I’ve blogged before about what court reporters look for in a good proofreader, but with this interview I wanted to go a little bit deeper.
I’ve already talked to the proofreader’s boss. Now I want to talk to the court reporter’s boss — the attorney!
Melody Mahusay is a construction litigation attorney in Florida and, although she’s not practicing currently, she’s still actively licensed to do so. In addition to being an attorney, she’s also a new student in the course Transcript Proofreading: Theory and Practice™, so I was curious to learn more about Melody’s personal experience with court reporters and what piqued her interest in proofreading.
bombarded her with questions interviewed her.
Let’s dive in!
Hi, Melody! Tell us about you and your background as an attorney.
I started my legal practice in 1995 and worked up until 2004. I did commercial litigation, which is an area of law in which the attorney represents different businesses in all kinds of disputes. For example, if Walmart had a dispute with one of its suppliers, we would represent one side or the other in that dispute. During the course of my practice, I took countless depositions and attended multiple court hearings almost every week. I was also involved with many full-length trials. Because of that, I worked with many court reporters.
So you’ve worked with court reporters a lot! Awesome. Tell us about your experience with court reporters. What makes a great court reporter? What makes a not-so-great court reporter?
I have worked with court reporters all over the place, both in person and over the phone. A great court reporter is one who shows up on time, does great work and almost fades into the background. I was very blessed to work with lots of wonderful court reporters over the years. The best ones did real-time reporting and had super fast turn-around times with transcripts. They are quite professional so I don’t have any stories about bad reporters. A couple of times super early in my practice, when I was still learning, a court reporter also saved my back side on procedural stuff that they see all the time. Guess I got lucky!
How does proofreading tie into your experience with court reporters and their transcripts? Is proofreading just kind of important, or is it always necessary?
Proofreading is a critical component of the practice of law in general because of all the reading and writing that we do. With respect to transcripts, both lawyers and judges spend an extraordinary amount of time reading them. It is irritating and distracting when there are errors. They interrupt the flow and are disruptive to comprehension and retention. In addition, what is in those transcripts is there to stay. If there is an error now, there will be one 20 years from now when someone comes back to look at it. Yikes!
What kinds of things could happen if a transcript comes to you riddled with errors?
If a transcript ever came back to me with lots of errors, particularly if it happened more than once, I would have not hired that reporter again. Court reporters charge quite a bit for their work, and they should because they work hard. If their output is sloppy, they aren’t worth the money. Repeated multiple errors in transcripts could also ultimately make me look like an idiot in front of my clients, other lawyers and the court. If I care so little about the court reporter’s work, I’m probably pretty sloppy with everything else too.
So you’ve taken a break from your work as an attorney. What are you doing now with your legal knowledge?
I have been retired from the practice of law for 11 years. During that time, I totally changed it up and did direct sales for 10 of those years. Over the last year, I didn’t do any type of work outside the home. Instead, I have been caring full time for my three kids and trying to be a good wife! Over the last few weeks though, I started thinking about doing something new. I didn’t want to work outside the home and my family didn’t want me to do that either. I literally stumbled upon the transcript proofreading course in a totally random Pinterest search. I have always been the one to whom people bring their reports, papers, brochures and bulletins to proofread. Because this particular niche in proofreading deals directly with legal matters, it is within my area of expertise so I don’t have as many words to look up on Google!
In addition, I have started the proofreading course and have been impressed with the quality of the course materials, the breadth of topics covered, and with Caitlin. I’m looking forward to see how the next few months unfold!
We think it’s awesome to have another attorney join our proofreader community (yes, we’ve got a few!). Melody’s extensive litigation background — especially in the area of construction — bodes well for her future as a proofreader. She’s also a highly valued member of our Facebook group — which means we also have fewer words to look up on Google 😉