5 Questions You Should Be Asking When Choosing a Court Reporter
If you are an attorney, paralegal, or legal assistant, there’s a good chance you have been or will be tasked with hiring a court reporter to transcribe the testimony of a deposition or trial.
At first glance, the actual process of finding a court reporter can seem rather simple. A quick internet search will likely yield many results as will word-of-mouth referrals from colleagues. However, finding the right court reporter to meet your specific needs, expectations, and budget may pose more of a challenge, as not all court reporting firms are created equal. Therefore, it’s wise to do some due diligence before you commit to ensure there are no surprises or delays along the way.
To assist you in your search, we’ve compiled the following questions to ask when choosing a court reporter or firm:
1. What are your rates? What’s included?
You should expect a court reporter or firm to be upfront about what they charge for their court reporting services and explain what’s included in the cost. At a minimum, it’s wise to ask for standard page rates and appearance fees for the stenographer.
When comparing rates between court reporting agencies and firms though, be sure to consider that some firms may include valuable complimentary services in the cost, such as –
- Providing a secure online transcript repository with 24/7 access
- Multiple transcript formats
- Conference room space when scheduling a deposition in their offices.
Alternatively, some firms may charge separately for these services, raising the final invoice significantly. Understanding these costs will help you make a more accurate comparison with confidence.
2. Are your court reporters licensed or certified? Can they handle complex testimony?
Most states require court reporters to be licensed or certified in order to work, while some states have no requirements at all. It’s good practice to ask your court reporting firm what qualifications their reporters hold.
At a minimum, stenographers should hold either a current state license or the RPR certification from the National Court Reporters Association. These standards require the court reporter to possess the requisite skills needed to transcribe testimony at working speeds.
Additionally, if you’re deposing an expert witness or your case involves highly technical or challenging medical terminology, you may request a reporter with experience handling such complex testimony. Having a reporter familiar with the terms integral to your case can help the proceedings move along more expeditiously.
3. What’s your turnaround time? Can your reporters provide expedited transcripts, rough drafts, or streaming realtime?
Most court reporters and reporting firms have their own “regular delivery” schedule, which is a set number of days from when your matter took place until when you can expect to receive your final transcript. Turnaround times vary, so it’s important to know what their standard is in case you’re going to need your transcript sooner. It’s also wise to ask what your options are, as rush fees vary and escalate the sooner you need your transcript.
Today, people are expecting and accustomed to having access to information faster than ever before. If you know you’ll be needing your transcript sooner than the “regular delivery,” or would like a same-day rough draft or a streaming realtime feed of the testimony during the proceedings, you’ll want to confirm that your court reporting firm can send a reporter capable of providing that service and prepared to meet your deadline.
4. What areas do you service? Can you arrange nationwide coverage?
While it’s always great to “shop local” and develop a relationship with a court reporter or court reporting firm in your area, it’s wise to ask how wide of a region they are able to cover. Depending on the type of law you practice and the cases you take on, you may find yourself traveling out of state and needing to schedule court reporters in unfamiliar territory.
Partnering with a local reporting firm that is also capable of covering you nationwide is a huge bonus, as it takes away the added stress and uncertainty of locating a court reporter out of town, when you’re overwhelmed with making travel arrangements, organizing your schedule, all while preparing your case.
5. What other services can you provide?
When your legal matters require more than a written transcript, it’s beneficial to work with a firm that can arrange various additional litigation support services, as it will save time and minimize frustration on your end locating individual providers.
Court reporting firms typically have relationships with legal videographers, interpreters, and trial techs, and can quickly arrange these services along with scheduling your court reporter. In addition, they can assist in locating conference rooms, providing document assistance, and arranging videoconferencing services for your matter.
Need to schedule a court reporter? Want more information on how to hire a court reporter?
Alpha Reporting will be happy to answer all of your questions and get your next deposition or trial covered.