share it with my audience. When enrollment opens, I hope to be the very first member to sign up.

We have a big messaging issue in steno. As more of us cross the threshold from voiceless to voices for the voiceless, our messaging and entire field will improve. Again, this is a life skill that will help you in all your personal and professional endeavors. I hope you’ll join me in joining StenoMasters.

The Magic of Cost Shifting – How Big Companies Beat the Working Reporter

After releasing the article on how a New York reporter doubled their money by taking private clients, I was hit with a scenario. “Chris, I went to get private clients, but they showed me invoices they were getting, and they were lower than what I get from my agency! How does anybody make money in this city?” Subsequently I came across an article regarding Veritext’s lawsuit with US Adjustment Corp., and from that lawsuit I was able to get a whole lot of old invoices.

At a glance, most of the invoices seem to be between $3.40 and $3.95, and this is indeed competitive with the rates given to reporters for O+2 work, which usually lands somewhere between $3.25 and $4.25 with no upcharges. For non-NY readers, your O+1 is our O+2. The witness’s attorney customarily gets their copy without charge. For those of you that would like to peruse 200 pages of invoices, enjoy. The rest of you, keep reading.

Just in case anybody missed it, at least one of these invoices is listed at the Cutting Edge Deposition office, a one-star digital reporting outfit. So there’s at least circumstantial evidence that Veritext was linked to or had a relationship with digital reporting services as early as 2015. Note also that there’s basically no difference between the price listed at the digital firm’s office and any other invoice. As old studies have shown, digital reporting is not cheaper.

Judging by that rating, Cutting Edge might cut some corners.

Obviously, these are all over half a decade old and may not reflect current market rates. Obviously whatever rates USAC was getting were probably discounted for the bulk work in the same way Diamond gave the Law Department great rates. The point stands that companies are finding a way to charge less than the reporter is making. How is that possible?

1. Cost shifting via copies.
2. Zombie behavior.

Cost shifting?
Cost shifting, in this context, is when one party underpays for a service or product, and the cost of that service or product is recovered from another party who is overpaying.

Again, using New York City’s market as an example, an agency could pay a reporter $3.25, $4.25, or whatever rate was agreed upon. The reporter generally makes the majority of that O+2. Where the agencies get their money is typically the copies. Let’s say you send Johnny on a deposition for $4.25 a page, but you give your client a sweet $3.95 rate because they have so much bulk work. A loss, right? Only if the job is an O+2. There’s no statutory cap on copies here that I know of, and copy rates are notoriously bad in New York City, between 25 cents and 50 cents, so a single copy of more than $0.55/page means profit for the company on that job. Just to put this into perspective, I’ve reviewed a Veritext email from the Midwest region that had copy rates in the $3.80 (regular) to $4.80 (expedite) ballpark. The copy rate for officials in New York, who also collect a salary in addition to their pages, has been hovering around a dollar for the last couple of decades. The idea that private sector is not charging more for that is pretty naive. So assuming an original of 3.95/page, a copy sale of 3.80/page, and a payment to Johnny of 4.50/page, the agency is pulling in $7.75/page in revenue. That’s nearly 42% of the money for them for what is essentially a finder’s fee. It also complicates things for Johnny, who can’t promise clients $3.95 unless he’s willing to take a pay cut and gamble on getting copies.

It goes beyond that with what’s called a sliding scale. The sliding scale awards the client, and sometimes the copy purchasers, with a discount dependent on the number of copies sold. Because the reporters are not fighting for their copies, companies have a lot of wiggle room. They can put $8 on a copy invoice. If a lawyer pays it, then they’ve just made $8 a page under the client’s assumption that “court reporters are so expensive.” If the lawyer complains, they can cut that rate down to $4 or $2, tell the lawyer they’re such a great client and getting such a great deal, pay the 25 cents to the reporter, and walk away with significant amounts of money. Think about it this way: Let’s send Sally on an O+6 for a rocking $5.25 a page, original and 4 copy sales at Johnny’s same rates. The agency can charge 2 bucks a page to everyone, walk away with $10 a page, and again make about what Sally is making despite it being Sally that’s doing 99% of the work because binding transcripts really isn’t hard. Again, Sally is stuck in a situation where working on her own might actually make her less money unless and until copy sales come into play. If Sally can’t survive the short-term pay cut, she doesn’t make it to the big bucks that are keeping agency rents paid, and she’s more likely to accept whatever rate the agency wants instead of the best rate her skill can command. And that $5.25 is generous, because prior to the court reporter shortage getting bad, some companies, like Diamond, didn’t even bother to pay all of their reporters copies. So a company like Diamond as it was would’ve been making 60% of the money from the job before factoring in the proofreading fee that some reporters were asked or told to pay.

The darker side of the sliding scale is when companies ask reporters to change their layout or give a discount on multiple copy sales/realtime hookups. There is typically zero guarantee that they are passing on those savings to clients. Think about that the next time you send a job in your preferred layout and an agency asks you to cram it into a new one that widens the margins or changes the page count. The N word can be your friend sometimes. I knew a realtimer who was asked to slide their rate back because of all the parties ordering. Acquiescence meant losing half their money on that job, but failing to acquiesce might’ve meant the entire job being given to someone else. They used the N word, got the job, and made lots of money. Reporters win when they stand up for themselves.

A hyper-realistic depiction of a court reporter using the N word.

Zombie Behavior? Brains…
Several articles ago I explained the concept of zombie companies. Companies can make money through loans and investors, keeping cash flow positive while losing money and/or earning no profit. Zombies can also be defined as companies that are just barely making their debt obligations. 1 in 5 companies examined by Bloomberg were zombies. In a 2019 Kentley Insights report, 1 in 4 court reporting companies was said to be not profitable. Those that were not profitable lost an average of 10% of their revenue a year. These companies can basically use their investor money to hire people and give customers great discounts. If they obtain large enough market share and run competitors into the ground, they can then jack up their prices monopoly style.

This isn’t a fantasy-land scenario. It’s what Uber did. It gave great discounts and even occasionally gave drivers incentives. It killed the taxi industry as best it could, made itself a fixture in people’s lives, and jacked up the rates while claiming a shortage. Meanwhile, the business model is losing billions of dollars a year. Honestly, I’m more concerned with the cost shifting than I am with the zombies. If companies can’t make money exploiting the “driving” skill, companies are doomed when it comes to a specialized skill like legal reporting. This is a simple calculation. About 80% of America drives and about 0.01% of America court reports. It’s about supply and demand. To me, that says that reporting zombie firms are about 8,000 times less likely to be profitable than Uber, a company which despite ubiquity and billions lost has not managed to turn a profit. But the danger of zombies is evident: They can take up significant market share, impact market rates, and bankrupt other service providers for decades before the money runs out. Again, look at what they did to the medallions. A high of $1 million in sales went as low as $140,000 in recent years, likely thanks to companies that do not even have a sustainable model.

What do we do?
Hope. I’ve been told “what? That’s business! You hate business? They’re not doing anything wrong!” Legally they are probably not doing anything wrong in New York. I’ll concede that much until I have real evidence to the contrary. But morally it’s pretty clear this is wrong. Why are the page rates such a shell game? Why is everything so hidden instead of the yesteryear commission split that reporters made? Why aren’t young reporters being taught the value of the copy and their work? It’s easy to control ignorant people and conclude a lot of companies want reporters to be ignorant so that the companies can continue to leech off of the work of reporters. So to address the morality question, ask yourself how you would feel about me if my mantra was “I need you to be dumb so I can profit off your work.” That would be pretty evil, right? How about if I reduced standard turnaround times so you were always too busy with work to think about the situation and whether you were getting a fair deal? Let’s say I wasn’t evil and circumstances just lined up perfectly for me to profit off your ignorance, and I let it happen. Am I a “good person” yet? Am I “not doing anything wrong?” Sometimes it seems we have this bizarre notion that anything goes in business except standing up and saying “no, this is wrong, I won’t cooperate with this.” I’m still in the process of vetting the following, but I was told by a colleague that reporting companies here in New York City brought on salespeople, the salespeople saw the money to be made in this field, started creating their own companies, killed the union, and from there our rates literally stagnated for about 30 years. In my younger years I was literally told “if you don’t like the way it is, leave.” A good four people that I knew in or around my graduating class of 2010 did leave. It’s been an incredible decade and we are now at the point where people are talking about this stuff pretty freely instead of telling newbies they’re the problem and that they should leave. As I see it, hope and communication are winning us many battles.

I can’t say with certainty where the tolerance to everything that keeps reporter rates down comes from Perhaps it’s all exacerbated by antitrust concerns and the fact that our associations cannot engage in anticompetitive behavior such as group boycotts. Perhaps we see they are silenced, so we mimic that silence. NCRA, for example, could never legally denounce Veritext, US Legal, or Planet Depos in the same way I’m allowed to. Maybe that tolerance is linked to survivorship bias. “I was successful and therefore anyone who is not successful must not be trying hard enough.” Maybe that tolerance is linked to expectations and the Pygmalion effect. “There’s nothing I can do, so I won’t try to change anything, and therefore nothing changes, validating my belief that there was nothing I could do.”

There’s no end to the list of “maybes,” but there is a profound power in spreading knowledge. With knowledge on how the court reporting firms are making their money, everyone from the grizzled four-decade reporter to the newbie graduate can compete. That’s a pretty scary thought for anybody who’s been making money off of reporter ignorance. That’s a scary thought for reporting companies that can’t even make a profit in the current climate. But for the people that actually do the work in this field and the reporter-owned companies, it provides real opportunity. Not so entrepreneurial? You’ve seen now hundreds of invoices and just how much money is in this field. It’s time to ask for your fair share. A typical finder’s fee is something between 5% and 35%. Why should you give up 95% on a copy?

Entrepreneurial? Try subcontracting your O+2 out to your non-entrepreneurial colleagues and grabbing those copy jobs. It may be frightening to lose money on any one job, but if you lose $100 on one job and make $1,000 on another, you put more in your pocket, and as I just showed you, it works out mathematically. You can pay your colleagues well and still make boatloads of money. If you’d like to be added to the list of agencies I compiled so that New York reporters can find you, let me know.

There’s no cheap fix. Industry health is a lot like personal health. Took me a long time to get heavy. It was about a decade of decline until I peaked at 290 pounds. It also took a long time and a lot of reporter apathy to get from the golden age 80s to the nightmare of a field I stepped into where rates were lower in 2010 than they were in 1991. Those of you who saw me at NCRA 2021 saw I’m a lot closer to 240 now and headed in a somewhat healthier direction. Without some communication from people that loved me, I probably would’ve remained hopeless and just kept gaining the weight. Similarly we can rehabilitate this field and make the working reporter’s wallet a lot healthier on average, but it’s going to take consistent effort to get word out to the newbies. The long-term consequence of an informed field is probably more stable pricing for consumers, the people we’re doing all this for to begin with, and I can’t see a single drawback.

Addendum:
As pointed out in a comment below, I neglected to point out that agencies also create a word index or concordance index and charge for those pages. Some firms charge a reduced rate and others charge a full rate. In my past experience, no firm paid the reporter for the index. Since it’s a practice that relates so closely to this topic, I am adding it here.

Thinking of Taking Private Clients? New York Reporter: …Trust Yourself and Go Do It.

I had an e-mail exchange recently with a New York stenographic court reporter that began taking private clients. With the understanding their identity would remain anonymous, they gave me good insight into how it has increased their profit. I have presented plenty of academic theory on how low our page rates are here in New York and the importance of copies. Today I get to bring reporters a real-world example of just how much a little risk can increase your bottom line. Check out our Q&A below!

Q. How long have you been reporting?
A. I’ve been reporting for 10 1/2 years.


Q. We’ve had multiple discussions now where you’ve disclosed you’ve taken up private clients. How is that going for you?
A. So far it’s a success. I work with my clients 1-2 times a week, which I expected. They aren’t big firms, so I didn’t expect constant work. In March and September they gave me 15 jobs. One thing I hear people express concern about is collecting money for copies. That is, of course, a concern, and I have had to lean on law firms. But I can say that so far no law firm has stiffed me. And while some have been a little slow to respond, all have. So, fortunately, I haven’t had to chase anyone for payment yet. The best thing is the vastly increased copy rates, which makes this work a whole lot more enjoyable 😉.


Q. Did anybody give you permission to do this or did you just start doing it?
A. No one gave me permission. I took it upon myself. It’s all about developing a relationship with the attorney. I should say mostly. A law firm that has used one agency for many years and is happy with the service will not likely change. But still, without developing the relationship, it is unlikely that they will try to work with you. It can take a while, but it doesn’t necessarily have to. I probably worked with my first client four or five times, but we got along very well. I brought up the possibility of his working with me at a time when there was little pressure. I definitely did not bring it up while on a job for someone else. I took a chance and it worked. He said yes. There are other factors that induced him to switch to me. We worked out a good financial arrangement which benefited his law firm, too.


Q. What are your feelings on poaching?
A. By poaching, do you mean taking clients? When we use that term, it makes this sound like you’re doing something wrong if you take a client. This is common practice in all industries. Most of the client the agencies have, they probably acquired through “poaching.” The only thing to avoid is unethical practices. As I said, I would never broach the subject while on a job for someone else. And of course don’t lie.


Q. The audience is going to want to know some hard numbers. What kind of differences are you seeing in take-home pay?
A. I turned in a job 131 pages long, including the [word index], and got two copies. Total take-home was roughly $1200. That was for a med mal case that might have gone two hours . And by the way, I do not charge high rates. So with a different client with the same factors, the total could have been considerably more. This is not the only one.


Q. Wow. That’s like $9 a page. You charge your clients $9 a page in New York?
A. [No], my rate is closer to 4. Again, this is a relatively low rate. But the real profit is in the copy rate. That’s where you’ll make the money. (Just a side note, not one law firm has contested my copy rates. Hopefully that will never be an issue. I’m saying this for those who are concerned about collecting the payment.) So I don’t mind if the law firm wants to negotiate a rate down a little, not too much, as long as I’m aware I can keep the copy rate. On that 131-page job, nearly $800 of my pay was from the copy rate! Keep this in mind, remember this, we’re in business providing a service for law firms. So a) be gracious and patient in dealing with the law firms; b) be open to negotiate rates, just as long as you keep in mind where you’re really earning your money from.


Q. Isn’t it a challenge getting them to pay you?
A. Sure. But I’ll take this challenge over the challenge of trying to make money when agencies are charging 4 dollars a page per copy and they’re giving, so generously, 40 cents a copy. Exactly what was said there. No more needs to be said. We have to strive upwards. I accept the challenge of collecting over the challenge of squeezing small incremental rate increases.


Q. Isn’t the cost of printing eating into your money?
A. Not really. I had a $1,200 job the other day. When it was all said and done, I paid $90 to have it printed up. How come reporters are willing to blow a third of their money on scopists but not willing to even consider seeking their own clients and spending 10 percent on printing? Compare the costs to that of most industries. The cost here is very small in comparison to that in most fields.


Q. Anything else you’d like to tell reporters generally or New York reporters?
A. Look, if someone does want to go out on their own, it’s understandable. For years, I said I would. I made halfhearted attempts, but didn’t really follow up. Even when I got my first client, I almost didn’t expect the attorney to take it seriously. But now that I see the huge difference in what I can earn per job, it’s motivated me to try and get more clients. I will say to those who want to try and do it on their own, just try it. Don’t be afraid of being blackballed by other agencies. You have nothing to lose and so much to gain. I’ve heard people say they don’t want to bother with putting transcripts together. First of all, it takes maybe 10 minutes. That’s it!

Second, it’s a great experience in motivating yourself to be an even better reporter, because you don’t want to turn in an error-filled transcript to your own client! You will be so much more careful and your notes will be so much better! I know because I’ve improved significantly just in the three months since I picked up my first client. If you’re so inclined to strike out on your own, I urge you to trust yourself and go and do it. Develop those relationships. Make business cards. Give them to everyone you know who knows attorneys. It can take time, so don’t get frustrated. Eventually you’ll get a first client. Not every job is big payday, but you will have some jobs where you will see double and maybe even more than what you would’ve earned if it was work for an agency.


In my view, this speaks for itself. Taking private clients can double your money. Collecting can become problematic, but the alternative of allowing certain agencies to continue to push substandard means of reporting on consumers is not a good one.

My girlfriend is very upset that I blew our vacation money on an ad campaign for steno. I’m not allowed to hire graphic designers anymore. Everybody that wants to donate to my vacation fund can do so at paypal.me/stenonymous. (joke)

Addendum:

A reader asked how many copies were charged in the above example. Our anonymous respondent said “2 copies. Keep in mind I give a discount to my client when I have copies. I also only charge 3/copy. I’m pretty sure many agencies, if not all, are charging more.” For more context on this model, it is called a sliding scale. Companies will often decrease the cost to their client when copies are sold so as to be giving them a page rate that cannot be undercut. After all, why would a reporter offer someone $2.60 a page when they could work for an agency for around $4.00? But in New York this continues to hide the value of copies from the working reporter, who up until recently were accepting as little as $0.00 to $0.25 on a copy.

Shortage Solutions 10: Contract or Employment

Can you believe this blog has covered 10 ideas for addressing the shortage? Time flies. Having given the whole court reporting shortage issue some more brainstorming, it’s worth bringing up for discussion the solutions that will follow. As always, happy to have comment on this issue. First, contractual agreements. In the field today, many reporters work under a verbal agreement, or a very informal email or rate sheet agreement. Even in places where independent contractors are required to have contracts, much of the business is contracted verbally or less formally.

Anecdotally, there’s something respectable about putting things in writing. People are more likely to live up to their word when there are clear terms of engagement. Need a freelancer to be on call to cover? Get it in writing. Throw them a little consideration (money) for their availability. Create easy-to-understand terms and expectations on availability. Create fair and realistic penalties for breach of contract on either side, or remedial terms that both sides can live with.

That lets me move on to another thought process. There is nothing in US law, to my knowledge, that prohibits a company from hiring employees and paying them a per-page commission or per diem rate. Pretty much no reporter makes less than minimum wage, so compliance with minimum wage laws is trivial. What is stopping a company from shifting its workforce from 1099 reporters to employees? Nothing. Nothing but a different set of paperwork and some accounting changes. Compliance with workers compensation laws may need a little creative insuring to allow reporters to transcribe from home if they choose to give employees that option. But this does not seem like an impossibility, merely a challenge for the entrepreneurial to overcome.

Why these solutions? Frankly, one of the issues with shortage boils down to the inconsistency of freelance reporting. If reporting firms nail down some availability, via employment contract or independently-contracted agreement, they can have a more realistic idea of how many reporters they have versus how many they need. Businesses survive and thrive off of mastering their staffing needs. Reporting businesses will be no different, and in the end will rise and fall based on their ability to meet demand. In this case, the demand being the service that so many stenographic reporters are ready, willing, and able to provide.

Table of Contents

On the suggestion of a reader, the table of contents has been revised to show articles in date order with summaries. Articles or posts that I believe have no more value are omitted from this page but may be found via the search box.

This table of contents is currently under construction. Please use the search box on the home page if
you are looking for something specific.


Open Steno’s Unprecedented Growth Continues 11/23/21
OpenSteno.org continues its push to grow the stenographic legion.

Stenonymous Promotes Naegeli’s Lawsuit Threat on Twitter 11/22/21
After Naegeli’s lawsuit threat I promoted it on Twitter to 8,000 people and Naegeli backed down.

Rumors that LiveLitigation is Linked to vTestify False, says President 11/21/21
Though both companies may have used the branding “LiveDeposition,” the president of LiveLitigation says they are competitors.

Naegeli Threatens Legal Filing Against Stenonymous 11/20/21
Due to my 11/19/21 post, Naegeli threatened to sue me.

Naegeli Charged $11.50 Per Page on a Copy Sale 11/19/21
This post exposed how Naegeli charged $11.50 on a copy sale, even if that’s not what was ultimately received.

Day 1 of Stenograph Boycott, Company Releases Pro-Steno Teaser 11/18/21
After I called for a boycott, Stenograph put out pro-steno images to appease customers.

NCRA Joins Battle, Calls Out Potentially Illegal Conduct 11/17/21
NCRA announced to the country that procedural rules were being violated in many states, so I reported on it.

Is Stenograph Sabotaging Stenographer Software Support? 11/16/21
This post memorialized the deterioration of Stenograph customer service in 2021.

Orange Legal, A Veritext Company, May Share Location with BlueLedge 11/12/21
This post explored the fact that Orange Legal appears to share a location with BlueLedge.

BlueLedge Connected with Veritext and Stenograph 11/11/21
This post showed the friendliness of BlueLedge, a digital court reporting training program, with Stenograph and Veritext.

Identimap Offers Free Trial to Court Reporting Businesses 11/10/21
This post explained Identimap’s offer to court reporting businesses.

US Legal Support Switches to Ultimate Staffing in Its Bid to Betray Industry 11/9/21
After months of daily LinkedIn posts searching for digital court reporters, US Legal switched to using Ultimate Staffing to post the digital court reporter jobs.

Court Reporter EDU is FoS 11/7/21
This post exposes CourtReporterEDU.org, a site that appears to be dedicated to providing resources for people looking to become court reporters / stenographers. The site actually redirects people to Ed 2 Go / BlueLedge.

US Legal Terrified of Stenonymous, Donates $50k to Project Steno 11/6/21
A jab at US Legal Support for donating a comparatively trivial amount of money to Project Steno while doing everything in its power to undermine, underpay, and eradicate stenographers.

Stenograph’s Public Relations Problem 11/5/21
This post explains that Stenograph’s good will towards stenographers is manufactured to appease so that Stenograph can sell to both stenographers and digital court reporters. I explain that it is in stenographers’ best interest to boycott unless and until the company ceases all digital court reporting promotion and why stenographers have that power.

Proof STTI is a Propaganda Machine 11/4/21
In this post I revealed that if STTI’s claims about stenographer shortage were accurate, 16% of jobs would be uncovered.

Is US Legal Giving Digital Reporters Benefits? 11/4/21
A post comparing the temporarily good treatment of digital court reporters to the historically atrocious treatment of stenographic court reporters.

StenoMasters Membership Free to Seven Students — Charter Imminent! 11/3/21
A post revealing StenoMasters would soon be chartered. Several students were given their first year free.

My Transformation 11/1/21
A post revealing more of my thoughts on human psychology, how I used that to help myself and others, and how I hope others will use my discoveries for good.

U.S. Legal Support Charged the Equivalent of $4.90 on a Copy Sale in CA 10/31/21
A post revealing how U.S. Legal charged $4.90 a page on a copy. A court ruled $2.50 was reasonable.

Tipping Points Are Hard! 10/27/21
A post revealing my letter to the FTC and Twitter campaign exposing Peter Giammanco’s behavior.

Support A Steno Streamer Today! 10/26/21
A post announcing my support for VaderBabe87, a steno Twitch streamer.

Veritext and US Legal Lied to the Public About Stenographer Shortage 10/23/21
This post explored how two major court reporting companies inflated the required enrollments to solve the stenographer shortage by a factor of six.

Want a Press Release? Write Me Today! 10/21/21
My post offering press release services.

Becki Joins the Stenographic Legion! 10/20/21
Becki’s TikTok took the steno world by storm months prior to this post. She unboxed her new stenotype on camera, and this post memorializes that.

Verbit Continues Trying to Brainwash an Industry 10/19/21
A post that pits actual numbers against Verbit’s overblown claims of stenographer shortage.

Steno101’s Spotify Ad Has Taken Off 10/18/21
A post memorializing Steno101.com’s Spotify ad launch.

A Little About Copyright and This Blog 10/16/21
A lighthearted post where I explained I would not enforce any copyright that I own related to this blog and encouraged readers to use it in whatever legal way they wanted.

Arizona Asked for Public Comment on Recording and We Responded 10/14/21
A memorialization of Arizona’s attempt to change the court rules and our response as a field.

My Open Email to Readback Active Reporting 10/12/21
A post where I revealed an e-mail I wrote to Readback Active Reporting, a firm attempting to sell digital court reporting under the ruse of being a new classification, “active reporting.”

Upcoming Appearances with Stenographers World and PYRP 10/8/21
A post where I announced a weekend of online appearances and said something controversial.

BLS Statistics on Our Field May Be Unreliable 10/7/21
A post that exposes how the Bureau of Labor Statistics data has changed over time and why it may be accurate as of October 2021.

AI Researchers Have Similar Expectation & Belief Problems to Ours 10/6/21
A post that discusses AI winter and points to the importance of funding and investor perception.


We Defeated The Stenographer Shortage Twice Before I Was Born and Will Again 10/4/21
A look at historic stenographer shortages and what that might mean for our current shortage.

When Autocraptions Fail, Stenographers Step Up 10/2/21
A post memorializing when a stenographer stepped up to help people suffering from bad captions.

Upcoming Online Events Court Reporters Are Invited To! 9/29/21
A post that announces Ana Fatima Costa’s 9/30 workshop and AAUW’s 10/5 workshop.

U.S. Legal Support Continues Its Attack On Minority Speakers 9/28/21
A post that lines up and explains more succinctly my case for why U.S. Legal is exaggerating and exacerbating the shortage.

Zombie Corporations in Court Reporting (2-minute video) 9/27/21
A video post explaining zombie corporations and a brief reasoning for my belief that much of the private equity money in court reporting is devoted to zombie corporations.

Big Companies Are Not Using Digital Reporting Because of Stenographer Shortage 9/24/21
A post showing that despite claims that the use of digital reporting is due to stenographer shortage, few good faith attempts to recruit stenographers or build interest in the field are made.

Find Your Voice With StenoMasters 9/23/21
A blog post promoting StenoMasters, a nonprofit dedicated to helping stenographers and the public with public speaking.

If You Think I’m Your Enemy, Watch This Video 9/20/21
Realizing that some of my message gets lost in writing, I took to video to explain myself to my fellow court reporters.

How 60 Stenographers Changed Reality 9/17/21
This post urged reporters to see their own power as individuals.

Verbit Published Kentuckiana Proceeding Audio Online Without Anyone’s Permission
9/15/21
This post exposed how Verbit posted family court proceeding audio on the internet and paved the way to the audio being taken down.

Investors Misled, Verbit Lies, Media Buys It 9/14/21
This post explored various claims by Verbit and why they were misleading or untrue.

US Legal Rep: Does It Really Matter If Done Legally and Ethically…? 9/13/21
This post exposed that US Legal Support may be lying to court reporting consumers about the stenographer shortage.

How Corporations Gaslight Stenographers Into Fighting Each Other and How To Beat That 9/9/21
This post exposed the gaslighting that causes infighting in our field and distracts us from talking about actual issues.

The Layperson’s Guide To Why Stenographic Reporting Is More Efficient Than Digital Reporting 9/8/21
This post laid out some facts about digital reporting that are rarely talked about and dives deeper than “what if the microphone doesn’t pick it up.”

Allison Hall — $20 to Sponsor a Student in Need 9/7/21
This post celebrates the anniversary of Paying It Forward, a group of stenographers coming together to help students and newbies break down financial barriers to entry in our field.

NYSCRA Offering RPR WKT Test Prep September 2021 9/4/21
This post advertises NYSCRA’s September 2021 test prep.

How Science and Psychology Help This Blog Beat Digital Reporting CEOs 9/3/21
A post that explains the importance of narratives, psychology, recruiting digital reporters, and sharing information.

I Figured Out Why ASR Is So Hard To Perfect 9/2/21
A post I put out with an epiphany as to why automatic speech recognition is not closing the gap to 100%.

Was Ducker Worldwide Wrong About Stenographer Shortage? 9/1/21
A post about Ducker Worldwide’s Court Reporting Industry Outlook 2013-2014.

What Court Reporters Can Learn From Y2K 8/31/21
A glance at the history of Y2K and how we can use that as a model for solving the stenographer shortage.

Stenographer Energy & Social Media Recruitment 8/30/21
A review of a popular TikTok about stenography and a jab at the dishonesty of US Legal Support.

What Is Realtime Voice Writing and Why Is It Better Than Digital Reporting? 8/22/21
An explanation of voice writing and why it blows digital reporting out of the water.

Drillmaker for Students/Educators 8/6/21
A post introducing a simple computer script that anyone can use to help make lists of random words for drills.

Fear Public Speaking? Try StenoMasters! 8/4/21
A post announcing the birth of StenoMasters, an non-for-profit online speaking club for court reporters.

The Magic of Cost Shifting – How Big Companies Beat the Working Reporter
8/4/21
A post that gets into cost shifting and how some court reporting companies can shift costs to make it harder for the working reporter to compete directly with them.

Is VITAC Paying Below Market Rates for Captioners? 7/27/21
A post that explores job postings by VITAC and compares it to providers’ past experiences in captioning.

Will Verbit Go Public in 2022? 7/23/21
This post gently critiques a Forbes article and points out possible futures for the Verbit company.

The Importance of Plover and Open Steno 7/19/21
This post talks about the Open Steno 2021 survey.

PCRA Wouldn’t Say Whether It Sees the Future Generation as Being Digital Reporters
& What You Can Do About It
7/17/21
This post describes a webinar held by PCRA on June 26, 2021 that platformed digital reporting, why digital reporting is not an adequate court reporting technology, and what court reporters can do to safeguard their associations.

NCRA News. Career Launcher and President’s Party 7/14/21
This post describes NCRF’s Career Launcher, a series of modules to help new reporters. It also mentions the NCRA convention president’s party.

Why I Resigned From the NYSCRA Board and NCRA Strong, and the Future of this Blog 7/7/21
This post dives into why I resigned from several volunteer activities and announces my intention to continue providing industry news.

John Belcher on Winning Depositions 7/1/21
This post showcases information from John Belcher with regard to depositions.

Gartner: 85% of AI Implementations Will Fail By 2022 6/30/21
This post talks about Gartner’s prediction that 85% of AI business solutions will fail and explains why that might be the case.

PAF Steno 6/29/21
This post mentions PAF Steno and the work it is doing to train stenographers.

Thinking of Taking Private Clients? New York Reporter: …Trust Yourself and Go Do It. 6/28/21
This post showcases a Q&A with a New York reporter that was able to double their money by taking private clients.

Over-Engineering Will Hurt Your Business 6/24/21
This post explores over-engineering and the dangers of it in a general sense. It also explains how automatic speech recognition and AI relates to over-engineering.

Steno & Me (Under the Sea Parody) 6/24/21
These lyrics are a parody of Under the Sea from the Little Mermaid set to a steno theme. Immediately after this post was launched, it was discovered that more than 10% of stenographers are also mermaids.

Share Something For Me? 6/22/21
This post touches briefly on how social media algorithms can hamper the spread of information and asks court reporters to share my 6/19/21 article in order to counter false perceptions about stenography in the media.

Relationship Conflicts & What You Can Do When It All Goes Wrong 6/21/21
This post talks about the types of personalities you might run into when buying something from someone. It also proposes a process for resolving conflict. It is geared toward business relationships but can be used for personal relationships also.

Journalists May Be Reporting Black People’s Stories Wrong 6/19/21
This post was utilized in an ad campaign to bring more attention to our field with regard to the study Testifying While Black. Many outlets reported false or misleading headlines regarding the study. This article dives into the dishonesty of several media sources when it comes to stenographic court reporting.

Recording Endangered By Stenography’s Retirement Cliff 6/17/21
This post talks about how the stenographer shortage can hurt the record-and-transcribe modality of taking down the record. In brief, it shows how stenographers are used to transcribe work in many places that have “switched to digital.”

Outreach Webinar by Project Steno – June 6, 2021 6/2/21
This post boosted the 6/6/21 Project Steno/NYSCRA webinar pertaining to high school outreach.

1 in 4 Court Reporting Companies May Be Unprofitable 5/28/21
This post describes a 2019 report by Kentley Insights, explains what zombie companies are, and goes on to suggest that the unprofitable companies in the field are the ones using digital reporting.

Does Stenonymous Spend More On Steno Ads Than US Legal? 5/27/21
In this post US Legal’s LinkedIn campaign to recruit digital court reporters is exposed. The post also shows how Stenonymous has been used to expose thousands of people to stenographic court reporting and contrasts that with US Legal’s apparent lack of a stenographic recruitment strategy.

Vote Yes! NCRA 2021 Proposed Bylaw Amendments 5/25/21
This post advertises the 2021 proposed bylaw amendments and gives my opinion of each.

Court Reporters Speak Up For The Record On Future Trials 6/2/21
This post explores the April 2021 report by the Future Trials Working Group to the New York State Unified Court System. It also showcases association and union response to the report and the reply received by the court system.

MGR Interviewed on the Treatment of Reporters 5/18/21
This post shares my interview with Marc Russo, owner of MGR Reporting, on the treatment of reporters.

CART v Autocraption, A Strategic Overview For Captioners 5/13/21
This post gives information to CART providers to help them cope with the hype and lies surrounding automatic speech recognition (ASR) and sentiments by some that they are replaceable. It talks about how captioners can protect consumers and why consumers need that protection.

Literal v Readable, A Primer on Transcribing What We Hear 5/10/21
This post describes several issues stenographers may run into on the job, including whether to edit something that is spoken or leave it completely verbatim. It explains how context matters in our work.

Paying It Forward with Allie Hall 5/4/21
This post mentions Allie Hall’s efforts with regard to Paying It Forward and how reporters can contribute.

A Primer on ASR and Machine Learning For Stenographers 4/22/21
This post explains some of the technology behind automatic speech recognition and machine learning in simple terms so that stenographers can understand it and educate their clients.

How We Discuss Errors and Automatic Speech Recognition
4/12/21
This post explains automatic speech recognition’s word error rate metric and compares it to how court reporters measure errors.

For Digital Court Reporters and Transcribers, Check Out Steno! 3/1/21
This post was used in an ad campaign to expose digital court reporters and transcribers to stenography and express to them in simple terms why it is better to learn the skill of and work in the field of stenographic court reporting.

Facebook Boosting 101 2/26/21
This post explored the power of paid advertising and showed stenographers how they can multiply their reach by 20.

For Students Saddled With Unpayable Student Loan Debt 2/24/21
This post presents links and resources relating to options students in debt have.

Aggressive Marketing — Growth or Flailing? 2/22/21
This article dives into Fyre Festival and describes how sometimes companies talk a good game even when their product or idea is unprofitable or poorly executed. It also takes a look at VIQ Solutions, parent of Net Transcripts, Inc., and how despite making millions in revenue, VIQ reported over $300,000 in losses.

Help Chris DeGrazio Celebrate International Women’s Day! 2/19/21
Court reporter Chris DeGrazio sought to celebrate International Women’s Day by creating a collage. This post helped advertise it.

Court Reporter Humor – Stenoholics & Andy Bajaña 2/15/21
Stenoholics and Andy Bajana have some hilarious videos related to court reporting. You can get links to them through this post.

Finding Time 2/12/21
This article talks about time management, the importance of scheduling, and using common tools such as calendars and schedulers. It also cautions against taking too much time trying to find the “perfect” tool.

Scholarships & Contests For Students February 2021 2/11/21
This post provides information with regard to 2021 scholarships and contests for stenography students.

You Need 2FA Now 2/10/21
This post talks about two-factor authentication (2FA) and why court reporters need to use it wherever it is available.

Veritext “Provides More Work To Stenographers Than Any Other Firm In The Country” 2/9/21
After reaching out to Veritext for comment regarding what I perceived as a nonsensical and incongruent recruitment strategy, I reached out to Veritext for comment.

Need Continuing Education? Consider CCR Seminars. 2/8/21
This post breaks down the value of one private court reporting education company, CCR Seminars.

List of New York Agencies 2/5/21
This post provides a list of New York agencies in spreadsheet format.

The Ultimate Guide To Officialship (NY) 2/4/21
An anonymous person had been harassing me for several years. One of their “gibes” or implications was that I was an official reporter that posts a lot about freelance and I should post more about officialship. So I did.

Collective Power of Stenographers 2/3/21
This post is a mathematical demonstration of the power of stenographers. Often, stenographers share posts from companies or electronic recording companies as gospel. This post notes that reporters collectively have more money and power than any organization.

For The Record Documentary Goes Free 2/2/21
This post reported Marc Greenberg’s announcement that the For The Record documentary would become free.

NYSCRA’s CRCW 2021 & My Thoughts On The Future 2/1/21
This post announced several NYSCRA plans for Court Reporting & Captioning Week 2021 and explained why reporters must stand by their associations.

Can Freelancers Apply For Workers Compensation Benefits? (NY) 1/29/21
This post explored under what circumstances an “independent contractor” could attempt to claim workers comp benefits in New York.

GGU Presentation & Why You Matter 1/28/21
This post talked about Ana Fatima Costa’s presentation for Golden Gate University, Court Reporter Tips Every Lawyer Needs To Make the Best Record. It also went on to describe how any reporter can make an impact.

Beware Commercial Leasing Agreements for Equipment 12/27/20
This post explains commercial leasing agreements and how they can be very costly traps for reporters if reporters do not fully understand the agreement.

Can You Hear Me Now? Computer Parts For Steno Made Simple 12/22/20
This post explains to court reporters what they’re looking at when buying computers. It gives simple descriptions of components and how to make good purchasing decisions. It also provides simple troubleshooting tips or ideas.

What Law Offices Need To Know About A Court Reporter Shortage 12/15/20
This post was used in an ad campaign to explain the court reporting shortage to law offices. It focused heavily on combatting misinformation about our shortage and explained where stenographers could be found.

Remote Notarial Acts Executive Orders (NY 2020) 11/5/20
During the pandemic the governor of New York issued an executive order which allowed remote notarial acts. This post tracked the orders and extensions for court reporters.

Trolls and You 10/17/20
This post explored trolls-for-hire and exposed how cheap it could be to organize a misinformation campaign. The post also noted examples of likely trolls. It also counseled against the advice “don’t feed the trolls” and explained the importance of not allowing trolls to dictate the conversation.

The Question To Ask Yourself When Viewing An ASR Demo 10/10/20
This post compared several high-profile technology buys to automatic speech recognition technology and its dearth of such purchases. It also showed that ASR technology by the biggest players in the business was inadequate for court reporting.

Turning Omissions Into Opportunity 9/19/20
This post explored several omissions in the media regarding court reporting and demonstrated how court reporters can use these omissions to inform journalists.

What Verbit Leadership Needs To Know
9/12/20
This post appealed to Verbit leadership and pointed out how exaggerated claims could make the company look bad.

How To Spot More Better Marketing 8/25/20
A short guide on seeing through puffery.

Common Scams 8/18/20
A guide to spotting scams that may be adaptable to our industry.

August Asterisks 2020 (Jobs) 8/13/20
An August 2020 post about jobs that were available.

StenoKey, Stenographic Education Innovation? 7/1/20
A post about StenoKey, an educational program by Katiana Walton.

Stenonymous on VICE News Tonight 6/18/20
A post covering my TV appearance regarding the Testifying While Black Study by Taylor Jones, et al.

June Jettisons 2020 (Jobs Post) 6/16/20
A June 2020 post about jobs that were available.

Expedite Legal, Enhancing Coverage Nationwide? 6/15/20
A post covering Expedite Legal, an app service connecting lawyers to legal service providers like court reporters.

Check Out 225 and Beyond (Beware of Busywork) 6/14/20
A post promoting the work of Euan Williams.

How Organizations & Associations Work 6/13/20
A post that explains how associations work and the volunteer structure of them.

May Machinations 2020 (Jobs Post) 5/12/20
A May 2020 post that described available jobs.

NYSCRA Student Webinar May 2020 5/5/20
A post advertising the May 2020 NYSCRA student webinar.

Stenopalooza was POWerful 5/3/20
A post summarizing Stenopalooza 2020 and NCRA STRONG

Pricing Pages In A Market of Fear 4/6/20
A post that discussed supply and demand and the dearth of work in our field at the start of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.

April Applications 2020 (Jobs Post) 4/1/20
An April 2020 post about jobs that were available.

Steno Shortage Stats March 2020 3/14/2020
This post gave fast facts reporters could keep in mind when discussing the stenographer shortage.

What Verbit Investors Need To Know
3/4/20
This post investigated Verbit’s series A funding claims and compared them with series B funding claims. It also explained how a cost savings estimate by STTI was pathetic.

Trust Issues, Brought To You By Veritext 2/25/20
A post that examines the actions of Veritext versus statements made by the company.

Eastern District NY Hiring! 2/13/20 2/13/20
A post outlining a job opening in February 2020 for the Eastern District of New York federal court.

Stenonymous on Facebook 2/3/20
A post that announces the beginning of the Stenonymous discussion group on Facebook.

Fantastic February 2020 2/1/20
A post that lists jobs that were available in February 2020.

The Savior Chimera
1/29/20
A post that examines NCRA v AAERT and their relative abilities to combat the court reporter shortage.

Copyright and Stenography 1/24/20
A post that dives into the lack of copyright protection for stenographic court reporting.

Shortage Solutions 12: Stenography 1/23/20
A post that gives mathematical reasons on why it is smarter to address the court reporter shortage with stenographers than transcribers.

Shortage Solutions 11: Logistics 1/22/20
This post discusses the possibility of getting clients to space out depositions instead of starting everything at 10:00 a.m. in order to improve the logistical difficulty in getting a stenographic court reporter at every deposition.

A Night In Brooklyn, PYRP 78 1/21/20
A post that details an initiative by Protect Your Record Project and gives examples of how every reporter can advocate.

Why & When Leaders Stay Silent 1/15/20
A post about why leaders do not always address or acknowledge adversarial organizations and/or detractors.

NYSCRA 2020 Survey, Lobbying
1/9/20
A post about NYSCRA’s 2020 survey as well as some ideas I wrote to the association.

January 2020, Just Apply! 1/6/20
A post regarding jobs available in January 2020.

Stenographers, Planet Depos Is Not Your Friend 12/10/19
A post documenting attempts by Planet Depos to attract digital court reporters.

The Economics of Caring
12/6/19
A musing about apathy and how it can cost you your job.

Pricing Yourself Out of the Market 12/4/19
A post that briefly talks about the potential of pricing oneself out of the market and then launches into a defense of why rates in certain markets could be higher.

December Dirigibles 2019 12/2/19
A post describing jobs available in December 2019.

The Impossible Institute 11/23/19
A post examining the Speech-to-Text Institute and why claims that the stenographer shortage is impossible to solve are false.

The Original and What? 11/7/19
A discussion about copies, happiness, and altruism.

Government v Gig Economy 11/6/19
This post explored the possibility of the government reclassifying stenographers and what could be done if that occurred.

November Niches 2019 11/4/19
A November 2019 job post.

Stenonymous Suite: Early Version 10/29/19
My early coding experiments resulted in the Stenonymous Suite, released in the hopes people brighter than me do better.

Historic Rate Data: New York 1990s 10/25/19
A review of court reporter rates that showed we were making less value in 2010 than in 1991.

MAPEC 2019 10/21/19
A review of the reporter Empowerment Conference in 2019.

Raise Your Rates 2019 10/4/19
A call to get reporters to raise their rates in accordance with supply and demand.

Loans, School, & You 10/2/19
An explanation of debt to assist students.

October Occupations 2019 10/1/19
An October 2019 job post.

Outfluence by Al Betz 9/23/19
This program presents a professionalism and communication program called Outfluence.

NCRA Virtual Town Hall, September 21, 2019 9/22/19
This post described a 9/21/19 NCRA Town Hall session.

Historic Rate Data: A First Look 9/21/19
This post took historic rate data from the west coast and adjusted it for inflation to show court reporters were behind inflation.

How To Create Timed Dictation 9/21/19
This post describes how to create timed dictation.

Buying Hype 9/17/19
This post described the dangers of buying hype instead of thinking critically.

Keep Enemies Closer 9/16/19
A caution against oversharing.

Forgiving Your Impostor Syndrome 9/13/19
A post regarding letting go of feelings of inadequacy.

Pattern Writing 9/12/19
This post describes how using patterns or groups of briefs can help you remember and use them.

Shortage Solutions 10: Contract or Employment 9/9/19
This post proposed employment structure changes to help with shortage.

September Submissions 2019 9/1/19
A September 2019 post talking about available jobs in 2019.

The Disappointment Paradigm 8/30/19
This post describes the importance of setting boundaries.

State Associations With Mentoring 8/23/19
This post released a spreadsheet of nearly every stenographic court reporting association in the United States and whether it had mentoring.

Achieve Your Dream Salary Using Retrograde Extrapolation 8/19/19
This post describes how one can meet goals by setting the goal and working backwards to see how that goal might be accomplished.

The Resurgence 8/16/19
This post remarked on the resurgence of American stenography.

Do You Log Your Practice? 8/13/19
This post described how tracking practice could enhance progress.

Shortage Solutions 9: Independent Listings 8/12/19
This post explored how available directories of court reporters could end the shortage.

Recording Grand Jury (NY) 8/11/19
This post documented an instance where grand jury proceedings were audio recorded and related New York laws.

Library of Congress Seeks Volunteer Transcribers 8/10/19
This post urged stenographers to assist in transcription for the Library of Congress.

Guarding the Record Against Misinformation 8/9/19
This post points out misinformation in the court reporting industry and the importance of speaking against it.

Global Alliance Founding 8/8/19
This post documented the founding of Global Alliance.

Combination Banking 8/7/19
This post discusses combination banking, a better way to do Q&A.

How Many Errors Allowed? 8/6/19
This post presents a spreadsheet to calculate how many erors are allowed on a steno test and points out that a student did this better than me.

The vTestify Lie 8/5/19
This post pointed out that vTestify’s claim that it could save $3,000 per deposition was false.

August Applications 2019 8/2/19
An August 2019 jobs post.

Steno Speed and the Youtube Angle 7/27/19
This post documented my effort to preserve the old stenospeed dot com audio files.

Can’t Outspend? Outsell. 7/25/19
This post provided anecdotal evidence on how stenographers were being outmarketed rather than outmatched.

Stenovate, Workspace Consolidation 7/22/19
This post highlighted Stenovate, a transcript management software.

Shortage Solutions 8: Retirement 7/19/19
This post discussed how retirees could stop the stenographer shortage.

Cert Shaming 7/17/19
This post discussed the importance of certified and uncertified reporters not fighting each other.

Review: A Court Reporter’s Guide to Leadership and Team Building, by Colin Yorke 7/15/19
A review of a very short book about leadership by Colin Yorke and a giveaway to get his writing out there.

New Speed Students, Learn To Let Go 7/10/19
This post details the importance of avoiding the asterisk key on test day.

Practice, Finger Drill, WKT, Dictation Marker Update 7/6/19
This post documented by attempts at coding computer scripts that could help create finger drills, NY Civil Service WKT practice, and automatically mark dictation.

Shortage Solutions 7: Recruitment 7/5/19
This post described how important recruitment for stenography was and gave mathematical examples for how court reporters could increase the number of graduates just by talking about the field.

July Jobs Jubilee (2019) 6/28/19
A post for July 2019 jobs available.

RE: Remote Judicial Reporting, WUNCRA 6/26/19
A post that pointed to the danger of remote judicial reporting, as well as offered both praise and criticism for the Wake Up NCRA blog.

Can Verbit Replace Verbatim? 6/21/19
This post described difficulties that I anticipated Verbit was going to have with perfecting automatic speech recognition technology.

Stenonymous Suite and Q&A Generator (Concept) 6/20/19
This post revealed a computer programming script I was working on called the Stenonymous Suite.

Shortage Solutions 6: Pay the Piper 6/17/19
A post where I explained one way to end the shortage would be to pay stenographers better.

Sexual Harassment for Stenos 6/11/19
A post describing sexual harassment in our field, and specifically New York law.

Law For Stenographers (US) (FRCP) 6/10/19
Federal procedural laws I feel stenographers should know of.

June 9 Burngirl CaseCAT Tips (2019) 6/7/19
A post promoting a CaseCAT tip event by Burngirl.

Shortage Solutions 5: Public Perception 6/6/19
A post that described the importance of public perception to stenography’s survival as an industry.

NCRA Bylaw Amendment Proposals 2019 6/5/19
A post memorializing the 2019 NCRA bylaws amendment proposals.

Be Smart With Social Media 6/5/19
A post with various cautions about social media and how to use it in a way that builds your brand instead of destroying it.

The Cost of Doing Business 6/4/19
A post giving general advice about expenses that revealed an old retainer I signed where $14.95 per page was in the contract for depositions.

Table of Contents 6/3/19
This is the table of contents you are currently reading. 6/3/19 is the day it went live.

To Our Litigators 5/31/29
A post to lawyers about our stenographer shortage.



















The Audio Sink

We’ll try not to pontificate too much beyond the title, but it’s time to jump right into discussion on Audio Sync technology. For a quick overview to newbies, the aptly acronym’d AS is basically an audio recording contemporaneously taken with your stenographic notes that allows you to jump to that place in the audio where your notes were taken.

It’s a wonderful tool that’s revered by newbies and seasoned reporters alike. It’s a great thing. It was impressive when it came out and remains an impressive feat of technology today. All that acknowledged, it’s time to put out some caution for the newbie or seasoned writer that utilizes it. Many will have seen these ideas or perhaps assume everyone already knows these things. We’ll assume the weakest link doesn’t and strengthen the chain.

First thing is first, if you’re going to use it, it’s not good to rely on it. Computers are funny. Sometimes they appear to be recording but aren’t. Sometimes they’re recording so much background noise it makes the audio useless. Sometimes you, the operator, forget to turn on the mic. It can be beneficial to pretend you do not have it. As saying goes, if you didn’t hear that answer, don’t assume the microphone did.

It can be beneficial to take jobs without it for three reasons. Firstly, it gives you an accurate idea of where you’re at. If you need a repeat every few seconds it feels awful, but it gives you an honest understanding that when you find some time, you need to work on that speed, or work on that particular accent, or improve whatever is going wrong within your control. There are resourceful tricks we often only come up with if we are forced to get it and do not allow ourselves to “let the audio catch it.”

Then there is also a boon to your wallet. If you rely on audio, then you listen to the entire deposition over, and it can literally double or triple your transcription time to listen to something more than once. Time is money, and very few of us have time to spend listening to every job over. Learning to read misstrokes and getting to glide from word to word will save you time and money in the long run. In the short run, you can also listen to music while transcribing.

If you’re planning on taking an employment test, the ability to walk into a job without audio is priceless. Your transcription skills and on-the-spot resourcefulness will be as sharp as it gets. You will have the ability to cope with getting it under pressure.

In the view of many, AS has done wonders for the field, but also hurt us badly. We graduate at 95 percent accuracy. Many of us go on to let the audio catch it, resulting in lower accuracy, longer transcription times, and tougher times passing examinations for certification or employment. This isn’t to ostracize those among us that use it or even rely on it, but to encourage that occasional job where you shut it off and let yourself develop skills in polite interruption and writing resourcefulness that this generation of reporter just hasn’t had to develop.

Value Gradients for the Stenographer in Training (180+ WPM)

In this article we’ll get down to the different kinds of services offered by freelancers and some officials. This’ll be for the benefit of the relatively new and uninitiated. If you’ve already obtained some mastery over the basics of steno industry or if you’re brand new, this really won’t be for you because you already know about it or are just too new to be worrying about it. I say if you’ve completed 80 percent of a 225 words-per-minute program, 180 WPM, this is probably a worthwhile read.

So there are different things in this field that add value to your work as a stenographer. While we can’t necessarily get behind the subjectivity theory, value is, to a great degree, subjective. This means that simple things like writing a professional cover letter, resume, or contract pitch can make you, at 180 WPM, more valuable than a person who can get 225 WPM but can’t really nail the grammar on anything. Consider the first gradient in your whole career to be learning to write professionally, and always look to improve that writing.

Then we get to the simple things offered by stenographers that pull in more money, typically called upcharges. Often markets are different, and “employers” may even tell you that “they don’t pay for that.” This is a tactic to get you more comfortable with doing the work for less. If there are more stenographers willing to do the work for less, the “employer” has leverage over the stenographers that know about these upcharges, and can bypass them and have you do it for less money. Work smarter, not harder, and consider asking several reporters in your market about the types of upcharges they get. Here are some common ones: Medical testimony, expert testimony, video testimony. Some charge up to 5 percent more for late night work. Some even add an interpreted testimony fee to make up for the time lost to interpreted depositions, which are often fewer pages per hour.

Related to what we just went into is confidence. There is a level of unease that comes with being new. You will probably be pressured to take jobs for less than they are worth. Immediately out of training, it’s agreeable to take all you can get. That said, after a couple of months, after you’re used to getting the transcripts out and doing the work, have the confidence to talk to some other reporters in your market and learn more about what’s expected locally. Don’t talk to one or two — talk to as many as you can. One reporter may say don’t get out of bed for less than a thousand. Another reporter may say hey, if you can rack up 6 busts in a day, it’s okay money for zero work. Have the confidence to take all the different types of jobs just mentioned. In my “class” of reporters there was a very strong fear about taking medical testimony. It had been hyped up as this impossible thing. To be clear, medical words can be unique or difficult, but having the confidence to go out there and do it makes you a better writer with the marketable trait of being able to take any kind of job. There is value in a person that can be sent to any type of job.

Let’s touch on some more common upcharges. Expedite. What is an expedite? That depends. When I started, a “regular” was 2 weeks. Anything quicker was some kind of expedite. Of course the rule follows: The faster they want it, the more they should pay. Nowadays, agencies are pushing people to make 7 or 5 days the regular. In my mind, this is much too short, and it devalues the worth of an expedite. It’s what people who play strategy games would call “a stupid move.” That said, if you can get your work out faster than “regular”, that adds value.

Daily. What’s a daily? You take the job, go home, transcribe, and the job is done by the next day. If you can do a daily, again, there’s value there. Not every single stenographer or transcriber can fulfill a daily. Indeed, to fulfill a daily, multiple transcriptionists have to be put on the same job sometimes. If you can do a daily, you can probably make a thousand or more dollars in a day without being realtime because daily jobs can be worth double a regular in freelance.

Immediate. Immediate is basically you finish the deposition and within 30 minutes to an hour it is ready to go out. The bottom line is the client is getting the transcript pretty quick after the deposition ends. Only the best reporters with 99.9 percent accuracy or a phenomenal scopist behind them can achieve these kinds of levels.

Rough. Rough is basically you go through the untranslates and fix up the transcript before sending it out with the understanding the finished transcript comes later. A rough can be a dollar or more per page in upcharges because it’s basically like an easier immediate. Proceed with caution: Many reporters go out there and produce roughs that are basically unusable. Some of my own roughs have been pretty bad. Always seek to improve and get out the best roughs so that lawyers are encouraged to use this service.

Realtime. Maybe you’ve heard of realtime reporting. It’s among the largest upcharges because these reporters have their words coming out on a laptop or tablet screen for the client. I haven’t personally done realtime, but I know that these reporters can command a dollar or more per realtime hookup on top of their daily, medical, or other upcharges. Why are these upcharges important? More money per page equals fewer pages to make the annual income you want to make. We’ve got over 900 mathematical calculations to show this off.

Now that we’ve been through these different levels of skill, let’s look at how it’ll apply in the real world. Certifications exist, and they are important. That said, in many states and municipalities you can offer these services without the certification. What does this mean? It means that the limiting factor is you. It’s your skill and comfort level. It’s your willingness to go out there and say yes, I will take a medical. It’s the desire to get your skill level to a place where you can realistically offer these things. Your value, to a great degree, is dictated by you.

You will go out there and have bad jobs. There will be hard days. There will be times you feel shaky about the service you’re providing. There will be “employers” who make you feel replaceable. Just keep improving. Know where you are at. Be open to feedback, but don’t live by it. Learn from every mistake. If you are in training and know you are able to produce a daily transcript already — great! Don’t let anybody take that away from you. Don’t accept, as fact, that anybody can do it or that nobody charges for that. The freelance world — the business world — is a tough one. There are buyers and sellers, and the buyers will always be looking for a way to knock you down on the price. Remember these gradients in value, and remember that the more of them you achieve, the more you have something to sell.