In the Spotlight

Stenograph’s featured person this month is
Linda Fifield
Treasurer of Doris O. Wong Associates, Inc.

Why did you decide to enter the court reporting profession?  Linda Fifield copy
I got into court reporting 36 years ago when Doris O. Wong, my aunt, bought two Baron Data computers in 1977 and needed a computer manager to run them. Just out of college and unemployed, I was asked to fill in until she found someone to take over.  I LOVED working on the computers and had fun making the systems sing. I never left.

What is your favorite thing about working in this field? 
Though not a reporter, court reporting keeps evolving. For me it’s all about the technology.  I have been on the Liaison Committee with Stenograph for over 20 years and enjoy working with development and leading-edge, innovative court reporters who love to brainstorm.  How exciting to see the evolution of the software and writers over these many years.

Were there any hurdles you had to overcome in your career?
As the computer manager for the firm, the biggest hurdle is getting reporters to truly understand the software.  We handle the computer setup and training in-house to ease the reporters into the software.  My best advice to all reporters is to learn your software and be computer literate.

What advice would you give to new court reporters?
Find a firm who will train you on how to be professional court reporter.  Additionally, invest in your equipment.  This is your career.  Pay your support contracts for your writer and software.  The contracts not only pay for support but also for updates and development of future products.

What was the strangest case you have worked on? 
We’ve had a few of them but one of the more memorable was when the defendant was suing the Commonwealth because he wanted special accommodations for a tape recorder and Braille machine.  How was he blinded?  The defendant was going through a nasty divorce and was distraught.  Even with a restraining order filed by his wife, he enters the home and stabs her three times in the back.  Trying to commit suicide and kill his wife and two daughters, he sets the house on fire.  The wife and girls are able to get out of the house.  He was not so lucky.  He suffered second and third degree burns over 70% of his body and became blind.  He is now serving a sentence of 36-80 years in jail.

What do you like to do outside of court reporting?
I love the outdoors especially in the summer. You’ll either find me in the garden or on the beach. I also enjoy cooking for my family, a good book, knitting and spending time with friends.

In the Spotlight

Stenograph’s featured court reporter this month is
Lisa Knight, CSR, RPR, RMR, CRR, CLR, RSA
Owner/Reporter at Advantage Reporting & Video

Why did you decide to enter the court reporting profession?
I typed very fast in high school (130 words per minute).   My typing teacher suggested I attend a presentation by the court reporting school in Denver.  They told me I could make $100,000 the first year and tell a judge to “shut up” (neither were true, by the way).  I thought, Where do I sign up?

 

What is your favorite thing about being a court reporter?
Every day is different – new cases, new litigants, new location.  I have had the good fortune to be asked to go some pretty amazing locations for depositions (South Korea to South America, Finland to France, and everywhere in between) – and it’s all because I proficiently write realtime.

 

Were there any hurdles you had to overcome in your career?
Bladder control!  Early in my career (1980s), when I was an official, I worked  with a judge who did not believe in taking many recesses.  And when we would have a recess, my choice was either to troubleshoot the realtime issues in the courtroom (we were one of two beta-testers for Stenograph at that time) or go to the bathroom.  Some things never change, I suppose. Even though I am an independent contractor now, I find myself still working through my breaks (at least in the morning) – getting the realtime feed as perfect as it can be!

 

What advice would you give to new reporters?
Be curious!  Take risks!  Be a lifelong learner!   Don’t let someone else tell you what you are capable of!  NEVER ever give up!

 

What is the strangest case you have ever worked on?
After 30 years in this profession, you’d think one specific case would pop into my mind as being in the “strange” category.  Nope.  Nothing.  From airplane crashes to technical pharmaceutical cases (with heavy foreign accents), every case is unique and challenging – that’s why court reporting is such a great profession!

 

What do you like to do outside of court reporting?
I love to be outdoors (that’s why I live in Colorado, I suppose).  I like to go for runs, practice yoga, meditation, and take long walks with my two crazy labs.  I also love to cook and enjoy quiet evenings with my husband AND a nice bottle of wine (with some dark chocolate).

In the Spotlight

 Kimberley Neeson Neeson & Associates


Kimberley Neeson
Neeson & Associates

Kimberley A. Neeson, RPR-CRR-CSR-CCP-CBC
PresidentNeeson & Associates
Court Reporting and Captioning Inc.

Why did you decide to enter the court reporting profession? Close to completing my high school education, I was looking into various careers in law.  Unfortunately newly-called lawyers at that time (1980) were not being employed.  My aunt knew someone who was a court reporter, and I met her and thought that this might be a great career for me…and it certainly has been!

 

What is your favorite thing about being a court reporter? I love the fact that I am constantly learning new things – not only from a technology perspective as a still-working court reporter and firm owner, but also with regard to the type of cases I provide services to.  Additionally, I get to work with a lot of smart people – lawyers, judges, and business leaders – and a continual flow of learning is the result.

Were there any hurdles you had to overcome in your career? I think my biggest challenge is trying to do everything – be a top-rate court reporter, business owner, mother of two – and continue to look after myself.  Court reporting is a demanding job, and it can easily overtake your life in many ways, most especially time.  So I’ve found ways to conserve my time – but writing better, writing smarter, investing in good quality tools of our trade, always using a scopist/proofreader, and hiring people to help me do things around the house so that the time I do have outside of actual reporting can be devoted to other interests and people.

What advice would you give to new court reporters? Never close any doors.  Network as much as you can, because you never know where this profession can take you.  Be open to new opportunities, to meeting others in your profession, and to continually keeping abreast of what’s happening in our profession.

What was the strangest case you have worked on? Not really a strange case, but I’d say the most important case I’ve ever done is an inquiry into a wrongful conviction case that stemmed back to the late 1950s.  The name of the case is Stephen Truscott.  At the end of the process I participated in, he was found to be innocent.  He spent about half a century trying to prove his innocence, and one of the pivotal points of the inquiry was based on looking at the old trial transcripts.  They were of excellent quality and it again brought home to me how important our role is as guardian of the record!

What do you like to do outside of court reporting? I love to work out with my trainer, ski, snowshoe, golf, ride my bike, walk along the beach with my Great Dane, Tank, and to cook and entertain.

In the Spotlight

Johnson

Stenograph’s featured court reporter this month is Micheal A. Johnson, CSR (TX), CCR (LA), CRR, CLR Johnson Reporting Services.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO ENTER THE COURT REPORTING PROFESSION?
Upon my release from active duty in the Army, I decided I needed something to fill the time.  My wife was in reporting school at the time and so I gave it a shot.  Here I am 20+ years later.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT BEING A COURT REPORTER?  
The challenge of every job to be better than the last time.  And the travel.
WERE THERE ANY HURDLES YOU HAD TO OVERCOME IN YOUR CAREER? 
Professionally, yes.  After tort reform in Texas killed the med-mal business, I had to redirect my career in another direction.  We actually ended up moving out of the small town I grew up in and headed for the big city.  There I realized I was just one of many reporters and had to find a way to set myself apart from the masses.  At that point I began making as many conferences as possible and also obtaining as many certifications as I could.  Those two things alone have made the difference in my career between just being an overflow reporter and THE overflow reporter.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO NEW COURT REPORTERS?  
Be willing to say yes, even if you don’t feel comfortable doing so.  You never know what opportunities it may bring.
WHAT WAS THE STRANGEST CASE YOU HAVE WORKED ON? 
I don’t know about “strangest,” but definitely the most interesting are the trials being held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which I am on the team of reporters.  Certainly the most challenging job/case I’ve ever been a part of.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO OUTSIDE OF COURT REPORTING? 
My life outside of reporting is consumed by two kids that are actively involved in sports.  It’s rare that I don’t have a weekend filled with either cheerleading competitions or baseball and football games.