Doris O. Wong Associates, Inc., Celebrates 50th Anniversary
Located in Downtown Boston for half a century, Doris O. Wong Associates, Inc., is an independently owned and operated family business that owes its success to its talented and dedicated reporters and staff members, the majority of whom have been with the firm for over 35 years, and a loyal clientele. Wong’s commitment to providing the most accurate and timely transcripts has earned the firm a respected local and national reputation.
Celebrating this golden anniversary offers an opportunity to look back and reflect on the significant advancements in the court reporting profession.
Back in the early days, recording verbatim testimony was done mostly by handwritten shorthand. By the time Wong opened her business in 1967, court reporters wrote on manual Stenograph machines and then typed their own transcripts from their paper notes, using carbon paper sets, or dictated their notes onto tape for their typists.
When computer-aided transcription came to the forefront in 1977, Wong’s firm was the ninth in the nation to embrace this new technology, which meant installing two huge mainframe computers which had to be shared among the reporters. At that time the firm served as a beta site and participated on liaison committees with software developers. Mainframes are thankfully a thing of the past, along with manual writers. Reporters now process their work using their personal laptops and computerized Stenograph machines.
Who would have envisioned 50 years ago that realtime would have such a stronghold in our industry today. It is now commonplace that reporters’ Stenograph machines can be connected wirelessly to their laptops for instant translation of steno into English. Our top-tier professionals take this a step further and provide realtime to attorneys’ devices; and with technology allowing for realtime feeds through iPads over the Cloud, lawyers don’t even need to be present to participate but can be engaged from remote locations.
Because of the evolution of technology over the years, attorneys no longer need to receive transcripts in paper format. Now they have a full complement of digital options from which to choose which offer the ultimate in productivity and flexibility. Even our Stenograph machines have undergone many iterations, the latest and most sophisticated machine being the Luminex, along with the dozens of accompanying software updates. Technology has been the game-changer in all aspects of the court reporting industry.
Notes Wong: “The court reporting profession has changed in dramatic ways in 50 years, and the profession will continue to evolve and grow in ways we cannot yet even imagine. Despite all the changes over the years, our life’s work remains the same: to produce timely verbatim transcripts of the highest quality. The reporters on my staff have collectively listened to thousands upon thousands of stories that reflect a myriad of issues that affect people’s lives and livelihood. They have had front-row seats to all types of high-profile cases, have listened to experts in a multitude of disciplines, and have traveled the world to record important testimony. It is an honor and a privilege for all of us to be able to participate in a process that holds such importance to so many.”
Wong’s two nieces, Linda Fifield and Connie Psaros, also sisters, run the day-to-day operation of the business. Linda is currently president of STAR, the Society for the Technological Advancement of Reporting, and Connie writes the “Student Corner” blog for the company. They also made contributions to The Deposition Handbook for NCRA.
Over the course of the past 50 years, Doris Wong has served as past president of the Massachusetts Shorthand Reporters Association (now Massachusetts Court Reporters Association) and the National Shorthand Reporters Association (now National Court Reporters Association). She was named a Founding Fellow of the Academy Board of the national association and was awarded its highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award.
February 2017 - Many thanks to Attorney Martin Healy, Esq., and COO of the Massachusetts Bar Association, for writing a letter in support of the Massachusetts Court Reporters Association.
URGENT!! OTS PROHIBITS COURT REPORTERS’ CERTIFIED TRIAL TRANSCRIPTS FROM BEING ADMISSIBLE
Official court reporters in state courts will soon be replaced by electronic recording. This is a matter of great importance for litigators. The Office of Transcription Services, OTS, recently issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) that could greatly impact your right to hire a court reporter of your choosing to go into court, report the proceedings, and prepare your transcript.
According to the current RFP, a transcript of a court hearing that a certified court reporter prepares for a private-pay client may not be accepted as the official record. OTS has notified members of the Massachusetts Court Reporters Association through its RFP of the following: “Any transcripts that are filed as part of any appeal process in the Judiciary require transcripts transcribed by Approved Court Transcribers.”
Most court reporters in the Commonwealth are not on the Approved Court Transcribers list despite attempts to be included. The list has been closed since 2008, but MCRA has learned that since 2008 eScribers, an out-of-state transcription company that employs transcriptionists, has been allowed to do this work. They have been paid close to $200,000, money that should stay locally to benefit Massachusetts citizens and its economy.
“Daily, rough, and/or expedited transcripts will be a thing of the past. You will no longer have the choice to have a court reporter for your trial, civil or criminal, and have the record deemed acceptable for appeal. Rather, an electronic recording typed by a transcriber will be the official record.” - MCRA
OTS is interfering with attorneys’ rights to choose whom they wish to report their trials. Lawyers who have long-standing working relationships with their trusted court reporters should not be forced to rely on a sometimes unreliable audio file and use a transcriptionist unknown to them to prepare their transcripts. A live court reporter can prepare a far superior transcript than a remote transcriptionist who was not present at the trial and was not privy to what actually transpired in the courtroom. In addition, a live court reporter can provide realtime and expedited delivery. Court reporters are certified to write at 225 wpm. They are uniquely qualified, more so than transcriptionists (50 wpm minimum per the RFP), to do this important and difficult work.
If you want to continue to use your own court reporter in court without interference from OTS, we need your help. Please sign the petition or write a letter on our behalf. The letter can be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to Massachusetts Court Reporters Association, P.O. Box 377, Westwood, Massachusetts 02090. It would be greatly appreciated.
Certified Court Reporters Barred By OTS From Transcribing Audio Files
We’re fighting for you and need your help!
As you may know, the Massachusetts Trial Court is in the process of updating the electronic recording system used in each of the Commonwealth’s 455 courtrooms. Gone are the days of JAVS recording, and, instead, is the implementation of the new FTR system.
What you may not know is that the Trial Court, specifically the Office of Transcription Services, is in the process of forcing parties to navigate through their office, OTS, to obtain official transcripts.
Moreover, parties to a proceeding are being stripped of their right to choose who transcribes these audio recordings. OTS is currently using eScribers, an out-of-state transcription company that employs transcriptionists to complete this work, not certified court reporters.
This attempt by OTS to force private-pay parties to go through their office to obtain an “official transcript,” which often contains inaudibles and indiscernibles, and, in some cases, missing crucial sidebar discussions, not only affects the quality of the transcript produced, but it will have a substantial and direct effect on the due process and ability to appeal matters in our Commonwealth.
If you want to continue to use your own court reporter to transcribe your court appearances from audio recordings in the courtroom, we need your help. Please send this office or the Massachusetts Court Reporters Association, P.O. Box 377, Westwood, Massachusetts 02090, a letter outlining why you think it is important that you and your clients have the right to choose who transcribes your courtroom proceedings.
Our goal is that enough attorneys will have the courage to speak out against this injustice so that the quality of courtroom transcription is maintained and due process is served.