Thursday, January 29, 2009

The end of the month of January

For those of us who are self-employed and who use contractors, well, January 31 is a looming deadline. 1099s have to go out - but first you have to confirm your numbers are correct. And make sure you have all the tax ID numbers and correct addresses.

Then, at least in our state, our business personal property reports are ALSO due. That means you have to list all the purchases you made during the preceding 12 months. Oh, you also have to list what you've gotten rid of - like old printers, fax machines, steno machines, computers - and know what year you added them so the tax people know where to remove them from.

Added to that, you still have to work on your year-end stuff. To add insult to injury, if your firm/agency is a corporation, you have a March 15 deadline instead of the April 15 deadline to get your business taxes done.

Makes one appreciate a good system of accounting and filing. And wish for another snow day.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Professionalism is in the Details

It's the little things that make you stand out as a valued court reporter. You know, the pesky things that you'd just as soon NOT do because you're in a bad mood... or tired... or sick... or for whatever reason.

The things that you sometimes don't do because you're distracted by something in your life - you know, smiling and saying "good morning" to the bailiff or the clerk or the secretary. How hard is it, really, to smile? I think there's a statistic somewhere that says it takes more muscles to frown.

Offer to get a cup of coffee, a water, whatever - when you're up. You're not the only one who's busy, you know.

Do your paperwork. Really, whatever it takes - even if it's a few extra moments at a break or at lunch. Go over the calendar (or the notice of deposition) and make sure you have all the names correctly noted. Keep track of what cases were heard, in what order, what time each session started and finished.

Don't be afraid to ask that witness to speak up - really, when you're listening to a playback because your notes are scrambled, you don't want to have to guess.

These little things you think are tedious make YOUR record that much more complete than someone else's.

Meet deadlines. Don't procrastinate and think that you've got more time than you have. Invariably, the weekend before the deadline, something really important will come up.

Always... always work as a team player with the folks around you. You know the ones - the clerks, the schedulers, the paralegals, everyone; these are the people who can make your life run that much more smoothly. And, really, there's no cost to being nice.

Be aware that every little thing that you do on the job, in your paperwork, in the follow-through, is a reflection not only of you, but on all of us in the profession.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Monday morning scramble!

Picture yourself on a Monday morning. Your schedule says you're "on the board," meaning available to be picked up to go anywhere. Two cups of coffee and you're sitting in your gym clothes in front of the computer...

Ring, ring.
Yep, it's your scheduler. Head of to Durham! ASAP. Regular reporter is sick, so as soon as you can get there. Phew, glad I hadn't left for the gym yet.

Hair's a disaster, gotta change clothes, put on makeup, make sure I have my equipment (hey, it's been COLD down south lately) and boogie on over to Durham. We're on the record 90 minutes later... for two civil motions.

Love civil. Did I mention that already? Saw a former client (he shaved his mustache!) and met a new (to me) judge.

Best thing? Short day... back home by 2 p.m. Back in my gym clothes. Still haven't worked out, though.

Wonder what tomorrow will hold?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

One Down!

I have already taken care of one of my resolutions - to attend a realtime workshop to help me focus on my writing and get better at it...

The Anita Paul Realtime Mastery workshop was not cheap, nor was it easy; it was, however, enlightening! I learned about "unstacking" my writing, how to differentiate between prefixes and suffixes and many other great things.

What I liked about it was it was something that was meant for all reporters - no matter what their realtime skill level. If you WANT to learn, this is a program for you. Whether you're a neophyte with turning on the computer and getting a feed just for yourself or if you're hooking up to attorneys, there's always something you don't know or wish you could do better.

We had a nice group of folks (mostly from Florida - hey, it WAS in Orlando, after all) and we interacted very well. We had some breakout groups, some cheerleading, some practice testing, and just general classroom learning and sharing of experiences.

I've determined that my first course of action in the realtime regard is changing how I write my terminal punctuation - I'm going to eliminate stacking by changing my period to P-P (preponderance is now P*P) and my comma is going to be W-B. I've already started to use it, and IT WORKS!

Keep focused on your goals and you'll be amazed at how you progress!