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  • 15 Oct 2023 9:58 PM | Christopher Reho (Administrator)

    In the world of legal proceedings, our role as court reporters often goes unnoticed, working silently behind the scenes to ensure that justice is served. Yet, it's essential to remember that our work is the cornerstone of a just and transparent legal system. As we continue to face challenges and embrace change, let us draw inspiration from our own journeys as court reporters in Virginia.

    Every one of us has a unique story, a testament to our perseverance and dedication to our profession. Our paths may have been different, but they all share a common thread – the unwavering commitment to excellence.

    Embracing the Challenges:

    From the moment we began our journey as court reporters, we knew it was not going to be an easy path. The demands of the job, the technical intricacies, and the pressure to deliver accurate and timely transcripts could be overwhelming. However, we didn't let these challenges deter us. Instead, we faced them head-on, determined to overcome every obstacle.

    Learning and Growing:

    Our profession is dynamic, constantly evolving with technological advancements and changing legal landscapes. To stay relevant, we've had to adapt and embrace new tools and techniques. Learning stenography or mastering voice recognition software may have seemed daunting at first, but we persevered. We took courses, attended workshops, and continuously honed our skills. And in doing so, we demonstrated our resilience and determination.

    Supporting Each Other:

    In the Virginia Court Reporters Association, we've found a community of like-minded professionals who share our passion for the craft. We've relied on each other for support, guidance, and inspiration. Through networking events, conferences, and mentorship programs, we've strengthened our bonds and encouraged each other to reach new heights.

    Celebrating Success:

    Our journey has been filled with countless small victories. Each time we delivered a flawless transcript, passed a certification exam, or successfully navigated a highstress courtroom situation, we celebrated those moments. It's these small successes that have fueled our passion and kept us moving forward, even when the road was tough.

    Inspire Future Generations:

    As seasoned court reporters, we have a responsibility to inspire the next generation of professionals. Let's share our stories, our experiences, and our

    wisdom with those who are just beginning their journey. By mentoring and guiding them, we can ensure that our profession continues to thrive and uphold the values of justice and transparency.

    In conclusion, in the world of court reporting, persistence is not just a virtue; it's a necessity. Our profession demands it, and we've proven time and again that we have what it takes to succeed. Our journey as Virginia court reporters is a testament to our dedication, adaptability, and resilience. Let's continue to draw inspiration from our own stories and use them as a source of strength as we navigate the ever-changing legal landscape.

    Thank you for being a part of this remarkable profession. Together, we will continue to uphold the highest standards of excellence and ensure that justice is served.

    Get Involved:

    Lastly, get involved – give back to your profession – and reap the benefits. We need each of you to keep our profession alive and well. Mentor a

    student, get involved in committee work, give back to your community by participating on Veterans Day in our Veterans History Project. Give a little and get back a lot. When you give back, you will be rewarded with a sense of satisfaction like nothing else. I feel that satisfaction as I lead your association as President. It’s rewarding, and I appreciate all that have given me great support these last six months, most especially the Board, Donna Linton, Carol Naughton, and Leslie Etheredge.


    Michele Eddy, RPR, CRR, CRI, CCR

  • 13 Jul 2023 12:36 PM | Christopher Reho (Administrator)

    Dear fellow stenographers and voice writers,

    As technology continues to reshape the landscape of our profession, we find ourselves at a critical juncture. The rise of digital recordings and artificial intelligence (AI) in the legal field poses challenges to our traditional role as court reporters. However, let us not view this as a threat but as an opportunity to showcase our unique value and engage with the legal community in an interactive and productive way. In this ever-changing landscape, it is imperative that we continue to hone our skills and adapt to the evolving demands of the industry. Embracing change does not mean relinquishing our expertise; it means harnessing the power of technology to enhance our abilities and expand our reach. Let us embark on this journey together, inspired to educate lawyers and judges about the pitfalls of digital recordings and AI, and showcase our superior skills.

    1. Embrace Lifelong Learning

    In a world driven by technological advancements, continuous learning is essential for professional growth. Seek out opportunities to enhance your skills, whether it's attending tech trainings, participating in webinars, or exploring new software and tools. In addition, familiarize yourself with AI technologies, understanding their limitations and potential impact on our profession. By staying informed and adaptable, we position ourselves as informed ambassadors of our craft.

    2. Engage and Educate

    The legal community may not be fully aware of the pitfalls of digital recordings and AI in capturing accurate records. Take the initiative to reach out and educate lawyers and judges about the distinct advantages of human stenography while you are on the job. Use real-life examples and case studies to illustrate the crucial role stenographers play in ensuring accurate and reliable records. Case studies and information about DR pitfalls can be found here through NCRA’s Strong Committee: https://www.ncra.org/home/get-involved/ncra-strong---home/ncra-strong-resource-library.

    I would suggest as well that we offer to conduct informational sessions, workshops, or seminars to enlighten the legal field about the nuances and complexities that digital recordings may miss. If this is not your forte, it’s mine, as well as others on your Board. Inform, offer, and then invite us to conduct such informational sessions if you are not comfortable, but we need you to make the initial contact and offer. Educating the legal profession will be invaluable to successfully stay relevant and at the forefront of our profession.

    3. Showcase Your Expertise

    As ambassadors of our profession, it is vital to highlight our unique value proposition. Demonstrate your expertise and unrivaled accuracy by providing samples of your work, showcasing the level of detail and precision that digital recordings cannot match. Share success stories and testimonials from legal professionals who have experienced the undeniable advantages of having a skilled stenographer present during proceedings. By exemplifying our abilities, we instill confidence in the legal community and encourage them to seek our services.

    4. Collaborate and Innovate

    In this era of technological convergence, let us not be isolated but seek knowledge we need to stay relevant and educated. Together, we can explore innovative solutions that integrate technology into our workflow while preserving the essence of court reporting. Let us consider engaging in constructive dialogue, sharing insights and ideas that promote efficiency, accuracy, and the seamless integration of AI technologies into our practice. Let’s do this as a cohesive body and not a divided body. I believe we must re-invent and re-define ourselves as we envision our future and embrace and incorporate new technology. Let us not let technology define our roles as court reporters. It surely will if we do not take the initiative to do it ourselves. I am calling for a volunteer to spearhead this endeavor. We cannot miss this opportunity to take the wheel and steer our future course or we will be stuck in reverse.

    5. Emphasize the Human Touch

    While AI may excel in certain tasks, it lacks the human touch that is essential in the deposition room, courtroom, or classroom. We need to highlight the value of ourselves as human stenographers in capturing not just words, but emotions, pauses, and non-verbal cues that can significantly impact legal proceedings. Let us emphasize the importance of our adaptability, professionalism, and ability to handle multiple tasks simultaneously. Showcasing our irreplaceable presence and expertise reinforces the need for human court reporters in an increasingly automated world.

    Fellow colleagues, let us embrace this new era with confidence and resilience. By honing our skills, engaging with the legal community, and leveraging the power of technology, we can ensure our continued relevance and indispensability. Together, let us navigate these uncharted waters, united in our commitment to preserving the integrity and accuracy of the legal record.

    Stay inspired, stay connected, and let your voices be heard.

    Please contact me at micheleeddy@gmail.com to discuss further this initiative to educate the legal profession. We need your help to take this initiative to a higher level.


    Michele Eddy, RPR, CRR, CRI, CCR

  • 15 May 2023 6:11 AM | Christopher Reho (Administrator)

    At the board meeting on May 13, 2023, the VCRA Board of Directors voted to appoint Stephanie Barnes to an open director slot on the board. She will serve the remainder of the term as a director pro tempore.  This gives us the maximum six directors, allowing us to better serve our members.

    My name is Stephanie Barnes. I have been a freelance reporter in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia area for about six years now. I have done everything from depositions, Senate Committee hearings, trials, arbitrations, and school board meetings. I also have experience working for InnoCaption as a captioner. So far, I would say captioning was immensely rewarding, especially as I captioned during the height of COVID, and in my own way, helped many stay connected. My passion, though, is depositions.

    Since being a freelance reporter, I have had two amazing children, who are now one and three. Freelance has allowed me the opportunity to both pursue my passion and raise my small babies, which I am eternally grateful for.

    I look forward to serving on the board and bringing whatever expertise and assistance is needed. This career holds a special spot in my heart, and I look forward to promoting the profession in any way I can.

  • 3 May 2023 8:30 AM | Christopher Reho (Administrator)

    At the board meeting on April 29, 2023, the VCRA Board of Directors voted to appoint MaryTheresa Ferris, RPR, to an open director slot on the board.  She will serve the remainder of the term as a director pro tempore.

    MaryTheresa “Terri” Ferris, RPR (Roanoke, Virginia)

    I have been a freelance reporter for almost 40 years, most of that time in Roanoke, Virginia, and the surrounding area.  I graduated from Youngstown State University’s court/conference reporting program with an associate degree.   I then started my reporting career in Akron, Ohio before marrying my husband Ray and moving to Roanoke.

    I have loved being a freelance reporter, as it has enabled me to work and raise my family with the freedom of setting my own schedule.

    I look forward to serving on the VCRA board and getting involved in helping promote and encourage others to join this very rewarding profession. 

    In my spare time I like to read and travel.  I especially enjoy entertaining and spending time with my family and friends.

  • 20 Apr 2023 1:27 PM | Christopher Reho (Administrator)

    What comes to mind when you read the title of my first President’s Message?  Artificial intelligence and digital recorders replacing stenographers? 

    Have you heard the news that the Stenograph MaxScribe product can now realtime?  MaxScribe is Stenograph’s artificial intelligence software.  This is the advertisement taken directly from Stenograph’s website:

    MAXScribe is a new product from Stenograph which is designed for the digital court reporting and legal transcription industry. It combines multi-channel or single-channel audio with our industry-leading knowledge of editing tools specialized for efficient editing and transcript creation, increasing the number of pages that can be produced per hour by up to 50%.

    Unlike the competition, it is the only software that provides multi-channel recording, annotation, Phoenix ASR engine, and advanced editing features within a single application, providing the complete solution for digital reporters, transcribers, and agencies from recording to production. By using MAXScribe, certified digital reporters can double their earnings and certified transcribers can increase their efficiency by up to 50%.

    Multi-channel recording, annotations, realtime streaming, editing and layout, combined with the integration with Stenograph’s CaseViewNet®, RealTeam™, and YesLaw® make MAXScribe a true end-to-end solution for digital reporters. 

    AutoScript is another such software by VoiceScript.  From their website they tout: “Advanced legal speech recognition online platform and powerful desktop editing tool leveraging the latest breakthroughs in AI technologies to produce high-quality transcripts.”

    Sindie Bragg, VCRA Director, spoke at VCRA’s MAR Ed Day on March 18, 2023, about AutoScript.  She personally tested out this product against a digital recording from one of her proceedings in federal court.  She said, “It’s pretty accurate.”

    Now, after reading about MAXScribe and AutoScript, I want to share this article by a company called Calloquy.  I am only publishing a portion of it here and have permission to do so:  Alex Murdaugh Transcript Snafu Gives New Regard for (Human) Court Reporters’ Reliability by Calloquy, Feb 28, 2023.

    In a trial evocative of a Shakespearean tragedy, when Circuit Court Judge Clifton B. Newman, presiding over the murder trial of Alex Murdaugh, sought to ascertain the “why” of how a prior day’s trial transcript was, as Defense Attorney Dick Harpootlian described it, a “deficit product” and “not of much use,” the wherefore was astonishingly simple: a human court reporter did not produce it.

    The transcript, riddled with incorrect testimony or omissions from the day’s testimony and replaced with designations of “inaudible,” was produced by a company using a digital recorder and not a licensed court reporter. South Carolina court reporter and Grand Strand Young Professional of the Year, Lauren A. Balogh, RPR, said with regard to the Murdaugh snafu, “This is truly another example of why digital reporting should not have a place in the courtroom. The importance of using an NCRA [National Court Reporters Association] certified court reporter is critical in order to maintain the integrity and accuracy of a transcript.”

    The NCRA maintains a partial list of other such digital failures available here (https://www.thejcr.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/Failure-Doc-Edited_February_11_2023.pdf). Link to video:  https://www.thejcr.com/2023/02/13/digital-failure-noted-in-major-south-carolina-trial/

    There are two common elements to these two articles:  Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR).  Our CAT softwares--ProCat, DigitalCat, Eclipse, Case Catalyst--all use AI when providing instant brief suggestions, for instance.  The latest version of Eclipse is touting it can fill in the words a stenographer drops.  A couple of my colleagues have said they’ve tried it out and it’s not accurate, but it exists and will improve by learning as you use it, according to the software vendors.

    The court reporting landscape is changing rapidly.  AI has been here for some time, but now reporting schools that only used to offer steno programs are now offering digital recording programs.  Software companies that used to only provide steno products are now providing digital recording products. 

    I dare you to Google what is digital court reporting to see what pops up - what the normal consumer will find on the web.  It’s not just one or two companies offering digital services; it is many!  It is everywhere we turn.

    We can’t deny there is a shortage of stenographers and voice writers.  There are firms across the United States who have no choice but to turn to digital recording to cover their calendars.  What does that mean for our profession?  It means our competition, digital recording, is in demand, is 100x stronger than it was only a few years ago.  I wholeheartedly believe stenography and voice writing is in high demand as well.  Will we be replaced?  I do not believe so. 

    However, when a client (an attorney) decides who to hire, a digital recorder or a stenographer or a voice writer, what is their decision based on?  That is a question each of us needs to answer based on where we live.  It may be based on price.  It may be based on “no choice” because that’s the only offering.  It may be based on a personal relationship or personal preference from personal experience.

    Please ask yourself: What sets me above my competition?  If you’re a stenographer, your fellow stenographers are your competitors, but so are your fellow voice writers and digital recorders. 

    You have heard me say this before if you know me well:  Realtime will set you apart from the rest.  I know many areas of Virginia do not use real time, but are you writing as a real-time reporter?  I believe this will set you apart.  It will also help you produce your transcripts faster, giving you more time to do the things you love to do.

    Don’t wait to become a better voice writer or a better real-time stenographer.  Start now.  Start today.  Practice briefs every day and improve your skills.  I know from experience that that consistent, daily, “focused” practice will produce results.  You can become a real-time voice writer or stenographer if you start today and consistently work on your skills.  You must set yourself apart or you will get lost in the changing landscape within which we live.  

    Let me end this article by taking a few moments to outline the goals I am hoping to lead the Board of VCRA to accomplish this year.  After our survey goes out and I hear from you, our membership, what you feel is important for VCRA to focus on, these goals may be tweaked:

    1. Promoting stenography and voice writing by: (i) Contacting high schools and promoting A to Z or Project Steno program, as well as the “Intro to Voice Writing” program that’s currently being created by NVRA; (ii) getting creative with social media, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.
    2. Educating the legal profession about the pitfalls of digital reporting and AI.
    3. Offering mini legislative bootcamps for our members to learn the importance of being involved with their legislators.
    4. Offering seminars to improve your stenography or voice writing skills.

    Michele E. Eddy, CCR, RPR, CRR, CRI, Certified Realtime Systems Administrator

    VCRA President

  • 4 Feb 2023 10:08 AM | Christopher Reho (Administrator)

    Court Reporting & Captioning Week is here!

    Court Reporting & Captioning Week is February 4th through 11th, and the VCRA has a huge week planned!

    Free Software Training for Members and Students

    In honor of 2023 Court Reporting & Captioning Week, VCRA is offering free virtual software training for members and students! Non-members can attend for only $25.

    Five training seminars are being offered. The registration period for StenoCAT and Eclipse has closed, but you can still register for ProCAT, EclipseVox (voice) and Case Catalyst. Please use the links below to register for the seminar(s) that you are interested in!

    Free EclipseVox (Voice) Training for Members and Students

    Training will be provided by Jennifer Thompson, CCR, CVR-M.

    Time: February 5, 2023, 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.

    Location: Online via Zoom

    Registration closes February 4, 2023 at 5:00 p.m.

    Free ProCAT Training for Members and Students

    Training will be provided by Robin Delloro, RPR.

    Time: February 5, 2023, 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

    Location: Online via Zoom

    Registration closes February 4, 2023 at 5:00 p.m.

    Free Case Catalyst Training for Members and Students

    Training will be provided by Grace Molson.

    Time: February 11, 2023, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

    Location: Online via GoToMeeting

    Registration closes February 10, 2023 at 5:00 p.m.

    Governor's Proclamation

    For yet another year, VCRA has obtained an official proclamation recognizing Court Reporting & Captioning Week from the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia! You can view the proclamation by clicking here. We also received a hard copy, which will be on display at the Mario A. Rodriguez Education Day in March!

    Local Advertising

    If you are at The Craft of Brewing in Ashburn, Virginia, look at the screens! You'll see an ad promoting court reporting and the VCRA cycling on the screen throughout the month of February. Thank you to Amicus Court Reporting for graciously donating this ad space.

    Zoom Backgrounds

    Tell the world (or at least the people in your Zoom deps) about Court Reporting & Captioning Week with custom Zoom backgrounds! Follow the guide below to add these backgrounds to Zoom.

    1. Right-click the image
    2. Click "Save Image As..." (Wording can vary depending on browser)
    3. Follow the guide on this page to add a virtual background to Zoom.

  • 24 Jan 2023 9:35 PM | Christopher Reho (Administrator)

    In honor of 2023 Court Reporting & Captioning Week, VCRA is offering free virtual software training for members and students! Non-members can attend for only $25.  Let's celebrate Court Reporting & Captioning Week by improving our skills!

    Five training seminars are being offered, each covering a different software, StenoCAT, ProCAT, Eclipse, EclipseVox (voice) and Case Catalyst.  Please use the links below to register for the seminar(s) that you are interested in!

    Free StenoCAT Training for Members and Students

    Training will be provided by Paula Mecke.

    Time: February 4, 2023, 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.

    Location: Online

    Free Eclipse Training for Members and Students

    Training will be provided by Dave Stanley.

    Time: February 4, 2023, 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

    Location: Online via GoToMeeting

    Free EclipseVox (Voice) Training for Members and Students

    Training will be provided by Jennifer Thompson, CCR, CVR-M.

    Time: February 5, 2023, 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.

    Location: Online via Zoom

    Free ProCAT Training for Members and Students

    Training will be provided by Robin Delloro, RPR.

    Time: February 5, 2023, 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

    Location: Online

    Free Case Catalyst Training for Members and Students

    Training will be provided by Grace Molson.

    Time: February 11, 2023, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

    Location: Online via GoToMeeting

    The links to join the training will be emailed to registrants closer to the event date.  

  • 15 Jan 2023 5:54 AM | Christopher Reho (Administrator)

    This is the final message that I will write as VCRA President.  Though my tenure is not over quite yet, I must say that time has flown by.  Then again, when you become VCRA President and a new father in the same year, you don’t have much time to stop and smell the roses!

    My time on the Board started in 2018.  I distinctly remember my first board meeting when committee assignments were being handed out.  There were committees for legislation, PR, student relations, so many topics that I, frankly, didn’t know anything about.  As we went around the room discussing what each person’s interests were, I kept hoping no one said technology because that’s something I knew well.  Finally, it was my turn, and I was asked what committee I thought was right for me.  “Technology,” I said, and the room burst into applause.  What had I done!?  It turns out the committee I worried would get taken from me was the one no one else wanted!    

    Though I have served on many committees since that time, Technology is still “my thing.”  My first major push after joining the Board was replacing our old, inefficient website.  It started out as a simple redesign, making information more accessible and updates easier, but I soon found myself going down the membership management platform rabbit hole.  Before I knew it, my redesign had become an overhaul of how VCRA does business.  The new website has allowed us to go almost fully paperless, streamline our processes and even conduct elections online when we were unable to gather in person.  I’m glad I could use my skills to leave this mark on the association.

    My time on the VCRA Board has led me to meet some of the top talents in our field, both in Virginia and across the country.  After several years working, it’s easy to grow complacent, and I admit I was guilty of this.  Having the opportunity to meet and interact with these giants in our industry has given me the renewed drive I needed to set new goals for myself and strive to achieve them.  I know you hear all the time about how rewarding board service is, but this unintended consequence is worth it in its own right.  You don’t need to be a rockstar to serve; I’m certainly not.  But board service has done a lot to improve my skills and my confidence.

    As usual, VCRA has been busy over the last few months.  In October, we participated in the Virginia School Counselors Association Annual Meeting in Hampton Roads.  We’ve attended in the past and have found it to be a great opportunity to show off our profession to the people advising Virginia’s youth on career opportunities.  You can learn more about the event in the newsletter.  Thank you to all the volunteers who made our participation possible!

    VCRA Day was November 5th, 2022, and I’m happy to report it was a great success.  We had over 70 registrants, comprised of members, non-members and students.  Our speakers, Bryce Hall and Jean Hammond, were fantastic.  We’re so grateful for them taking the time to speak to us.  And we can’t forget about the socials!  It was wonderful seeing reporters gather across our Commonwealth for some much-needed camaraderie.  I also want to thank everyone who donated, both individuals and sponsors.  This was a free event for members, and there was no obligation to donate.  But you gave so generously.  Truly inspirational.

    We are now in full swing preparing for the Mario A. Rodriguez Education Day, which will be held on March 18th, 2023, at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Virginia.  We’re excited about the new venue, a beautiful botanical garden just a few days before the official start of spring, but the lineup of speakers is just as enticing!  Be sure to register (and register early to get that Early Bird discount!).  You can earn CEUs, catch up with friends and enjoy a beautiful stroll through the garden.  It’s a win-win-win!

    The Virginia Court Reporters Foundation (VCRF) will be holding their second online silent auction at this year’s Education Day.  All proceeds benefit their Carolyn M. O’Connor Education Fund.  The online silent auction at the convention in Lynchburg was an unprecedented success, bringing in over $1,400 despite launching only shortly before the event.  We’re starting earlier this time, so start searching those attics and getting crafty.  Let’s beat last year’s record!

    I appreciate the opportunity to serve you as President of VCRA.  Especially when paired with the significant changes in my personal life, this has been a crazy year for me -- hugely rewarding, but crazy.  When elections are held in March, I will transition to Immediate Past President.  Though this is an important role in its own right – and I will serve dutifully – it does come with a shorter list of responsibilities.  Maybe I’ll finally have time to smell those roses – or the daffodils, because apparently the roses don’t bloom until May.

    Christopher Reho, RPR, CCR

    VCRA President

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