SandraThere isn’t a challenge that can’t be conquered when everyone works together toward a common goal. Right now, the challenges facing the court reporting industry are a shortage of court reporters and the pandemic.

Government and business closures, along with stay-at-home orders made it necessary to postpone some legal proceedings, and now those bottlenecks are starting to clear. However, with a court reporter shortage pre-dating the pandemic (especially in the Kansas City area), paralegals and attorneys are finding that scheduling court reporting services isn’t quite business as usual yet.

Here are three things you can do to help ensure you receive the timely, accurate service you need, in-person or virtually.

  1. Schedule as early as possible.

At a time when depositions are backlogged and turnaround times slightly extended due to demand and workloads, court reporters’ schedules are full. Schedule your court reporting services as early as possible to ensure your court reporter is available when you need them. We’re recommending a few weeks ahead if at all possible. However, in true Cooper Group Veritext style, we can and will do our best to accommodate any last-minute needs.

  1. Outline your needs and expectations in advance.

The more court reporters know in advance, the better prepared they are for your deposition. By outlining your needs and expectations, your court reporter can accurately account for any travel time, schedule a videographer in time, prepare for a Zoom deposition, etc.

  1. Follow these tips for a successful live virtual session.

Whether you were an early adopter of virtual conference technology or learned it this year by trial by fire, following these tips can help ensure a successful session every time.

Connect to a hardline. Wi-Fi transmission can be temperamental. Use a wired connection for a more stable feed.

Take the connection self-test. Without a fast Internet connection, transmission may be choppy. Take the 3-to 5-minute self-test on the equipment you will be using the day of your live session to make sure your equipment is up to speed.

Submit exhibits in advance. If you plan on using exhibits, it’s critical you provide them to your court reporting firm at least 48 hours in advance of your deposition.

Schedule a rehearsal. Consider scheduling a time for a complete run-through so that you are practiced on how to share, highlight, annotate and stamp documents during your session.

Test your audio. The integrated telephone conference call is recommended for best audio results. However, if you use audio through your computer, test your volume and have a good microphone and high-quality speakers or headphones.

Test your webcam. If you would like other participants to be able to see you, make sure your computer has a webcam. For best results, use an external HD webcam and test it beforehand.

Dress appropriately. If you are going to be on camera, wear proper virtual conference business attire. Solid color shirts (especially light blue) and simple jewelry are best for video.

Set the scene. Place yourself in front of a simple background and avoid highly patterned, busy or distracting wallpaper and artwork.

Frame your shot. Properly center yourself and/or the witness in the webcam view and consider how far or close you are from the camera.

Beware of pop-ups. Shut down Skype, Outlook, instant messaging, or any other program that may unexpectedly interrupt and/or take control of your webcam during your live session.

Eliminate background noise. Consider your surroundings; close your office door and mute your phone when you are not speaking (especially if you are using your keyboard during the session). This is especially important if you go on a break and are having a confidential conversation.  If you arrive late, wait until a break to announce yourself to the court reporter so as not to disrupt the proceeding.

Consider the hold music. Be careful about placing your phone on hold. If you have hold music, putting your phone on hold during the live session will disrupt everyone in the virtual room.

Check twice when chatting. The chat feature can broadcast your comments to the room as well as facilitate private conversations. Be cautious not to mix up whom you are addressing.

Forces outside of anyone’s control have created an environment in which legal professionals are doing business as (un)usual. Court reporting agencies are making changes to help them better meet demand for services and embracing the tools and technology that support their services. Paralegals and attorneys can schedule depositions in advance, outline expectations and be prepared for virtual sessions. All of this will help all of us work better together.

The Cooper Group Court Reporting & Videography