April of 2017, marked the Golden Anniversary of Doris O. Wong Associates, Inc. Court reporting has changed so much since this company opened its doors in 1967. What has been the driving force behind all the changes? Technology. If I have learned anything in my almost 40 years here, it is that reporters need to embrace the changes that technology offers in order to succeed.
It’s hard to believe, but way back in the day there were pen writers. Then manual steno machines came into being followed by electronic machines. Since the 1960s there have been many iterations of the Stenograph machine, the latest being the Luminex, the lightest and most sophisticated machine of all. We’ve gone from typing our own notes, to dictating our notes to typists, to computer-aided transcription and realtime translation. We can now offer attorneys a full complement of electronic litigation support products, such as digital exhibits, synchronized transcripts to video, PDFs, interactive word indexes, and videoconferencing. Technology has made all this possible. Going hand in hand with all these fantastic advances are the dozens of accompanying software updates. Who can keep up with it all?
I am here to tell you that you must try your best to keep up with every technological change that affects this profession. It is to your benefit to do so. Staying abreast of the technology will make your job easier. You will be able to write and produce your transcripts with greater efficiency and confidence. If you fail to keep up, you will be left behind. Reporting using the latest technology will ensure you will always be employed and in high demand, especially for the most desirable of assignments. It will enhance your value as a professional.
The very best court reporters not only keep up with the technology, they embrace it. The leaders in our profession from all around the country push the envelope by trying newly released technology. They eagerly await the latest advancements that will enhance their professional growth. They are never satisfied with the status quo. They welcome the chance to get out of their comfort zones to try something new. Their efforts make our profession stronger because they share their experiences, and the learning curve becomes less steep for the rest of us. Their efforts make our profession even more relevant and indispensable as attorneys cannot prepare and litigate their cases without the skill, services, and products that we can provide.
How can a reporter stay abreast of the constant technological changes? Thankfully, there is an organization called the Society for the Technological Advancement of Reporting. STAR provides its members with extensive training, educational resources, networking events, and the latest CAT technologies. STAR has an annual conference with outstanding seminars and workshops given by top court reporter professionals and the actual developers who have intimate knowledge of Case Catalyst software. This provides attendees with a unique learning opportunity.
This year Linda Fifield of Doris O. Wong Associates, Inc., is STAR’s president. Linda, along with a core group of court reporters, has been a liaison between Stenograph and working court reporters since 1980. They meet directly with Stenograph’s software developers and discuss what works with the software, what improvements need to made, and what their “wish lists” are. Many of the advancements made in the court reporting industry are a direct result of this special collaboration. The profession owes them a debt of gratitude.
STAR offers learning opportunities in addition to NCRA’s annual convention. See for yourself how STAR can help you keep abreast of all the changes and trends in technology. Join STAR and attend this year’s convention in Boston at the Hyatt Regency, October 12 through 14! You won’t be disappointed.
We have come a long way in 50 years. Nothing has stood still. Nothing is as certain as change. Enthusiastically accept change and reap the rewards.
“Change is hard at first, messy in the middle, and gorgeous at the end.”– Robin Sharma