Beyond the Record with Valerie Almand

LiveLitigation Certified Reporter Spotlight

Name:  Valerie Almand

Title:  Court Reporter and CART Captioner

Certifications:  RPR, CRR, CRC

What is your background?  After covering depositions and court work for 37 years, I now have added CART captioning to my services. I specialize in medical malpractice and financial cases. And now I’m thrilled to be able to “be somebody’s ears” when providing CART.

When did you begin your court reporting career?  1979!

What sparked your interest in choosing court reporting as a profession?
I had other plans for a career, which fell through. I did some research into which professions would suit my strengths, would be interesting and lucrative, would be in high demand, and wouldn’t require four to six years of college. Court reporting fit the bill.

What advice would you give to students or those just entering the field of court reporting?
Realize that this is a profession that requires regular practice, even when you’re working, and constant honing of skills. A court reporter must be a perfectionist! Never stop learning and dictionary building — it’s an endless process, but it pays off big time!

What is your favorite thing about being a court reporter?
I meet interesting people and learn something new every day. Each day and each case is unique. If today is especially challenging or difficult, I know that tomorrow will hold something different in store for me.

As a Court Reporter, what is your worst nightmare or biggest pet peeve?
Attorneys who say, “I know I talk too fast,” and then proceed to speak at 280-330 words per minute for hours at a time, while apologizing to me. Hey, if you know you speak too rapidly for me to keep up with, how do you think the judge or the witnesses or jurors are going to understand you? Take a deep breath and slow down already!

Where is the strangest place you have taken a deposition?
Probably in a Lebanese restaurant after they’d closed between lunch and dinner. The great thing was they were putting away the food from the buffet and urged me to please have some after the deposition. It was delicious, and I became a regular customer after that.

What is the funniest thing you have heard during a deposition or in the courtroom?
A defendant in an assault case had been accused of biting a police officer. They pled innocence, saying that they couldn’t have bitten anyone because they didn’t have very many teeth left. The prosecutor asked them, “How many teeth you got in your head?” They opened their mouth to show the jury, and had about three teeth total.

What has been your greatest achievement professionally, and why?
So far, I’d say two instances. I realtimed an 18-day arbitration by myself, feeding out to three arbitrators, and multiple attorneys and paralegals, both on site and in remote locations. It was a SEC case involving complicated financial matters. I feel like I did an excellent job. Another time I provided daily copy (by myself) for a two-week capital murder trial, in which the testimony was graphic and difficult, and the judge was a very fast talker. I’m sure a lot of reporters wouldn’t want to do those jobs, or wouldn’t have the capability to do so. They were very challenging. I feel like, though, that my greatest achievements are still to come!

When not court reporting, how do you spend your free time?
I love to garden, walk and play with my dog, and spend quality play-time with my three grandchildren.

What do you like most about LiveLitigation?
It is dependable. Prior to LiveLitigation, I was using my mifi, which became increasingly undependable. I cannot always rely on an internet connection, but I can rely on LiveLitigation every time. Plus, your support people are awesome.

Anything else you would like to share?
For reporters out there, and students, who are hesitant about realtiming for attorneys, keep working towards that goal. Develop and work on your speed and your skills, keep up with dictionary maintenance and building, and when you reach the point of few to no conflicts and low untranslate percentages, put yourself out there and take that step. Everyone is nervous at first, but like anything we do, the more you provide realtime, the more confident and calm you will feel about it. No electronic recorder can replace a skilled court reporter with a brain, especially one who provides realtime!