Midwest Litigation Services: court reporting goes high tech

Ann Knef Feb. 17, 2005, 2:20pm

Debbie Weaver

Kelly Willis

Nothing like an entrepreneur to come up with an innovative idea that makes you wish you had thought of it first.

Debbie Weaver and Kelly Willis, co-owners of Midwest Litigation Services, saw the need to be "concierge" for the legal profession and then set out to deliver the most technologically advanced court reporting and trial support service in the country.

“We decided the concierge concept would provide litigators a seamless presentation," Weaver said. "We reasoned if we provided all the services attorneys required, we could better control the quality and performance of these services."

Headquartered in St. Louis, Midwest Litigation Services provides a sort of one-stop shopping for lawyers--they report in "real time," they make copies--and then some. The facility houses 14 conference rooms which are technically enhanced for arbitration, mediation, deposition, video-conferencing or discovery sessions.

Weaver, who began her court reporting career in 1979 on onion skins and carbon paper, says court reporting has to keep pace with technological advances to remain competitive.

"Easels and foam core charts no longer adequately convey complex information to a contemporary jury," she said.

"Courtroom capability to project large-screen images of evidence and information from a laptop computer, on immediate cue from a presenting attorney, can mean the difference between winning and losing a case."

In December, Midwest Litigation Services acquired an Edwardsville court reporting firm, Jo Elaine Foster, whose names remains tagged to the business to retain local flavor.

Entrepreneurs Weaver and Willis are trained as court reporters who over the years, have acquired six court reporting companies, and added services.

“When we first merged our two companies, ‘real time’ court reporting software was just beginning to make it possible to provide the instant translation of voice into print," Willis said. "This was a terrific innovation. Trial support technology was another."

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