1. Your Business/Occupation. In one or two sentences, explain your services or products.
    Merritt Gilbert, CER, CDR, FPM, is the director and lead instructor of digital reporting and legal transcription at BlueLedge, a legal classroom. At BlueLedge, she uses her expertise to build quality online training for those interested in becoming certified through AAERT and keeping their certification (CEUs). In addition to dynamic online courses, BlueLedge offers complimentary CEU webinars to the community. Each webinar features industry experts who provide detailed insights into industry trends, personal experiences, real world situations, best practices and more.
  2. Our Industry. A. How would you describe the challenges and opportunities that our industry faces (in the Court, Agency, and Deposition markets)? B. What do you see as the challenges and opportunities.
    This industry has many challenges but many of our challenges are opportunities! Challenges include adoption by lawyers and judges, negative rhetoric by some in the stenographic community, outdated legislature, need for a higher number of certified DR/LT professionals of certified DR/LT professionals, and low visibility/awareness of this career. Those of us involved in AAERT need to turn these challenges into opportunities by continually updating and adding to our certification offerings, using incredibly advanced technologies to capture the record, building adoption, increasing our advocacy and legislative efforts, pushing certification, adding benefits to members, and increasing our visibility to people outside of this industry.
  3. Reason(s) To Run. A. What is/are the reason(s) you decided to run for the board? B. Whom and what do you want to impact?
    Helping people find and prosper in this career has been my world since 2011, and because of this, I feel personally invested in AAERT’s continued success. I have been able to make an impact as chair of certification committee over the past year and I hope to make an even bigger impact as a board member. In 2022, we added a new certification, the CDR, and this year we will have updated the CER and moved our testing to Realtime Coach. I’d like to continue focusing on certification goals which includes getting more people certified, keeping more people certified, and updating and adding to our certification offerings — so much to accomplish!
    In addition, I want to be an advocate for our members by pushing for more membership benefits (see next question).
  4. Your Goal. A. If you had a mandate—board authorization, financial resources, member support—what do you want to do? B. How would you improve the capabilities of our members (reporters, transcribers, proofreaders, videographers, business owners and executives)?
    I’d want to provide members with answers to all their notary questions in each state. Do I have to check ID? What rules apply for remote jobs? Do I have to keep a journal documenting every notarial act? If we had the financial resources to do so, we could hire attorneys to sign off on notary rules for each state and publish their findings for members. As a new or experienced digital reporter, you want to know the rules you must follow to keep your notary. Ten years ago, as I began attending my state association conferences, I used the opportunity to ask my colleagues about notary rules and regulations. Year after year, I failed to receive a straight answer. It was incredibly frustrating to want to do the right thing and not find anyone who knew what the right thing was – perhaps because the rules were so unclear. Rules in my state have since become more transparent, but I know many reporters who continue to be unsure what rules to follow in their respective states.
    On a similar note, I’d also love to publish an updated state survey with answers to what rules apply to each state, including certification requirements/acceptance and procedural requirements (e.g., R&S).
  5. Involvement. A. How long have you been a member? B. How many conferences have you attended? If you have not attended conferences, would you explain why not? C. Do you plan to attend this year’s conference?
    I have been a member since 2013. I have attended about seven AAERT conferences. Yes! I will be at this year’s annual conference, and I attended the AAERT Executive Forum conference in March 2023.!
  6. Experience. A. What has been your leadership experience? B. Do you have experience as a board member of a non-profit organization? C. Please list the organizations, your positions, and duties.
    I have been in leadership roles in the court reporting industry for 11 years.
    My first leadership role was as the digital reporting manager for Orange Legal, a large court reporting agency in the state of Florida. I recruited and trained digital reporters, as well as oversaw workflow from their job submission to transcription. While working as a digital reporting manager, I experienced many aspects of legal transcription, including training, project management, quality control, and client relations.
    I am currently the director of BlueLedge. At BlueLedge, I build quality online training for digital reporters and transcriptionists. I also strategize how to increase enrollment, build client and student relationships, and increase operational efficiencies.
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