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The straight scoop on court reporting advances

Robert Gramann is the president of Milwaukee-based Gramann Reporting Ltd. He can be reached at 414-272-7878 or bob@gramannreporting.com.

Robert Gramann is the president of Milwaukee-based Gramann Reporting Ltd. He can be reached at 414-272-7878 or bob@gramannreporting.com.

There have been several technology- and security-related developments in the court-reporting industry that affect how attorneys receive and use court-reporting products and services.

In 2012 I wrote an update to a previous article, “The Wired Reporter,” which reprinted the original article and footnoted all the changes and additions that had occurred in the ensuing years. So, while the court-reporting world has not experienced anything as earth shattering as the Computer-Aided Transcription that came along in the 1970s, there continues to be tremendously helpful technological additions.

Below I highlight some new additions and follow them up with a comprehensive listing of services you should expect to receive from your tech-advanced reporter and reporting firm.

HIPAA and confidentiality: In the past few years, the federal government has emphasized the importance of keeping protected health information (PHI) and other protected or confidential information out of the hands of the ill-intentioned. As many of you may have experienced, it doesn’t take much for email accounts to be hacked.

The standard way of sending deposition transcripts — using email attachments — is now deemed risky. Faced with debilitating fines for HIPAA violations, court reporters have moved to using encrypted web portals or cloud transfers.

Mobile videoconferencing: Remote-videoconferencing technology continues to be impressive, including the way in which it lets users send messages among various types of portable devices (iPads, notebook and desktop computers, etc.), as well as standard videoconferencing equipment (Polycom, Cisco and Lifesize).

Thanks to this technology, it’s now quite easy to take a deposition from someone in a remote place. This can be done using video, audio and real-time text streams, as well as exhibit presentations, and all from the comfort of your office, home, etc.

What’s more, when an unforeseen event disrupts your travel plans, you can now use a smartphone to make a last-minute connection. To do this, reporting firms tend to use products that, unlike Skype or Google Hangouts, are encrypted and have extra security and stability features.

Mark, share and annotate exhibits remotely: Dealing with exhibit presentations in a remote deposition is becoming increasingly easy. This technology, although it’s still hard to become fully comfortable with without putting in a least a little practice time, can save time. Products such as Live Deposition, Stream Text Legal, and eDepoze are among the leaders in the field. As mentioned, these can be incorporated into a remote deposition using live video.

Standard videoconference center and mobile videoconferencing: The debate over whether it’s better to use a videoconferencing room or a remote computer is never an easy one.

Our experience with computer videoconferencing has taught us that this service depends greatly on the quality of an Internet connection and the compatibility of each user’s system. Personal devices, largely because of their cost, can seem like an attractive option. But they are often not as reliable or enjoyable as HD videoconferencing equipment. Equipment of this type is often linked together using stable, reliable, business-grade Internet connections that are typically supported under service contracts guarantying 99 percent uptime (or the carrier is required to pay the customer.)

steno-storyOnline full-text search of transcripts and exhibits: Most court-reporting companies now use secure online repositories. These give lawyers access to entire cases at any time, from anywhere in the world and through the use of almost any device that can connect to the Internet. Repositories are based in the cloud, which prevents lawyers from having to store their files on a computer or server. Another benefit is that repositories allow lawyers to travel without having to cart along boxes full of documents, or to have to suffer the fear of forgetting important documents.

Scheduling improvements: Lawyers and their staff can now schedule depositions, view, print or download transcripts, exhibits and invoices, and view a calendar of depositions that have already been scheduled.

Online case management: This allows scheduling and sharing of case calendars and a sequentially numbered master-exhibit list (in addition to the online tasks listed above), all of which are typically available from your reporting firm without charge.

Most firms provide files for standard litigation-support products such as Case Notebook (formerly LiveNote), and CT Summation, or the cloud-based NextPoint, all of which provide text-search and document-organization services. These are available for purchase and subscription.

And here’s a piece of advice concerning LiveNote/Case Notebook: If you’re using either of these programs, be certain to order .LEF files for LiveNote, and .PTZ files for Case Notebook, or you will risk losing functionality.

What you can and should expect from your court reporter: Here is a list of standard court-reporting products. If your firm does not offer these, know that others do, and you should consider changing.

  • Realtime translation, on-site WiFi and streamed remotely.
  • Video depositions with synchronized text.
  • Videoconferencing and remote location reservation service.
  • Mobile, cloud-based depositions with real-time text, video and audio streaming — allowing for multiple location attendees.
  • Expedited and daily copy services.
  • HIPAA point: 24/7 online secure access to all transcripts, exhibits, invoices and deposition calendar, viewable from anywhere on all fixed or portable devices. Transcripts and exhibits should be either downloaded from a secure portal or sent using cloud-link. The transmission of unencrypted emails is risky and is not recommended.
  • Full-text repository search of all transcripts and text-based exhibits.
  • Transcript file formats: ASCII, PDF (with and without linked exhibits), Word, E-transcript, .lef, .ptz. Have the ability to provide all file formats litigation support products require.
  • Exhibit sharing. Sequentially numbered master exhibit library access for all attorneys of record.

Robert Gramann is the president of Milwaukee-based Gramann Reporting Ltd. He can be reached at 414-272-7878 or bob@gramannreporting.com.

6 comments

  1. “Technology is indeed advancing very quickly.   

    “The strange new kid on the block that nobody likes – at least for now – is ASR – automated speech recognition – superlative speech engines like Google Voice, Apple’s Siri, Dragon for Lawyers, this technology will eventually become commonplace that will understand most controlled conversations, such as in a deposition setting or in a courtroom where one person should be talking at a time, where a judge or a referee is monitoring the dialogue – just as a court reporter does today – remind the participants to be aware – even accented voices are understandable, and with better algorithms, noise cancelling software is now being built into speech engines, that will capture, understand and produce realtime transcripts and not transcribe nonsense because of background noise.  

    “However, court reporters should take heart.  The act of “taking down” is going to be rendered irrelevant – across America the evidence is clear, kids are not interested in learning the steno shorthand machine or even the stenomask, where reporters parrot what is being said, meanwhile court reporters of the Baby Boomer era are retiring – and many professions are in the same situation – a skilled workforce that is imploding – but that is another story for another day – in the meantime former court reporters will always be needed to act as independent third-party editors to EDIT the working rough draft and some day with ASR editing in REALTIME following the proceedings – the heavy grunt work now eliminated – so easy to just EDIT, transcripts so everyone gets a certified transcript that is also synchronized to the digital audio or video that recorded the event, thereby ensuring 100% satisfaction some day within an hour or more after the day’s proceedings!

    “Here are a few YouTube examples of this amazing technology in use today!  
    No human being involved at all.  

    “The key factor that will make ASR a success is in the microphones, high-quality lapel mics into an audio mixer, and the audio mixer with USB connection to one’s PC with standard audio recording software.  

    “There are now HQ wireless lapel mics that transmit to a receiver in the courtroom or at the deposition, they cost about $500 to $700 each, that receiver is connected to one’s PC, this is the best scenario, because anytime a lawyer or witness turns their back to a fixed microphone, not one word will be dropped.  This guarantees success.  If court reporters are going to remain in the business they must integrate DAR, digital audio recording and video recording becoming the default means of preserving the record and then use ASR to transcribe the A/V, and become far more competitive in the marketplace, otherwise they will lose everything to upstarts who know zero about court reporting and transcribing, but they know all about ASR! and hiring a few university English majors who act as EDITORS to prepare the transcripts.

    “So as long as a deposition setting or courtroom is set up with the right equipment, the participants will get these same results.  

    To arrange a live free demonstration of ASR Transcriptor, please contact Steve Hubbard at 703.470.1032

    Steve Hubbard
    President and CEO

    AMVSR, LLC
    21st Century Automated Transcription
    For Courts and Depositions
    8105 Martha Washington Street
    Alexandria, VA 22309
    +1.703.470.1032

  2. ASR Transcriptor Captures a U.S. House of Representatives Committee Hearing
    When the event location is able to stream its live content (A/V) with this same or better high-quality, ASR Transcriptor will deliver an amazing realtime transcription up to and over 1,000 viewers simultaneously!
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-PifpjMZnm0TzdkS21OZ3VkcTQ/view?usp=sharing

    United States Surface Transportation Board, Hearing July 22, 2015
    Make no mistake. ASR Transcriptor is best suited for these kinds of hearings, lon monologues, panel after panel of witnesses, reading quickly from their prepared testimony, hearings that the majority of steno court reporters hate to take. ASR transcription is 21st Century technology.
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-PifpjMZnm0a1RpZ1hqdG9lY1k/view?usp=sharing

  3. Thanks for the article and refresher. And you too, Steve, for your comments. I think promoting your business will eventually pay off. You’ve been at it for some time, and if I remember correctly I was supposed to be obsolete by now in your timeline. Perhaps it’s been pushed back a bit. So yes, I may soon be retired from my career of 28 years, but thereafter I will continue to fill the gap between then and your inevitable takeover of the spoken word world. Godspeed.

  4. Wow, Steve, do you also write Trump’s speeches? I’ll have to let the dozens of local court reporting students (or kids as you call them) using shorthand machines know that they aren’t interested. Should I also let the courts looking to hire reporters because they’ve had issues with ER know that Steve Hubbard has created a product worthy of having its own infomercial?

  5. Attorneys believe court transcription service can make or break a deposition. This is true to a great extent. Companies that provide legal transcription services receive audio or video recordings of court proceedings and transform them into accurate, word-for-word transcripts. Proficient transcriptionists also ensure that lawyers can review and access the documents easily.

  6. Nice article on what up-to-date court reporting firms are offering.

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