Career Fair Positive for Harwood

Shannon Harwood says it has been ‘‘just a few years’’ since her Collinsville high school days when she attended a career fair.
But that event pointed her toward a court-reporting career after graduation, something she enjoys and looks forward to pursing for many years.
Now Harwood is telling young people about the possibilities of working in and for the courts, not on the wrong side of the bench facing prison time.
Harwood, a court reporter for Judge Carlos Chappelle, was one of the presenters at the Hamilton Middle School Sixth Grade Academy of Law and Government Fair.
Students were introduced to a variety of services including federal agencies, the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Department; legal technology; city and state officials; county court, law personnel and city emergency personnel.
The Tulsa County Bar Association sponsored the event.
Patrick O’Connor, Tulsa County Bar Foundation president, presented a sweatshirt to Debra Wiggins, Hamilton principal, marking the start of the occasion. Others participating in the ceremony were Renee DeMoss, Tulsa County Bar Association president, and Gary Estes, Hamilton assistant principal.
Hamilton, who has been licensed as a court reporter since 1989, said she was impressed with the presentation by Steve Kuhn who owned the Tulsa School of Court Reporting.
‘‘I was a very good typist,’’ she said, ‘‘and Kuhn made the work look easy. I also knew I didn’t want to go to school for seven years to become a lawyer.’’
However, when Hamilton started school she quickly found that taking notes as a court reporter ‘‘wasn’t as easy as it looked.’’
Still, she persevered and earned her license. Initially, there would be freelance work, giving her time to be with her young family.
Then it would be work with the federal court on a per diem basis since there were no job openings.
That changed when a friend called, telling her about a court reporting position in the Tulsa District Court and that she should apply.
Hamilton contacted Dave Hill, court administrator, to apply for the position and found she had a full time job.
Assigned to the preliminary hearing docket, Harwood has worked with Judge Chappelle for about four years as criminal dockets were set.
It is that experience that helps Harwood understand the impact that ‘‘being on the wrong side of the bench’’ can have on a person’s life.
‘‘I want to tell these young people that life has better things to offer than activities that would cause them to be in court,’’ she said. ‘‘I have been around long enough to see repeat offenders.’’ These people just couldn’t get their life together.
Court reporting is difficult and those willing to learn can have a good career, she said. But the real learning comes in the courtroom, not in the book.
Harwood has taken notes for numerous hearings during her career in the Tulsa County District Court.
But she quickly admits the hardest time for her is when a person is brought in charged with crimes against children.
That is very difficult, Harwood says, because these truly are innocent victims who have been hurt.
Even though there are difficult moments, Harwood says she loves working at the courthouse with the many different people.
And the court reporting industry is changing, especially in the field of technology where computer software makes it possible to more quickly translate court notes to English.
And Harwood, who has participated in other career fairs, hopes that someone will follow in her footsteps and become interested in her career.

Was this article helpful?

Related Articles

Leave A Comment?