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Old April 27th, 2009, 08:01 AM   #1
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Legal Video Certification?

Hey Everybody,
Quick question;
I've been doing some research on legal videos (depositions, mock trials, etc) and noticed that most videographers that cover this stuff are certified.
What does even mean?
Forgive my ignorance, but i've never heard of certification for this before.
I'm curious as to:
1.) is certification really necessary for this type of work
2.) if so, how does one get certified
3.) what does this certify you to do?

Thanks in advance!
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Old April 27th, 2009, 09:42 AM   #2
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Depends on what you mean by 'certified'. I know that state laws on videotaped depositions can vary. Some states require the videographer to be a certified notary - some don't.
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Old April 27th, 2009, 10:42 AM   #3
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Jason,

The majority of people that are certified are done so through the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA). They have a multi-step program to certify you as a Certified Legal Video Specialist (CLVS). I don't know the laws of all states, but in most, I do not believe it is necessary to be certified, but I think that it is a valuable asset. For one, if you have never done a video deposition, you will get trained how to do that through the certification process. This is much better than just being thrown into a situation you are not familiar with when the client is expecting top notch work. Secondly, once certified, you are listed in the NCRA's directory of CLVS videographers. Many legal firms will use this directory when looking for a videographer in their town or a town they will be traveling to for a deposition. I believe it gives lawyers and court reporting firms confidence that you know how to do the job for them. So I think being a CLVS has practical as well as marketing advantages.

Here's some info from the NCRA web site about the three step process:

The 3 Steps to Certification
Step One: Seminar- Attend NCRA's "Videotape in the Legal Environment" seminar. This invaluable seminar gives you detailed instructions, demonstrations and workbooks covering everything from equipment acquisition to office management. Seminars are offered twice a year, in March and September, in various locations around the country. For the next Seminar dates, please visit the CLVS Homepage.

Step Two: Written Knowledge Test - Successfully complete the CLVS written knowledge test, which is offered four times a year at over 200 testing locations. See the Certification Test Center for more details.

Step Three: Production Test - Successfully complete the CLVS production test, which tests a candidate's knowledge and ability to handle video equipment and conduct videotape depositions. During this test you'll run the show at a staged deposition and be graded on your ability to follow videotape deposition guidelines and produce a usable, high-quality videotape of the deposition. Each candidate has a maximum of thirty minutes to familiarize him/herself with the NCRA provided equipment and to conduct a five to ten-minute mock deposition. When your passing grade is confirmed, you have earned your CLVS.

Getting certified is not cheap. You have to pay a fee for each step of the process. In addition to the NCRA fee, you will also have travel and hotel expenses. For example, I'm in Oregon, so I wanted to attend a west coast seminar. The year I took it, it was in San Mateo, CA (just south of San Francisco). So there were flight costs as well as 3 nights hotel, meals, etc. The written test was in Portland, Oregon, so I just drove to and from the same day for that one. I had to wait a year until the production test, so I could take it on the west coast instead of traveling to the east coast for the mid-year test. So I traveled to Reno, NV. Once again there was air fare, hotel (only 1 night since all I had to do was take the test, not attend the seminar) and meals. Not cheap, but I believe it is worth it.

Please note I'm not affiliated with the NCRA (other than being a CLVS). I just think that even though some of the training is lame, overall if you plan to do much legal work, it is worthwhile to become a CLVS.

Certified Legal Video Specialist (CLVS)

Have fun!

Rob

Certified Legal Video Specialist
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Old April 27th, 2009, 11:41 AM   #4
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Hey Jason,

The main thing is that the legal world is its own world and unless you are a lawyer, it is quite unfamilar.

I would check to see if NY requires certification.

The training is more about how to operate in a deposition and what is important to keep track of and to document. And what not to do.

Operating the camera is often the last thing of importance. Actually the audio is more important than the video image from a legal point of view.

You could find a legal video firm and ask about employment and go from there.
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Old April 27th, 2009, 06:33 PM   #5
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Thanks for everything guys! Great info.
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Old May 7th, 2009, 12:19 AM   #6
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Hi Jason,

A few years ago, Brian interviewed a legal videographer on "The DV Show" - you can hear the podcast/audiocast here:

The DV Show: Making Money with Legal Videography

Regarding folks in the trade, here's a link to their guild certification website:

LegalVideographers.com
AGCV.com - American Guild of Court Videographers

It turns out us videographers typically are clueless of court legal requirements, protocols, custody retention requirements, etc. For instance, we tend to think high-tech digital video that can easily be edited is a plus. Quite the opposite for legal requirements - it's a no-no to record on a media that could be tampered with by someone trying to commit foul play. I understand they require a continuous time stamp be burned into the magnetic tape during recording. You get the idea - court legal media is an entirely different world...

Of course, it's always prudent to follow the smart money. So google for "court videograhper" and click on a handful of the Sponsored Links - check out what existing folks are doing. No reason to reinvent the wheel when it's so easy to follow the best in class procedures. Follow this lesson throughout your life and you'll go farther than the average guy...

Good luck, Michael
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Old June 8th, 2009, 11:15 PM   #7
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Here is the link to that podcast interview: http://www.thedvshow.com/mp3id/thedvshow022508.mp3
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Old June 9th, 2009, 09:13 AM   #8
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Given the caveat that I book video for my depositions through the court reporter's office, i.e. I let them worry about, my understanding is that no certification is necessary, though that may vary from state to state. I've never heard of a requirement that a deposition videographer be a notary (or, for that matter, that a court reporter be a notary). Depositions must be taken by "one authorized to administer oaths." In my experience (17 years), that has always been the court reporter -- I've never seen a videographer swear a witness.
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