There is no evil empire

Veritext-owned agencies –
Stratos Legal (TX)
David Feldman Worldwide (NY)
Kramm Court Reporting (SD)
Personal Court Reporters (Los Angeles/Van Nuys)
YOM (Seattle)
Diamond Reporting & Legal Video (NY)
Victoria Legal (CHI)
M&M Court Reporters (SoCal)
Gore Brothers (Baltimore)
Black Label Legal (Boston)
Corbin Reporting (Anapolis, MD)
Paradigm (MN)
Love Court Reporting (Philadelphia)
Henderson & Associates (Alabama)
Freedom Reporting (Alabama)
Friedman, Lombard & Olson (FL)
Hahn & Bowersock (Costa Mesa)
Cruz & Company (NJ)
Tiffany Alley Global Reporting (Atlanta)
Capital Court Reporting (D.C.)
Patti Blair Court Reporting (CHI)
Fredericks Reporting & Legal Services (Austin, TX)
McGuire’s (CHI)
Merit Court Reporters (Fort Worth, TX)
AcuScribe (Fort Worth, TX)
Donovan (Fl)
Stephen Reymer/Century Court Reporters (L.A.)
Sarnoff (Orange County, CA)
Epiq  (fka DTI fka Merrill)
Mike Mobley Reporting  (Ohio and Indiania)
Orange Legal (FL)
CaseWorks (NC)
Royal Reporting (Saskatchewan, Canada
Hand Court Reporting (NY)
ImHof & Associates (SoCal)
Connor Reporting (Indianapolis)
Royal Phillips (Sacramento)
Neesons (Toronto, Ontario)
Summit City Reporting (Fort Wayne, TX)
There’s probably a ton more that you don’t even realize.
Do you work for these agencies?
First off, let me say that you do not have to answer that question. But I will say I have worked for several of the agencies on this list. There, does that make it easier for you?
You still don’t need to answer that question. It’s none of my business. You are free to work for who you wish to work for. That is your absolute right. But be aware of the practices of the agencies that you work for – ALL OF THEM.
Just because an agency may be small and reporter-owned does not necessarily mean they are not shady or do not engage in practices that make you the reporter uncomfortable. This is not a paint-the-world-black kind of post. I want there to be room for shades of black, white, and grey.
But this is not about small, reporter-owned agencies. This is about video-only or digital depositions. And it is happening. Don’t think it’s not. Why is it happening? Shortage of reporters? Cheaper method? Nobody wants to take a depo in the boonies? Nobody wants to sit in five hours of traffic for a 30-minute job? Reporters want lives? Not enough new reporters going into the business? All of the above probably; right?
So what is the solution? I don’t have one. Yep. I will say that again. I do not have an answer. But I have suggestions.
Number one, this is not and should not be reporter v reporter. We are all independent contractors. We work for who we want to. And I have no right to judge who another reporter works for. And another reporter has no right to judge who I work for. I make my decisions. They need to make theirs.  Everybody has a right to make a “great” living.  But we need to work together, all reporters, officials and freelancers, no matter who you work for.
Number two, education. Education is key. Education is important. And education is not going to work in a vacuum. Posting on the boards to the converted will not disseminate the message far enough. The people on Facebook and social media have some kind of idea of what’s going on. But there are people who are not on social media (OMG, the horror, j/k) We need to reach everyone – attorneys, reporters, and agencies. I think DRA has made an excellent start with Kimberly D’Urso‘s recent flyer regarding digital depositions. Good job. Get your hands on that flyer and hand it out wherever you go.  Get it into the court rooms where the attorneys are.  Get it into the hands of judges.

Still on education here. But that was getting a little long. Talk to your fellow reporters and the agencies you work for. You’re not proselytizing. You’re not trying to convert them. You’re not going to vilify and make the agencies who do/did/will do this into the evil empire.  But just give them knowledge.  This is going on.  It will continue.  Let them make their own decisions.  If you choose to work for an agency, question their policies.

Number three, give them alternatives.  You don’t want to drive five hours for a job in the boonies.  Have you thought about streaming?  If the attorney can videoconference in to take a depo, why can’t the reporter?  No.  We need a live body.  Throw your friend under the bus.  Also kidding.  But if you do have a friend closer to where the deposition is, refer them.   Ask to be Ubered or Lyfted to the job if you don’t want to drive.  You have an afternoon appointment, can I split this job with some other reporter who can only work afternoons?  Job sharing is a concept that has been around forever.

If the pushback is the attorney won’t like it.  Then the answer, will the attorney prefer to not have the depo at all?

Number four, cheaper method?  I’m not sure how this is cheaper.  You’ve got a videographer, someone to transcribe, and proofer.  Interesting.  So now they’re paying for three different services?   Out of this, I’m thinking the transcriptionist is the biggest cost factor.  Are you transcribing for rock-bottom rates?  Hmmm, why?   Are they sending it overseas to get it transcribed?  What is the quality they’re getting back?   If you’re a reporter, you know this is not easy when you’re in the room.   And you’ve seen the quality you’ve gotten back from some transcriptionist.  Hmm?  How is this going to work?

Number five, this is a great opportunity to pick up clients.  And maybe do it right this time.   Attorneys are getting calls that they have no reporter.  Then they call around to other agencies.  Hello, set the rules.  I’d love cover this job for you.  Here are my rates.  COD.  Don’t give them terms?  Why are you doing that?  Officials don’t.  Agencies do.  Stop it.  I’d love to cover this job for you, let me know if the other side would like me to cover these jobs as well.  I’d love to cover all the jobs for you in this case since I can cover this one for you.  This is a great opportunity for agencies and freelancers.  Don’t blow it.  If you as a reporter do not live in a vacuum, you can call on your reporter friends and acquaintances to help cover these jobs.  I know WE can do it together.Finally, I started this list off with a list of Veritext-affiliated/owned companies.  Am I trying to vilify Veritext?  Absolutely not.  And despite the title of my piece, I do not consider them the evil empire.

I KNOW they are not the only company/agency doing this.  Unfortunately, they seem to be the most vocal.  So to make it all about them is self-defeating.  It is a larger issue that must be addressed on a much larger scale.  It is affecting us nation-wide, not just here in California.

If you’ve made it this far.  Congratulations.  I applaud you.  I appreciate the fact that you’ve read this piece.  Forgive me for its unrelenting length.   One final thought.  Do not let your career be ruled by fear.  Do not run scared of losing your job.   You do a very difficult job very well.   And there are attorneys out there who appreciate you.  And for what it’s worth I APPRECIATE YOU.


6 thoughts on “There is no evil empire

  1. Great blog article. All valid points, and, yes, we need to come together as a profession to stop the madness. I’m not sure if you’ve heard of the app called Expedite, but we will be attending the CalDRA convention in the next couple of weeks and I’d love to share the magic. As a court reporter, I grew tired of the downward spiral. I created Expedite to empower us as freelancers. It’s the only way we can win back this profession. Attorneys agree.

    Like

  2. You’re mostly right on. And this is what we need. People talking about these issues in every state. People coming up with and sharing ideas. Your ideas about marketing to attorneys are paramount and need to be seen by more.

    Like

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