Today, I shadowed with another court reporter. Yay! Today was also the first time that I rode on the GO Train to Union Station to get downtown. Woohoo! The main reason was to ensure that I got downtown nice and early and avoid any potential TTC delays…(my most recent delay was not fun!) It was nice to be able to line up in an orderly fashion and get on to the train and get a nice seat until it was time to get off 40 minutes later. Very efficient and no need to change from car to bus to subway or bus to subway or car bus bus subway subway car. You know what I mean. :p I learned how to navigate the PATH (underground walking area/mall) to get from the train station to Bay Adelaide Centre. It took more a little longer than expected to get to my destination; it took me 15 minutes, but since it was my first time walking through it, I’m sure I can speed it up next time.
The reporter was already setting up when I arrived, so I set up alongside her and we chatted throughout. She’s a former student of CCVS and has worked for 2 years! Even then, I found that we shared a lot of common first-time working reporter nervousness and fears and worries. She was great to talk to and she was so clear and informative in telling and guiding me to what I would need to know. I asked her about the equipment she uses, procedural things, set-ups, exhibit marking, read-backs, interruptions, and basically everything under the sun that a new reporter should know about. When counsel arrived, they needed about 15 minutes to discuss something between themselves, so we had even more time to chat. I found her knowledge and experience to be invaluable and there are so many things I mentally jotted down.
Here are some of them for future reference:
- Always turn on the recorder even before they start. That way, you won’t forget to turn it on! Even if they still aren’t starting yet, you can stop and restart it if you know that counsel will be starting soon. That way, you can just delete that first part of the audio since it was just silence. No need to fast forward to find where the start was. Such a smart tip!
- It is best to introduce yourself as the court reporter first (and to give out your name card) and then counsel usually will introduce themselves too. Don’t assume that the name on the worksheet is who is arriving because sometimes a senior counsel will show up instead (i.e. Don’t greet them as “You must be Mr./Ms._____” because it might not be them and you’ll look like a nincompoop.) However, if you’ve looked at their pictures on their firm’s web site and recognize them, a greeting by name is okay.
- For pharmaceutical cases where there are tons of drug names, she uses “mox mox”as a brief or “auf auf”. She’s done so many of them and has added them to her dictionary that she actually loves pharmaceutical cases now and they don’t phase her at all. So impressive! The key is to be simple so you can use it quickly while in the moment.
- When marking exhibits and there isn’t enough time to actually stamp and write in the details during the case, just stamp and fill in Exhibit 1, 2, 3, etc. and then later fill out name, date, etc. Saves time since not all lawyers will wait for you to stop and mark exhibits…. unfortunately.
- She reinforced the importance of speaking up and asking if a word is unclear/mumbled; it is our job as stenographers to capture every word accurately. You can’t be shy. You must speak up since a misheard word could be a life or death situation.
- After having asked for the style of clause, you should jot down/photocopy names that you think will come up in the case. That way, you won’t have as many names to ask for later.
- Use “hot spots” stroke/function after an unfamiliar name so that during a break, you can compile all of the names that you aren’t sure how to spell and ask counsel about them all at once. You don’t want to be searching through your transcript at the end of the case when the lawyers are leaving since they will always want to skedaddle out of there as fast as possible.
- Don’t have your Internet on roaming while you’re on CaseCAT and writing since there have been incidences where it freezes/stops working. (This has never happened to me while shadowing, but it’s good to know. *knock on wood*)
- Don’t interrupt if you don’t have to. One of the counsel members complimented the court reporter today for not interrupting — she had had a bad experience at another agency where the court reporter kept interrupting and she said (her words): “I will never go back there”. O_O She also said something like, “a reporter should only interrupt if their equipment has broken down”.
Anyway, I loved today’s shadowing session not only because the court reporter was amazingly friendly and informative, but also because the discovery today was very comfortable to write to. The counsel members, all of them females, talked at a nice even pace… which is very rare! They were around 100-160 wpm and only went up to 200 wpm a few times. It was really nice to write to. (There was a good 30 minutes where my untranslate rate was 0.8~ :)) They also didn’t have any exhibits to mark (same thing happened on Monday’s cross-examination) and finished early at 1:16 p.m. This meant that we had more time to chat and for me to ask her questions. Also, today’s discovery involved a TON of names. I saw the reporter ask and confirm the spellings for the transcript. It’s so important to do so… as noted above in one of my bullet points.