I have been a working reporter since August of 1981. I have always prided myself in being a hard worker, being efficient, and getting it right. My pride got in my way for 25 years. I thought I could scope faster, better, and smarter than anyone in the world. Being a hard worker, and wanting to be a great reporter, I would write 2000 – 3000 pages a month. I loved reporting, loved my clients, and loved producing a beautiful transcript.
My work ethic meant great sacrifice. As any reporter knows, if someone is writing 200 – 300 pages a day, three or four days a week, that reporter will be working nights and weekends to get the work out. If there was an expedite and I was slated to report again the next day, I would say, “No problem,” put my head down and find time everywhere, anywhere I could. I would work through lunches, breaks, get home, make myself spaghetti, pour out the water, mix the marinara sauce in, and basically eat it out of the pot because I didn’t have time to put it on a plate and relax.
Kramm Court Reporting was founded in 1985. So on top of getting out transcripts I was running a business. On top of that I was refereeing soccer games at a professional level (NASL, MISL, CISL) as well as refereeing college, high school, men leagues, and little kids.
My life might have sounded pathetic, but I was happy to be the hard working reporter who could get out perfect transcripts fast. I was building my reputation and my business. I believed my life was GREAT. Even now I don’t regret those years of hard work. Those years taught me a lot.
But about five years ago, I started getting a tingling feeling that life was passing me by. Every Saturday morning I would get up, get my coffee, have my computer set up from the night before, and start working. I had weekend rules. I would work seven to eight hours on a Saturday and only four hours on a Sunday. Sometimes the Sundays became another eight hours, but it meant on Monday I could start over again with all of my transcripts out – ready to start another week of depos.
At least I was getting great meals – Chris Jordan is my personal chef.
I needed to take baby steps in giving up control. First I started with a proofer. I still believed I needed to scope my jobs since I was physically present at the depositions and would remember little nuances of the day. That lasted about a year. My proofer wanted to become a scopist. She didn’t know steno, but she had a degree in biology and was a ghost writer for Sea World. She is a smart woman. That tingling feeling about life passing me by was getting stronger. She got the Eclipse scoping package. My audio was working well. We went for it.
To make a long story short, I will write a 250+ page day. She starts working on it the next morning. I have it back for proofing within two to three days. If I were working all of the time, that would allow me to go back the next day to the job. When I think about the fact that my job the day before is being worked on, I feel empowered and energized.
As a firm owner, if I know a reporter has a good scopist, I am more inclined to give that reporter the “big case,” because I know if it becomes an expedite, their whole world doesn’t stop. If the attorneys call that night and ask for it to be done in two days, the reporter has a solution. It doesn’t have to become panic time, and the reporter doesn’t have to be off calendar the next day.
Once in a while I will still scope a job. I think it is kind of fun. I am careful to get in as many globals and proper names as I can during a job. If the witness or attorneys are particularly difficult, and I think the transcript needs me, I will scope it and let my scopist proof it. I trust my scopist. I know she listens. Our video department syncs transcripts to the video. I know if the transcript syncs or not.
My pride is still intact, but it doesn’t get in the way of having fun and having a more full life. There is one thing I know for sure. The people who talk about balance and success are correct. Having a good scopist, trusting others, will lead to a better life.