Working as an Independent Freelance Court Reporter
As a freelance court reporter, there are two options available as you begin your reporting career: an employee of a reporting agency or working for yourself (sole proprietor or independent contractor). Here are some important things to know about working as an independent contractor in the reporting field. As an independent contractor:
- You decide when you work and who you will work for.
- You decide what jobs to cover and what jobs to decline.
- You choose court reporters and legal videographers to network with to cover workload.
- You set rates for services.
- You determine what services to offer clients.
- You decide what payment terms you will extend to clients.
- You are in charge of handling your office. That means you do your own marketing, production, billing, collections, and administrative work, or hire someone to help you.
- You purchase all equipment, office supplies, software, et cetera needed to operate as a court reporter.
- You pay for all certification tests, notary public fees, seminars, CEU expenses.
- You pay estimated quarterly taxes.
- You may be eligible to write off mileage and other reporting-related expenses. Talk to your tax advisor.
- If you choose, you can market yourself to different court reporting agencies as a subcontractor.
- As a subcontractor, you will be required to follow the protocol and office policies and procedures of any agency you subcontract with.
- You should understand commission rates and pay schedules for agencies you subcontract with, how much will they pay you, what are their payment terms (billables or receivables), when do they pay you, and how payment is delivered; i.e., check or direct deposit.
- Any agency you work for will send you a 1099 at year-end.
As always, it is up to each individual reporter to determine what will work best for their unique situation. Whether you choose to be an independent contractor or employee of an agency, your professional court reporting career can be personally and professionally rewarding!