With so many court reporting firms and contract court reporters from which to choose, it might feel overwhelming on where and how to find the right one for your next deposition or series of depos. Given the nature of court reporting, it’s often difficult to determine whether or not you’ve found the right agency or reporter for you until you’ve already hired one. The day of the deposition isn’t the time you want to find out, so here are a few pointers on choosing the right one for you.
Use the tried and true way. Ask for referrals.
Finding a court reporter or agency you can trust could be as easy as asking your colleagues which particular firm or individual they use. Ask for their honest opinions, listening to the pros and cons. Referrals are often the best kind of testimonial and gives you a feel for their reputation in the community. Visit the court reporting firm’s website, which should be up to date, professional and functional, to see if what you hear and what you read match. Check to see if they are a Better Business Bureau member and member of an Ethics First campaign. Do they belong to local associations? The answers are indicative of their business practices.
Ensure the court reporting agency or reporter offers the services you require.
Agencies and court reporters can offer a wide range of services, including videography, real-time reporters, videoconferencing, next-day delivery and more. Think about your current and future needs and choose an agency that exhibits proficiency in those areas. Letting the firm know upfront what you are looking for narrows down your search, especially since court reporting firms have different services they can provide.
The firm you choose should have adequate office personnel and staff on hand at any given moment to fulfill your requests. And their staff should be answering your calls and emails, not an answering service. You want an agency capable of fulfilling ALL of your needs no matter how urgent. Last minute no-show court reporters happen. As do last minute witnesses. Having a reporter available at a moment’s notice is very important to you and your cases. The right court reporting agency will come through for you at a moment’s notice and save the day.
Compare the court reporting firm’s or reporter’s idea of timely transcripts to yours.
Your court reporting firm or reporter should be able to provide you with a certified transcript within eight business days under normal circumstances. Even better? Faster. A firm that is unable to meet your deadlines or meets them last minute will cause additional stress, which is the last thing you need from your agency or reporter.
Evaluate the level of professionalism.
Don’t overlook the certified (some states require court reporters be state certified – Missouri being one) court reporter as individuals. Professional reporters are on time, ready to go on the record and are waiting on you. They are dressed for success and are reliable. They can produce an accurate transcript, provide a real-time feed, a rough ASCII (an unedited transcript) without delay or excuses. A good court reporter is there to meet your and your clients’ needs. After all, if the client ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!
Choose a court reporting firm or reporter as if you’re hiring an extension of your team – someone who reflects well on your practice and are there for you, win or lose. As we like to say at The Cooper Group, you deal with enough surprises, your court reporter shouldn’t be one of them.