WHAT LAWYERS NEED FROM THEIR COURT REPORTING FIRM
I’ve been a trial attorney a long time. I’ve taken many depositions in many environments throughout the United States. Whatever the environment, I know what I need from a court reporting agency. It’s a
short list, but it’s essential.
- I need a court reporting agency to be independent
A court reporting firm and its court reporters keep the official record. It’s a big job, and it’s critical to our system of justice. My court reporting agency must be scrupulously honest and independent in that role. Not only must the court reporting firm be independent in fact, but it must create an appearance of independence that inspires confidence in the record. Court reporters can’t appear to favor one party or witness over others. And if a court reporting firm’s independence is subject to question, I expect the court reporting agency to tell me as early as possible so I can protect the reliability of my record.
- I need a court reporting agency to create an accurate and complete record
Court reporters must have basic recording skills – legal stenography, mask dictation, legal videography – necessary to produce an accurate and complete record of testimony. Court reporters must also have the organizational skills to maintain an accurate record of exhibits. Not all court reporters are qualified; I usually make sure my court reporting firms offer court reporters certified by the National Court Reporters Association. And if court reporters have difficulty keeping an accurate record because equipment malfunctions, extraneous noise interferes, or a witness is too quiet or muffled to be understood, I need them to say so immediately so we can make the record understandable and complete.
- I need a court reporting agency to charge me fairly
I respect court reporters’ skills and agree they deserve compensation – I don’t complain about rates charged by court reporting firms. But occasionally, court reporting firms have solicited orders for a service or transcript format without telling me it will cost extra, or court reporting firms have issued invoices that don’t detail charges. These issues can cause problems with my client and, in turn, my relationship with a court reporting agency.
I also appreciate court reporting firms that supply court reporters who are pleasant and well-dressed, and that offer more services than basic court reporting – conference rooms, legal videography, videoconferencing, and trial presentation services. Indeed, I’ve seen some court reporting firms focus on these “extras.” But they mean nothing unless the court reporting agency and its court reporters meet the simple basic needs.