Roberts Walsh Gonzalez

Court Reporting Theory Textbooks

Kaitlyn Lancaster: Becomes a CSR at 19

Kaitlyn Lancaster, CSR

 

Update:  Kaitlyn Lancaster, graduate of South Coast College, learned the RobertsWalshGonzalez theory and just recently finished her speedbuilding classes in 14 months.  She qualified and sat for the June 2010 CSR Examination and passed on her first attempt.  If you know someone who has completed speedbuilidng in record time using the RobertsWalshGonzalez theory at another school, please send us a photo to jgonzalez@robertswalshgonzalez.com  Note that Kaitlyn has been hired by Jilio, Ryan, and Associates Reporting Agency.

Whitney Valadez, CSR, Official Court Reporter

Whitney Valadez, CSR, Official Court Reporter

Whitney Valadez, CSR, completed the court reporting program using the RobertsWalshGonzalez theory in two years.  She was a deposition reporter for a short time before becoming a Los Angeles Court Reporter.  She currently is reporting the McCourt divorce hearing in Los Angeles.

RECORD COMPLETION TIME FOR USER OF RWG THEORY

Candice Guerra, CSR

Candice Guerra, CSR, learned the Roberts/Walsh/Gonzalez theory, completed the court reporting program, and qualified to take the California CSR Examination in 13 months.  To our knowledge, Candice holds the record for the shortest completion time for users of this theory.  If anyone knows of someone who beats this record, please contact jgonzalez@robertswalshgonzalez.com.

Todd Olivas, CSR, Agency Owner — Guest Blog #2

 

Todd Olivas, CSR, Agency Owner

 The Secret of Court Reporting or Anything in Life is “Only One Thing”

Tip #2 – Make School Your “One Thing”

In the movie “City Slickers”, Billy Crystal’s character Mitch has this profound conversation with Jack Palance, a curmudgeonly old cowboy:

Curly: You know what the secret of life is?
Mitch: No, what?
Curly: This. (holds his finger up)
Mitch: Your finger?
Curly: One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and everything else don’t mean [anything].
Mitch: That’s great, but what’s the one thing?
Curly: That’s what you’ve got to figure out.
 

Curly never explains what his “one thing” is.  But that’s not the point of the conversation or the movie in general.  I believe the “one thing” he is talking about is not any specific, actual thing like – “be kind to others” or “go green” or “wash behind your ears” — but rather that there is only room for one “one thing” in your life. Applying that theory to the microcosm of your court reporting school career, there is only enough space for school to be your one thing. 

Let me back up just a sec.  When I attended South Coast College I crowded lots of things into my life.  These were all good things, I might add, like starting a business, being in a rock band, writing a screenplay, writing for a newspaper column, selling custom T-shirts, wearing Spandex.  And while those activities were important to me,  they competed for my time.  I hate to admit it but practicing on my steno machine or even coming to class suffered due to my diverse interests.  It wasn’t until I really buckled down, started setting aside my hobbies and distractions and proactively deciding – on a day-by-day basis – to make school my “one thing,”  that I completed the program.

Questions to ask yourself:

What distractions do you have? 

What hobbies and pet pursuits are encroaching on your main goal of becoming a court reporter?

What  are some ways you can intentionally make school your “one thing?”

Todd Olivas is a court reporter and agency owner.  He can be reached through http://www.toddolivas.com or San Bernardino Court Reporters.

COMMENT By Jean Gonzalez

Not only did Todd recognize that he had to focus on one thing and practice in that one area, but he learned what practice is.  Many times students spend a great deal of time on what they think is practice, but they are not really practicing.

Guest Blog — Carol Nygard, CSR, and Agency Owner

CSR, Agency Owner, Past President of CCRA

Carol Nygard, CSR, Agency Owner and Past President of the California Court Reporters Association, shared her views on  how web streaming has totally changed her outlook on court reporting. 

 
Although I’ve been reporting for almost 35 years on a daily basis and love my job, streaming has added a new element.  I’ve always enjoyed doing interactive real-time. 
 
It’s like playing a video game against yourself during the deposition and seeing how much higher you can score until your untranslates become almost nonexistent. 
 
Web streaming adds the additional adrenaline rush when you know that other attorneys or experts are somewhere else in the United States or maybe even the world watching your real-time writing in order to participate in the proceedings.  What can I say?  It’s a rush!  I love it!
 
Carol Nygard Drobny
Carol Nygard & Associates
2295 Gateway Oaks Drive
Suite 170
Sacramento, CA  95833
916.928.8999
COMMENT by Jean Gonzalez:
Carol Nygard, CSR, is one of the leaders in embracing the technology that will ensure the demand for the court reporter in the future.  What she is doing is exciting and is giving us a preview of what court reporting will be like in the future.

Todd Olivas, CSR, Agency Owner, Guest Blog #1

Todd Olivas, CSR, Agency Owner

How Not to Make the Mistakes I Made as a Court Reporting Student

It’s been ten years since I’ve been licensed as a CSR.  Yes, a whole decade has elapsed since my time in court reporting school. So I thought it might be appropriate to look back at some of my experiences (and mistakes) and share those with you over the course of some guest blogs here on the RobertsWalshGonzalez website.

Tip #1 – Be Consistent

I don’t know about you, but many times during my court reporting school experience, I thought I had it all figured out.  It would happen right after completing a speed or passing a test.  I would get complacent and, the truth be told, a little lazy.  Okay, a lot lazy.  My entire path through school was subsequently a series of quick bursts followed by coasting.  Pass a test or two, then slack off for a few weeks… then hit the gas for another burst, then relax for a spell.  I enjoyed 170s so much, in fact, that I spent one full year “visiting” that speed.  And the crazy cycle would continue. 

Things don’t have to be that way.  And I’ve learned it is a rather inefficent distribution of energy.  When driving a car, for example, don’t you get better gas mileage if you apply consistent and even pressure on the gas pedal rather than “gunning” it and then slamming on the brakes in the nick of time?  It’s the same thing with court reporting school.  The best way to survive court reporting school, and my #1 tip on the subject, is to be consistent in your efforts throughout.  If you come to school every day in the beginning, keep it up even (or especially) as you begin to advance through the speeds.  If you can practice a couple hours per night during theory, then don’t slack off when you’re in speed building.

Be consistent and you’ll not only finish the program on time or before but feel less “burned out” by the experience.

Todd Olivas is a court reporter and agency owner.  He can be reached through http://www.toddolivas.com or Riverside Court Reporting.

User Comments (Roberts/Walsh/Gonzalez theory)

Sometimes by accident, I find out that someone learned the Roberts/Walsh/Gonzalez theory.  After seeing Kathy DiLorenzo do a magnificant display of her writing talents at a seminar, I approached her to tell her how great she was. Before I could say anything, she had seen my name tag and said, “I write your theory.” 

Years later she wrote to me in an email how difficult it was for her to get a job in captioning at first because the theory was so far ahead of its time in recognizing the realtime distinctions that had to be made that it was foreign to people in the industry.  I attribute that forsight not to my contributions but to my co-authors Alan Roberts and John Walsh and to the genius of Pat O’Neill.  In fact, I never think of the theory as being “my theory.”  It is their theory that I formatted into a textbook.

Kathy DiLorenzo went on to write that even though she almost was not hired at the captioning company where she applied because of how different her theory was, she was eventually hired and became one of the first of the nine who were hired with her to go on the air.  The reason was the theory that she had learned.  She went on to tell me that the theory had served her well.

I always like to hear comments from people who have learned the theory and invite any users of the Roberts/Walsh/Gonzalez theory to send me a comment.

No. 6 Any People Who Can’t Make It?

No. 6 President Jean Gonzalez of South Coast College answers the question:  “Aren’t there some people who just can’t do court reporting?” (Please read the questions in order 1-10).

 

Note that I value  the ideas in this section so much that I have purposely repeated certain sections.

 

My observations have been that students who understand the concept of practice and put that concept into practice succeed in court reporting.  I often find that some students continue to frustrate themselves trying to succeed in court reporting because they do not understand the concept of practice, or they do not practice and rely on divine inspiration. 

 

Referring back to my prior comments on Todd Olivas, when Todd discovered that the secret to success in passing the CSR was subjecting himself to a mind-numbing experience, he passed the CSR.  When Yeketerina (Katerina) Netessova, a Russian student who spoke English as her second language, discovered that the key to passing the CSR is repetition, she passed the CSR.  Explaining that concept to someone who is unwilling to be subjected to boredom is a challenge.

 

Again, I am going to defer to what the experts say on this subject as follows.  (Refer to P. 39 of the Outliers)

 

The striking thing about Ericsson’s study is that he and his colleagues couldn’t find any “naturals,” musicians who floated effortlessly to the top while practicing a fraction of the time their peers did.  Nor could they find any people who worked harder than everyone else, yet just didn’t have what it takes to break the top ranks. 

 

Their research suggests that once a musician has enough ability to get into a top music school, the thing that distinguishes one performer from another is how hard he or she works.  That’s it.  And what’s more, the people at the very top don’t work just harder or even much harder than everyone else.  They work much, much harder. 

 

The idea that excellence at performing a complex task requires a critical minimum level of practice surfaces again and again and again in studies of expertise.  In fact, researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise:  ten thousand hours.

 

The emerging picture from such studies is that ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert—in anything,” writes the neurologist Daniel Levitin.  “In writers, ice skaters, concert pianists, chess players, master criminals, and what have you, this number comes up again and again.  (Comment:  I would add court reporters.)

 

Of course, this doesn’t address why some people get more out of their practice sessions than others do.  But no one has yet found a case in which true world-class expertise was accomplished in less time.  It seems that it takes the brain this long to assimilate all that it needs to know to achieve true mastery.”

 

 

Again, my observations have been that students who understand the concept of practice and put that concept into practice succeed in court reporting.  I often find that some students continue to frustrate themselves trying to succeed in court reporting because they do not understand the concept of practice, or they do not practice and rely on divine inspiration. 

 

Referring back again to my prior comments on Todd Olivas, when Todd discovered that the secret to success in passing the CSR was subjecting himself to a mind-numbing experience, he passed the CSR.  When Yeketerina (Katerina) Netessova, a Russian student who spoke English as her second language, discovered that the key to passing the CSR is repetition, she passed the CSR.  Explaining that concept to someone who is unwilling to be subjected to boredom is a challenge!

 

Again, I am going to defer to what the experts say on this subject as follows.  (Refer again to P. 39 of the Outliers)

 

The striking thing about Ericsson’s study is that he and his colleagues couldn’t find any “naturals,” musicians who floated effortlessly to the top while practicing a fraction of the time their peers did.  Nor could they find any people who worked harder than everyone else, yet just didn’t have what it takes to break the top ranks.  Their research suggests that once a musician has enough ability to get into a top music school, the thing that distinguishes one performer from another is how hard he or she works.  That’s it.  And what’s more, the people at the very top don’t work just harder or even much harder than everyone else.  They work much, much harder!!!!!! 

 

 

 

The emerging picture is that the only people who can’t make it are the people who give up.  Donna Cole, a motivational speaker in the field of court reporting puts it succinctly:  “If you wish to succeed, don’t quit.”  It is all about hours

 

The idea that excellence at performing a complex task requires a critical minimum level of practice surfaces again and again and again in studies of expertise.  In fact, researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise:  ten thousand hours.

 

The emerging picture from such studies is that ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert—in anything,” writes the neurologist Daniel Levitin.  “In writers, ice skaters, concert pianists, chess players, master criminals, and what have you, this number comes up again and again.”  (Comment:  I would add court reporters.)

 

Every day people who have tried court reporting years ago re-enter South Coast College.  Perhaps, the first time around, they were not receptive to the message that to succeed in court reporting, it will take the hours of practice whether it is spent in one, two, three, four, or more years.  Most commonly, I hear the comment, “This time, I am going to do it right.”  And the number of success stories of people who have re-entered and are successful at South Coast College is growing.  Again, it attests to the message that developing the capacity for enduring boredom works.

 

I was touched today by the message that Ted Kennedy, Jr. conveyed when eulogizing his father.  He said that the most powerful lesson his father taught him through example was to never give up.  When he said he couldn’t climb the mountain because of his newly acquired artificial leg, his father guided him up the mountain.  He told him that if it took all day, he could do it. 

 

Court reporting instructors and administrators take this journey up the mountain with willing court reporting students every day.  However, there are some who are not willing to take the journey at that particular time.  Sometimes it takes many years for some who do not take the trip to realize that they can.  They are the people who return to school to become court reporters.  At South Coast College currently and probably at many other court reporting institutions throughout the country, many of these people are now with the help of their instructors and school administrators making the journey upward.

 

Perhaps, a more profound lesson for court reporting students to be learned from the example of Ted Kennedy, Jr.’s story is that court reporting students are not the only ones who have difficult challenges facing them.  Life is about facing difficult challenges of varying sorts. 

 

Our perception when we are going through any difficult challenge is that no one else has experienced anything like what we are experiencing at this time.  The naive view of life is that everything should be easy or that some people have it easier than others.  In reality, it only seems that way. 

 

When I was listening to one of the comments made during the Kennedy eulogizing, someone made a comment that Ted Kennedy was once criticized during a political speech by someone who said, “How would you know. You never worked a day in your life.”  The joke supposedly was that on the following day, Ted Kennedy met a worker who said, “I heard what that guy said about you — that you never worked a day in your life.  Well, you haven’t missed anything.” 

 

The truth is that the people of privilege often work harder than is imagined.  The moral of the story is that court reporting students who are engaging in the pursuit of developing the capacity for boredom are not unique.  Whatever career that you choose to pursue will have its share of challenge and boredom.  Exceling in any field will have its share of boredom and its share of rewards.  Court reporters are no different from people who enter any other fields of endeavor.  There will be challenges.  There will be boredom.  Their will be rewards.  Anyone just looking for the rewards will be disappointed in whatever field of endeavor that they seek. 

 

The passage in the Outliers goes on to say:  “Of course, this doesn’t address why some people get more out of their practice sessions than others do.  But no one has yet found a case in which true world-class expertise was accomplished in less time.  It seems that it takes the brain this long to assimilate all that it needs to know to achieve true mastery.”  In the following blog, I will address this issue.

 

 

No. 8 Court Reporting — Practice Versus Evaluation

No. 8 President Jean Gonzalez of South Coast College answers the question posed in Outliers in a previous blog:  “Why do some people get more out of their practice sessions than others do? (Please read these questions in order 1-10.)

 

In the Outliers, the author indicated that the research does not address why some people get more out of their practice sessions that others do.

 

The answer is that some people do not know or understand what practice is.  Robert Short, an alumnus of South Coast College, who is an international court reporter, once said to me, “If I knew when I was playing basketball, what practice was, I would be a great basketball player.”  Instead, he is a great court reporter.  What he learned in court reporting school was how to practice.

 

People often get practice confused with evaluation.  High-speed students often come to me and say, “I practice every day, and I still am not passing my tests.”  After a brief discussion, the students usually realize that what they have been doing is not practice.  What they have been doing is evaluation.  Tiger Woods does not go out every day and play the game.  Playing the game is fun.  Tiger Woods goes out every day and subjects himself to grueling repetition.

 

What Tiger Woods does, he does the same shot over and over and over.  Dustin Huffer, an alumnus, explained how he would sometimes spend several hours writing an outline over and over and over until he could write it fluently.  Vienna Nguyen, and Whitney Valadez, South Coast College graduates who are official reporters in the Los Angeles Courts, explained how they got through school so quickly.  They spent hours doing the same thing over and over and over.

 

Early on in school, they understood the concept of practice.  It is more fun to write to the TV.  It is more fun to run through a few drills here and there.  It is more fun to take a test.  It is unfortunate that many students commit hours to evaluation and never get to doing any practice.

No. 7 Entry-level Skill for Court Reporting

President Jean Gonzalez of South Coast College answers the question:  “How long does it really take to become a court reporter?” (Please read these questions in order 1-10.)

 

Least you be dismayed by the prospect of practicing 10,000 hours to become a court reporter, you need to take into consideration that the Outliers indicates that it takes 10,000 to be a world-class or elite performer.  To become a court reporter, you need entry-level court reporting skills, not elite performance.  To be an outstanding professional court reporter, you still need 10,000 hours.  Remember, not all court reporters who have worked for 20 years are equal.

 

Court reporting students need to practice 72 hours to progress from one speed level to another.  Some of this practice may be from classes in school designed for practice but others must be obtained by practicing on one’s own.  Schools vary in the philosophies by which they operate.  Some schools will emphasize practice in all classes with less evaluation.  Other schools provide evaluation only, expecting that students will practice outside of school the majority of the time.  Regardless of what the philosophy is, the number of hours to achieve the goal of passing a speed level exists. With this understanding, the court reporting student can virtually control his progress — again, if he/she understands the concept of practice.  My next blog explores this concept.