Community Building and the Future of Court Reporting in Canada
No matter where you are located, as a court reporter you have likely experienced huge shifts in the industry. With COVID-19 rapidly transporting most legal services to virtual and hybrid systems, you have embraced navigating this new technology, from digital exhibit marking to document sharing.
At Reportex we have always tried to make the lives of our court reporters better with our thoughtful extras. We provide in-house training via workshops and one-on-one support to ensure comfort and proficiency in the latest court reporting technology and transcript editing practices. Our QC team is also integral in ensuring our consistently high standards as well as sharing useful tips along the way. We pride ourselves in continually fine-tuning our processes to provide reliable and seamless court proceedings for all our clients.
And now we want to do even more. We hope you will watch this space to see more news and stories that affect your life and what you do for a living. And more importantly, what we — now a Veritext company — can do for you as part of our expanding team. We are currently revamping our blog, developing a specialized newsletter, using LinkedIn to meaningfully connect as well as planning more events and workshops to speak to what is important to you, the heart of our business.
Meet Our Director of Court Reporting for Canada
You all know our realtime reporter Leanne Kowalyk. She was our operations director, and now Leanne is the director of court reporting for Canada. Leanne has walked in your shoes throughout her career and is now taking the lead in reporter relations. We asked Leanne for her thoughts on the changes we are experiencing at Reportex and throughout the industry at large across Canada.
If you had a crystal ball in front of you, what would you see lying ahead for the role of a court reporter in the future?
I believe there will always be exciting opportunities for court reporters across Canada. Will there be changes along the way? Of course. Evolution is a necessary part of sustainable opportunity.
I expect that we will lose a percentage of our workforce over the next five years as reporters retire faster than they are coming out of school, so I see a transition on the horizon in that regard. In the States as a whole they expect to be down a third of reporters five years from now. I expect a similar trend here, and the impact of that will be felt in different ways depending on which province you’re in and the current landscape.
In BC we anticipate the insurance caps and “no fault” will begin to impact us over approximately that same time frame, so in a perfect world those two issues will equalize to a certain extent. Having said that, I expect hybrid/virtual work is here to stay, so in joining the Veritext family, we will be opening up that national pool of work to all Veritext reporters across Canada, depending on the designations they hold. In the event that we do end up with a shortage of work here in BC, it will only serve as an opportunity to lend our neighbours a hand across Canada when they are running short (and vice versa).
And what do you envision as your role here in creating that vision?
My responsibility is to anticipate and help navigate these changes in the most smooth, inclusive and supportive way possible while trying to make it a fun experience along the way! The more doors that reporters have open before them, the more opportunities they will have, and there truly are so many. My role is to ensure those doors are open to our reporters so that when they are ready, they will possess all the tools they need to walk right on through them (should they choose to) feeling confident and capable.
For the “newbs” just starting their court reporting careers, can you share any stories from your experiences that highlight how dynamic the role can be?
I would say I’ve experienced the most dynamic part of reporting when faced with the unexpected. Whether it be replacing a sick reporter last minute on an unfamiliar realtime trial or feeling like a rock star when requested back by counsel on a matter that has rebooked, it’s never a dull moment! There is very little you can anticipate in this career, and the more adept you are at going with the flow, the more you will enjoy it.
Sometimes there are unanticipated witnesses, out-of-town jobs or day-of bookings that can be the most memorable and interesting. On the face of it a discovery could look quite predictable, but upon arrival you find out it’s a complicated plane crash, and you learn things you didn’t know you didn’t know about air travel!
One of the occurrences where I was requested by counsel to cover a continuation happened to be a job at a maximum security prison. One day I was writing a regular in-office job, and the next I’m moving chairs around a room with a convicted murderer setting up for a discovery. Thankfully, he was quite pleasant, and rest assured, there were ample corrections officers keeping a watchful eye.
I also had the privilege of covering some days on Vancouver’s first fully electronic trial, which was quite surreal and incredibly interesting.
Once you become confident with your writing and your equipment and have that to rely upon, it becomes easier and easier to just say yes and jump at the opportunities as they arise.
You truly never know what you’re walking into every day, and for me that’s always been a part of the charming and dynamic nature that I love.