Atkinson-Baker is Celebrating 30 Years as a Leader in Court Reporting Services

Atkinson-Baker Court Reporters (http://www.depo.com/), a court reporting firm, is celebrating their 30th year as a leading provider of court reporting services. They offer additional services such as case management, customized corporate programs, legal video and interpreters, and more.

After Ms. Sheila Atkinson-Baker, Atkinson-Baker President, graduated from her local community college’s court reporting program, she worked as a professional court reporter for over a decade. After working in courts in Florida, Wisconsin, and California, and gaining experience as a freelance court reporter, Ms. Atkinson-Baker realized there were more court reporting jobs in Los Angeles than there were court reporters who were available in the market. She and her husband saw this as an opportunity to create Atkinson-Baker in order to help match clients with the right court reporter for the job.

Within the first year of operation, Atkinson-Baker was a success. Atkinson-Baker President Ms. Sheila Atkinson-Baker stated, “From Atkinson-Baker’s first day, company executives and staff have operated the business with a singular purpose: to provide clients with the very best court reporting services. Staying true to these principles has helped Atkinson-Baker transform from a family-owned, two-person team to a thriving business of more than 170 employees and 1,000-plus court reporters today.”

Atkinson-Baker’s headquarters are located in Glendale, CA, with 17 branch offices around the country.  Ms. Sheila Atkinson-Baker has been a professional court reporter for over 35 years, five of which she served as a court reporter in the federal district court.  In 1992 and 1993, the company made the prestigious Inc. 500 list of the 500 fastest growing companies in the US. They have also been listed four times in the annual Inc. 5,000 list of the fastest-growing privately held companies in the United States.

You can visit the company’s main website at http://www.depo.com, their blog can be seen at http://www.atkinsonbaker.com, and a few of their branch websites include http://www.atkinsonbakermiami.com, http://www.atkinsonbakernewyork.com, and http://atkinsonbakerchicago.com. They can be reached at 800-288-3376.

Atkinson-Baker is Offering Web Conferencing for Depositions

Atkinson-Baker Court Reporters (http://www.depo.com/), a court reporting firm, is informing the public on a service they are currently offering: web conferencing for depositions. This service allows lawyers to conduct depositions from the comfort of their office, reducing travel time and expenses.

Web conferencing makes it possible for a court reporter to be sent to a location with a laptop. The court reporter will set up a web conferencing connection via Skype, GoToMeeting, or WebEx, and the witness is located at the same location as the court reporter, allowing the attorney to remain at their office while conducting the deposition. The flexibility of location lets lawyers conduct a deposition from the convenience of a laptop, desktop, or a mobile device.

There are a number of features available to law firms that choose web conferencing. These features include:

  • Law firm efficiency can improve due to time that is saved
  • Significant cost savings on travel and equipment
  • Great ease of use; special equipment is not required
  • Allows small law firms to conduct web conferences without a room-based video system

Atkinson-Baker President Ms. Sheila Atkinson-Baker stated, “While web conferencing is not brand new, it is only starting to become more known and used by law firms. We set up the meeting room, the web conferencing, the reporter, and the documents. This helps with convenience and saves travel expenses, as well as saving the expense of a videoconferencing set-up. We also have staff employees whose job it is to work with and train clients who are interested in this service and to help with any needed troubleshooting on the day of the deposition.”

Atkinson-Baker has a staff of over 170 and a court reporter base of over 1,200. The company’s headquarters are located in Glendale, CA, with 17 branch offices around the country.  Ms. Sheila Atkinson-Baker, the president of the company, has been a professional court reporter for over 35 years, five of which she served as a court reporter in the federal district court.  In 1992 and 1993, the company made the prestigious Inc. 500 list of the 500 fastest growing companies in the US. They have also been listed four times in the annual Inc. 5,000 list of the fastest-growing privately held companies in the United States.

You can visit the company’s main website at http://www.depo.com.  Their blog can be seen at http://www.depositionreporters.com, and a few of their branch websites include http://www.atkinsonbakermiami.com, http://www.atkinsonbakernewyork.com, and http://atkinsonbakerchicago.com. They can be reached at 800-288-3376.

Atkinson-Baker Court Reporters Announced as Sponsor for the 2017 CLM Annual Conference

The Claims and Litigation Management Alliance (CLM) is pleased to announce Atkinson-Baker Court Reporters (http://depo.com) as sponsor for the 2017 CLM Annual Conference. CLM will host 2,000 claims professionals and outside counsel in Nashville on March 29-31, 2017, during the largest insurance claims conference in the country. In addition to the plentiful networking opportunities, there will be three days of powerful programs tailored to the contemporary needs of claims and litigation management professionals and defense attorneys serving the insurance industry.

Atkinson-Baker President Ms. Sheila Atkinson-Baker stated, “We are pleased to be a sponsor for the upcoming 2017 CLM Annual Conference in Nashville. We feel our court reporting services are a great fit with litigation management professionals serving the insurance industry.”

Atkinson-Baker has a staff of over 170 and a court reporter base of over 1,200. The company’s headquarters are in Glendale, CA, with 17 branch offices around the country. The president of the company, Ms. Sheila Atkinson-Baker, has been a professional court reporter for over 35 years, five of which she served as a court reporter in the federal district court. She is a Registered Professional Reporter and has served on the Board of Directors of the California Court Reporters Association. The company tackles depositions throughout the US and in many other countries when the need arises. In fact, every hour of the business week they are doing an average of 18 depositions somewhere in the world. In 1992 and in 1993 the company made the prestigious Inc. 500 list as one of the 500 fastest growing companies in the US. They have also been listed four times in the annual Inc. 5,000 list of the fastest-growing privately held companies in the United States.

The company’s main website is http://depo.com, their blog can be seen at http://atkinsonbaker.com, and some of their branch websites include http://atkinsonbakerhouston.com, http://atkinsonbakerphiladelphia.com,  and http://atkinsonbakersandiego.com. They can be reached at 800-288-3376.

Atkinson-Baker Court Reporters Becomes HIPAA Compliant

LOS ANGELES, CA: Atkinson-Baker, Inc., Court Reporters (http://depo.com) recently became HIPAA privacy and security compliant. Under HIPAA privacy rules, Atkinson-Baker, Inc., is considered a Business Associate, and they are compliant with all applicable rules and regulations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996.

Atkinson-Baker handles and archives transcripts of legal hearings and depositions, and often some of the related documents to the transcripts are PHI-protected (Protected Health Information) documents. The documents can also include financial information of different companies, as well as other trade secrets information.

The process of becoming HIPAA compliant involved a number of steps, including:

  • All Atkinson-Baker employees have been trained on HIPAA rules and procedures and are required to re-take this training every 2 years.
  • All employees are required to sign a confidentiality agreement as a condition of employment.
  • All policies and procedures related to information and physical security are frequently reviewed to ensure they are up to date and follow any new or revised regulation.
  • The company implemented a number of upgraded Information Security procedures.

Atkinson-Baker President Ms. Sheila Atkinson-Baker stated, “We are committed to keeping all PHI (Protected Health Information) and sensitive information secure, and to keeping our systems and procedures up to date and in compliance with all related regulations.  We know that keeping our client’s information safe is of the utmost importance, and we take this very seriously when processing client transcripts, copying exhibits, or any other of the myriad of ways we come across this information while doing our job. Our company makes one promise to the legal world: one call to us and we’ll do the rest. We get the job done with a comprehensive dedication to meeting our client’s demands at any time and in any location, across town or across the country. And always at competitive local rates.”

Atkinson-Baker has a staff of over 170 and a court reporter base of over 1,200. The company’s headquarters are in Glendale, CA, with 17 branch offices around the country. The president of the company, Ms. Sheila Atkinson-Baker, has been a professional court reporter for over 35 years, five of which she served as a court reporter in the federal district court. She is a Registered Professional Reporter and has served on the Board of Directors of the California Court Reporters Association. The company tackles depositions throughout the US and in many other countries when the need arises. In fact, every hour of the business week they are doing an average of 18 depositions somewhere in the world. In 1992 and in 1993 the company made the prestigious Inc. 500 list as one of the 500 fastest growing companies in the US. They have also been listed four times in the annual Inc. 5,000 list of the fastest-growing privately held companies in the United States.

The company’s main website is http://depo.com, their blog can be seen at http://atkinsonbaker.com, and some of their branch websites include http://atkinsonbakermiami.com, http://atkinsonbakernewyork.com, and http://atkinsonbakerchicago.com. They can be reached at 800-288-3376.

Court reporting services for the hearing impaired

Providing real-time access to live television broadcasts for deaf and hearing-impaired viewers can offer added avenues of entertainment for these individuals. Professional court reporting specialists who specialize in this field can transcribe spoken words quickly and accurately to ensure that hearing-impaired people have access to information regarding the programs they are viewing. Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART) professionals are in demand throughout the television industry and provide a valuable service for community organizations, conferences, academic settings, and many other venues.

Demanding requirements for CART professionals

Court reporters must meet high standards for accuracy and speed to maintain positions in the legal arena. For CART captioners, however, the requirements are even more stringent. CART technicians must generally perform their duties in real time. This means that they cannot edit their work as they go. Instead, an extreme degree of accuracy is required on the part of CART specialists to ensure that their captions are correct and understood. Speed is also critical to ensure that the images on the screen correspond with the information provided in the real-time captions.

Vocabulary and spelling

While some modern captioning machines provide auto-correct options for spelling, CART specialists must have strong vocabulary and spelling skills to ensure the most accurate captions for their viewers. This includes general knowledge of the terminology used in the particular field:

  • CART technicians who specialize in sports programming must have an understanding of the events they cover and a broad grasp of the various positions, plays, and rules governing the sports in question.
  • Medical, dental, and scientific conferences may require an in-depth knowledge of terms and terminology relevant in these fields.

CART specialists must also possess a reliable sense of context to ensure that they select the right words and spellings in each situation.

Legal requirements for CART services

Agencies and academic institutions that receive federal funding must comply with a variety of laws and regulations designed to provide equal access to those with disabilities. Some of the most important pieces of legislation guaranteeing equal access to information and services for hearing-impaired individuals include the following:

  • The 1997 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act was enacted in an effort to promote the mainstreaming of children with disabilities and to end the practice of separating these students from others in the academic environment.
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 is one of the most far-reaching legislative initiatives and requires that accommodation plans be put in place to ensure equal access to public services and areas for those with disabilities. Schools, public transportation systems, and medical facilities are all required to provide reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities.
  • The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 includes a section specifically outlining the requirements for federally funded schools and agencies to provide assistance to those with disabilities. The act was amended in 1998 to include language guaranteeing equal access to the electronic and digital information technology made available to the public by federal agencies.

CART services may be required for full compliance with these federal regulations.

Court reporters who specialize in CART services can enjoy a wide range of employment opportunities. By taking on the challenges of this fast-paced field, captioning experts can improve the quality of life for hearing-impaired individuals while putting their skills to the test in this challenging segment of the court reporting industry.

 

Budgeting error could shut down Illinois courts

Court reporters play a critical role in the American legal system. However, an oversight on the part of the State of Illinois may leave many court reporters out of work and many courts unable to hear cases until added funds are found to pay these legal professionals. A change in the way group insurance premiums and pensions are funded has left local courts without the funds necessary to hire the needed court reporters for upcoming cases and hearings. This could seriously hamper the ability of Illinois courts to dispense justice and hear cases in upcoming months. While no solution has yet been identified, state and county authorities are exploring options to deal with this major budget shortfall.

Flawed spending plan for Illinois

In an effort to cut costs across the board, Illinois lawmakers shifted the burden of paying for pensions and group insurance for court reporters to the local courts. By transferring the other costs of court reporting services from the General Revenue Fund to the Personal Property Replacement Tax Fund, Illinois hoped to reduce the overall costs of court operations at the state level. Unfortunately, local courts simply do not have the available funds to make up the shortfall, which is expected to amount to $14.3 million statewide by the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

Mandated court reporting

Under Illinois law, felony cases and those involving juveniles are required to have live court reporters on duty. Other types of cases could potentially be covered by less effective electronic recording devices; however, even these options would still require transcription and review by qualified court reporters to ensure accuracy and to satisfy legal requirements for note taking and monitoring. Failing to meet these requirements for live court reporting could close down some Illinois courts as soon as the end of the month of March.

Limited options

While lawmakers scramble to find new funding sources for the state court system, Illinois counties are looking at a number of options to try to maintain operations through the end of the fiscal year. Some ideas that have been floated include closing down some felony courtrooms altogether, reducing salaries, and delaying cases until after funding becomes available again. At the state level, lawmakers are considering implementing a supplemental appropriations measure or authorizing the governor to reallocate funding from other areas to cover the expenses associated with court reporting services throughout the state. In the worst case scenario, however, courtrooms may be closed down temporarily. This could create a significant backlog of cases for Illinois courts after June 30 of this year.

The threatened shutdown of court services in Illinois highlights the importance of the court reporter in the modern legal system. Court reporters provide accurate records of the proceedings in criminal and civil trials and assist in depositions of witnesses to acquire evidence and testimony. These legal professionals are vital to the smooth operation of courtroom proceedings and deliver reliable, responsive services to ensure fair treatment for all parties. The dilemma faced by Illinois courts should serve as a wake-up call for other states regarding the value of court reporting in the legal arena.

 

Court reporters are in demand

A study conducted by Drucker Worldwide in September 2014 projects a significant shortfall of qualified applicants in the fast-paced field of court reporting. According to the figures compiled and the anticipated need for these legal professionals, at least 5,500 more court reporters will be required to meet ongoing demand. Court reporters play a critical role in a wide range of industries and environments and can often attract high salaries, a strong selling point given the current employment prospects available for new graduates.

Opportunities for court reporters

Along with the expected courtroom positions, court reporters may also find employment in a variety of other fields, including the following:

  • Creating closed captions for television broadcasts
  • Taking depositions for legal firms or court reporting companies
  • Providing assistance to disabled individuals through Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART) positions

Multilingual individuals are in especially high demand in the court reporting industry and can provide translations for depositions and in court. This can prove exceptionally valuable for attorneys and legal firms with significant interests in foreign countries or who routinely work with witnesses and other individuals who speak little or no English.

Personal attributes of court reporters

Not everyone is suited to a career in court reporting. To succeed in this field, aspiring applicants must possess a unique set of skills and attributes that include the following:

  • Attention to detail and precision in recording spoken dialogue
  • Ability to focus for prolonged periods of time
  • Superior listening and comprehension skills
  • An extensive vocabulary and excellent spelling skills
  • General knowledge of legal terms and procedures
  • Patience and good interpersonal skills

Prospective court reporters who meet these basic requirements can often achieve a significant degree of success with the proper training and certification.

Educational and certification requirements

Court reporters must typically complete either a two-year degree or a certification program designed to provide the skills and background needed to perform duties in the legal setting. Broadcast captioners may also be required to take specific classes to familiarize themselves with the equipment used in the television industry. Once formal education has concluded, most states require successful completion of an examination that results in licensing or certification. The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) offers Registered Professional Reporter certification programs that are currently accepted by 22 of the 50 states in lieu of a state license or certification. CART service providers and court reporters must complete a three-part test of their skills as well as a written test to qualify for certification by the NCRA.

With approximately 32,000 court reporters already at work in the U.S. and the number of available positions on the rise, this legal profession offers much to attract younger applicants to the field. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that average salaries for court reporters will increase by around 14 percent through 2020, a sharp contrast to falling salary rates in many other professions. By taking on the challenges of a career in the court reporting field, new graduates can potentially achieve significant financial success.

 

Setting the standards for videography: The National Court Reporters Association

The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) was founded in 1899 and was originally named the National Shorthand Reporters Association as a reflection of the predominant form of court reporting in use at the time. Today, the NCRA represents court reporters in a wide range of career paths and provides guidance on best practices within the profession. One of the most important elements of modern court reporting practice is the recording of video depositions. The standards set forth by the NCRA are designed specifically to provide a framework for court reporting firms to ensure the most accurate transcriptions of all types of recordings.

Specifications for video depositions

The NCRA has established 62 separate standards regarding the video recording of depositions. Many of these standards deal with the technical specifications of the equipment to be used:

  • Zoom ratios must maintain a focal length ratio of at least 10:1.
  • Fluid-head tripods are required.
  • Video cameras must have a minimum horizontal resolution of 350 lines.
  • Manual volume adjustment controls are required.
  • At least four microphones are required to meet NCRA standards; of these, one must be directed at the deponent and two are reserved for the direct examiner and the cross examiner in the deposition.

NCRA standards also provide guidance on how depositions should be recorded by videographers:

  • Video depositions should be carried out in accordance with the expressed rules, orders, and stipulations of the court.
  • The style to be used in recording the deposition should be communicated to all parties prior to the start of videography.
  • Any pans or zooms should be performed in a smooth and methodical fashion.
  • All cell phones should be turned off prior to the start of the deposition.
  • Videographers should listen to the questioning and testimony through headphones and should ensure that they can be heard when making announcements verbally.
  • If given permission, recordings may be interrupted by the videographer to ensure that the oath has been administered, to correct any acoustical or technical problems, or to change recording media in cases where this is required.

Videographers should include the following spoken information at the start of the deposition session.

  • The full name of the deponent and the name of the party requesting the deposition
  • The time and date
  • The address at which the deposition took place
  • The case number and the court involved
  • The identity of all persons present, including the business addresses, and names of the court reporter and the videographer
  • Indexing information to include any stops and starts in recording, on-the-record and off-the-record content, and the run time of each deposition session

This information is critical to ensure that depositions are recorded properly and that all events are depicted accurately in regard to the videography process.

By studying and maintaining the best practices recommended by the NCRA, videographers can deliver the highest quality depositions to ensure accurate reporting and evidence in the legal arena.

 

3 tips for cutting costs in your legal office

Reducing your overhead can boost your profitability without increasing your caseload. Here are three proven tips for lowering the cost of operating your legal practice.

  • Outsource your IT

 

Especially for smaller law offices, making the move to cloud storage and maintenance can significantly reduce the need for in-house IT expertise and can cut costs without sacrificing quality or reliability of service.

  • Optimize your supply chain

 

Office supplies and other necessary items can often be acquired from a number of local vendors. Periodic checks to ensure that you are receiving top-quality products at the lowest prices can give you leverage to negotiate lower prices with your current vendor or to move to a different vendor entirely.

  • Cut back on travel

 

Modern videoconferencing technology can provide nearly all of the benefits of face-to-face meetings and can often provide a convenient video record of the entire proceedings. By choosing these lower-cost options for depositions, team meetings, and other activities, your law firm can enjoy considerable savings over the cost of lodging and travel arrangements.

By reducing costs not directly related to your core legal activities, your firm can enjoy increased profitability and improved cash flow. These added financial resources can help your company stay competitive and relevant in the modern legal marketplace.

What is electronic court filing?

In September 1988, the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system was instituted as a way to provide access to public records through authorized computer terminals. At first, these terminals were only available for use in certain public libraries and in some office buildings. In 2001, PACER was made publicly accessible on the Internet as a fee-based search service. It currently is estimated to contain well over 500 million documents. PACER represents the first major use of electronic court filing in the U.S.

Simply put, electronic court filing is the transmission of relevant court documents over the Internet or through other electronic means. In the U.S. judicial system, the preferred format for those documents is determined by standards that govern the way in which documents are structured and the metadata information provided with the court records. PACER records are uploaded in XML-based formats to ensure maximum interoperability and compatibility across a wide range of operating systems and platforms.

Electronic court filing systems provide superior access to attorneys, legal personnel, and members of the public. As more states move to this technologically advanced data transmission method for lawyer-to-lawyer communications, court submissions, and storage of completed cases, the improved access will allow greater transparency for the judicial process.