Credit: Golden Press Releases
Chuck Cady has been the primary owner and operator of Cady Reporting since 1981. The Cleveland-based firm is a family business that has been a major part of cases across all areas of practice, big and small. Because of their longevity and dedication to customer service, Cady Reporting has become a staple of not only the Cleveland legal scene, but the Ohio legal scene.
Interviewology: What intrigued you about the field of court reporting?
Chuck Cady: Getting a ringside seat to what fascinates so many people– the goings-on of court cases. You get a slice of so many aspects of life and education.
I: How long have you been with Cady Reporting?
CC: I began with its prior iterations in September of 1981.
I: Is there a specific aspect of business that you would say your firm does better than others?
CC: Like so many services, it can become easy to be commoditized. I think the best way to stand out and that we stand out is being pleasant to work with and making people feel that we’ll happily go the extra mile to take care of their needs.
I: What led you running your own firm, as opposed to working with another?
CC: Our buyout took place in January of 1999, and at that time I had been with the firm for 18 years, so it seemed like a natural transition.
I: How does acting as a court reporter for a specific field of law—say, criminal—vary from working in a different field—say, maritime law?
CC: Because we deal in terminology in creating a written record, knowing the terms in a specific field is vital to making sure the transcript properly reflects the intended meaning. And for the information to flow well to the fingers of a court reporter, it has to flow through the brain smoothly, with little or no hesitation.
Since you specifically asked about maritime law, one of my favorite examples of requiring familiarity with terminology is knowing the term fo’c’sle, pronounced “fokesul,” which is a shortened form of “forecastle,” a superstructure at or immediately aft of the bow of a vessel, used as a shelter for stores, machinery, etc., or as quarters for sailors. That one can throw you for a loop, especially spoken with a thick Canadian accent. And that is a very big part of our challenge, understanding not just the terms spoken but many times with an accent involved.
I: Since you first became a certified court reporter, how has the field changed in regards to technology and culture?
CC: It has changed very much so. In the past we needed our steno machine, paper, a Dictaphone, and a typewriter. As with pretty much every field now, it required computerization, along with the necessary software for creating the transcript, as well as allowing attorneys to use a real-time feed if they choose, either in person or streamed remotely. And our firm, like most others, couldn’t operate without a dedicated IT person for security and know-how.
I: You’ve referred to the firm as a family business. Do you think that connection has a direct influence on your quality of service?
CC: Yes, it absolutely does. Our name is on the door. We need to back that up.
I: What are some aspects about court reporting you think people misinterpret?
CC: That it’s an easy job merely because we’re sitting there quietly doing our job, (or, at least, we should be), and, therefore, the pay doesn’t seem commensurate with the job skill. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The completion rate in reporting schools is around 7%, and I feel one of the reasons is because people underestimate the skill involved. They have no idea all the gears whirring away in the court reporter’s brain and sometimes their stomach as they strive to deal with a fast-speaking expert witness with a heavy accent, or just a very fast deposition where people are not aware of making a good record.
A pianist has the opportunity to practice his or her piece many times before a performance. Imagine a pianist having to play the notes in front of an audience as the notes are streamed across their eyes, never having seen them before. The court reporter has to do the very same thing with words streamed into their ears and transferred to their fingers and keyboard at a very high rate of speed, and no one tells us what they’re about to say before they say it.
I: What do you think it takes to be a good court reporter?
CC: Besides having the requisite skill level, it takes good attention to detail, which requires a high level of caring about the transcripts that you produce. It also takes good people skills and discretion to know how to conduct yourself in a way as to do your job well without being intrusive. Most reporters I know are total perfectionists; they fret over whether they should use a comma or a semicolon. As a sort of bottom line, I have yet to find a situation that doesn’t fall into one of the two basic vital categories for success: professionalism and communication.