Top of Mind with Daniel Salemi: A Closer Look



EGCR’s production specialist John Hadden sat down with photographer/videographer Daniel Salemi to take a closer look at what we often see but rarely examine; the buildings where our clients spend their working day. In “A Closer Look”, he speaks with Salemi to discuss the recent release of his photography book “Firm”, the architecture of Manhattan’s law firms, and the unique skill set he brings to our clients.

Daniel Salemi is a professional photographer and also a videographer for Ellen Grauer Court Reporting. Daniel brings his eye for detail and his drive for perfection to his role at EGCR where he has worked for the entirety of his videography career.

How long have you been working as a videographer and how long with Ellen Grauer Court Reporting?

I have been a videographer with Ellen Grauer for four years. I wasn’t a videographer before that.  I’m a photographer and studied photography in school. One day, I got this call from Dan Macom, head of EGCR’s video department, asking if I wanted to shoot a deposition.  At first, I said no because I’m a photographer not a videographer. When he called me again, I realized that I would have access to these law firms that basically nobody else does. And that’s how I got started.

Congratulations on publishing “Firm,” a collection of your own photography – I really enjoyed looking through it. What was your inspiration for this kind of book?

The inspiration came from my childhood. My dad worked in advertising in midtown, Manhattan and had his apartment on 49th and 1st. From the balcony you could see the Citicorp building, which is my favorite building in New York. You’ve got the slanted roof, and if you actually go to the building, the four corners of its base are not there, so it’s like a cross at the bottom of the building. It’s very precarious.  When it was first built, it actually wasn’t balanced correctly, so there is a ballast in the basement that swings. The building could have fallen over if there were extremely high winds and an earthquake. This architecture appealed to me from an artistic perspective.

As a photographer, I’d imagine you must have taken photos in many places. Is there something in particular that you like about shooting New York City?

It took me a long time to start photographing in New York. I had lived and studied here for about 13 years, but I didn’t really shoot the city because it was just so chaotic. I had a formal upbringing in photography, and it was difficult to compose something in such chaos. There’s always something that will get in the way, but now I’m just trying to live with the way it’s going to be. Having access to skyscrapers, once you’re that high up, there is a lot less chaos. Everything is still.

Can you speak about the architectural aspect of your compositions, and what you find aesthetically appealing about shooting in law firms?

What I find aesthetically pleasing about conference rooms are the clean lines and empty spaces. I find it interesting that these spaces are, most of the time, unoccupied.

Going back to the beginning part of your question, my inspiration to shoot architecture comes from when I was a child. Coming to the city and seeing the buildings, I was awe-struck and I would try to recreate them in Lego form when I would go home. My favorite part was destroying the buildings [laughs].

Since I was a kid I wanted to be an architect, but I just never quite had the drawing skills so I started taking pictures of architecture instead. It wasn’t planned, I never really thought of being an architectural photographer. Even looking through old family albums, there were random pictures of buildings that were clearly taken by me mixed with pictures of our family. It’s really interesting, I don’t remember taking them.

I noticed that many of the photos in your book are shot in black and white. Is there a particular significance/reason for this approach?

I think it’s a pure way to view architecture.  You’re just looking at the film in negative space.  The color doesn’t really matter because the color will change throughout the day depending on the light. Most of the buildings aren’t very colorful to begin with, so you can be more creative with black and white.

Would you say that there is a cross-over in terms of the skills required for photography vs. videography ?

I think so. I tend to be a perfectionist, and I hope that comes across in my video work as well. With my background in Fine Art photography, I make sure that the frame is well-composed, the color is correct, and, most importantly, that the audio is clear and precise. Through creative thought process, I am able to make do with the limited amount of available light and maximize the cinematic potential of any room, even in locations that are not ideally lit. 

Given that videography is very much a tech-orientated service, is there a particular trend/direction that you foresee for court reporting videography?

I think videography in court reporting will become more immersive with documents and exhibits being shown simultaneously. I would love to see a more fluid interaction between clients and documents. If everyone spent 10 minutes learning the functions of an app, they would ultimately save large amounts of time shuffling documents, cut down costs, and help save the environment.

The tricky part is getting a system like this implemented. I’ve heard countless attorneys, no matter their age or experience, discuss why this isn’t happened yet.  I think they are just waiting for it to become ubiquitous before they jump on board.


Daniel Salemi’s photography book “Firm” is available for preview and purchase here:  http://www.krisgravesprojects.com/shop/firm

“Firm” is a novel gift for anyone in the legal services industry and makes an original addition to any law firm’s reception areas.

Ellen Grauer Court Reporting (EGCR) and Global Legal Discovery are proud to announce their strategic alliance.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: New York, NY    April 24th 2017

Ellen Grauer Court Reporting (EGCR) and Global Legal Discovery are proud to announce their strategic alliance. EGCR has played a major role in reporting some of the most prestigious cases for leading law firms and corporations that entrust them with multi-million dollar global matters.  In a field where clients expect impeccable service, their point of differentiation is their hands-on approach and personalized attention on every case.

Global Legal Discovery is a leading provider of discovery solutions that include forensic data collections, electronic discovery, and review technologies. Directed by a team of recognized experts in electronic discovery and advanced analytics, Global’s application of customer service, project management, and technology has collectively made Global one of the fastest growing companies in the eDiscovery space as recognized by the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in America.

With an uncompromising commitment to their clients, these like-minded companies have joined forces to offer a wide array of services that cover the complete litigation life cycle.  Their core offerings now extend from forensic data collection and analysis, ESI processing, and document hosting, through court reporting and video services in the discovery phase.

“We are devoted to continually raising the bar to be the most current, responsive and valuable resource for our clients, said Ellen Grauer, Founder and CEO of Ellen Grauer Court Reporting.  “Collaborating with Global Legal Discovery allows us to offer a comprehensive collection of innovative solutions to law firms, corporations, and government agencies throughout the United States and globally.  As a certified Woman-Owned Business, we can now provide further value for our diversity-minded clients in this arena as well.”

Founder and CEO of Global Legal Discovery, Manuel Kaloyannides, comments on the partnership, “Ellen Grauer Court Reporting shares the same commitment to customer service that is the foundation of our 16-year success here at Global.  With their motto  “No Excuses Just Results,” EGCR is exactly the kind of business partner Global Legal Discovery was looking for in the New York market.  Ellen Grauer’s reputation of impeccable service in the world’s most demanding legal market for the past 20 years is a testament to her and her team’s on-going success. We are proud and blessed to be working with such an outstanding organization.”

By expanding their service offerings through this partnership, both companies now have the ability to better serve their clients in the global legal market.

For additional information about Ellen Grauer Court Reporting, visit www.ellengrauer.com or contact:
Jenn Grauer, Director of New Business/Media Content
Ellen Grauer Court Reporting
126 East 56th Street, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10022
Office: (212) 750-6434
jlgrauer@ellengrauer.com
www.ellengrauer.com


For additional information about Global Legal Discovery, please contact:
Brad Reed, Vice President
Global Legal Discovery
208 South Jefferson Street, Suite 201
Chicago, IL 60661
Office: (312) 669-8800
brad.reed@globallegal.com
www.globallegal.com

On The Pulse: Technology

In an industry where technological advances permeate every aspect of the business, staying one step ahead of new trends is key to growth.  For some players in the legal services field this means adding new tools to a pre-existing tool belt of high quality offerings, while for others it means working with outside vendors who are already ahead of the curve.

In the competitive and ever-evolving court reporting industry, those who embrace advances in the litigation process will remain leaders in the marketplace by continuing to offer their clients premiere services.

I have outlined a brief examination of various services currently being offered by court reporting agencies that have their finger on the pulse.

eDiscovery

Electronic discovery, better known as eDiscovery, is the electronic aspect of identifying, collecting and producing electronically stored information (ESI) in response to a request for production in a lawsuit or investigation. ESI most commonly consists of emails, documents, databases, voicemail, audio files, social media, and video files. The collection of information, which exists only in digital format, may seem abstract, but as the world continues to move away from physical and tangible documents, the importance of electronic discovery in legal proceedings can only continue to grow.

This process requires professional expertise and experience due to the evolving nature and sheer volume of electronic data produced. Electronic documents are more complex than hard-copy evidence, containing metadata that includes file properties, time-stamps, author and recipient information etc. For this reason, preserving the original content and metadata is required to prevent claims of tampering or spoliation of evidence later on in the litigation.

After the relevant documents are identified by both sides, they are placed under legal hold, ensuring that they cannot be modified, abridged, deleted or otherwise destroyed. Data deemed to be potentially relevant is collected and then extracted, indexed and placed into a database. At this point, the data is put through a funneling process to segregate the non-relevant documents and other forms of ESI, in turn saving clients hours of labor and cutting costs. The data is then hosted in a secure environment whereby reviewers (contract attorneys and paralegals) code the documents for their relevance to the legal matter. These documents are then converted into a static format, making redaction of privileged and non-relevant information possible.

The sensitivity and complexity of the process highlights the importance of working with a reputable and experienced eDiscovery specialist who is knowledgeable of the legality and processes surrounding data storage, collection and distribution. Court reporting agencies offering eDiscovery services can help consolidate the pre-trial process for their clients, and offer the best available services throughout the entire litigation life cycle.

Paperless Exhibits

Another exciting and waste-reducing service being offered to clients is paperless exhibits via split screen. This allows an attorney in possession of digital exhibits to host a viewing session to iPads, Kindles and laptops during a deposition. Clients logged into the session via wireless devices can view the exhibits without downloading or saving the files. For those familiar with Realtime technology, paperless exhibits also involve viewing information via a wireless device during a deposition without the need to be in possession of any physical files.  Each document is given a digital stamp during the proceedings to guarantee that it is uniquely marked.  At the end of the deposition the stamp is locked in. With paperless exhibits, the need to wait for scanning the physical documents is no longer necessary as exhibits can be obtained immediately.

PDF Case Bundling

Efficiency and convenience are the driving force behind the PDF Case Bundling tool.  This service consolidates the complete body of material for the entire case into one file. The Case Bundle unfolds and users can access all transcripts, condensed and full-size, complete with linked exhibits for their case. The file is updateable and can be viewed and annotated in both Adobe Reader and Acrobat.  Court reporting agencies offering PDF Case Bundling save their clients time, money and resources.

In a marketplace where staying ahead of the technological curve is the cost of success, companies who offer the latest services will maximize the value of their relationships with their clients.


John Hadden, Production Exhibit Specialist

Top of Mind

TOP OF MIND with Friedman, Oster & Tejtel

EGCR’s Director of Media Content, Jenn Grauer, and Production Specialist, Caroline Sprance, sat down with David Tejtel and Jeremy Friedman of Friedman, Oster & Tejtel, a firm founded in 2014 that “specializes in high stakes, sophisticated business litigation in federal and state courts.” Today’s Top of Mind topic is smoking gun evidence and how the location and access to substantive information is changing based on new modes of technology.

JG: For anyone who isn’t familiar with the term “smoking gun evidence,” can you please explain what that actually means?

DT: Yes. Smoking gun evidence translates to compelling, persuasive evidence of case-critical facts.

JG: With today’s advanced technology, global communication has evolved at an exponential pace. Emails, IMs, hand held devices, text messaging and countless other digital advancements have changed the way people are able to communicate and store information electronically. How is this shifting the location and accessibility of smoking gun evidence?

DT: It’s a very interesting question because defendants never volunteer evidence of their misconduct. So whether you’re a regulator, a prosecutor, or a plaintiff’s attorney, it’s your job to locate the evidence that actually proves the wrongdoing. Before, most communication took place over the telephone or in written documents. When email first emerged, it didn’t occur to most people that those emails could be discoverable and used as evidence against them. Eventually, people started deleting their emails, thinking they were eliminating potentially incriminating evidence, but technology soon caught up and allowed for deleted material to be recovered.

Smart corporate counsel then started advising their clients to be careful about what they wrote in emails. For whatever reason, a significant number of people didn’t realize that those same rules and risks also applied to instant messages. As a result, critical evidence began arising from that type of communication technology. People eventually started to understand that anything they typed into their computer could be recovered through forensic analysis no matter how many times, or ways, it was deleted. But interestingly, the lessons learned in the office didn’t seem to apply outside that professional environment. People were more apt to say something incriminating when writing an email or a text on the street or in a bar on their hand-held device, for example, creating a new refuge for smoking gun evidence.

CS: Do you find that it’s difficult to harvest that evidence? You know it’s there, you know it exists, but how are you accessing it?

DT: The only way to access information in someone’s phone is to either have them agree to it, which they are unlikely to do, or have the court order them to hand it over. You need the court’s buy-in, which is an interesting point because courts aren’t always quick to recognize shifts in communication technology and the resulting need to broaden the scope of discovery. It’s imperative that the courts understand this and say, for example, Well, now not only do you get to look at these emails, you should also get to look at text messages.

The other question is from a technological perspective: does access to someone’s phone or to printouts of their existing texts give you the information that you actually need? The answer is, not always.

JG: Can you give us an example?

DT: Sure. In a recent case, an individual had sent text messages that we knew were important evidence. We insisted that the individual produce their text messages and luckily the court agreed. We got the text printouts and it seemed like something had been deleted. The question was how could we convince the court to grant us broader access to what might be in there? We saw one text message that seemed to be responding to a text that wasn’t in the printout, and we used that as our hook for a deeper investigation. The court enlisted a neutral expert, and the expert went into the phone and retrieved numerous important deleted text messages. This could only happen because two things occurred: first, and critically, the court allowed it to happen; and second, technology has reached a point where you can resurrect deleted information.

JF: We had another situation where we knew an individual had sent really damaging text messages, but we couldn’t access them. Mobile companies frequently offer technology upgrades, and the individual no longer had the phone with those damaging text messages.

JG: How have you found that the courts are responding? Are they aware of the urgency and time-sensitive nature of these situations?

DT: Generally, they are responding rationally. When a plaintiff or defendant requests access to information, the court has a duty to balance the likelihood that the request will lead to admissible and important evidence on the one hand, and a person’s right to privacy on the other. The court needs to constantly be thinking about this. Access to emails and IMs is now fairly ubiquitous. We’re now starting to see a greater judicial willingness to allow access to discovery of text messages. Would we like to see even greater access? Absolutely. Would we like to see it happening faster? Absolutely. We need the courts to adapt very quickly or else the litigants will fall behind in the struggle to prove their case.

CS: I can imagine timing is key in these matters.

DT: Yes, this is all the more reason why it’s important that the courts act quickly, or even create a presumption that access to phones and text messages is allowed. It’s sort of reminiscent of a quote from Alice in Wonderland, “Here we must run as fast as we can just to stay in place.” The defendants will always have the upper hand because they know what to say and what not to say, and they know where the evidence is and isn’t. I’m not suggesting that they intentionally destroy evidence, but they always have the upper hand. We need to be running as fast as we can just to keep up and that means identifying how people are communicating, where they are putting the important information, convincing the court that we should have access, and also figuring out the technological means to actually extract the information that we need.

JF: And this will only be getting more complicated as new forms of communications emerge where messages auto-delete after a minute or two. At that point, we’ll have to figure out how to retrieve even that information. So while technology evolves, we also need to evolve our techniques of uncovering evidence.

JG: What is your firm doing to stay on top of new developments around technology?

DT: One advantage is that generally, the decision makers in these corporations are not the 19-year olds living in Brooklyn and communicating through WhatsApp or whatever the latest app is. We usually have time to identify and understand emerging technology before it filters its way up to the older generations, at which point it becomes highly relevant to our cases. But generally, it’s just a matter of trying to stay current with new technology, and certainly communication technology.

JF: The flip-side in our cases is that occasionally the relevant parties include junior or midlevel analysts who actually could be in their twenties and using cutting-edge technology.

DT: The next few years will be interesting. Many social media platforms historically were, and still are, focused on how to broadcast yourself. I predict that technology will start moving in a different direction where people start asking: “How do I close myself off? How do I hide myself? How do I delete information?” There’s no obligation before a case is filed for corporate defendants to retain all of their electronically stored information. On any given day, a defendant not subject to pending litigation can erase his email. He is free to push a button on a new app that deletes everything on his phone. It’s very important that we stay abreast of technology like this that can make it easy for people to potentially hide important information.

JG: Very compelling considerations. We’ll definitely check back with you next year to see what else has developed in regard to smoking gun evidence. Thank You.



TOP OF MIND with PRYOR CASHMAN

In a Pryor Cashman conference room, 40 floors above the bustle of Times Square, Ellen Grauer and Ellen Grauer Court Reporting’s Director of New Business and Media Content, Jenn Grauer, sat down with Philip Hoffman, one of Ellen’s most loyal clients.  They met in 1996 when Ellen requested a meeting and brought Phil his transcript on the latest technology at the time, an ASCII disk.  A veteran trial lawyer with over three decades litigating high profile cases across industries, Phil was joined by Michael Mellor; Head of Marketing, and Christine DiCrocco; Communications Specialist at Pryor Cashman to discuss how social media and new technology are changing the way attorneys practice law. 

JG: Marketing has become such a big part of Pryor Cashman’s culture.  What are some of the changes you’ve seen that have impacted the firm?

PH:  When we first started marketing in 2004, our website looked like a postage stamp.  In 2007, we revamped the entire website and came up with a marketing tool that we were all very proud of.  In October 2015, when our new marketing group came in, all of our marketing activities were taken to a new level beyond anything we ever had before.

I work closely with the marketing team and am privy to the influx of emails that have poured in since we developed our new initiatives.  People are doing the marketing here like they’ve never done it before.  There is a stream of traffic from attorneys realizing what we’ve got and how to use it.  It’s really expanded the way we work and connect.

We’re actually doing on-campus interviews now for law schools for next summer.  I’m learning that people are talking to our interviewers about materials they received from Pryor Cashman, which drove them to our website.  We’ve never had marketing involved like they are now, raising the interest and engagement of potential hires. 

JG: “We are creators, supporters, protectors, and connectors.  We see the world beyond law.”  This is Pryor Cashman’s motto on the website.  As the landscape of media evolves and our culture is more connected than ever, what is the firm doing on its marketing end to carry out this belief?

MM:  As far as social media, it’s really about developing a unique selling proposition and perpetuating our message through every channel.  We recently won the Venture Capital 2:1 ranking nationally for working with smaller organizations through out their life cycle; everything from their formation to licensing to litigation.  Everything we do is embraced in our motto, whether that’s through on-campus interviews, recruiting, or our relationships with media.

JG: Tell us about some of Pryor Cashman’s marketing initiatives and social media best practices.

MM: Doing the homework to understand what people are responding to is really important to us – making sure there’s social listening imbedded within what we’re doing, having a human voice, asking questions like “what’s driving engagement,” and doing A/B testing.  We’ve changed our tone to see what works, and we’re using software like Buffer to figure out best timing for when people are reading and responding to particular tweets.  We’re doing one to two LinkedIn posts a day because that’s what the science is telling us.  We’re doing four to five tweets a day, scheduled at different times, testing that, trying not to overburden people, and also realizing where our company sits as a law firm. 

We’re up 400% in @PryorCashman twitter impressions in 6 months, 40% in twitter followers, 26% in LinkedIn followers, 50% in profile views. So we’re listening to what people are telling us and tweeting accordingly.  Again, its about process and consistency.

PH: What’s amazing with these numbers is you might just think off-hand, “well that’s because of the people we represent.”  But for the most part, those people don’t allow us to post anything about them.  We win these cases for *******, for example, and it’s all over the press, but we can’t report it. 

We’re also starting to post all the different social events at Pryor Cashman. All that gets reported now, which is great to show internally because people take pride in how the firm is engaging.

CD: Our attorneys are active in so many speaking engagements and noteworthy organizations.  This is a big part of what we like to talk about through our marketing channels.  It’s a great platform to expand our audience.

EG:  Do you find that the older attorneys, who might not be tweeting on their own behalf, are getting a feel for this? Are you able to train them?

MM:  That’s a great question and will be the biggest game changer.  Employee advocacy is a high priority for us.  If you can get 80 of your attorneys on board, the magnifying effect is amazing.  We can’t enterprise and push out our agenda, so we engage the attorneys individually.  We set up times to help people with their LinkedIn profiles to teach them how to mine business development and understand the benefits. We’re a small organization, so reporting little victories goes a long way.  We’re starting to get more people picking up the phone and reaching out to us.

JG:  It sounds like your initiatives and strategies have helped build further comradery within the firm and also higher visibility in the public eye.

MM: That’s the hope – it’s contagious.  People see a process that works and they trust it.

JG: I read about one of Pryor Cashman’s newest partners, Thomas Vidal, in a recent article the firm posted on LinkedIn.  It looks like he’s really harnessing his background as a software developer to put some very innovative systems in place at the firm.  How else is the firm using digital solutions to further their practices?

 MM: There’s a lot of information sharing at Pryor Cashman when it comes to innovative ideas – we have the ability to move really quickly without bureaucracy.  It’s a culture where a lot happens organically.  We’re able to be at the forefront and really adapt to new technologies.

PH: Before it would take six hours to process all the paperwork when filing an appeal.  Now you can go onto the court website, download every document and shoot it directly.  That time-consuming process now takes me 15 minutes. 

The firm also just put in a new document management system called iManage.  I’ve always prided myself on being organized, so I was hesitant about what would happen to all my folders. I went and coded all my documents, and now this system automatically puts your documents into folders and stores all your emails.  So it’s making the disorganized more organized, and someone like me, I’m off the charts now! [Laughs] I think that’s going to have a real impact on our time and the way we practice law.  The whole way we work is changing. 

@PryorCashman
https://www.pryorcashman.com
https://www.facebook.com/PryorCashmanLLP

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Ellen Grauer, Philip Hoffman, Michael Mellor, Christine DiCrocco

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Jenn Grauer, Philip Hoffman, Christine DiCrocco, Michael Mellor


A Time When “Right Now” is the Standard

In our court reporting industry, we work hard to stay on top of cutting edge technology and embrace new developments to increase productivity and efficiency.  As a court reporter at Ellen Grauer Court Reporting, I am doing my part to make sure our clients take advantage of the latest hardware and software available.

THE GAME CHANGER

By far, realtime has had a huge impact on the court reporting industry.  Although it has been around for years, this technology now offers our clients more value than ever before.  In addition to being able to read the testimony as it is happening in real time, which gives attorneys greater control during questioning, they can now attend the deposition remotely through video and tech streaming.

THE HISTORY

The days of providing realtime with cumbersome cables and serial ports are gone.  With the advent of wireless technology, realtime is now offered through a router, creating its own network.  The recipient is given an iPad, or other tablet, that is connected wirelessly.  This advanced setup allows the reporter to quickly and seamlessly provide an in-room feed that is more portable and user-friendly.  Searching and marking has never been easier; it is as simple as doing a Google search.  Features like “refresh” give the reporter an opportunity to deliver a more accurate, reliable and usable realtime transcript.

THE EVOLUTION

In the past, the expertise of the court reporter was only recognized once an accurate final transcript was received by the client.  Technology has transformed the court reporter’s value and how they are perceived.  Now, my worth is borne out during the proceedings, rather than at the conclusion, because the attorneys are able to see the testimony instantaneously translated into English as I type in steno. 

Instant texting is another tech-forward feature offered during a realtime deposition. Litigators are able to communicate privately with their colleagues and experts, in or out of the room, enabling them to more effectively question the witness.

THE SCIENCE

There are many studies that show that comprehension when reading is far greater than when listening.  A Carnegie Mellon Study demonstrates how reading and listening activate different parts of the brain.  The bottom line is that listening presents challenges because it is easy to become distracted and lose concentration.  This phenomenon is compounded when an individual is taking notes.  Therefore, having a written transcript available in real time, while listening to a witness give testimony, is invaluable.

THE REAL DOLLARS

Travel is a huge line item on balance sheets.  Video conferencing and telepresence technology eliminate unnecessary costs.  Realtime streaming technology is the perfect complement to these services.  Attorneys can avail themselves to a realtime feed from anywhere in the world, saving their clients time and money.

THE CONCLUSION

In a time when right now is the standard, tech-savvy court reporters have their finger on the pulse.  This is truly one of those instances where we ask ourselves, “how did we ever live without this?”

Sadie

Sadie Herbert, RPR, CLR, RSA is a court reporter for Ellen Grauer Court Reporting

One Woman’s Journey Back to Herself

From East Los Angeles to a small Mormon town in Utah to the tango stages of New York City through the solitary trails of El Camino, Shauna Hankoff, EGCR’s Senior Account Executive, is a fascinating woman who has certainly danced the dance, walked the walk, and talked the talk. 

In a recent interview, before temporarily relocating to Paris, we talked about the lost art of seduction, her career transitions, and the unconventional, often challenging, path she has taken to ultimately reclaim her freedom.

Shauna started her formal dance training in junior high and went on to study ballet at the University of Utah, the only school west of the Mississippi that offered a ballet major.  Because her technique was not considered strong enough, she moved to New York to study classical Spanish dance at the encouragement of her teacher, the dance director for the Vienna Opera Ballet.  One step led to another, and soon she was studying and dancing Flamenco with Sol y Sombra, The American Spanish Dance Company of Andrea del Conte, and Jose Molina in various clubs and private parties through out New York.

Having always had a knack for sewing, Shauna started repairing costumes for dancers, including her teacher Mariquita Flores, a talent that led to her making costumes for the Ballet de Monte Carlo de Troquedero, Flamenco Vivo Carloto Santana, and the American Spanish Dance Company.  Her costumes sold for $250 and skirts for $125 a piece; no small feat in the 1970s.

Divorced with 2 kids at the time, she knew she could not sustain her career and support her family.  Up to her ears in ruffles one day, her then-boyfriend suggested she interview at a friend’s court reporting agency.  She put on the only suit she had, got the job, and the rest was history. “It was all or nothing,” she said.  She stopped dancing and began selling court reporting.  That was 25 years ago.

Though not the most obvious career transition, Shauna brought her grace and tact as a dancer to her position in sales.  “Sales is a form of dance as well.  It’s about building trust, developing relationships, and knowing which steps to take.  That’s why I felt sales was the perfect next move in my career.”

Two years ago, while at Ellen Grauer Court Reporting, she attended a show in the East village where an old friend of hers was performing.  Serendipitously, a singer and a musician friend she had known from her past were there as well. After the show, they went out for a drink to catch up.  “We’re your family, you’re coming home,” they told her.  So began her re-entry into dancing flamenco, and then tango.

“I’m a person who requires a lot of physical activity, so tango is nice because I can find a “milonga” and go dancing any night of the week.  You just show up and dance with whoever is there.”  Milongas are Argentine tango parties known to start late and go all night, often until 5am. 

The route of Santiago de Compostela, where Shauna has returned twice in the past two years, is the site of Le Puy, the classic starting point in France that ends in the northwest corner of Spain.  El Camino, as the walk is known, was a pilgrimage in the Middle Ages that served as a spiritual journey for absolution from sins, punishment for crimes committed, crimes for state, and a route by which news traveled.  Known for its harsh conditions, there was no guarantee of survival.  Wealthy people followed the trail on horseback, others traversed on foot.  Today, the trail is walked by travelers looking to reconnect with the spiritual resonance of the land.  Though a series of synchronistic encounters, her last pilgrimage marked a turning point when she decided to start planning her move to Paris.

“I knew that someday I would move there.  I had this sort of fantasy that I would dance tango on the Seine. Dancing is a commonality that crosses barriers.  It’s not about the venue, it’s about the art.” 

Shauna relocated to Paris at the end of May, where she continues working as an Account Executive and cultural correspondent for Ellen Grauer Court Reporting. 

“I don’t have anyone to please.  I am who I am, and that enables me to walk into a “milonga” and know that somebody’s going to ask me to dance, and I don’t care who it is,” she says. “The old me would have been fearful.  My life is my own now. It’s a revelation.”

Shauna Paris Shauna flamenca 

Shauna Hankoff, EGCR’s Senior Account Executive and Cultural Correspondent

The Ins and Outs of Video in Court Reporting

At Ellen Grauer Court Reporting, we strive to be up-to-date on the latest technology in the industry.  Since video is one of the most commonly used formats during depositions, we have highly trained professional videographers available on demand.  In response to our client’s inquiries, Blair Drager, EGCR’s Video Production Specialist, outlines each format in the blog below to help our client’s make informed decisions about their video needs.

The most popular and commonly used format that we offer is the DVD Sync.

This format provides the video, exhibits, and transcript together on one disc.  As the video plays, the transcript scrolls in time on an adjacent screen.  As an exhibit is mentioned during the proceedings, a link is available on the transcript that, when clicked, will open the correlating exhibit in a separate window.  Clients often choose this format because it can be helpful when preparing for trial and also allows for clip editing.

The final product of the DVD Sync loads the video and transcript into its own viewer; a free viewer that doesn’t require purchasing additional software.  The software is already loaded into the DVD SYNC Disc and will install that free software automatically when input into your computer.  This software allows you to view synchronized transcripts, edit video clips, present the clips in the courtroom, and export them directly to case preparation or presentation software. This format will not play on a DVD player; it requires a computer to be viewed. Although this format is not limited to a physical DVD, the files can also be emailed.

Below is a sample view of the final product along with a few brief tags to show the full functionality of the program.

The next format that we offer is a DVD Video, also known as MPEG2.

This is a simple plug and play disc that, when input into either a computer or DVD player, will simply play the video.  This format is similar to a DVD movie from a retail store.  It has the most compatibility but the least functionality.  It can be played on multiple devices, but it cannot be used for synching to a transcript, nor to excerpt clips for trial presentation. 

Each DVD Disc is the Plug & Play version of a tape from the deposition. This format cannot be emailed or uploaded so it is produced and sent out on a physical DVD Video Disc.

Below is an example of what the final product of a DVD video MPEG2 looks like.

Blair SYNC JPEG WITNESS - DVD MPEG2

The least commonly used file option that we offer is the MPEG1.

Since this is also included on the DVD SYNC, most clients do not often request this format by itself.  DVD MPEG1 is a ROM-DISC containing only digital video files on the disc.  Transcript or text synchronization from the deposition is not included.

This format is strictly a computer format, used for loading into legal databases. The client will be provided DVD-ROMs containing “raw” MPEG1 video files. It’s important to note that this format cannot be played on a DVD player. 

The MPEG1 file format is commonly used as a basic load file format for systems including synchronization of video, audio and other data with Compressed Video content and compressed Audio content. What that means is, if you have an in-house video production team, you’d likely request this format.  These files will provide your in-house team with the necessary info to create your own syncs and clips. 

This type of file can be emailed or burned to a DVD-ROM Disc. 

Below is a sample of the files you would receive if you requested MPEG1s.

Blair JPEG WITNESS - MPEG1 Final

All Ellen Grauer Court Reporting videos are securely archived and readily available for purchase at any time after a deposition.  If there are any questions about video formats, or you’d like to clarify your video needs, our video production staff is always available to help you at 212-750-6434.

Blair Drager

Blair Drager, Video Production Specialist