Spotlight: April Desiree Biedermann

How did you get into reporting?

My mother has been a CSR since 1990. As a kid, I can remember being in her home office “working” on old pieces of paper while she was scoping and producing her jobs. I started proofreading for her and other court reporters when I was in college. At that time, I had no intention of going into the field.

—What school(s) / programs did you attend?

I did a semester of theory through Cerritos College, which was basically online, except we would mail our paper notes to our instructor, and she would mail them back to us with comments. This was back when we used paper machines as students! I highly recommend it.

Then I went to College of Marin, Indian Valley campus and retook theory and got up to 125. I transferred to West Valley College—because it offers a synchronous online program—and completed my 140 tests there.

I will be returning to College of Marin because I’ve made the most progress in speed building when I attend class in person—the old brick and mortar classes. I am grateful for online programs and believe they’re worth their weight in gold, but call me old school because in-person works best for me. I also subscribe to My Realtime Coach online, which is a great program. They offer Cyber Monday memberships specials after Thanksgiving!

—What do you want to do after getting your CSR?

I have a full life with varied interests. I like the flexibility of being an independent contractor because of other activities and commitments in my life. It’ll never be boring because I plan to do depos, pro tem court work, and study to become realtime certified. Then I can offer realtime in depos, and eventually get good enough to do some CART work here and there. Diversity keeps it exciting for me.

I also plan to be involved in the growth of the profession by doing outreach at high schools and colleges. I’d eventually like to get my Master’s degree so I can take over as the program chair at court reporting school, or even help open a court reporting department at our local Solano Community College in Fairfield, CA. When I retire from active reporting, I plan on teaching.

—Any study or practice techniques that have helped you?

Five minutes on my machine for five days in a row has greater value than two hours on one single day and then nothing for a week or more. Sustained practice is better than super long chunks of practice on a single day. Overcoming perfectionism really helped me when my life got hectic and there wasn’t always enough time to dedicate to my writer. I found that even five or ten minutes only on a regular basis was like magic!

—Would you be willing to share some of your challenges?

LIFE. Time. Needing to make $$$ to survive and then not having the time/energy to dedicate to my studies. Reordering my priorities so that my studies keep jumping to the top where they belong. Frustration.

—Any wisdom you’d like to share with others?

I love this quote from hockey star Wayne Gretsky: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” In other words, you can’t succeed unless you try.

My yoga instructor encouraged us in the beginning of a class to put our egos aside because we might not be able to move our bodies like we used to 20 years ago, our egos can get in the way of our progress in the class and can even result in an injury. She encouraged us to honor the journey our bodies have been on and to honor the place we’re in now, and it’s all okay.

I can apply that philosophy to court reporting school: I need to honor how far I’ve come as a student and how many incredible successes I’ve had—for example, I’ve been The Reporter three semesters in a row at your BerkeleyLaw mock depositions, and one as lead reporter!

Instead of focusing on “Oh gosh, will I ever make it to the CSR?” I need to focus on how far I’ve gotten in school. I’m currently at 160-180 wpm. I need to remember that only an exclusive and elite percentage of the human race can do this profession. I know many students who have dropped out of court reporting school without ever making it to the qualifiers. The fact that I’m still making progress is phenomenal, and the fact that I’m making said progress whilst battling life stressors on a daily basis is incredible. So I need to honor how far I’ve come, where I am now in the process, and just keep going! It WILL happen, I know it will, and I’m so close now I can taste it.

—How does the current environment in court reporting (i.e., voice writers, digital recorders, etc.) impact your goals, if at all?

All types of reporters have a place. I’m not worried about anything taking my future job away. It’s nice to know that there are different types of reporting that exist so that if for whatever reason I needed to switch to voice writing, that’s an option, instead of going back to square one to find a completely new profession. I’m excited to see how this field continues to develop. I am not worried. They’ve been talking about technology replacing court reporters since the 1960s, if not earlier, and science has proven that you can neither replace nor replicate the human brain.

Photos above by Ana Fatima Costa. Feature photo by April Desiree Biedermann. Copyright 2019. All rights reserved.