All posts by seowerkz

Paperless Depositions

Successful DepositionPaperless depositions are quickly becoming more and more popular .versus depositions that are usually characterized by high volumes of paper, among other inefficiencies. Both lawyers and paralegals are concerned with making sure that they are in possession of the necessary exhibits and required copies, so that all in attendance can view the relevant documents.

This can result in multiple folders, binders, and boxes on the day of deposition. This is not only time consuming for the pre-deposition preparation, but it also consumes valuable time on deposition day. Furthermore, this can be costly, both to the law firm’s printing budget and the environment, as well.

With technology usage on the rise in the legal system, there is no doubt that there should be a move towards paperless depositions. Many law firms now operate a paperless system for their files and courtrooms are now embracing paperless technology in their proceedings.

Of course, technology does not negate the important legal rules and procedures which must be followed in a deposition proceeding. However, when done correctly, a paperless deposition can lead to greater efficiency and organization, as it relates to your case.

What to Keep in Mind Regarding Paperless Depositions

There are some important considerations to keep in mind when you are conducting a paperless deposition:

  • Readability – The ability to read and turn the pages of a document must mirror that of a paper deposition. The individual being deposed must have the capacity to read the electronic document and use her own finger to navigate the document in almost the same way she would have done, if the document was a physical one.
  • Usability – It is important for all other persons in attendance to be in a position to see the document. Those persons include the lawyer on the other side, the client, court reporter and any other party for whom you would ordinarily make a copy of the document. In particular, the opposing lawyer and court reporter will need the electronic copies of the exhibits and any annotations.

Move from Paper to Paperless

The process begins with gathering all of the required deposition documents. Your objective should be to scan these documents onto an electronic device. The electronic device must be easy to handle, both by the attorney and also the deponent. Many law firms will use tablets, as they are hand-held and easy to use.

Make the Documents Readable

Once the documents are scanned, it is important that they are in a format that can be easily read by all at the deposition. You will need to find an application that will keep the file in a read-only format, give the deponent the opportunity to turn the pages easily, and one that facilitates annotations.

Allowing Others to See the Documents

In a best case scenario, it would be great to have a tablet on-hand for everyone that needs to see the document. However, this can be expensive and isn’t always necessary. The easy solution is to connect a second tablet to a monitor that can be viewed by the necessary individuals or invest in a screen and projector.

It is important that you and your staff are knowledgeable about the devices that you use. You must be in a position to troubleshoot, should there be a problem. It is advised to do a “try run” in office to make sure that all will go well on the day of the deposition.

The Ability to Take Notes

One of the benefits of conducting paperless depositions is that they can help rid yourself of notepads and eliminate physical note taking. It is critical that you invest in an application that allows you to make notes in relation to your questions and follow-up points, along with the ability to make highlights to your own copy of the documents.

Sharing Documents with Others

Prior to the deposition, you will need to share the relevant documents with opposing counsel and the court reporter. Once the documents are marked and scanned, they can be uploaded to a folder on a cloud storage platform. You can then invite all the relevant parties to share the folder, which will allow them to download the documents in preparation for the deposition.

E-Transcripts and Paperless Depositions

When it comes to conducting successful paperless depositions, etranscripts are the icing on the cake. This will alleviate the need to walk around with a bulky deposition transcript and give you the ability to copy and paste content.

As the legal sector continues to undergo rapid technological advances, you can expect paperless depositions to grow in popularity. Likewise, given the amount of time and money that they can save; it follows that paperless depositions are the way forward. The good news is that you have a road map to help get you there, in this guide.

To schedule your deposition today click here.

Paperless depositions are quickly becoming more and more popular .versus depositions that are usually characterized by high volumes of paper, among other inefficiencies. Both lawyers and paralegals are concerned with making sure that they are in possession of the necessary exhibits and required copies, so that all in attendance can view the relevant documents. This … Continue reading Paperless Depositions

Preparing for Deposition Day as a Legal Secretary or Paralegal

The role of a legal secretary or paralegal professional is to use your legal training to assist the attorney with her legal work. In keeping with these overall roles and responsibilities, professional paralegals must be equipped with the necessary skills to help the attorney prepare cases for deposition. This piece will cover several specific steps that the legal secretary or paralegal can do prior to deposition day.

As the legal professional hired to represent the client, the attorney is in charge of the overall direction and focus of the case. Hence, it is important to have a meeting with the lead attorney handling the matter. In this meeting you’ll want to discuss any issues that are key to your client’s situation. So remember to gather as much information as you can to build upon the overall legal direction of the case. This type of information will inform your research and preparation.

While taking the initiative is good, it is also prudent to gather any research material deemed helpful to the case from the lead attorney. You will need to meet at the beginning and middle of the process to ensure that you are on the right path.

Research the Pertinent Legal Issues

The art of preparation begins with research. Following from your meeting with the attorney, as the paralegal, it is your responsibility to do the necessary research on the issues that concern the case. It is important to be as detailed as possible and compile your research in a way that is easy to read and accessible by the attorney.

Your research will include gathering relevant case law and research to substantiate your case, as well as getting information that could be used by your opponent. The latter will help the attorney to better formulate the case at deposition.

Finding previous testimonies by the witness or about the witness can provide the attorney with valuable information. The attorney for the case should be armed with all the available information on a witness and as the legal secretary you can help in gathering this intelligence.

Draft Potential Questions

The advantage of taking on research responsibilities as a paralegal is that your mind will be filled with questions. In assisting the attorney in his preparation, you can formulate potential questions for each witness. Depositions are about discovery and the best way to discover all you need to before trial, is to ask all the questions that will direct you to the right answers. Your proposed questions can be very valuable to a lawyer, as you may propose questions he or she may not have contemplated.

Prepare Necessary Documents and Exhibits

On deposition day, an attorney will want to focus on the task at hand. Your job is to make sure that documents and exhibits are obtained, copied, labeled and readily assessable. As the paralegal, the attorney will require your assistance in retrieving documents on deposition day. Hence, being organized and prepared is not only meant to help the attorney, but for your benefit as well.

The taking of depositions in a civil matter is very important. As a paralegal or legal secretary, the preparation work that you are required to do represents the well oiled machine of organization and research that is at the foundation of your client’s case.

The role of a legal secretary or paralegal professional is to use your legal training to assist the attorney with her legal work. In keeping with these overall roles and responsibilities, professional paralegals must be equipped with the necessary skills to help the attorney prepare cases for deposition. This piece will cover several specific steps … Continue reading Preparing for Deposition Day as a Legal Secretary or Paralegal

The Paralegal’s Role in Handling Deposition Errata Sheets

Successful DepositionOver the years we’ve received a fair amount of questions regarding errata sheets. Usually, these questions tend to come from paralegals or legal secretaries that are involved in the ‘read and review’ process.

For anyone who has ever had questions about them, errata sheets give you and your client or witness the opportunity to identify and correct any mistakes that may exist in the transcript. The bottom line is that although court reporters are highly trained professionals, the reality is that as humans we sometimes make mistakes. The same can be said of the client or supporting witnesses.

However, since depositions make up a substantial portion of evidence at trial, it is important to make sure that the deposition transcript reflects an accurate account of the deponent. Here’s what you should know about managing the errata sheet process.

There is much work to be done when preparing your client, witness or case for depositions. After the deposition has taken place the read and review process begins. This gives you and your client or witness the opportunity to correct any errors that might have been made during the actual deposition. The corrections are recorded in the errata sheet.

Often during ‘read and review’, clients and witnesses feel it necessary to correct or add to what was said. However, it is important that they understand the review process is not about changing the substance of the deposition but ensuring accuracy. So how you manage the process of preparing and filing the deposition errata sheet matters; both for the client or witness, as well as for the potential success of the case.

Errata Sheet – Acceptable Corrections

A client may be tempted to suggest changes that are more favorable or to elaborate on a given answer to avoid ambiguity. However, the errata sheet process is not a ‘do over’ or a chance to change one’s testimony. Rather, the intention is to identify errors or misstatements that took place during the deposition. All changes are recorded, while both the original and corrected answer become part of the record. The corrections must therefore represent a genuine mistake of accuracy and ambiguity.

What Clients and Witnesses Should Know

You will want your client or witness to at least a basic level of familiarity with the read and review process. Indeed, making them aware of this process can significantly improve the ease of preparation and filing of the errata sheets:

  • The read and review process is time sensitive. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure affords the deponent thirty (30) days, starting from the delivery date of the transcript, to submit changes. A failure to submit these changes within the given timeline means that the deposition will be accepted ‘as is’ – without corrections.
  • The deposition can only be corrected for inaccuracies. It must be clear to the client that the changes made do not erase the first record and both jury and judge will be privy to both answers. Your client should therefore understand that contradictory statements could generally have a negative effect on their case and he or she may face prosecution for perjury where no good reason is advanced for the contradiction.

The Responsibility of Paralegals and Legal Secretaries in the Read and Review Process

As the hired legal professional, whether you are a paralegal or legal secretary, you play a critical role in the preparation and filing of the errata sheets. And although it is important for the client to be part of the read and review process, it is the lawyer, paralegal and other support staff that will be combing through the deposition to identify the errors. While the process may be tedious, it is a necessary and important process.

Once the errors have been identified, it is your responsibility to record such errors on the errata sheet. If the error involves a change in the previously recorded answer, you must give a detailed explanation as to the change.

The handling of deposition errata sheets must be viewed as a critical process that has the potential to impact the outcome of any civil case. So although it’s in your client’s or witness’ best interest to ensure the accuracy of deposition statements, ultimately the responsibility for dotting all ‘I’s’ and crossing all ‘Ts’ — will fall upon you — the legal professional. This is all the more reason to pay attention to detail when dealing with errata sheets.

Over the years we’ve received a fair amount of questions regarding errata sheets. Usually, these questions tend to come from paralegals or legal secretaries that are involved in the ‘read and review’ process. For anyone who has ever had questions about them, errata sheets give you and your client or witness the opportunity to identify … Continue reading The Paralegal’s Role in Handling Deposition Errata Sheets

Seven Qualities to Look for in a Court Reporter

official court reporters vs freelanceIf you are looking to hire a phoenix court reporter or anywhere else, just like any other new hire, if you already have an idea about your expectations, as well as what you need from the service.  There are also several “serious” needs whenever you hire someone, so be confident about your overall expectations.

Court reporters are critical to any legal proceeding. To better serve you in this regard, listed below are seven areas that should be on your list of must-haves:

1.  Court Reporters Must be Competent

Competency is a multiple edged sword, as it is more than just having a license.  The reporter should be licensed, and you can’t have qualms about asking for qualifications and perhaps more important, recommendations. Note here that the recommendations must be verifiable. If this information isn’t easily accessible on a website, then ask for and receive the information.

Experience can vary, and it is easier to hire a court reporter for the court who is experienced in depositions. You don’t have to have the exact experience as long as they have a similar experience, and proof of a cool head under fire.

2.  Punctuality in the Court Reporting Field

A court reporter can never be late. Everyone else can be tardy, and often are, but the court reporter is held at a standard above the rest and should always be early, never frazzled, and over prepared.

3.  Timely Turnaround on Transcripts

Can the court reporter handle an expedited request? Are they able to recognize that counsel has forgotten a trial is coming up so quickly that the normal process is not going to meet review deadlines and point it out? You need a confident court reporter.  One who has top skills, can be an asset and not be a drag on proceedings, and always delivers high-quality transcripts.

4.  Emphasizes Attention to Details

When it comes to court reporting, details are critical. For example, information is indexed to make it easy for counsel to reference it, so it’s important that the court reporter pays attention to the minutiae—including and up to spelling words properly.

The reporter needs to ensure they have all the information needed to prepare a transcript.  Many attorneys look to the court reporter to organize and keep control of the exhibits so being meticulous is a skill set you want. Attention to detail is a reflection of the best court reporters.

5.   Pleasant Demeanor

The court reporter must know their business, but be able to gently guide witnesses or deponents and never take sides. Willingness to coordinate the needs of all parties, and ensure that all present are comfortable, and at ease is also important, as it contributes to an environment of unity.   The court reporter is there to protect the record as opposed to advancing theories or opinions.

6.   Timely Turnaround

Verbatim transcripts of legal proceedings such as depositions, meetings, and hearings is an absolute must. A court reporter’s work is sent to all parties and counsel involved.  Errors in any of these areas can be detrimental to someone and can be highly costly. Likewise, delivery of the transcripts promptly is just as important as the work being exact. Delivery before a deadline, instead of arriving at the last possible moment gets high marks and recommendations.

7.    Professional Court Reporting Firm

A court reporter must deeply understand their business and always be prepared and know what’s expected of them. The reporter must know the players, agencies, attorneys, judges, advantages, facilities, and abilities of the parties involved. The court reporter should also dress in a professional manner.  Hence, attire should never get in the way of the job.

In Summary

Those are the top seven areas that should be high on your list of priorities the next time you need to hire a court reporter.  Other areas include availability, fees, well spoken (no speech impediments or problems speaking before a crowd), if you need to hire other vendors to complete the service, and the ease of use in being able to hire the court reporter.

The reporter should also be mobile and able to get around the city during normal business hours.  Likewise, everyone has time when they must take off for personal reasons but trying to squeeze those in between appointments can be a disaster waiting to happen. So it also helps to find a reporter whose personal life doesn’t interfere with their work life.

There are many more areas, but the seven listed above are the ones you shouldn’t do without — ever. If you have questions about this article or would like to learn about court reporting in Phoenix, AZ contact Phoenix Deposition Services at (602) 230-2499 or complete our form today!

If you are looking to hire a phoenix court reporter or anywhere else, just like any other new hire, if you already have an idea about your expectations, as well as what you need from the service.  There are also several “serious” needs whenever you hire someone, so be confident about your overall expectations. Court … Continue reading Seven Qualities to Look for in a Court Reporter

The Paralegal’s Guide to Scheduling Depositions

As a paralegal, your job is critical to the success of the law firm or organization that you serve. Indeed, paralegals are tasked with a vast array of legal duties, among them is participating in depositions. While the primary depositional duties are taking notes and observing the plaintiff’s behavior, paralegals may also be asked to schedule depositions. However, due to the amount of detail and the number of steps involved, doing so can be intimidating.

As a paralegal, your job is critical to the success of the law firm or organization that you serve. Indeed, paralegals are tasked with a vast array of legal duties, among them is participating in depositions. While the primary depositional duties are taking notes and observing the plaintiff’s behavior, paralegals may also be asked to schedule depositions. However, due to the amount of detail and the number of steps involved, doing so can be intimidating.

Having worked for many years in the court reporter profession, I wanted to provide a helpful overview for paralegals seeking to schedule their first deposition. If you follow the steps provided below, you should find it to be a manageable process, despite its complexity.

Scheduling a Deposition – How to Document the Scheduling Attorney

If you are looking to schedule a deposition but are not the scheduling attorney, you must be prepared to provide details on the scheduling attorney, including contact information. The typical contact information required is:

  • Name of the scheduling attorney
  • The name of the firm
  • Physical address of the firm
  • Best phone number
  • Fax number
  • Email address

It’s vitally important that you include this information in the deposition request because the court reporting firm needs to be able to reach the attorney in order to share any news or information that they might receive.

The Notice of Deposition and Case Detail Documentation

Upon contacting the court reporting firm to schedule the deposition, typically you’ll be asked for the case caption, which contains pertinent information, such as the name of the witness, docket number and case name. This information is also included in the notice of deposition, so you should keep it handy. If you do not have the notice of deposition prepared at the time of scheduling, it is critical to send it as soon as you have it ready.

There are several options for the method of delivery, however, email tends to be the most preferred, as it offers several unique advantages. First, the court reporters will immediately receive your notice of deposition, and typically they will confirm that they have received your emailed notice. Alternatively, you may choose to schedule your deposition online, through the court reporter’s website. In this case you simply enter the relevant information, and the court reporting firm will contact you to confirm that they have received your notice.

Scheduling the Proceedings

When scheduling the proceedings, you must provide the following information:

  • The name of the deponent
  • The chosen location for the proceedings
  • The time and date that the proceedings will begin
  • Whether there is a requirement to schedule a conference room

Estimated Duration of Proceedings

Most firms will request that you disclose the estimated length of time required for the proceedings. This will help the court reporting firm in scheduling any other depositions, as court reporting firms typically handle many depositions in any given day. If you believe that your deposition may take up the entire day, it is important to notify the court reporting firm, so that they can provide you with a reporter who is available for the number of hours required.

Other Items to Gather

A case description is highly useful to the court reporting firm. If the deposition is going to deal with medical or technical language or other professional jargon, your court reporting firm may choose to send a reporter with more experience in the language spoken by professionals in those fields.

You should consider whether you will need special services from the court reporting firm, such as a videographer, a real-time reporter, streaming video, conference room reservation, an expedited transcription, a speakerphone, online deposition, or an electronic transcript. If any of these services are pertinent to your deposition, make sure you let your court reporting firm know beforehand.

In closing, scheduling a deposition can be an intricate process, especially for new paralegals. Nonetheless, it’s a task that becomes more manageable with time. The key to developing proficiency in depositions is repetition and the sort of foreknowing, that only comes from ‘hands on’ experience.

As a paralegal, your job is critical to the success of the law firm or organization that you serve. Indeed, paralegals are tasked with a vast array of legal duties, among them is participating in depositions. While the primary depositional duties are taking notes and observing the plaintiff’s behavior, paralegals may also be asked to … Continue reading The Paralegal’s Guide to Scheduling Depositions

Five Best Practices for Managing Video Depositions as a Paralegal

Video DepositionsAs a court reporter, I’ve seen firsthand the extent to which video testimony can improve depositions by cutting costs and improving trial effectiveness. Indeed, this has a lot to do with the rising popularity of the practice and it’s why you, as a paralegal should familiarize yourself with best practices for video depositions.

Video depositions are quickly becoming commonplace in litigation. While the attorney and the witness are the stars of the show, the paralegal has an important role to play in several aspects of the video deposition, before and during the procedure. Here are several ways the paralegal can help the attorney manage a successful video deposition.

Preparing for the Deposition

Preparing for a video deposition can be an involving process. There are so many moving parts to manage and as a paralegal much of it will fall on your shoulders. Here are some of the steps that you may want to take to ensure that the ordeal goes smoothly.

  • Getting Organized – You should have the file organized and know where to find everything, just  in case the attorney asks for it.  It’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with the general order in which the questions will be asked. This can help you determine what ancillary materials may be necessary at the deposition, such as prior pertinent depositions by the witness.
  • Secure the important parties – Paralegals are also tasked with ensuring that important parties attend the deposition. This includes contacting and possibly subpoenaing witnesses, hiring a videography team, as well as the court reporter.
  • Choosing a Room – The room that you conduct the deposition in will need to be large enough for the stenographer and videography team, along with the attorneys and the witness. You will also want to make sure that the room has comfortable seating, surfaces, easily accessible electrical outlets and good lighting (the video team will thank you for this later).
  • Getting the Room Ready – After you’ve chosen a room you can begin making it comfortable. A big part of this is stocking the room with beverages prior to the start of the deposition. You should also work to create an unobtrusive background. Blank neutral colored walls are actually preferable. Also, make sure that any video that is taken is timestamped and dated. If you’d like, you could even ask the sound person to allow you to do a sound check prior to the start of the proceedings.
  • Prepare the witness – Staring into a camera can be a frightening experience; even to the most outgoing of extroverts.  This is why many paralegals often confirm that the witness is comfortable before starting the deposition preparation.  The next thing that you want to do is guide the witness in how to remain focused throughout the process. Also, don’t forget to remind the witnesses to be truthful and polite and avoid being adversarial or anxious.

When filming begins, don’t forget to keep those water bottles and cups away from the witness. A witness might play with a bottle cap or take a drink when questioning gets tough. This is exactly what you do not want to capture on video, so it’s best to try and avoid these situations altogether.

Other Video Deposition Tips

Take thorough notes; observe the witness and the opposing attorney for nonverbal clues. Paralegals should listen intently and think on their feet. A witness or an attorney could expose  relevant and material facts during a deposition that may have been missed elsewhere.

Remind the attorney that the camera is always rolling and everything is on the record unless the parties agree to go off record. The microphone may pick up any side conversations, even when you’re not directly in front of it.

In this day and age, it’s important that paralegals be prepared to coordinate video depositions. The good news is that if you can use the tips above to help anticipate the needs of the witness, while also giving careful consideration to what’s ahead of you, handling these sorts of depositions through completion should get easier over time.

As a court reporter, I’ve seen firsthand the extent to which video testimony can improve depositions by cutting costs and improving trial effectiveness. Indeed, this has a lot to do with the rising popularity of the practice and it’s why you, as a paralegal should familiarize yourself with best practices for video depositions. Video depositions … Continue reading Five Best Practices for Managing Video Depositions as a Paralegal

Why Demand for Real Time Court Reporting is Skyrocketing

The US legal industry has undergone massive changes, as has the legal market in Phoenix, Arizona. But one thing that continues to remain constant is the shift from standard court reporting to real-time Phoenix court reporting. This is no accident. Here’s a look at why this trend is likely to continue into the foreseeable future.

In recent years realtime court reporting in Phoenix, AZ has grown at a phenomenal pace and many believe that the industry will continue to grow. There are many reasons for the uptick. Not the least of which have been convenience, along with greater competition in the legal sector especially with Phoenix Court Reporters.

Nonetheless, these factors alone are not enough to account for the rapid expansion that the field has undergone.  Indeed, there are multiple issues at play rather than a single driver. However, before we explore the conditions that are driving the movement, let’s first take a look at what the term real-time court reporting really means.

What Is Realtime Court Reporting? 

There are several different variations of court reporting and real-time court stenography is one of them. The characteristic that separates it from standard court reporting is that when the stenographer inputs the short hand, it is immediately transformed into English text, whereas traditional court transcription requires someone to do this manually.

Many legal professionals would define realtime stenography as electronically sending the shorthand from the stenograph keyboard to a laptop, which runs real-time transcription software. In turn, the software transmits the testimony to electronic receivers that can display the feed on phones, monitors, computers and etc.

For example, if you were conducting a deposition and your reporter was transmitting the transcript real-time, here is how the process might look:

  1. The witness gives their testimony.
  2. The reporter uses his stenograph, which is connected to his laptop.  Since the laptop is already configured to run the realtime stenography software, as the reporter types his statements they are automatically converted into English text.
  3. As the statements are typed, they are simultaneously streamed to the reporter’s feed.
  4. Anyone who can access the feed would is then able to view and interact with the testimony.

Why the Legal Industry Is Turning to the Real-Time Model 

Court Reporters in Phoenix - Gavel and PaperworkHere are three reasons that real-time stenotype continues to generate massive interest within the legal community:

Technology Meets Convenience – With the advancement of technology it is now possible to store thousands and thousands of transcripts on a single SD card. Equally impressive is the fact that this gives you the ability to search among mountains of data to find and retrieve individual cases almost immediately.

Furthermore, the technology that is used to display the transcript shares much in common with the system used in close captioning for TV. In fact, this is another reason that proponents of realtime reporting enjoy using it so often — it also makes depositions accessible to the hearing impaired.

Additionally, unlike closed captioning on your TV – the user can actually interact with realtime transcripts.For instance, you can take notes on them, add bookmarks and etc.

Realtime Phoenix, AZ Court Reporting Simplifies Proceedings – Allowing legal professionals to read, notate or highlight certain portions of the testimony can help streamline your proceedings. Essentially, it gives you the opportunity to continue on with your proceedings – uninterrupted. Likewise, this type of court reporting is also beneficial to the other experts involved in the proceedings because it gives them realtime access to witness testimonies.

Realtime Transcription Cuts Costs – Perhaps the biggest reason that so many in the legal industry have been transitioning to real-time court reporting is the cost-savings. There are two ways to save money with real-time transitioning:

  1. Transmitting the deposition transcript – remotely – eliminates the need for costly travel arrangements.
  2. It gives attorneys who are unable to be physically present, during the deposition, the opportunity to ask questions and communicate with the onsite lawyers – remotely. This means that many of the secondary depositions you’ve had to make prior to going ‘realtime’ can be a thing of the past!

These are but a few of the reasons that realtime court reporting has experienced tremendous growth over the past few years. While there are undoubtedly more, the reasons above are the most commonly accepted explanations for the recent developments impacting Phoenix’s court reporting industry.

About the Author

Phoenix Deposition Services has been committed to meeting the needs of our clients for over 30 years. That’s why each of our Phoenix, AZ court reporters have been thoroughly trained in the field of court reporting and it’s also been the driving force behind our many successes.

So the next time you need deposition assistance contact the realtime court reporting professionals at Phoenix Deposition Services. Call us at 888-474-9337.

The US legal industry has undergone massive changes, as has the legal market in Phoenix, Arizona. But one thing that continues to remain constant is the shift from standard court reporting to real-time Phoenix court reporting. This is no accident. Here’s a look at why this trend is likely to continue into the foreseeable future. … Continue reading Why Demand for Real Time Court Reporting is Skyrocketing

Spanish Speaking Clients

Assisting Spanish-Speaking Clients as a Paralegal

A recent census indicates that Latinos make up approximately 30% of the Phoenix, AZ population. This is one of the qualities that makes Phoenix special. So it should come as no surprise that business professionals that embrace the city’s ethnic diversity excel. However, what if you don’t speak Spanish? In this piece, we look at how paralegals can better assist Spanish-speaking clients.

Good communication skills are an essential part of the paralegal profession. Nonetheless, the longer you work in the field, the more you’ll encounter situations that make it difficult to communicate with your clients. For example, is your employer equipped to assist clients who only speak Spanish?  If you’re unable to answer this question, you’re not alone. Many legal secretaries and paralegals have found themselves grappling with the same question.

Since everyone deserves competent legal assistance, regardless of their first language, it is important that you deliver the same level of service to all of the firm’s clients. Here are four tips that can aid you in assisting Spanish-speaking clients.

Learning Spanish as a Paralegal and Legal Secretary

According to the US Census Bureau, the United States is the 5th largest Spanish speaking country in the world. Nearly 38 million people, across the nation, speak Spanish in their homes. Of this number, 25 percent speak little to no English at all. Additionally, given the growth that the Spanish speaking population is experiencing, these numbers are expected to rise.

In light of the above, we believe that learning Spanish represents a viable option for legal secretaries and paralegals looking to assist Spanish speaking clients. Of course, with the massive caseloads that many paralegals are accustomed to carrying, finding the time to learn Spanish won’t be easy. However, the benefits could be tremendous—both on a professional and personal level.

While speaking Spanish isn’t the sole option for paralegals, serving Spanish speaking clients, it does offer several unique advantages. Namely, it gives you the best opportunity to relate with your clients, on a personal level. This should make it easier to communicate with your clients to obtain any information required to advance the case. Likewise, if you’re able to speak your client’s language, you leave less up to chance.

Spanish Translation for Paralegals

Another option is for legal secretaries and paralegals, serving non-English speaking clients, to hire a professional translation or interpretation service. Although legal translation may not be the most effective method of communication, it does at least give you a general idea of your client’s situation. Additionally, there are times when choosing an outside translator service is more practical than attempting to handle translation and interpretation in-house.
For example, while holding a conversation with someone in Spanish may only require a basic understanding of the language, deposing a Spanish-speaking witness would require an expert level of language competency. So if you don’t possess a high degree of Spanish proficiency, you may still want to use a professional translator.

What Paralegals and Legal Secretaries Should Know before Hiring an Interpreter

Although it offers many benefits, interpretation has its limits. For instance, using an interpreter to assist with Spanish speaking clients means that you’re forced to rely on the interpreter’s version of what was said. It’s also easy to miss out on the original speaker’s emotions, when hiring an interpreter.

Nonetheless, despite their limitations interpreters and translators can help you grasp the key facts and enable you to ask the important questions. So to ensure accuracy, set some basic boundaries between you and your translator – upfront – to ensure that he places emphasis on what the client emphasizes. Likewise, if unclear on an issue, you can probe the interpreter further to ensure that you’ve captured the full meaning of what was said.

Furthermore, even if you decide to use an outside translation or interpretation service, you can still learn Spanish – which will allow you to pick up any details that the translator might miss.

Spanish to English Transcription

Just as there are times that call for Spanish to English interpretation, as a legal secretary or paralegal, you will also encounter situations where Spanish to English transcription is required. For example, if a deposition is conducted in Spanish, you’ll most likely need Spanish to English transcription. In these types of situations, it helps to have a court reporter who offers Spanish to English transcription services.

Attracting Spanish-Speaking Clients  

Marketing to the Spanish speaking population offers unique advantages. Namely, since it tends to be a close knit community, it only takes a few satisfied clients to build a large Spanish-speaking clientele via referrals. Likewise, the clients whom you’ve helped in the past, may also come to rely on you for subsequent cases.

Additional ways to reach Hispanic Americans include advertising in local news publications that target this demographic, including the phrase “Se habla español” on your marketing materials and tapping into the power of the Internet to reach US based Spanish-speakers.

The bottom line is that Spanish to English translators, Spanish-speaking legal assistants and Spanish to English transcription services are all viable responses to assisting Spanish-speaking clients. However, if you really want to deliver stellar service — while enhancing your paralegal resume — learning Spanish is a small price to pay for the clients that you’ll be able to help.

A recent census indicates that Latinos make up approximately 30% of the Phoenix, AZ population. This is one of the qualities that makes Phoenix special. So it should come as no surprise that business professionals that embrace the city’s ethnic diversity excel. However, what if you don’t speak Spanish? In this piece, we look at … Continue reading Assisting Spanish-Speaking Clients as a Paralegal

Court Reporting Past,Present,Future

This blog is titled Court Reporting Past,Present,Future becasuse we will be giving our take on all accounts

Throughout history, court reporting has provided the courts with an effective method of recording important proceedings, statements and evidence. It is a court reporter’s job to transcribe every detail, emphasis and inflection throughout the official court proceedings. Today’s court reporters have the privilege of using a variety of advanced technologies to produce immensely detailed transcripts. However, court reporters did not always have this luxury, as it has come from very humble beginnings.

The Origins of Court Reporting – Shorthand Writing

Historians and scholars have traced the first shorthand writings back thousands of years. A Monk named John of Tilbury is credited with developing what is known as the world’s first shorthand writing system in 1118. However, Tilbury’s idea of using an arrangement of vertical lines and distinguishing short strokes did not become main stream until over 400 years later. This occurred when Dr. Timothie Bright derived a system stemming from a more distinctive character system.

With the official sanctioning of Queen Elizabeth, Dr. Bright published a brief 500-character book, which brought the entire system of shorthand to England. Fourteen years later, John Wills expanded on Bright’s work and published a shorthand system that was based upon the English alphabet.

Stenography Is Born!

Over the next couple of decades a number of individuals created their own versions of the shorthand system. One of these individuals includes Thomas Gurney who was England’s first official shorthand writer. Gurney’s shorthand system was even utilized by Charles Dickens, the author of renowned books such as Great Expectations, Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol. Dickens made use of shorthand in his early years, working as a freelance reporter.

In 1893 the stenography system that we are familiar with today was first developed. This method, invented by Irish immigrant John Robert Gregg in 1888, is still the most widely used form of pen stenography in the United States. Gregg’s system flourished until the next round of technological advancements increased in popularity and became so widespread that his  system was no longer in demand.

The Stenograph Becomes a Reality and Stenography Matures

Inventor, Miles Bartholomew, created the first commercially successful stenograph. The machines were widely produced, giving rise to some of the very first formal educational opportunities in the field. Over the next hundred years, Bartholomew’s historic machine endured countless improvements including lightweight models, paper reams, plastic composites and color options. By 1963, stenographic prototypes were being designed to transfer information for computer transcription.

One year later, IBM partnered with the United States military to introduce a new computerized stenographic machine, along with their patented CAT system. As technological advancements have continued to develop, court reporters now have the luxury of using stenography machines complete with microprocessors and LCD screens.

Court Reporting As We Know It – Today

Educational opportunities to learn written shorthand, stenography and court reporting have also advanced over the last few centuries.

Today, there are three different branches of court reporting:

  1. Stenography – The recording of verbal dialog, by using a stenograph to type shorthand.
  2. Voice Writing – Reporting court proceedings through the use of a specialized voice recording device that converts the voice writer’s speech into text.
  3. Digital Court Reporting – This form of court reporting relies heavily upon digital equipment such as computers, digital mics and video recorders.

Court reporting has evolved into a highly developed profession with training and certification taking up to four years to complete. Court reporters may work in private firms, at the local, state or national level and the profession is known to reach salaries into the six-figures, a far cry from its humble Monk roots.

The court reporting profession has experienced a long and rich history, providing an undeniable component to our court and justice system. Despite the numerous systematic and technical enhancements, court reporting has not only survived but it has flourished into a prominent profession worldwide.

Contact Phoenix Deposition Services

Whether you want to know about the history of court reporting or you’re looking for Phoenix court reporting services, Phoenix Deposition Services is here to help. So call us for questions at 602-230-2499.

This blog is titled Court Reporting Past,Present,Future becasuse we will be giving our take on all accounts Throughout history, court reporting has provided the courts with an effective method of recording important proceedings, statements and evidence. It is a court reporter’s job to transcribe every detail, emphasis and inflection throughout the official court proceedings. Today’s … Continue reading Court Reporting Past,Present,Future