Working Remotely with Young Children

Rachel SzymanskiBlog

These are challenging times for people in every profession, but legal professionals face unique issues. Unlike others who are working remotely and may be able to easily handle an interruption during a conference call, when a court reporter or attorney is taking a deposition from their home, it is necessary for the room they are in to be as close to silent as possible. This means those legal professionals who are caregivers for young children and no longer have their usual child care options during work hours face a dilemma.  

What’s a mom or dad to do when they need quiet, but want their kids to be learning at the same time? Luckily, there are some great children’s book authors, homeschool providers, and museums with online education options and activity ideas. 

For those with younger kids at home, here are just a couple of the numerous free resources that are out there:  

Try out these resources and feel free to let us know if your little ones enjoy them. We hope this makes working remotely a little easier. 

Need a Break? Our Picks for TV Shows to Watch During Shelter-in-Place

Rachel SzymanskiBlog

Our staff is hard at work during the day, but in the evenings, we have all been indulging in our favorite TV shows. Here are some of our picks for interesting shows and documentaries to watch during shelter-in-place.

Donna Urlaub, Co-Founder

  • The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Amazon Prime: A comedy set in 1950s Manhattan following an aspiring comedian from the Upper West Side who begins a career in comedy after her husband leaves her.
  • Schitt’s Creek, Netflix: A sitcom about a formerly wealthy family who must regroup and move to Schitt’s Creek, a town they once purchased as a joke.
  • Succession, HBO: A drama about the shift of power in a family who owns a media conglomerate.
  • American Factory, Netflix: An Oscar winning documentary which tells the story of a Chinese billionaire who purchases an abandoned General Motors factory and hires American workers for his company Fuyao, a glass manufacturer.  

Dayna Urlaub Trotta, Scheduling Manager

  • 30 Rock, Amazon Prime: A semi-autobiographical comedy by Tina Fey following the life of Liz Lemon, the head writer of a late-night comedy sketch show.  
  • Modern Family, Hulu: A sweet, smart comedy following the fun, crazy antics of patriarch Jay, his two adult children, Claire and Mitchell, their spouses, and kids.  

Bill Huron, Finance Manager

  • The Resident, Fox/Hulu: A medical drama set in Chastain Memorial Hospital where Dr. Conrad Hawkins tries to teach his residents how the medical system really works.  
  • New Amsterdam, ABC/Hulu: Another medical drama set at the oldest public hospital in the United States where Dr. Max Goodwin tries to tear down bureaucracy to allow the hospital to provide exceptional care. 

Brett Schatzle, Videographer

  • Breaking Bad, Netflix: A drama following the lives of a high school chemistry teacher turned meth kingpin and his former student who becomes his assistant. 
  • Better Call Saul, Netflix/AMC: A spinoff of Breaking Bad, this is the backstory of Saul Goodman aka Jimmy McGill, a charming con artist making his way as a lawyer in Albuquerque. 
  • Curb Your Enthusiasm, HBO or HBOGo: A comedy following the misadventures of Seinfeld creator Larry David.  
  • The SopranosHBOGo or Amazon: A crime drama following Tony Soprano, a husband, father, and mob boss who is in therapy.  
  • Pandemic, Netflix: For those who want to lean in and learn more about pandemics and how we might prevent them in the future, this docuseries delivers.  

Kathy Hillgard, Court Reporter

  • Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, Netflix: This 7-part docuseries examines the life of the eccentric Joe Exotic who ran a big cat park in Oklahoma and his feud with Carole Baskin, the founder of the nonprofit Big Cat Rescue. 

Katie Elliott, Court Reporter

  • The Valhalla Murders, Netflix: An Icelandic murder mystery with a detective returning home to help local police find a serial killer. 
  • Gilmore Girls, Netflix: The touching, comedic story of a single mother from a wealthy household raising her teenage daughter in her picturesque hometown in Connecticut. 
  • Brooklyn 99, Hulu; A police procedural comedy series following the exploits of Detective Jake Peralta and his colleagues in NYPD’s 99th precinct. 

Leanna Michas, Court Reporter

  • The Crown, Netflix: A historical drama about the reign of Queen Elizabeth II.  
  • The Morning Show, Apple TV: A drama set in the cutthroat world of early morning television.  

Rachel Szymanski Welling, Administrative Assistant

  • Westworld, HBO or HBOGo: A sci-fi drama set in a futuristic theme park where androids are providing entertainment for the visitors until a few of these androids start to become conscious of their situation.  
  • The Masked Singer, Fox: A reality singing show where the singers are celebrities dressed in elaborate costumes and the judges guess who is behind the masks.

Robyn Falasz, Administrative Assistant

  • Prodigal Son, Fox/Hulu: A drama about a criminal psychologist who helps the NYPD solve crimes while maintaining a relationship with his serial killer father.  


Video Conference Tips

Rachel SzymanskiReporter Corner

As the local and national response to the COVID-19 emergency has continued to develop, many of our clients have been considering how they might continue working while responsibly abiding by shelter-in-place orders. Video conferencing is a way to work around — or work with — the need to be remote from each other.

Attending depositions when all parties are in separate locations is a new challenge for many legal professionals including court reporters. At Urlaub Bowen & Associates, we have been using Zoom for our video conferences for several years. We find it to be user-friendly and familiar to many of our clients.

If you have rarely or never taken depositions via Zoom video conference, you’ll want to make sure you feel comfortable before your first Zoom video conference job. Here are some tips to make sure the experience goes smoothly.

Make sure you have the strongest internet signal possible — Sit close to your wireless router. If your wi-fi signal is not particularly strong, you may want to plug into your router with an ethernet cable.

Consider how you will sound — Check your audio feed. Feel free to speak at a normal volume. The mics on a laptop or tablet are designed to pick up the sound of your voice from a couple of feet away. They will also pick up any other sound in the room and some even pick up background noise from other rooms, so make sure you are muted when you are not speaking. Inform everyone else in the area that you will be on a live video.

Consider how you will appear on screen — Be mindful of the sources of light in the room. Consider taking a lamp from another space if you need better light or closing the shades to reduce glare or shadows from light from outside. Have a blank wall or other neutral background if possible. Sit up straight and make sure you stay in the frame. Dress as you would for any other deposition.

Arrive early — Think of the time needed to prepare for an in-person deposition. You need time to make sure that you have everything you would carry with you, have time to arrive at the virtual destination, and greet people before you go on the record. Don’t forget to bring water or coffee to your workspace.

Ask for information from attorneys in advance — Since you won’t be able to ask for business cards, request each attorney’s information before the deposition. Ask that they send information in an email or on a notice. Let the attorneys and their assistants know that if the court reporter has this information in advance, it will save time for all attendees.

Determine what you will say before administering the oath — We are using the following script for our Zoom video conferences before swearing in each witness. “Before we proceed, I will ask counsel to agree on the record that under the current National Emergency, pursuant to Section 319 of the Public Health Service Act, there is no objection to this deposition officer administering a binding oath to the witness by videoconference. Please state your agreement on the record.”

Special considerations if using a tablet or smartphone for your camera and microphone — To be sure you have enough battery life, keep your device plugged in if possible. Turn off all notifications. If you have one, use a stand for the device so you don’t have to prop it up or hold it.

Before the deposition begins, don’t hesitate to ask your support staff for help, particularly your tech support staff. Many attorneys may be new to this format for a deposition as well. Strive to be the best prepared, most poised person in the room. Your clients will appreciate it.

7-23-18 Donna’s Word-A-Day Facebook Briefs

Cindy SobolewskiReporter Corner

Reporters Corner brought to you by the expert court reporters at Urlaub Bowen & Associates

Here is an updated list of Donna’s Word-A-Day Facebook Briefs available for download in .pdf format.  You can download the list in either alphabetical or date order.  A list of reporter suggestions is also available.  Please come back and revisit, as the lists will be updated periodically.

Available Word-A-Day Briefs

July 23rd, 2018

Donna’s Word-a-Day FB Briefs Date Order 072318

Reporter Suggestions 072318

Donna’s Word-a-Day FB Briefs Alphabetical Order 072318

UBA Online Transcript Repository

Cindy SobolewskiBlog

The Who, What, Where, When, How and Why of Our Online Repository

What is an online repository? Why should you use it? How and where do you use it? Who has access to it? When do you have access to your files?  These questions and others will be answered for you from our perspective as keepers of the record.

As creatures of habit, we don’t really like when something is changed, especially when it’s something we’ve been comfortable doing for years that works just fine. That saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” comes to mind. Personally, I’m old school and technology scares me, mostly because it’s not static and as soon as I give in and purchase a device, a new one is released that’s bigger, better, and faster… and more expensive.

But technology isn’t always scary or intimidating. Take for instance, receiving a deposition transcript electronically. Email attachment, right? That’s the way it’s been done for years and it works just fine. But with technological advances, now there’s something called an online repository.

What is it? It’s a central location where electronic files are stored in a cloud, if you will, and those files are then accessible to be viewed, edited and downloaded. When can you access your files? Your files are available to you at any time – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – through our website from wherever you happen to be as long as you have an internet connection.

Hypothetically, let’s say you’re in hurry to leave your office on Friday afternoon because you’re going away for the weekend, but you’re also going to be prepping for that expert deposition you’re taking first thing Monday morning. In your haste, you forget to grab the Depositions folder which contains the hard copy transcripts and summaries of prior deps in the case. As you’re making your commute home, you realize it’s sitting on your desk and you don’t have time to go back to your office, but then you think, “Oh, that’s okay. I remember they were emailed to me. I can just download them. I’ll be fine.”

Continuing with the hypothetical, you’ve reached your weekend destination and have found some time to get a little work done. Oh, darn it, you have to find those emails with the PDFs. That could take a bit of time because you’ll have to first search the case name, then download each file attachment to your computer.

Why should you use it? With the repository, all those deposition transcripts would already be sitting in the cloud waiting for you in one location. And there’s no software you need to download or licenses to deal with unless you use the E-Transcript, then you’d download the RealLegal E-Transcript viewer. More importantly, the files are encrypted during the uploading process.

We all know there is personal and delicate information contained in deposition transcripts, so the encryption protects that information; whereas if a transcript is sent as an email attachment, it is not encrypted and then becomes susceptible to exposure in the event your email account is hacked. Our use of the cloud with its encryption capability is secure and therefore also HIPAA compliant.

How and where do you use it? With the repository, you log in to your account through the UBA website, and all of the cases are listed, then all of the depositions are in subfolders. They’ve all been uploaded as condensed and full .pdf, .ptx, .lef, .ptf, .mdb, .sbf, .txt, and .xmef files. And the exhibits are hyperlinked in the .pdf files. It’s just a matter of clicks to open a transcript, and then you’re able to copy and paste text directly into your computerized notes. Oh, and it’s no problem that you don’t have your desktop computer with you or even your laptop. You can access your account via iPads, iPhones and Androids as well.

Who has access to it? We can send the email containing the link to all of the attorneys at your office who are working on the same case, as well as your support staff. If someone doesn’t already have an account with YesLaw, a password will be provided in a separate email when the transcript link is sent to them. That password that is issued by YesLaw can then be changed once they log in for the first time.

So what are the benefits of using the online repository?

• Electronic files = no paper = Ecofriendly
Easy login and your account is password protected
24/7 online access to your files
Various file formats to choose from
• Encryption = secure = HIPAA compliant
Hyperlinked exhibits
Accessible via computer, iPad, Android, iPhone
• No special software to download to view most files
• Transcripts organized by case
No dealing with secondary file transfer accounts (30 days to download) because the files are too large to be sent via regular email

What are the cons of using the online repository?

• Personally, the only con that I can think of is having to remember your password.

While writing this, I’ve come to accept that change isn’t always bad if I keep an open mind. And when it comes to technology, changes are usually to make life easier. And as the keepers of the record, we hope, with the help of technology, that we can make your life a little easier.

What’s Their Story?

Cindy SobolewskiBlog

On Memorial Day I volunteered at a water station for a 5K/10K race. I became emotional when I saw a soldier in military fatigues carrying field gear walking the 5K in the 90-degree heat. The group I was with began to cheer him on and chant “USA, USA, USA.” It was later during the 10K that I became choked up when I saw him pass by me again. Neither time did he grab a water or walk through the sprinkler. Whether his purpose in wearing a uniform was to spread awareness of what our servicemen and women go through in the desert heat overseas or whether it was to show his pride in serving our country and honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice, his message was not lost on me. I wondered what his story was. Had he served in the Middle East? How many tours had he done? Was he still enlisted and home on leave?

Maybe I won’t ever know his war stories, but I can learn about other veterans by reading their personal accounts through a program called The Veterans History Project. The VHP is part of the Library of Congress American Folklife Center that collects and preserves interviews of U.S. veterans dating back to World War I.

In 2014, I was given the opportunity to volunteer for the VHP in my capacity as a court reporter. On Veterans Day that year I made the trek from the south suburbs of Chicago to the Lake County, Illinois courthouse to stenographically record a Vietnam War veteran’s oral history. The experience was one I’ll never forget. There were over 30 veterans of all ages from all branches of service present who were anxious to tell us their stories.

The veteran I was assigned to had served in the Army. His account of two tours of duty in Vietnam left an impression on me similar to what I felt about the young man at the 5K. I admire both of them for their bravery, and I am humbled by their patriotism. I applaud the strength and dedication it must have taken to be away from home and to put their lives on the line each and every day to protect us and our country. I learned recently that “my veteran” passed away last year and that his funeral service was held with Military Honors. I’m glad he was able to give his VHP interview before he passed away so that his grandchildren and others can read about his time in the military in his exact words.

You can search the database of the VHP on the Library of Congress website and see photos and letters provided in addition to the oral interviews given by some of our nation’s heroes and recorded verbatim by court reporters like me and other reporters from UBA.

The VHP is always looking for veterans who want to have their stories documented, but volunteer interviewers and court reporters are also appreciated and welcome. If you have questions about the VHP, feel free to contact Deborah Cohen-Rojas, who for several years was the organizer of the Lake County, Illinois VHP. Her email address is If you’re a court reporter and would like to volunteer at this year’s Veterans Day event in Lake County, please contact Arminda Badgerow, If you’re not in the Lake County area, there are other organizations that host events. For more information, go to or