Friday, June 28, 2013

Out of the comfort zone... and into another software!

When I left my employment with the State almost two years ago, I decided that I would restart my scoping business.  Aside from using Eclipse software, I decided that I needed to add Case CATalyst to my repertoire. I bought it.  I used it on a couple of assignments, but just couldn't muster the speed that I had already developed using my main software (which, in fairness, I've been on for over a decade and my fingers fly automatically to the correct keys).

So I let CC languish.  I looked into selling it and transferring the license.  In the end, it was cheaper just to keep paying the support fee.

Fast-forward to this week. I've been reaching out to folks for files on CC because my significant other is under five years away from retirement and HE is interested in scoping!  People were watching that...  and then a colleague reached out in need.  She had a trip planned and didn't want to take her computer.  Would I be willing to proof one day and scope another?  Um...

I said yes.  Dusted off the license.  Grabbed the handbook.  And hoped for the best.  There were 200 pages to proofread and then another 200 to scope.  I did all the pages.  ALL of them.  I'm thankful that the court reporter was willing to take me on and answer a lot of style questions and, more importantly, the issues of uploading and downloading said files appropriately. In the end, I finished all the pages and she's on a plane to a tropical locale.

Sometimes it takes a while for an idea to percolate to the top.  Sometimes you just have to take the leap of faith and hope that someone ELSE's faith in YOU can bring you up.

I'm not by any means where I ought to be, but I can now say that if someone needs help on CC, I can do it!  Still not in my comfort zone, but it's better than it was even 48 hours ago.

Challenge met!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

It's more than just a job...

Every year the states put together budget proposals.  Every year we freelancers wait to see how the budget will affect the jobs of our official colleagues and, by extension us and the whole of our profession.

This year we heard that the NC senate had a provision in their budget to eliminate fully half of the complement of official reporters on staff in the state system.  Additionally, they sought to (1) bring in contract employees and (2) add electronic recording in superior courts.

The officials were spurred to action - as were many of us on the freelance side.  Letters were written, emails were sent, calls were made, and meetings were set up and attended.  Passions were ignited!

While many people think that reporters in the courtroom are an unnecessary expense, anyone who has ever had a family member or loved one involved in a court case will probably say that the reporter's presence was comforting; certainly the fact that a person is there to ensure that the proceedings are taken down accurately THE FIRST TIME is very important.

Court reporters are human beings; yes, they cost money to employ, but the benefit to the system is not something to be sneered at.  Reporters are hard-working individuals.  They are highly skilled. They utilize up-to-date technology (ever hear of realtime?) and provide their own equipment.  But most importantly, at least to my mind, they are impartial and they bring the human brain into the production of the record.  A machine simply cannot do what a skilled reporter can.

Most reporters that I know LOVE what they do and don't consider what they do a "job."  They consider it a profession, a career, a calling.  We're passionate about what we do.  And we strive to do the best we can. We  know how important the written record is.

The officials aren't quite safe yet - though a grassroots effort got the officials' positions heard in the state House committee, and hopefully the compromise bill will not include any reductions in force.

I know I love what I do and I hope to continue to do it a long time; when you do what you love, it's not work.