A Letter to Moms

Jady Ortega has been overseeing day-to-day operations for EGCR for over 10 years.  During this time, she has also raised two beautiful daughters while making sure that everything continues to run seamlessly in the office.  As a woman-owned business, finding a work-life balance has always remained a core value for EGCR.  On the heels of Mother’s Day, Jady celebrates what it means to be a mother in the letter below.

Each year for Mother’s Day, I adore having my girls give me what I call “special loving.”  They want to bring me breakfast in bed, cuddle with me, draw me pictures, read to me and just “love me” all day.  I love it.  Because they want to do everything to make me happy, it’s the one day I don’t worry about the time: time to brush teeth, time to eat, time for homework, a bath, dinner, bed.  I enjoy every second of this day.  It’s the one day I don’t beat myself up for not letting my little peanut wear those leopard print pants with a stripped glitter sweater and pink cowgirl boots – or worry that the nickname peanut will make her feel small her whole life…see where I’m going with this?  So, after thinking it over, I decided to write a letter to Moms.  

Dear Moms,

Happy Mother’s Day!  Today, celebrate you and all that has made you a mom: your children, your husband, your own mom, and all the wonderful moms around you.  Enjoy every second of the day!  Stop being so hard on yourself, don’t worry about mistakes; we all make them!   Look at your children and be silly and laugh.  Spend time with them…that’s all they really want.  Tuck them in, look into their eyes and tell them how much you love them.  Sit back and think of all the good things being a mom has brought you.  You are your child’s first love, first friend, and that’s priceless.  Think of your own mom, tell her she’s the best, and above all, thank her for all the unconditional love she’s given you.  Think of all the moms you know.  If your mom has passed, send a silent prayer into the world for her, thanking her for every precious moment she gave you.   Take the time to tell yourself – I may not be a perfect mom, but I’m a good one, and that’s okay!

With Love,

A Mom


Jady Ortega, Managing Director at EGCR, serves as liaison between EGCR staff, reporters, and clients.  She lives in New Jersey with her husband Oscar and her two daughters Nyah, 10, and Addison, 6.


From Law to Sales to Marriage

Deidre Yablen, a Senior Account Executive at EGCR, opens up a window to court reporting’s past and her own.  Read on to learn about her journey from sales to marriage and how technology has changed from when she first started in the industry.

I have been marketing and selling court reporting services to attorneys for over 24 years, 18 years at EGCR.  Throughout my career, I have witnessed firsthand how technology has dramatically advanced court reporting and streamlined litigation support.

Schedule your deposition and order your transcript online?  20 years ago, there was no online.  Receive immediate delivery for your transcripts? 20 years ago, we would scramble behind the scenes and have it delivered by messenger.  Include color exhibits along with these transcripts?  20 years ago, each exhibit had to be placed on the copier one at a time.  Realtime for your depositions? 20 years ago, the court reporter needed to provide a “token” and had to bring along a ton of special wires to make the connection.  Remember, there was no wireless internet back then.

Before I entered court reporting sales, I graduated from Touro Law School and practiced law for 2 years.  I quickly realized that sales was a much better fit for me.  I now use my legal knowledge and experience to better understand the complex demands and specific needs of each of my clients.

Sales really was the better fit for me.  22 years ago, I met my husband Michael on a sales appointment.  Just 30 days after that initial meeting, we were engaged to be married.  We now have 2 children; Michelle, a sophomore in college, and David, a senior in high school.

Just as my family has continued growing, so have the global services offered at Ellen Grauer Court Reporting:

  • Online Scheduling
  • Realtime Reporting
  • Remote Text / Video Streaming
  • Secure Internet Repository 
  • Video Synchronization with transcripts
  • Video Conferencing
  • Electronic Exhibits
  • Trial Services

For more detailed information about our global services, please visit our homepage: http://www.ellengrauer.com

Time sure flies and technology sure has come a long way!

Deidre Yablen

Time to Call the Litigation Funder

With the rising costs of litigation, EGCR finds it valuable to understand that there are companies providing an alternative approach to funding cases.  Marla Decker, a former client and litigator from Cleary Gottlieb, is a Managing Director at Lake Willans Litigation Finance.  She outlines the advantages of hiring a company like hers in the article below.

It’s a fact.  Litigation is expensive.  Attorneys’ fees, travel expenses, document reproduction costs, expert witness fees and court reporting fees will add up.  Even while working with a partner like Ellen Grauer Court Reporting to reduce some of these costs [see, for example, the technology they offer on electronic exhibits and remote streaming,] your client may be facing litigation fatigue.  Like the kitchen remodel that has taken on a life of its own, the mounting costs may be daunting, but there is no turning back.

So what to do?  A client’s first instinct may be an attempt to renegotiate the terms of the engagement.  They may seek reduced rates, leaner staffing, write-offs or a contingency arrangement going forward.  Worse, they may simply rack up unpaid bills.  In the midst of discovery, this is the last thing the attorney litigating the case wants to have – a dispute with the client or within his or her firm.  Moreover, the client’s request may not be possible, much less desirable, due to the economic limitations or capital structure of the firm. 

But in this moment lies an opportunity:  litigation finance.  Litigation financiers like Lake Whillans provide non-recourse capital to companies engaged in commercial litigation or arbitration that can be used towards attorneys’ fees, expenses, and even other corporate purposes.  Lake Whillans can finance all costs in a case or supplement alternative fee arrangements by providing capital for a portion of fees and/or expenses.

While Lake Whillans finances cases at all stages of litigation from pre-filing to post-verdict, approaching us while discovery is underway has distinct advantages.  Of course, relieving the burden of mounting costs is certainly one.  Another is the increased probability of obtaining financing for cases that have proven strong so far: the case may have survived a motion to dismiss, discovery may have revealed great evidence or the judge may have expressed skepticism about your adversary’s arguments. Whatever the reasons as to why the case is going well, litigation finance allows your client to monetize those incremental victories. 

To best utilize litigation finance, you will want to choose the right partner.  There are a number of considerations, but especially once the case has entered discovery, a nimble funder like Lake Whillans can move quickly from inquiry to funding.  Once financing is in place, the client and lawyers litigating the case can worry less about fees and more about preparing for the tough depositions ahead.

Marla Decker photo

Marla Decker is a Managing Director at Lake Whillans Litigation Finance LLC and a former litigator at Cleary Gottlieb.   You can reach her at mdecker@lakewhillans.com.

Confessions Of A Court Reporter Turned Novelist

Before writing full-time, Marlene Lee carted her stenotype machine from place to place in a moveable feast of court reporting: Brookings, Oregon; Seattle, Washington; Chico, California; San Francisco; and New York City.  We were lucky that she chose EGCR as her last home in the court reporting world from 2005-2010 before venturing out to start a successful career as a novelist.  Five published novels to date.

It took me a long time to become a published writer.  Perhaps Holland House Books and I would have found each other sooner if I hadn’t loved court reporting so much.  In the thirty-two years I labored, unpublished, over my novels, I might have spent more time writing and submitting my work to agents and editors if I hadn’t been so happy transcribing other people’s words instead of my own.

I loved my job!  We reporters have a wonderful window onto human nature.  Now that I’m a full-time novelist, I invent attorneys and judges and witnesses, plaintiffs and defendants.  But before I retired from court reporting I didn’t have to invent anyone or make up any dialogue because I caught real people’s words in the air and put them down on paper as soon as they were pronounced.  Court reporters observe human behavior and capture the way people really talk.  Now that I’m a novelist, I try to do the same thing.

When I worked in New York City, I had a terrific life.  In contrast to one or two court reporting agencies that are less than considerate and less than ethical in the way they pay their reporters, Ellen Grauer Court Reporting treats its reporters with respect.  It was a happy occasion when I pulled my rolling case through the front door of Ellen’s agency and asked her for a job.  I worked there for years.  Later, at age 70, when I entered the Brooklyn College graduate writing program, she encouraged me and cheered every little literary success that came my way.  She still does.

In the thirty years of being unpublished, I worked on novels early in the mornings before going off to court proceedings or depositions.  I wrote in the evenings, too, and on weekends.  I did most of my talking on paper.  In my short story “The Jury Is Out,” the narrator tells the reader: “I am used to writing shorthand notes as long as you are the one speaking.  I prefer to write your testimony rather than my own.  For years I have been listening to what you say.  I write your words a heartbeat after you pronounce them.  Your breath is my professional life.”

Court reporters aren’t supposed to talk when they’re working.  We’re not paid to form opinions, either.  We’re paid to capture rapid speech on a keyboard that has fewer keys than the alphabet has letters.

Yet we do form opinions.  We often develop a strong feeling for who is telling the truth and who isn’t.  We form opinions of witnesses, their attorneys, and yes, judges, too.  But real people can surprise you.  Often they’re not as good or innocent as you thought, and not as bad or guilty as they seemed.  And if fictional characters surprise the author who creates them, so much the better.

Speaking of surprises, who could have predicted that I would begin publishing at age seventy-two?  

I’ve taken hours and years of legal proceedings deep into myself and now turn them into novels.  But I do not lift plots and characters from real-life litigation.  I am too busy making up people and stories.  I can only say thank goodness for thirty years of court reporting.  They add fuel to the flame and keep the fire burning.

Transcribing President Clinton's speech
Transcribing President Clinton’s Speech

Marlene 1
The Author.

Marlene’s latest book, NO CERTAIN HOME, a historical novel, is being released April 8th 2016 by Holland House Books.  She is also the author THE ABSENT WOMAN, REBECCA’S ROAD, SCOVILLE, and LIMESTONE WALL.


Based on Court Reporter Fran Insley’s experience

In June 2015, Ellen Grauer Court Reporting was asked to cover the FERGUSON, et al., vs. JONAH, et al. trial in New Jersey, a ground-breaking case that set a precedent for LGBT rights. At the heart of the case was the question of the legitimacy and morality of JONAH’s counseling services that claimed they could “cure” their clients from being gay. Their questionable conversion services were originally brought under scrutiny in 2012 when The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a lawsuit against JONAH that was finally brought to trial this past summer.
After a three-week trial argued by James Bromley, partner at Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton LLP, co-counsel with Southern Poverty Law Center, the jury concluded that JONAH’s commercial practices were misrepresented, fraudulent, and unconscionable. The ruling ordered JONAH to pay $72,400 to the plaintiffs, and the organization agreed to permanently shut down operations and dissolve. Such a finding has paved the way for homosexuality to no longer be represented as a mental illness or disorder. This is the first time in a United States court that such a ruling has been made.

During these momentous proceedings, Fran Insley was the stenographer who recounted the following first-person experience to EGCR’s Caroline Sprance:

The Ferguson Trial was the first time I participated in a trial as a stenographer. Usually I cover depositions and often don’t get to witness the conclusion of a case. In this instance, I was lucky enough to be part of such a monumental ruling and to bear witness to historical social change.

Judge Bariso, the judge assigned to the case, handled the issue in question with aplomb. He was strong with both sides, showed no favoritism or bias. He treated everyone involved fairly and equally and took care of his jurors and staff, knowing that we were all in a highly stressful environment.

From my perspective, the plaintiffs were lost boys who grew into beautiful young men. I saw all the emotions flash across their faces; the joy and the sorrow for all they have gone through. I heard them speak in detail about what their bodies and their minds endured. Despite the trauma inflicted by the alleged JONAH conversion therapy, they were able to remain positive. They were amazingly considerate and often had smiles on their faces, always very respectful of the process and everyone in the room. Their positive attitude serves as a reminder of how one can come through trials and tribulations with grace.

I was also impressed by the Cleary Gottlieb attorneys, as well as the attorneys from the Southern Poverty Law Center. They truly cared for their clients’ well-being and were very organized about presenting the facts of the case; proof of their hard work and dedication. When the verdict came in, I could see the immense sense of joy and accomplishment on both the plaintiffs’ and their counsels’ faces.

Being able to witness this case from beginning to end was an opportunity of a lifetime.

Happy Lunar New Year!

Today we celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year of the Fire Monkey.  In honor of this day, we want to share a short film, created by director/cinematographer Alex Hankoff @a_hankoff.  Alex is the son of Shauna Hankoff, Senior Account Executive at Ellen Grauer Court Reporting.  
This film takes viewers through a day with Valerie Tom, founder of the Chinatown Community Young Lions, as she and her family celebrate the Lunar New Year in Chinatown.
Alex has a unique talent for capturing cultural slices of New York City life.  “He created NYChapters with Editor Morgan Mitchell as a platform to showcase the incredible variety of stories and personalities that weave together to create the fabric of this vibrant city.”  
NYChapters, which has recently been featured in The Atlantic, is a short documentary series focusing on individual New Yorkers from all walks of life.
More of his moving work can be seen at www.alexanderhankoff.com.
Wishing you a year of great prosperity!

– Ellen

New Site Launch

With the momentum of 2016, I look to the year ahead at Ellen Grauer Court Reporting with great enthusiasm. As a solution-driven company, our motto No Excuses, Just Results fuels the heart of everything we do. As we build on this philosophy for the coming year, we continue to expand our footprint in the global court reporting world.

This month, as we celebrate our 19th year in business, we’re launching a brand new website. Along with a crisp, clean look, our clients can now easily schedule depositions, seamlessly navigate our cutting edge services, and become acquainted with the leadership team who they deal with on a regular basis. Our new platform reflects the high-quality, personalized service that has always been top priority for our team.

EGCR is run like a family built on our core values Integrity, Excellence, Dependability, Loyalty and Teamwork. The majority of our employees and reporters have been with us for over ten years, many since our inception in 1997. As we expanded, we never compromised the attention to detail and hands-on approach that keeps us on the forefront of the industry.

Unique. Approachable. Forward-thinking. Even though Ellen Grauer Court Reporting handles cases for national law firms, major corporations and government entities, we have maintained an open door policy with upper management, which allows for the immediate implementation of creative ideas and cutting edge technology. We listen carefully to the needs of our employees and clients, ensuring that we incorporate constructive feedback into our daily business practices.

In the ever-changing court reporting field, EGCR has always stayed ahead of the curve while maintaining loyal relationships and providing seamless service to our clients.

Going forward, readers can expect original industry-related articles by guest bloggers every month. We’ll also be profiling an employee or reporter to give our audience a better idea of who we are. We believe that what our employees bring to the table from the outside enriches Ellen Grauer Court Reporting on the inside.

This year, I am excited to engage new technologies such as electronic exhibits to save our clients time and money while reducing our carbon footprint on the environment. We will also be growing our sales force and increasing the personnel in our scheduling department to handle all national and international logistics as our global presence expands.

With our continued commitment to going above and beyond, I’d like to extend my gratitude to everyone who makes getting up in the morning and going to work a true joy. This profession has given me the opportunity to meet brilliant attorneys, work with extraordinary people, and report high-profile litigation and pro-bono cases that make a difference in the lives of others.

Here’s to a prosperous year for all!