I'd like to welcome
our guest panelists today, Louanne Rawls.
Louanne is going to talk a little bit
about her digital reporting business,
some recommendation she has
for getting the business started,
and other insight she can provide.
Before we get to the next slide,
I just would like to offer Louanne
an opportunity to introduce herself.
Louanne, can you tell us a little bit
about yourself and your background?
Hi. Thank you, Tony.
I'm Louanne Rawls and
I have been a digital court reporter
for about 15 years now and I just love it.
Every day I wake up I have a different job,
something different every day.
I've been doing it and I have
enjoyed the respect that
you receive in the legal community.
Digital court reporting has just been able to fill
a gap that the court reporting industry
has needed for quite some time.
I'm glad that I had the opportunity to
start 15 years ago.
It's really been an asset to me
and to my family and it has
really just increase my confidence in
myself being a digital court reporter.
I just enjoy the people that I work with, the attorneys,
the judges, it's just
been a blessing honestly and I've really enjoyed it.
I am a mother of
two daughters and I was a stay at home mum doing
medical transcription for a long time and
then I decided I wanted to get out of the house
and be able to
meet people instead of waiting for my husband to
come home and thinking of
a conversation that we could have at dinner time.
I decided to become a digital court reporter
and I've been doing it for
15 years now and I still love it.
Great. Thank you for sharing that. Next slide.
From my perspective, digital court reporting is
court reporting and there are different
methods to do court reporting,
stenographic voice, digital recording with transcription.
From your perspective though,
what is it about digital reporting that makes
it important for the industry today?
Well, there's a few reasons why I think
digital court reporting is
important in the industry today.
First of all, it is
a reliable method of doing court reporting.
You have different audios,
multiple, and it's always reliable,
it's something that you
can proof with a transcript to make
sure that the ultimate outcome
is to produce an accurate transcript.
Number 1, is reliable.
Having multiple audio makes sure that nothing just
has a glitch or it has something goes wrong,
a battery dies or something, even multiple.
That's number 1, is very reliable.
Number 2, it fills
the gap of the demand for court reporting today.
Stenography schools have closed throughout the nation,
leaving a deficit of
court reporters compared to those that are retiring.
I know that there's voice writing
and that's another option,
but I will tell you digital court reporting is
a reliable method and it's cost-effective.
That's another reason why
digital court reporting is
important in the industry today.
It's cost-effective meaning if stenography schools were
thousands and thousands of dollars and it took years
in order to be trained to go out into workplace and right
now with the shortage that is in the nation today,
digital court reporting allows someone to be trained
quicker at a fraction of
the cost of what it would cost to become a stenographer.
That's another reason why it's important.
There is a national certification that is
available so it's not just okay,
I did a class and I can be a digital court reporter.
There is a national certification through the AAERT,
the American Association of Certified
Electronic Reporters and Transcribers, and
that allows you to pass a test
in order to be certified and it really is important.
I encourage all of my students to be certified.
It not only teaches you,
but it just gives you that title that you are certified.
I think it gives everyone,
meaning the attorneys that you're working with,
just assurance that you
are trained properly and they will have a
professional that we'll be working with
them to provide that accurate transcript.
Great. Thank you very much for that.
Next slide please. You also
decided to launch a course to
help others learn to be a court reporter.
You've been doing it for 15 years,
you mentioned certification and
the important thing I think for
those in the industry is
that digital court reporting is court reporting.
They're trained how to be court reporters,
it's just a methodology that's different where they're
using digital recording equipment,
multi-channel recorders, backup audios in transcribing.
Can you tell us a little bit about
why you decided to launch
the course and what your course provides?
Okay. I decided to launch my course pre-pandemic.
I had no idea how important it was
going to become after or
post-pandemic or during pandemic because of the need
for more court reporters to fill positions to cover jobs,
so that is the great thing I'm excited about is that it
was actually thought of before the pandemic.
The reason why I decided to do it was
I absolutely love my job and
I think it's an excellent opportunity
for females and males.
It's a profession that's not really talked about.
A lot of people don't even know what it is.
I just felt the need to share it with others.
I thought that it's a great career.
I love it, after 15 years,
I still love it and
that was the one thing that I wanted to do.
Also, I felt like if anybody is going to be teaching it,
I wanted it to be me.
I have been well-respected throughout
the legal community for 15 years.
I have worked with
a lot of attorneys and judges over these years
and I've never had an issue with
anyone not respecting me for the work that I do.
I thought whose better than to teach it myself?
I really enjoyed putting the course
together and so far so good.
I realized also that
this was going to be
the solution and that was pre-pandemic.
I've just had this vision
that digital court reporting was going to be the solution
for the lack of court reporters in the industry,
the shortage that we're all experiencing.
I'm excited about it,
I get calls all the time from
agencies looking for court reporters.
Honestly, when I started it,
I thought the biggest challenge was
going to be placing my students.
I thought, well, if I get a lot of students,
I want to make sure that
they are going to have a position for civil.
Well, it actually turned out the opposite.
I have board agencies
calling me looking for digital court reporters,
then I can actually fill.
I haven't been one tip that really advertise my class,
I go by word of mouth mostly
and it's been very successful.
I am excited that it's
flipped because I assure my students now
have somewhere to go and work
and enjoy the career that I've experienced.
Great. This workforce development
is an ongoing topic and every state you're in.
I know I participated in that here in [inaudible].
We just talked a little bit that
on the previous conversation
with Jim and Steve and the fact that
you're offering a class that can give people
employment opportunities where it
didn't exist previously before and
particularly how it's accelerating with digital.
I think it's fantastic. Great.
We go to the next slide, please.
One aspect of digital reporting,
there's a couple of aspects to it,
which is the capture and the recording
of it. There's the transcription.
There's the assembly of the transcript itself is
utilizing technologies like speech-to-text in AI,
and you have experience with that.
Can you tell us a little bit about
incorporating speech-to-text AI,
how you've done it in your practice and how you
see it evolving in the industry,
and the benefit it may provide to digital.
Sure. I have had the benefit of
using artificial intelligence or AI for a few years now,
and I want to tell you that just technology has become so
advanced nowadays that it's just incredible.
For me, having a transcript being
transcribed as a proceeding is
happening is so advantageous.
Number 1, it takes
the hard work out of actually doing the transcribing.
That's number 1, but number 2,
being able to produce a transcript in
a rough draft shortly thereafter,
if somebody is in need of a transcript right away
or expedite a delivery overnight,
I already had the hard work done,
so Artificial intelligence has really been an asset to
digital court reporters and it's just amazing.
Now, we're always going to have to be having
human eyes to proof it,
but just like stenographers have Scopus and proofreaders,
there's always going to be
additional eyes on a transcript to make
sure that the final product is an accurate transcript.
That's the goal of a stenographer,
of a voice writer, and a digital court reporter.
We can all achieve that goal
and the way we do that is different,
different methods, but the final product is the same.
Artificial intelligence is just really incredible.
Now there are items available or products available that
actually can turn around
transcripts within hours like a final transcript.
Just like a real-time stenographer,
we are able to provide
pretty much the same type of service using that product.
In short, artificial intelligence is our friend.
I'm glad you brought this up because
there's a lot of misperception about.
People understand speech-to-text.
AI has a lot of misperception around it. It's new.
It can be scary.
People sometimes have false expectations about it,
but what you said was just exactly the point.
It's an augmented technology,
it helps you get skilled.
It's basically functioning in the same capacity
that you would using scoping, for example,
as you said, but most importantly that,
you're a CET, so you're
a Certified Electronic Transcriber.
It's the people, it's
the human eyes and the trained people,
regardless that the ones
take it up to that 99 percent level of accuracy.
I'm glad you brought that up,
and that's the benefit of
the CET certification as
well along with being able to capture.
Thank you. Next slide, please.
You and I had actually talked about this previously,
and we all know it.
Any type of disruptive technology,
any type of change is going
to cause some ruffled feathers,
so to speak, and because change is difficult
and you have long-established ways
of doing things that are quite good.
Have you received negative feedback from the field,
peers and how would
you encourage people to deal with that?
That's true in any industry and
it's not just unique to court reporting.
Change is tough and doing things new does
draw some legitimate questions, but others that are not.
How have you handled this in
this past that's been an issue for you?
Yes. There has been an issue, I guess,
within the past couple of years with a lot of
negativity surrounding digital court reporters
or digital court reporting.
But I will tell you it
isn't just this industry, it's every industry.
Anytime innovative technology advances,
there is going to be that pushback.
I always have been very well-respected and I
remember people telling me years ago, "Louanne,
we don't think of you as a digital court reporter,
we think of you as one of us,"
and I appreciated that at first,
but then I started thinking,
"I'm proud of my position.
I'm proud of my job. I am proud that
I can move with technology and
produce an accurate transcript
just like everybody else in the industry.
I want to be considered a digital court reporter.
I'm proud of that." There is negative feedback.
There was a campaign a couple of years ago and
there would be signs hanging up in the courthouse like,
"Don't hire digital court reporters.
They're only recording."
We do more than record.
We take notes, we identify speakers.
Our software records as we are doing this.
It's definitely something that
we should be respected for.
There is that negative feedback.
A lot of people think that we can't read back.
We can read back.
We can read back and we can play
back by just a push of a button.
There is no question what was said.
An attorney can hear themselves if they
want to or it can be read back.
It's very simple to do that,
so I did have an issue one time where somebody said,
"Well, we heard that you can't
read back so we're going to have to use a stenographer."
In 15 years, that's happened one time.
I just assured them, I was like,
"I am certain I can read it back for
you and I will promise
this transcript will be as accurate
as what a stenographer will produce for you.
I will assure you of that."
Then at the same time,
I had a judge that
actually backed me up on that. I appreciated that.
They ended up sticking with me,
which was very flattering
because it is a pushback and it is a challenge,
but I decided,
especially when I decided to create the course,
that I have to do what I do and do it well.
I can't worry about
any negative feedback and what
other people are thinking about what I'm doing,
I have to stay in my lane and do my job,
which is produce an accurate transcript.
There is going to be that negative feedback.
Agencies probably realize that they are
going to have to turn to
digital court reporting to fill the gap,
and they will probably get negative feedback.
But if they're not going to move with technology
and fill that gap and be able to cover more jobs,
they're really going to be hurting
themselves in the long run,
because if they're not going to be covering
those jobs, somebody else will.
That's how I've handled
that negative feedback in the industry.
That's a great answer and I think you
illustrated a couple of good examples
on how you've plowed through it.
From what I'm hearing at the end of the day,
you just still have to be a
professional regardless of how you do it,
and that's how you built your reputation.
You have to know what you're doing regardless.
It's interesting enough though you talked
about playback and readback,
even within traditional means
of court reporting, stenographic,
they are capturing video records,
and they do have speech-to-text in their software tools.
It's a misnomer to say that using
alternative means is not
necessarily as accurate or you can't do readback.
Obviously it's there and you admitted to it,
but I appreciate you sharing that.
I'm glad you did. Next slide, please.
The other side of this,
is the professional side is when you just addressed
is the business considerations,
the operations considerations.
Its business, it needs to work for you.
If someone's interested in launching or expanding
their court reporting or transitioning into it
from stenographic of voice what have you.
What are some important considerations?
What did you have to work through from
the business side to become a successful as you are?
Well, I would just say if I was an agency, so to speak,
and we're all independent contractors pretty much,
you need to ask yourself,
how many jobs are you turning away every day?
What's the reason for that?
Is it because you don't have enough reporters?
That's one aspect that you need to consider.
If you're not going to be covering the jobs,
you're not making money,
and reporters aren't making money,
it's just a no win situation.
If you are turning away jobs because you're
afraid that your stenographers are going to get angry,
that's actually affecting your business
itself as an agency.
You can't do that and move and grow.
Technology is going to continue to
advance whether people get on the boat or not.
That's what I like to say.
You're either going to be on the boat
and we're all going to row and get the job done,
or you're going to miss out.
That's one thing.
I did want to point out that,
a lot of agencies have contacted me
looking for digital court reporters, and they say,
"Actually we thought we were going to get a lot
of negative feedback from our stenographers,
but actually our stenographers are happy because they
realize there is just
not enough stenographers out there to cover the jobs."
That's number 1. But number 2,
stenographers have been in the field for a while.
They may choose to not take
certain jobs because they just don't want to
maybe not get several copies
from the actual proceeding or the deposition.
But digital court reporters will be
happy to take those jobs.
It gives them a little bit of relief.
To not move forward
with digital court reporting because you're
afraid that your stenographers are going to
get angry and not like it.
Maybe that's not the case at all.
They actually may very well appreciate it.
The bottom line is that digital court reporting
is definitely the way to fill the gap.
It's here to stay, it's going to be growing.
It's growing every day, technologically speaking.
It's going to be up to the agencies basically,
of whether they want to accept it or they miss out.
That's my feeling on it.
Great. Thank you. Next question.
You get certified, you become a professional,
you do it, you open
your business now you going to go sell it.
You talked about how you've established your reputation.
What are some points you can
give folks or smaller
agencies or others about selling your service,
about marketing yourself as a digital reporter?
Though, I recommend as far as
digital court reporters that they get certified through
the AAERT like we described about or talked
about earlier, and that's important.
I think being certified is great.
When I became certified,
I thought I was in law school.
I mean, it's no joke.
It's not just about pushing a button or recording.
You learn so much about
legal terminology, just the definitions.
I mean, you will hear them,
but I had no idea I needed
to really know all the definitions.
That's important. I would say I am certified.
I would recommend that
digital court reporters become certified.
As far as an agency to
give the confidence that
when a law firm calls you to cover a job,
whether it be during the day or after
hours or a month ahead,
you have the confidence
that you are going to be able to cover
those jobs because you have a bigger stack of reporters.
Some agencies choose to have digital court reporters,
but have their own transcription team.
That is an agency decision.
As far as my school goes, I teach both.
There's a section for
becoming a digital court reporter and
then a section to prepare your own transcripts.
I encourage people to take both.
But some people just really just
want to be the digital court reporter and let
the agency do the transcribing and
do the final product and then they prove
it, so that happens.
Some people choose to do their own
because they just want to make sure that
it's their transcript and
they want only their eyes on it.
There's both ways. But I will tell you it's
become such a big industry now that agencies
have found that having a transcription team
is definitely their solution.
It really depends on the agency.
I know that Verbit has a big transcription team,
and they produce
an accurate transcripts, that's the goal.
It's really up to the agency of what they want to do.
But as far as selling myself to lawyers,
as far as being a digital court reporter,
my transcripts speak for themselves,
and I will tell you in 15 years I may have had
a handful of transcripts that had to be changed.
It was usually because it was
January and I failed to change the year.
It has nothing to do with content
because the audio is the audio.
If there's a question, you have
another backup audio from a different direction.
It's really foolproof I should say.
It's infallible. You can produce an accurate transcript,
and I don't want to say perfect.
I don't think there's any perfect transcript.
I don't care if you're a stenographer,
voice writer, or a digital court reporter.
I say accurate, and I would say most accurate.
Our goal is to produce
a most accurate transcript and it sells itself.
That's a great point
because I think within
the legal professional whether it's to Pamela's firms,
the litigators, they're used to certain ways.
Others have adopted to other ways.
At the end of the day it's providing that transcript.
It's going to be impeachable,
it's going to be handled correctly,
and with the way you're trained through
AAERT and your own program is you
are highly trained professionals to be court reporters.
How you do it is one way,
but at the end of the day,
you still have to understand the legal term.
Just don't have enough to know to conduct
yourself. There's no difference.
It's just the requirement of the profession. I thank you.
Tony, can I just add a little bit.
I just want you to know that I do
focus a lot on being professional.
I think that that is the goal in any proceeding.
What we're there to do is to be professional
because it's one thing to
be a professional when you're in-person,
but you need to be professional when you
are behind a screen on Zoom.
We are seeing a lot of Zoom.
But that's not going to go away.
I mean, it may not be a 100 percent,
but it's going to be a great percentage of proceedings.
In my class I've included the Zoom,
how to do everything on Zoom or
whatever video that they choose.
But regardless, if you're on Zoom, in-person,
attorneys aren't focusing on
what machine the court reporter is using.
They're not doing that.
As far as Zoom in a year and a half,
nobody said, "What machine are you using?"
They're not saying that.
They just want their accurate transcript,
and that's what we strive to produce.
I appreciate you. Thank you.
We're going to open up to some questions now.
We have a stop at 11:40,
figuratively about another six minutes for questions.
I think Danielle's back on.
Let me just read through some of these questions.
Let me rephrase this a little bit,
but when this goes back to what you talked about, others,
and navigating through some
of the negative feedback you may
get in this field and some of the concerns it has,
this particular question mentioned,
social post, the rest of it,
I think we all know what everybody's talking about.
This isn't a reason to pretend that's not there.
My take is you can have a hardcore element regardless.
You've got people who are proud of what they're doing,
and it's what it is that's true in any life,
but just if you can readdress that.
Go ahead. How do you handle that? That's professional.
It's been on social media,
it's hanging in paper form and
the court house, it's everywhere.
But as far as an individual,
I tend to stay focused on what I'm doing.
I can't listen to the chatter.
When I started my course,
I anticipated a lot of negative feedback
and I had to
make a determination. What was I going to do?
Am I going to basically live
my life based on everybody else's opinion about what I'm
doing or my profession
or am I going to do something that is going
to be an asset to others in the legal community?
I decided it was a big step for me because I knew I
was going to get negative feedback and I do
have dear friends that are still
stenographers I love them all.
They know that I have started this class.
In a year and a half,
I have been called by more agencies
looking for court reporters and
my stenographers have called me my stenographer friends.
It isn't that they are upset with me or anything,
but there's just such a need out there.
I'm glad I didn't just stay focused on
the emotional aspect of it and really took that step.
I want to help others.
I want to teach people what I know.
I want to teach people how to
conduct themselves professionally when
there is negative feedback.
Because there is, there's going to be,
but it's not just this industry,
its other industries as well.
Technology triumphs, eventually it's going to be
moving in that direction.
Another question, I guess just to
reiterate the steps to becoming trained.
You are a professional court reporter
as you've gone through it if you
can just go over that again.
My class, it teaches you everything
from A to Z as far as being a digital court reporter.
It basically gives you,
you have your equipment that you need and
then installing all your equipment
and then how to use it.
Then practicing because we
want to be trained in everything.
Then actually offering virtual mock proceedings.
By the time you take the class,
you have all of
your equipment ready to go, you have practiced,
you have sat in on mock proceedings,
and you're able to go out into
the workforce in a very short period of time with
confidence that you are going to be able
to manage your role
as a court reporter and manage it well.
That's our goal and so far everybody,
all of my students have loved it and
they are doing great covering many jobs a day.
In fact, I've tried to get some to
cover a couple of things for me,
for my personal clients and everybody's too busy.
It's been great and again, it's cost-effective.
Being able to get out into
the workforce quickly is great because
you're not stuck in a classroom for years and
accumulating thousands and thousands
of dollars in student loans,
you are able to go out into the workforce,.
Right. The training. I know there's
two certifications [inaudible] digital report,
one's for certified electronic transcriber,
but the training programs available
also covers utilization of the equipment itself,
any number of software out there,
can you tell us a little bit about
your training and what you've been
trained on in terms of audio equipment.
I know the courts will probably
send you a file if you're not going in and setting it up,
but for depositions and other proceedings.
Could you tell us a little bit
about getting familiar with
the audio equipment and how you got yourself up to speed.
We use our laptop computers.
Our program is designed to
take notes as it's recording at the same time.
Everything has a timestamp.
We're identifying speakers and
the questions and then the answers.
Or if it say, a court proceeding,
basically identifying the speakers and then
typing in our shortcut form what the speaker is saying.
Everything is done like that.
We have a backup audio.
If for some reason something
whack-ado happens to your computer,
we have backup audio that is continuously running.
It's really an infallible way to
capture the audio in order to create the transcript.
It works and it works well.
It's a great method for reporting.
You said something very
important because this has come up
a number of times is redundancy.
The program prepares you to have the redundancy.
Most people will practice with
some type of backup recorder,
whether using multichannel or not.
You can also do the read back through
the swap for a system that you have,
but redundancy, I think is key.
That's very important. Others, panelists we've had in
previous presentations are really
focused on method technology.
What about notes, you mentioned you take notes.
I've actually seen them as they come
in from various transcripts.
You are recording notes at timestamps,
talk to us a little bit about the note-taking process
in the digital world.
We develop our own shortcuts for words.
When you're texting, a lot of people will use
shortcuts for words that they develop on their own.
That's just the way technology is right now.
We implement that when we're doing our note-taking,
that way we can type with
speed and be able to capture what is being said.
Shortcuts are personal to the digital court reporter.
They develop their own.
Then when that happens,
when you're able to capture
the audio and you need to read back something,
You can read back from your own notes
because you know the shortcuts that you're using.
That is how we're able to capture
what is being said physically with note-taking.
Then again, at that specific timestamp is also the audio.
If there's any question,
you just can double-click and go right back to
the audio and listen to it if you had a question.
That's what our software does for us.
Thank you for that and clarifying it.
We are coming up to a minute.
We're going to end at 11: 40.
[inaudible] Any parting notes?
We just want to thank you very much for this session.
People who have further questions
can certainly reach out to Verbit,
we'll pass them on to you,
including how to contact you
if they're interested in speaking with you.
I thank you for your time and
any parting words you like to
convey to the audience and the rest of us.
I just would encourage any,
if there are agencies that are listening
to this or even individuals that
are wondering if digital court reporting is
right for them, visit my website.
It's digital-reporting-101.teachable.com and if
you have any other questions you can email me.
Everything is on my website.
Thank you. Just for all the attendees,
I've re-posted the Zoom lobby link for the next session.
If you could please select that,
it'll bring you back into the lobby.
With that said, I thank everybody
in the audience for joining,
a particular big thank you to Luann and
we look forward to seeing you at
the next session. Thank you.
Thank you, Tony.