President’s Message

January 2018 –

To echo a sentiment made by Brenda Fauber last year, serving as President of USCRA was not on my radar. I enjoy giving my time to great organizations, but I don’t necessarily like to be in the spotlight. Now, having become president, I will endeavor to do my best to serve you well. It is an honor to represent USCRA and its members.

Five years ago, I was asked to serve as Tenth Circuit Representative, and I thought it would be an opportunity to give back to the profession that I have enjoyed for nearly 33 years. Never did I realize the riches USCRA would give back to me.

I now have many friends from across the United States. I have a network of contacts that can answer any question and can teach me how to find the answers myself. I learned that I have something to offer and the reward of truly helping other reporters is thanks enough. As the Tenth Circuit Representative, I would receive questions from throughout my circuit, many times dealing with the same issues that I found myself dealing with in Utah. I learned two things: One, it seems every single district has their own way of doing things and, two, we will figure it out, together. The camaraderie of federal officials is amazing. What I’ve learned on the district and circuit level I’ve seen time and time again during the last three years as I served on the Executive Committee: USCRA is the best professional support group around.

Balancing my life as a court reporter, wife and mother made volunteering a challenge. As every reporter knows, you can be caught up with transcripts one minute and buried under hundreds of pages the next. Many of us have been balancing this for years as working reporters. But volunteering has been a big part of my life over the years. I never hesitated to volunteer when my kids were in school. I thrived on being part of their lives by being a room mom for their classes and then as PTA President. One of the benefits of being PTA President is you have a reason to be at their school, and it’s not just to check up on your kids. I even took on the role as Booster Club President for a high school swim team. It seems I can always make time to volunteer for the things I find essential. What I hope to achieve as President this year is to get more reporters to volunteer their time. There are so many places to volunteer and contribute to USCRA.

Volunteering is a commitment of your time and resources, but with the proliferation of personal electronic devices, you can volunteer from your living room couch or on the bleachers watching your kids. There are committees that you can serve on where the communication is done by email and phone. It is a challenge, but I found I could carve out the time needed for everything I wanted or needed to do.

One of the many ways you can volunteer your time is by contributing an article to The Circuit Rider. Your everyday life may contain things of interest of others. You could share an interesting trial you reported or make us all green with envy with details of the fabulous vacation you took this year. Have you learned any new editing techniques or new briefs that have made your life easier? Read a great book lately? Share them with your with your colleagues.

Recently I was asked about the benefits of being a member of USCRA. An USCRA membership provides valuable resources through USCRA’s Facebook page, The Circuit Rider quarterly magazine, USCRA’s website, as well as informative and fun conventions held twice a year. USCRA provides an invaluable network of fellow reporters. USCRA is and has been tackling many issues with the Administrative Office of the Courts on behalf of all federal court reporters. These issues pertain to the daily lives of all Federal Official Court Reporters. USCRA has been advocating for a proposed page rate increase for 3-day transcripts, fighting the good fight to retain the one-to-one allocation ratio with judges, and continually reviewing the Guide to Judiciary Policy, Vol. 6: Court Reporting for any changes the AO makes that impact our job.

If you were to ask me what benefits I personally have received by first being a member of USCRA and then serving on USCRA’s board, I would have to reply that I feel I’m a better court reporter for it. By belonging to this group and networking with all of the federal reporters, it motivates me to be a better reporter. One of the most significant benefits of being a member of USCRA is you are more aware of the issues USCRA is facing on behalf of the reporters. By becoming involved, we are promoting our profession and ensuring there will be Federal Official Court Reporters for years to come.

I want to thank Terri Martin, Jan Davis and Megan Hague for the fabulous convention they organized in Scottsdale, Arizona. A special shoutout goes out to Candy Potter for all her work in helping arrange the speakers and to all of the Arizona reporters who hosted the hospitality suite. The hospitality suite was a great gathering place to enjoy some food and drinks, and a lot of fun socializing.

I look forward to the upcoming year and hope you will consider volunteering your time to USCRA. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact your circuit representative or me.

I hope to see many of you at our Midyear Convention in Chicago, April 27-29, 2017. We’ll have a great time becoming better reporters.

Laura Robinson
USCRA President 2017-2018