A Recipe For Implementing a Diversity and Inclusion Program in Any Law Office

This article has been republished by permission of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association

By Sanford E. Watson

This article is written for those committed to starting or maintaining a diversity and inclusion program within their law office. I have not yet met the lawyer who disagreed with me about the business case for diversity. But when the discussion turns to implementation, concerns about costs, consultants, and staffing tend to make the way forward less clear. This stone soup recipe offers a simple and effective way forward for starting a diversity and inclusion program.

The Story of Stone Soup

stone-soup2Stone Soup is a very old folk tale. Different versions of the story can be traced back to Africa, Asia, and Europe. In all versions of the story, a traveler arrives in a village seeking food and lodging. The traveler goes from house to house in search of a meal but he is turned away at every door.

The traveler then goes to the village square, where he builds a fire, fills a large kettle with water, and places the kettle over the fire. He removes a common smooth stone from a velvet bag and begins to polish it as if it were made of gold. A curious villager comes along and asks the traveler what he is cooking. The traveler proclaims that he is making the most delicious stone soup and offers to share it if only the villager could contribute something to the kettle. Intrigued, the villager hurries home, and returns in matter of minutes with a bunch of carrots.

Another villager comes along and has a similar conversation with the traveler, and returns with some meat. The conversation gets repeated over and over again until the traveler has added to the kettle a bounty of meat, produce, and spices. The group of villagers anxiously awaits a chance to taste the stone soup, and when the soup is done, they feast long into the night reaping the benefits of contributing to the pot and working together.

The Key Ingredient

The key ingredient in stone soup is the stone. The “stone” in every diversity and inclusion program is the boss – the managing partner, partner in charge, or law director. The law firm are top-down organizations. If the boss or leadership team makes a visible commitment to diversity and inclusion, others are more likely to follow. Exponentially, the more that law firm partners make a visible commitment, the more law firm associates in staff will follow.

A visible commitment may include something as simple as participating in one of the firm’s diversity in inclusion activities. Visible commitment can also be demonstrated by serving on the law firm’s diversity in inclusion committee, taking a leadership role in a bar association diversity and inclusion initiative, or severe on the board of a civic organization that promotes diversity and inclusion. By making a visible commitment in whatever form, the leader sets the example for others to follow. Once the stone is introduced, making stone soup is easy.

Prepare a Shopping List               

Prepare a shopping list of diversity and inclusion best practices to customize your soup recipe. Rest assure you need not create this list from scratch. Best practices for diversity and inclusion are easily accessible from many sources for free and many are available on the web. Here are a few examples:

  • Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA) publishes research publishes research on its website that covers a broad range of diversity topics and best practices. MCCA is not limited to covering issues of race; it also covers issues related to gender, generation, LGBT, and work – life balance, among other diversity and inclusion issues. MCCA also identifies best practices for law departments as well as for law firms. The most important note about MCCA is that much of its research is free and available for public access on its website. See mcca.org.
  • The Defense Research Institute ( DRI ) offers a Diversity and Inclusion Manuel that includes a list of best practices of any law office can implement. See dri.org.
  • The National Association of Law Placement ( NALP ) also offers a Diversity Best Practices Guide that covers a broad range of topics beyond recruiting. See nalp.com.

Once you have survived a number of websites, group the best practices into categories. Many of the websites will have already put them into categories. The most common categories are ( 1) leadership and accountability, (2) recruiting, (3) diversity training, (4) mentoring and retention, (5) work-life balance, (6) affinity groups, (7) pipeline programs, and (8) supplier diversity.

Take Inventory

Take inventory of the best practice ingredients in your cupboard. Before you go shopping, you need to know what best practices have already been implemented in your office. Compare these ingredients with your shopping list. Use this exercise to evaluate what your firm has already accomplished. It will also identify diversity and inclusion categories where attention is needed. In those areas requiring attention, the list will provide ideas of new best practices to adopt.

Add Programs from the Village

Before creating any programs from scratch, consider joining the ones available in your village. For those law offices in your local village (of Northeast Ohio ), the bar associations have a number of excellent programs. Most notably, the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association (CMBA) provides a number of diversity and inclusion programs. CMBA’s Diversity Career Fair is a great recruiting tool. CMBA also offers pipeline programs worth exploring, including the Minority Clerkship Program, 3Rs Program, and Louis Stokes Scholars Program. Other business organizations such as the Greater Cleveland Partnership Commission on Economic Inclusion provide diversity researches to the entire business community including law firms. Other organizations such as the Diversity Center of Northeast Ohio provide a broad array of services. One of the biggest advantages to having a local village with diversity and inclusion programs is convince of simply signing up rather than having to create a new program.

Optional Ingredients

Diversity and inclusion conferences and seminars are an option for training and continuing legal education. These conferences can be a great source of cutting-edge best practices and a forum for the exchange of ideas. Some conferences offer networking and client and career development opportunities for women, minority, and LGBT lawyers.

Some of these conferences are hosted by organizations primarily dedicated to diversity in the legal profession including MCCA, the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity, Center for Legal Inclusiveness. Many national bar associations have diversity committees of their own and offer quality diversity and inclusion programing. Finally, there are affinity bar associations –both locally and nationally – that support and address the unique interest of their members. Some examples are Corporate Council Women of Color, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, National Bar Association (locally the Norman S. Minor Bar Association), National Hispanic Bar Association, and National LGBT bar Association.

Finishing the Soup

How stone soup is finished depends upon the culture, size, and resources of the law firm. The beauty of this recipe is its simplicity. It is up to each law firm or law office to figure out which ingredients fit its best practice needs and add them to the pot. Once you figured it out, you’ve got stone soup.

Stone soup is an economical way of getting started. Because hiring consultants or diversity and inclusion professionals can be so costly, it is not part of the basic recipe; however, consultants do play a valuable role in shaping diversity and inclusion policy. They may be the best resource for training – particularly unconscious bias training – because they are independent of the organization being trained. Some diversity and inclusion consultants can do it all, including making stone soup.

At Tucker Ellis, we started our stone soup using the basic recipe. Taking inventory for the first time was rewarding because in highlighted all of the things we were doing right. We also found our culture of community service made joining CMBA pipeline programs and working with students a natural fit each year, we take inventory and as we change as a firm, our recipe for stone soup changes. The most important thing was making the commitment to get started by making stone soup.

Sanford E. Watson is a partner with Tucker Ellis LLP where he practices in the areas of business litigation, medical products liability, and public law.  As chair of the Tucker Ellis Diversity Committee and through his community and bar association activities, he works to improve the diversity of the legal profession.  He has been a Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association member since 1996.  He can be reached at (216) 696-2385 or sanford.watson@tuckerellis.com.



Boston Court Reporting Firms

Boston court reporters are helping law firms meet emerging challenges.

Boston court reporters are helping law firms meet emerging challenges.

Today’s legal professionals need every edge as they take on the complex cases that have become staples in today’s legal system. More cases, more clients, crowded court dockets, and less time have all become the norm for today’s attorneys, and they need technology to help them work at their highest level.

Boston court reporters can help lawyers who want to maximize their time and talents. These court reporting professionals offer all of the tools that today’s busy legal professionals need as they guide their cases from preparation to presentation in the courtroom.

Connectivity has enhanced our lives in many ways, and it has changed the way people work in many fields. New tools like videoconferencing, realtime reporting, and online repositories take advantage of connectivity as the cornerstone of a new way of working that can alleviate travel burdens and help lawyers work more effectively.

Even with all of the technology available, Massachusetts court reporters remain the reliable source for accurate and timely court reporting and transcripts that are crucial to attorneys’ work every day. These reporting professionals have also now evolved to bring innovative ideas and new technology into the work of legal professionals both in the area and across the country.

Court Reporting in Canada

Court Reporting In Canada

Keep your court reporter aware of special needs you may have.

by Kimberley Neeson

When conducting depositions in Canada, it pays to do a little research before booking a court reporting firm. What is considered the “norm” in your state or country may not be the “norm” in other jurisdictions.   Here are a few quick points to bear in mind:

  • In many provinces in Canada, stenography is not the method of court reporting. Many court reporting firms employ digital recording with monitors, and typists prepare the transcripts (and not necessarily the monitor who sat in your deposition!)
  • Court reporters do not have to be licensed in Canada in order to certify transcripts.
  • Court reporters who swear in the witness should have a Commissioner of Oaths from the province they are working in.
  • Rates differ dramatically from province-to-province and even city-to-city (think New York City rates versus Small-Town-USA rates, for example).
  • Qualified legal videographers are few and far between. Only a handful of videographers in Canada have actually obtained their CLVS certification.
  • The technological abilities of court reporting firms varies widely in most provinces. Some reporters still use WordPerfect 4.2 from the late 1980s in order to produce transcripts!

How do you locate a qualified court reporter and videographer in Canada?

  • Choose a reputable court reporting firm with affiliations to associations where they have been independently vetted, i.e. National Court Reporters Association, National Network of Reporting Companies, etc.
  • Ask what method of reporting your court reporter will be providing; in other words, if you need a steno reporter, make sure to ask for one and indicate that digital recording is not acceptable.
  • Ensure your court reporting firm can provide you with the tools you require to meet your needs; i.e. hyperlinked exhibits, synced video media, transcript formats that will work with legal software databases, etc.
  • Ensure your court reporting firm can meet your transcript turnaround deadlines; i.e. ask for a rate sheet that includes turnaround times in advance of booking.
  • Inquire whether conference rooms are available and complimentary; this is standard offering in most Canadian court reporting firms
  • For videography, inquire in advance if you can get your media on a DVD; you don’t want to deal with the old school VHS system!
  • Last but not least, because you are an out-of-country customer, ask if prepayment is necessary.

By creating a quick checklist of absolute musts for your court reporting and videography services, you’ll save yourself a nasty surprise in a location where “fixing” the problem will be very difficult, if not impossible, to achieve.

About Ms. Neeson:

With over 30 years of court reporting experience, Ms. Neeson has been at the forefront of the advanced technologies of reporting. She was one of the first reporters in Canada to actively use and promote realtime reporting in the litigation setting.

Ms. Neeson is a Registered Professional Reporter, a Certified Realtime Reporter, a Chartered Shorthand Reporter, a Certified CART Provider and a Certified Broadcast Captioner, and was recently awarded NCRA’s Certified Realtime Administrator designation in July 2011.



International Sexual Predator Met Through Online Game

International Sexual Predator Met Through Online Game

Online games like those found on Facebook can often be a hunting ground for sexual predators.

Do you play games on a smart phone or a tablet, on a gaming system like a Wii or PlayStation, through Facebook, or via a computer? It is amazing to live in today’s society. We can play games with people through any of the above devices anytime, anywhere, and in any place – all we need is an internet connection. The other gamers can live down the street, in a neighboring county, in another state, and even in another country. Given that, how many of us intimately know or even casually know the people with whom we are playing games?
A few questions to ponder – Would you:

  • chat with someone you game with?
  • text them?
  • tell them personal information about yourself?
  • share pictures with them?
  • give them your telephone number?
  • Skype or FaceTime with them?
  • send them money?
  • meet them in person?
  • invite them to your house?

Do you know all of the information that your social network platform shares with others?

We all have different comfort levels. As we ask ourselves these questions, we must consider what will put our loved ones at risk and potentially allow them to become targets of internet predators. We then need to make a point to help them if they are too trusting or may not know any better. Many of us may discuss stranger danger with our children. But we may be a little too lax in discussing the dangers that exist online. We need to be cognizant of these dangers and help children, people with disabilities, and those who are aging watch out for them, too!

Through my work at Hickman & Lowder, I had an opportunity to do just that. I helped a client’s young adult child who has a disability. The client’s child met a person from another country through a game on Facebook. Some people do not question why a person who they are playing a game with online suddenly wants to chat with them privately, talk with them via telephone, or meet them in real life. Unfortunately, at that point, they can become a target of online predators.

Our client’s child began to chat with the gamer through the online game application on Facebook. Gradually, the young adult started sharing personal information with the gamer. Then the child began to use a friend’s cell phone with an international calling plan to call the gamer. (Please note that people can and will find ways to do things that they want to do, even when we do our best to try to protect them.) Some red flags were exhibited: The young adult broke up with their significant other of several years and kept stating that the out of country gamer would be coming to visit soon. Do you see anything wrong with this? Does this scenario concern you? It should!

After the client contacted our office out of concern about the “relationship” developing between the young adult and the gamer, as well as the child’s behavioral changes, I did some research online with the information provided to our office. I discovered that the person the young adult was talking to was convicted of sexual exploitation and was on the sex offender information registry in the country they reside in. Luckily, that information was uncovered sooner rather than later.

We forwarded the gamer’s online ID and the court conviction information to Facebook. Facebook has a very strict policy prohibiting convicted sex offenders from using their platform. Once we turned that information over to Facebook, the gamer’s profile was deleted. Again, going back to the “where there is a will there is a way”, the gamer then created other profiles and tried to continue to contact the young adult. We turned those additional profiles over to Facebook, as well. We talked with the friend who was letting the young adult use their phone and explained the dangers.

Thankfully, in this case, there were enough warning signs and red flags to alert family and friends concerned about the young adult. What would have happened if no one intervened? What would have happened if the gamer used a fictitious name to begin with? Would the gamer’s real name have ever been provided? Would the truth about the gamer’s identity have been discovered in time? Would the result have been the same?
The intent in sharing the story is to help everyone understand that gaming online can be a double-edged sword. Stay safe, understand the potential risks, and help those who may be at risk.

Some resources about staying safe online are below: (Note: You can click on the blue hyperlinks provided or copy and paste the website addresses into your internet browser.)



For Elders:





For Parents:

  • I recently attended Jesse Weinberger’s Internet Safety for Parents presentation. She is the owner of OvernightGeek University. Her presentation taught me additional dangers that parents must know about. If your child has access to any device, including, but not limited to, computers, TVs, tablets, smart phones, gaming systems, etc., whether it is their own, yours, their friend’s, someone else’s, …you need to know! She published The BoogeyMan Exists: And He’s In Your Child’s Back Pocket. Jesse’s website is full of information, including, a quick three-minute video lesson on the best parenting practices for keeping your children safe online. You can access it at: OvernightGeek University.



Website: http://www.overnightgeekuniversity.com/internet-safety-best-parenting-practices-to-keep-children-tweens-and-teens-safe-in-the-digital-world/



  • Reporting Predators on Facebook:

Facebook is relying on the public to let them know if there is as sexual predator online so action may be taken. Directions on how to report a convicted sexual predator on Facebook can be found here. http://www.facebook.com/help/210081519032737

Posted by Christy A. Zeyer
OSBA Certified Paralegal


Texas Court Reporters and Austin Court Reporters Helping Today’s Legal Professionals

Texas Court Reporters and Austin Court Reporters Helping Today’s Legal Professionals

In Texas, law firms are taking advantage of the experience of top court reporters.

Austin court reporters are the source for the innovative solutions to help today’s lawyers meet the challenges that their cases present. More and more firms are taking on cases that take them across the country, and being able to take advantage of connectivity and other tools is the key to allowing the law firm to expand its reach more effectively.

Videoconferencing is a revolutionary tool that can help attorneys work more efficiently, and it can be integrated into casework in a variety of ways. When attorneys work with co-counsel in firms across the country, they often need to connect to discuss their cases.

Videoconferencing brings legal professionals together through secure, broadcast-quality connections. It can also be used with other technology to collaboratively work on documents and view video, graphics, and other files.

When legal professionals need to conduct depositions, Texas court reporters can also use videoconferencing to bridge the distance between the attorney and the deponent. Video is a powerful way to assess the truthfulness of a witness, and with videoconferencing the lawyer can work as if they were at the deposition. They can also communicate with co-counsel over secure chat connections. This technology can also be used in conjunction with realtime reporting to give attorneys all of the tools they need to work more effectively.

Today’s legal work is stretching legal professionals in new ways. Court reporting firms are ready to help law firms meet the emerging challenges of today’s legal work by providing the experience and creativity that is a key to success.

Livingston Court Reporters are the Source for Innovation


Livingston Court Reporters are the Source for Innovation

In Livingston, NJ, attorneys are utilizing the experience of some of the top court reporters.

Livingston court reporters are the indispensable source for the new technology that is helping lawyers work more efficiently in a challenging legal environment. With new technologies emerging all the time, it is important for today’s attorneys to partner with court reporting firms who stay ahead of new introductions into the marketplace that can give the lawyer an edge.

When attorneys from around the country work with New Jersey court reporters, they find that they receive the same high quality of services that they expect from court reporters in their own communities. From videoconferencing services that bring legal teams together to conference rooms that serve as well-equipped nerve centers for working travel, attorneys are finding all of the tools here.

For the lawyers here in the community, we also offer a number of trial related services that can help improve performance in the courtroom. In a media-centric world, having new ways to reach jurors is essential. Immersive courtroom presentations can help reach jurors in new ways that allow them to more easily take your arguments into the deliberation room.

Today’s court reporting companies are playing an important role in the legal profession. They are one half of an important partnership with lawyers that is helping the legal professional find new ways to prepare cases and then present them in the courtroom.

What is the difference between Videoconferencing and Skype?

What is the Difference Between Videoconferencing and Skype?

There is a vast divide in the quality between Skype and a dedicated videoconferencing connection.

By Jerry Coash, General Manager of Coash and Coash Phoenix Deposition Reporters in Phoenix, AZ
As an attorney, it is important to be efficient with your time and money. With the ever-increasing cost and hassle of travel, a great way to save time and money is by using videoconferencing to conduct out-of-town depositions, attend meetings, and even bring witnesses into the courtroom who otherwise would not be able to appear. In the past several years, we have seen an increasing demand for videoconferencing, and often clients come to Arizona court reporters wondering if they can just use Skype for their deposition. I will try to answer that question in this blog.
Skype is great. My family uses Skype on a daily basis to connect with family around the country. It is free, easy to use, and is an all-around user-friendly experience. It is reasonable, then, for you to think, “Why not use Skype for my deposition?” In fact, many attorneys have done just that. Well, I’m here to tell you that Skype is the wrong tool for the job.
“But,” you say, “Skype is free!” True, there are several free consumer videoconferencing options to choose from, including Skype, but have you ever wondered who you would call when you have technical problems in the middle of a deposition? It is one thing for a video feed to cut off in the middle of a conversation between loved ones, or the audio to be a bit unclear, but it is another thing entirely to have technical problems in the middle of an important event such as a deposition or, even worse, trial testimony.
To illustrate, I offer you a recent real-life example from the trial of George Zimmerman. Watch the video here. If they sought professional assistance with their videoconference, this awkward moment in this extremely high-profile case could have been avoided.
Here are several areas in which professional videoconferencing stands above consumer tools such as Skype:
Arranging a video connection for a deposition or trial testimony can be a hassle. One of the reasons attorneys choose videoconferencing is to avoid the hassle and time of travel, so adding inconvenience back in to the mix really doesn’t make sense. When you choose Coash & Coash to take care of the videoconference for you, we do all the leg work of finding rooms, shipping equipment, testing connections, and every other little thing that needs taken care of. At the end of the day, you can rest assured that everything will be in place so that you can simply walk in and focus on what you do best.
The fact is, consumer tools like Skype are not as reliable as professional videoconferencing. What may work great one day may fail you on the next day. At Coash & Coash we use proven professional videoconferencing equipment and connections which we use day in and day out, providing attorneys with a consistent, dependable experience.
Technical Support
No technology is perfect. At some point we all run into technical difficulties, especially when using consumer products such as Skype. When using Coash & Coash you can count on our experienced, knowledgable technicians to quickly resolve problems as they arise. As they say, hope for the best, plan for the worst. Don’t leave your videoconference to chance. Put it in professional hands.
Audio quality
When you are making a record, the quality of your audio is extremely important. Everyone needs to be able to understand one another, and most importantly, the court reporter has to be able to make an accurate record. Skype and other consumer products have inconsistent audio quality. Add to that fact that you have no idea what equipment the other side of the call will be using for their Skype. Will the volume and clarity be sufficient? Your guess is as good as mine.
As you saw in the Zimmerman trial example, having a secure connection is important. The fact of the matter is, Skype is a tool for the consumer. It is meant to connect as many people as possible to one another. That’s not what you want for your deposition or trial testimony. You want only the people you choose to have the ability to participate. Phoenix court reporters at Coash & Coash use only private and secure connections for your videoconference.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but hopefully I have been able to make the case for professional videoconferencing over the use of Skype for your depositions and remote trial testimony. At Coash & Coash we pride ourselves in being able to connect you to your event in nearly any situation. Whether it be from your cell phone, tablet, personal computer, or in a conference room, we can make it happen. For more information on videoconferencing, contact Coash & Coash today.

Richmond Court Reporters and New Technology

Richmond Court Reporters and New Technology

Court reporting in Richmond has evolved to meet new demands.

For years, attorneys relied on the on-paper transcripts of important depositions to help prepare cases for their clients. While the paper provided an accurate record of what was said, in some cases questions could get overlooked or in-person reactions to questions could not be translated into the written word.

Richmond court reporters can offer attorneys around the country a way to step inside negotiations, depositions, and other important legal events to get a more intimate view of proceedings. Through new technology, lawyers from around the country can be connected with witnesses here with live legal video.

Virginia court reporters can give attorneys a way to not only watch video as it happens, but also a way to interact with counsel in the conference room or courtroom. Live chat capability gives lawyers another tool to get the information they need to work for their clients.

Additionally, court reporting firms can provide accurate transcripts that give lawyers a way to closely examine accurate records of important questions and answers between attorneys and witnesses.

Finding a court reporting firm that can meet the demands of today’s challenging legal environment can be a step towards greater efficiency and effectiveness for the law firm. Through innovation, new technology, and unmatched professionalism today’s court reporting companies have become powerful allies for today’s legal professionals.

NNRC Gives Attorneys Access Across the Country

NNRC Gives Attorneys Access Across the Country

NNRC can be a powerful resource for attorneys working around the country.

The National Network of Reporting Companies (NNRC) provides a powerful tool for attorneys. As technology has emerged as a crucial part of the legal profession, it has become more important than ever before to identify court reporting companies that can provide the highest level of professional service anywhere in the country.

When cases expand to areas well beyond the reach of a law firm, it can be important to employ the use of internet connectivity to conduct depositions. Broadcast-quality audio and video can be used to augment a realtime transcript to give attorneys a multi-platform way to get the information they need and assess the truthfulness of deponents.

In a competitive legal field, new technology that can save time, add efficiency, and save money can all be important additions to practices. By eliminating time lost and money spent on travel, this deposition technology can offer law practices with a powerful new tool.

NNRC allows law firms to connect with court reporters in communities around the country when they need to conduct depositions. Through the website, attorneys can schedule services with a number of reporting firms who meet the highest standards of professional service and who also possess the know-how to create innovative solutions for your litigation support needs.

NNRC can also help to identify the best court reporting companies inside the same community as law firms around the country, allowing them to build powerful partnerships for trial presentations and other services that can help improve the performance of law firms in the courtroom and in case preparation.

Why Stenographic Reporting is Your Best Value

Why Stenographic Reporting is Your Best Value

Stenographic reporting offers attorneys an economical option.

From: Behmke Reporting, San Francisco, CA

Why is it that stenographic court reporters are the most technologically advanced reporters and are the best value in courtrooms and deposition suites?

Here are three good reasons:

  •  Stenographic reporters produce the most exact record

These days, everything about stenographic reporters are digital. In addition to being the most sophisticated “computer” (the human brain) ever invented for listening and understanding the English language; stenographic reporters instantly capture the verbatim stenographic notes on redundant digital memory devices.

  •  Fast, quality production of transcripts

When a transcript is needed, a stenographic court reporter can provide a certified transcript faster and with more accuracy than any other method.

  •  Stenographic reporters are proven successes

The effort to push stenographic reporters out and replace them with a digital audio monitor has time and time again proved a failure. Jurisdictions in Kentucky, New Mexico, New Jersey, Texas and California have all gone through the painful process of buying into the fantasy of getting cheap transcripts produced from digital audio files – only to discover that in addition to the transcripts being actually more expensive, they were also often unintelligible. All those jurisdictions had to regroup and bring back stenographic reporters. They made the decision to value the sanctity of the record over false unfulfilled promises when it came to the lives and fortunes of their citizens.

San Francisco court reporters use the latest technology to produce the most accurate transcripts at reasonable costs – and that equates to the best value.