Video Evidence Depositions

Rachel SzymanskiBlog

We have had some clients ask if a video evidence deposition to be used for playback in court is possible with Zoom.  The answer is yes.   Just like we did before remote depositions became our “new normal,” we use a Certified Legal Video Specialist (CLVS) to create professional video recordings.   

Below is a brief clip of what a video evidence deposition looks like in a Zoom video conference as recorded by our in-house CLVS, Brett Schatzle. 

As displayed in the video, there is an option for the questioning attorney to share an exhibit that is open on their screen so all participants can view it through the Share Screen option in Zoom.  

However, we recommend that our clients send us their exhibits in advance, and we email them to all parties. This is because we’ve seen some drawbacks to sharing exhibits only through Share Screen option. 

  1. The witness has to direct you to scroll through the exhibit to get to a certain page which can be time consuming. 
  2. If you are not careful, you may forget to be specific when discussing the exhibits and not end up with the detailed written record you want.  

Here is an example of an attorney with poor record-making habits.

Q. Do you see this document?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you mark this document in any way?

A. Yes, right there.

This exchange does not clearly indicate which document the attorney is referring to nor the exact place within that document that the witness is referencing. None of these specific details will be in the written transcript.  

Here is a better version of that exchange. 

Q. Do you see this document that has been marked as Exhibit 2?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you mark this document in any way?

A. Yes, right there.

Q. Are you pointing to the initials on the left margin of the second page?

To avoid issues like these, we recommend only using the Share Screen option to share an exhibit you decided to include at the last minute or to show an exhibit you do not want the other side to have in advance. If you need to use this option, we have step-by-step instructions to help you learn how. 

How to Get a Professional Video Record

Rachel SzymanskiBlog

As litigators and court reporters adjust to working remotely during the COVID-19 shutdown, we are realizing the value of being able to see each other during a deposition. Luckily, platforms like Zoom make this possible even when all parties are in separate locations. But what if you’d like a video recording of the deposition for later use? 

Fortunately, videographers are still able to capture proceedings during this time. If you’re considering using video clips at trial later or simply want the best possible quality recording for your own reference, you’ll want to hire a certified legal video specialist. 

The reason to hire a videographer who is a certified legal video specialist for a video conference are some of the same reasons to hire them for an in-person deposition. 

  1. Editing the video: Perhaps the biggest benefit to having a videographer is being able to count on them to transform your raw video into a professional video recording with the best possible picture and sound quality. They can also send the recording to you in a variety of file types. 
  2. Syncing with the transcript: Videographers have software that allows them to easily sync the transcript with the video recording. You can follow the video as the text scrolls along with the speaker and easily pick out key portions of testimony that you would like to highlight later.
  3. Providing a backup: When a videographer records a deposition, they simultaneously record to a memory card in the camera, a separate memory card in an external video recorder, and an external audio recorder, so you can be sure your video will be captured.

Here is a recent clip from a mock deposition in a Zoom meeting recorded by our videographer, Brett Schatzle.


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.  


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

5 Things You May Not Know About UBA

Cindy SobolewskiBlog

I recently attended a continuing education seminar session that was presented by Todd Mobley of Mike Mobley Reporting and Rosalie Kramm of Kramm Court Reporting. The topic was: The Importance of Telling Your Story Through Blogging. One of the topics raised was: I don’t know what you don’t know. For example, when you meet someone new, after you form a first impression of them, the way to really get to know them is to ask questions. But what about the questions that go unasked? Blogging is a good way to relay information to people that they may not already have or remind them about a specific aspect of your business.

We don’t know what information you already have about us, so we’ve taken the guesswork out of it and compiled a list of five things we think you may not know about Urlaub Bowen & Associates, Inc.

5 Things:

1. We now offer in-house videography services. Brett Schatzle recently obtained the designation of Certified Legal Video Specialist and is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment to digitally record discovery and evidence depositions in high definition, sync the video and transcript for use in trial presentation, and deliver the video to you electronically, on CD, or as an upload directly to your case file in our 24/7 online repository.

2. Donna Urlaub, who since 1987 has competed in the Illinois speed contest, is the only person to hold the title of speed Champion and realtime Champion simultaneously not once, not twice, but THREE times. She is the current reigning champion of both contests put on by the Illinois Court Reporters Association. The realtime contest is comprised of two dictation parts: a 180 words-per-minute Literary and a 200 words-per-minute Testimony (two voice). It takes 95% accuracy to qualify in each contest. Donna’s 2017 Realtime scores were 99.22% and 99.5%, which averaged to 99.36%. The speed contest is made up of three dictation speeds: 220 words-per-minute Literary, 230 words-per-minute Legal Opinion, and 270 words-per-minute Testimony. Donna’s 2017 speed scores were 98.91%, 98.35% and 97.11%, bringing her average score to 98.12. She was awarded the Gary L. Sonntag Memorial Speed Contest trophy and the Sally Cochran Traveling Trophy.

3. Do you need to schedule a deposition outside of Chicago? We don’t strictly work in the Loop. Our in-house reporters can cover assignments anywhere throughout the Chicago Metropolitan Area and its collar counties, as well as DeKalb and Kankakee Counties. We also have affiliate offices in Lake and DuPage Counties. And if you have to schedule a deposition out of state, we can arrange that for you as well with one of the vetted firms that we use from our nationwide network.

4. We think it’s important to stand out and to better our business every day, which is why we have applied for and received the following certifications: WBE (Women’s Business Enterprise), DBE (Disadvantaged Business Enterprise), SBE (Small Business Enterprise). We also are members of the National Court Reporters Association, the Illinois Court Reporters Association, and NCRA’s Ethics First Program. We strive to maintain excellence in all codes and standards of ethics with all of our clients.

5. In 2019 Donna will have her 50th anniversary as a court reporter. She began court reporting in 1969 and hasn’t regretted it since. She’s been a business owner since 1985. Donna has contributed to the court reporting profession by being a board member of several organizations and by being a mentor to students and most recently by offering daily writing tips to a Facebook group of Chicago court reporters. But Donna’s not the only diehard court reporter. Co-founder Nick Bowen attained his certification 44 years ago. All combined, UBA reporters’ experience adds up to over 300 years!

Think about us the next time you need to hire a court reporter… now that you know more about us.

Are you paying 20 percent more for your transcripts?

Cindy SobolewskiBlog

Money saved when using local reporters provided by Urlaub Bowen & Associates.

Despite national firms claiming to have widespread coverage, they simply inflate costs by using local court reporters.

While acting as an unnecessary middleman, they push those extra fees on the clients.

Many law firms, especially large ones, now contract with national court reporting companies to handle their depositions and hearings.  These companies claim to offer nationwide, and even global, service.  But what is the real story?

The truth is that these national conglomerates utilize the court reporters in your LOCAL community.  So when you need a court reporter in Chicago, for example, they will call a court reporter or agency in Chicago to handle the case.  Then the conglomerate bumps up the charges on their end to make their profit.  So in the end, you are paying considerably more than had you just called your local court reporter directly.

Your local court reporter’s name will appear on the transcript, but their actual firm name or affiliation will not.  The national companies put their headers and footers on each page, so it is being assumed that our talented professionals are on the conglomerate’s in-house staff.  You may never know that the reporter who covered your deposition or hearing is in reality right across the street from your office, ready to cover your assignment for 20% less.

This is a conundrum your local court reporting firms are struggling with.  National conglomerates have infiltrated our industry as they have many others.  Avoid the middle man.  We urge you to hire your local, independently owned and operated court reporting firms.  As for Urlaub Bowen & Associates, Inc., we charge an honest page rate, do not pad transcripts, provide itemized bills, and there are no hidden administrative fees.  Not only will you receive the most timely and accurate transcripts available from the most talented and respected professionals in the industry, but you will be helping the local economy and saving your clients money too.

Thank you for your support.

Transcript Comparison

Cindy SobolewskiBlog

So you think you’re getting a deal?  Don’t pay more for less…

Their Transcript vs. Our Transcript

When we do referral work for other reporting agencies, we see transcript formats from all around the country and locally as well.  Transcripts are often sent to us as exhibits or to help us with word lists and formatting.


As we referred to these transcripts, especially those from national conglomerates, we noticed what looked like extra-wide margins, huge indentations for colloquy, and paragraphs when they were not needed. To validate our instincts, we took a cross-sampling of transcripts and recreated them using our format. What we found was enlightening.

One result was a transcript consisting of 349 pages. If we had covered the exact same deposition and used our formatting, the billable pages would have been 299 pages. That’s a 50-page difference. That means you’re paying for 17% more pages when you hire the other firm.

Choosing a court reporter should not be based on cost per page alone. With Urlaub Bowen & Associates, Inc., you will receive transcripts reported by certified professionals as well as litigation support products that give you the most value for your court reporting dollars.

Buyer beware.  Work with a reputable Ethics First, independently owned firm that follows National Court Reporters Association guidelines and produces a full page of transcript that’s worth paying for.

NCRA Ethics First Firm