Connect Series: Meet Victoria Joosten, Operations Manager

We love connecting and learning about our new-found team across the country. Victoria Joosten is the operations manager at Neesons and our connection to the east side of our operations. She has her finger firmly on the pulse of the needs for legal services in Ontario, and we value her insight and are excited to be working with her as part of the Veritext Canada team.

Can you tell us what led you to your current role and what you love about working there?

I started in the scheduling department at Neesons back in 2016 and had the pleasure of building that role into more of a client/marketing-focused position for four years. I was lucky enough to work closely with Kim Neeson and Dani McCoy to learn the ebbs and flows of the business, preparing me to step into the operations role that I am in today. I love that every single day is different — new problems to solve and a huge team to support, collaborate with and lead. I am learning something new every single day, and I could not imagine working for a more supportive company.

How do you see this new unified national team will help better service the legal industry across Canada?

We have a really great opportunity to become the undeniable leaders in the legal support industry in Canada right now. Our reach is far and wide, led by a team of hard-working, driven and like-minded individuals across the country. We now have access to court reporters and transcriptionists in almost every province nationwide and a support team that is available 24 hours a day. There is nothing we can’t do!

Veritext’s mission and corporate values aim to be respectful, ethical, collaborative, accountable and professional. Can you tell us which of these values resonates most strongly with you and why?

I would be lying if I said I thought one of those values is more important than the others, but I do have to say working collaboratively and holding people accountable resonate with me the most. I strongly believe in collaborative leadership, focusing on open conversation and organic solutions that will benefit and grow the business. Veritext is full of individuals with creative, innovative ideas, and it is important that we not only hold our team accountable to drive results but also hold ourselves accountable as well. Be the leader you would follow.

Wellness and self-care are important to our team. Do you have a favourite way to recharge or any tips for staying healthy mentally and physically or any tips for staying healthy mentally and physically both at work and home?

I am a huge health nut! I love the standing desk option for both the office and my home, and I keep a huge water bottle by my side. I also make it a priority to take a break from the screen every half hour or so to readjust my eyes for a few minutes. I do intense HIIT workouts every day after work to de-stress, and I am a strong believer that connecting with people will always boost your mood. My tips would include drinking at least 2 litres of water every day, getting your 10K steps in and going outside in the sun! Vitamin D is everything.  

Welcome to International Women’s Day 2022

by Kerry Sauriol, Marketing Coordinator

March 8 is International Women’s Day, and the Government of Canada’s theme for 2022 is Women Inspiring Women.

It also marks my one-year anniversary with the company. There have been massive changes since then — Reportex is now Veritext Canada — but the one constant has remained: each of our offices across Canada (Reportex, Ace, Royal, Amicus and Neesons) is run by an empowered and largely female-led team, and it is always exciting to see such strong roles continuing to develop and influence this industry for everyone involved.

Over the last few decades the job market has seen drastic changes to the types of employment available. According to Statistics Canada over 2.6 million people describe themselves as self-employed, and approximately 40 percent of them are women. 95 percent of court reporters and transcriptionists in Canada are female. 

Born in 1860, Georgina Alexandrina Fraser was Canada’s first female journalistic stenographer. She also taught young women to do the same. However, it took a lot longer for women to enter the legal services in Canada, and their struggle is aptly described in this Maclean’s article from 1954:

“SEVEN years ago, two energetic but penniless young women freshly out of His Majesty’s services were suddenly faced with the sobering [a]nd dismaying realization that they were once [a]gain living in a man’s world.

Ethel Zatyko and Rena Pettypiece had taken a twelve-month course in the hope of becoming court stenographers. They decided to pursue their chosen vocation in Alberta, which they regarded as a province of oil booms and millionaires. They wrote letters of application to court officials. But when the answers came, their hopes were dashed: the RCAF might recruit women wireless operators, but Alberta doesn’t allow women court reporters.

The girls were stunned and indignant, but never tearful.

They decided to go to Alberta anyway and show what women can do.”

Things have changed in Alberta and the rest of Canada. 

The passion and belief in what we do has not changed. It is what pushes the people here to evolve and continue to look to the future of court reporting in Canada as we connect with like-minded people and organizations across the country. 

The passion and belief in what we do also drives us to encourage and support court reporters to be the best in their field. We are excited to be planning more workshops and continuing education opportunities across Canada.  

The passion and belief in what we do drives us to ensure the best technologically relevant services for our clients. Legal services are evolving quickly, thanks to many outside forces, and we are here to make sure you are ready to face them all. 

Our name and logo may have changed, but our core values and commitment to this industry have not changed. Today we support many women-focused initiatives across Canada, including West Coast LEAF, Dress for Success, TLABC Women Lawyers Retreat and ACTLA Women’s Legal Forum. Our commitment to the future is to continue to inspire and support women (and men) to be the best they can be and to always dream big.  

Envisioning the Path Forward

A Letter From Christy Pratt, Regional Vice President, Canada-West – Veritext (Canada)

With 2021 firmly in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to step into this new year with a fresh perspective! We’ve all become somewhat of virtual experts in this new virtual world, and this way of living and working isn’t just an interim solution — it has taken on a life of its own. 

The legal and court reporting communities pivoted in record time back in 2020, and we spent 2021 ironing out the kinks and building and improving connections — both literally and figuratively — because we needed to. In fact connection was our team’s mantra for the year.

I see 2022 as the year where we get to choose how we work and live, where we get to celebrate our ability to make decisions without restriction. 2022 will afford us the freedom to work from home or from somewhere else because we want to and we can. The world we left behind in 2020 is long gone, but what it gives us is the opportunity to shape our future.

The vision I hold for our industry is that the technology and virtual opportunities that we have firmly embraced are going to serve us extremely well into the future, and the opportunities to utilize smart, effective tech connections are only going to get bigger and better. We’ve all seen what is possible — what can happen — when we are inspired to get creative and find new ways to connect. Now it’s time to build on this powerful foundation, to continue to adapt and shift and to see what other extraordinary court reporting initiatives and flexible e-solutions we can bring to the Canadian market — and to the world.   

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.