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Blog Category: Court Reporting

How To Prepare For A Remote Deposition

How To Prepare For A Remote Deposition

So, you’re going remote with your depositions, and you want to make sure they are the next best thing to in-person? With proper preparation, there’s no reason to worry that your remote deposition will be any less effective than the typical deposition with everyone in the same room. Here are some tips to set you up for remote deposition success.

Know the notary rules! Remote depositions are a common occurrence in these days when technology reigns king. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, many States updated notary rules and handbooks to match a more technology forward economy. States such as Virginia for example, allow e-notaries to administer oaths virtually, no matter the location of the witness. Other States such as Texas and Florida have approved emergency orders that allow for the remote administration of oaths.

To ensure a smooth deposition and make sure that the oath’s validity is not objected to later, it would behoove you to understand oath requirements on a state-by-state basis. Additionally, for States that do not allow the remote administration of oaths, we have seen attorneys make stipulations that protect the integrity of the oath that ensures everyone is on the same page.

Get techy! Now is the time to unleash the mind-boggling powers of technology. High-quality videoconference is non-negotiable, and it is readily available nowadays. Your court reporting agency can answer all your questions about the technology involved and set you up for a smooth connection to your witness, court reporter and opposing counsel.

Remote deposition software provides a unified and secure virtual conferencing service — replacing the need for multiple platforms for voice, chat, and video. Your agency’s technician will run a test prior to the deposition, with each connecting party, to confirm compatibility between each party’s equipment (laptop, iPad, etc.) and the videoconference software. That same expert technician can monitor the connection throughout the proceeding to ensure everyone attending the virtual deposition does so without interruption.

Know the available extras. Know which ones you want. Do you want realtime streaming? This can be of immense benefit in any deposition, but especially a virtual deposition! Are you interested in electronic exhibits? You will be able to pull up exhibits on your connecting device to share with all parties. Don’t underestimate the capabilities of a remote deposition! Check with the reporting agency to make sure you get the most from your online deposition.

Planet Depos has been connecting attorneys to remote depositions for over a decade, and all over the world.  To get more information on remote depos, or to schedule with the experts, contact scheduling@planetdepos.com or schedule online.

How Court Reporters and Their Teams Can Work Better Together

How Court Reporters and Their Teams Can Work Better Together

Teamwork makes the dream work

Are you feeling like there are not enough hours in the day to get transcript pages produced?  Is your inbox full of requests to move this transcript ahead of that one because someone just realized they have a hearing coming up?  Are you simply fatigued from being overworked because there’s more work than reporters?  Here are some thoughts on a strategy you may wish to consider to lessen the stress and keep your clients happy and impressed that you can always come through for them.

Stenograph and Advantage Software both offer a solution that is revolutionizing how busy reporters keep pace with the demands of transcript production.  For Stenograph the product is called RealTeam; for Advantange Software the product is called ConnectionMagic.   Both vendors have created a product that allows your scopist and/or proofreader immediate access to your live file, including your audio backup.  Have you considered how your transcripts could look, whether or not providing realtime, if your scopist is editing as you are writing a job?  Not only are you looking like a fabulously organized and professional reporter, but your transcripts are produced much more timely and efficiently.  Additionally, your scopist has the ability to ask you a question on the spot about a spelling or a technical term which, in turn, you may clarify with the witness or counsel at the next break.

Let’s go one step further:  What if your proofreader could be proofreading the same job right behind your scopist?  Can you even conceive of this possibility?  Well, it’s reality!

How might your life change if at the end of each day your job was already scoped and proofed and ready for you to finalize and turn in?  Suddenly, that backlog that has weighed so heavily on your mind for months is a thing of the past.  Now you are free to write every day knowing that your support folks are working in the shadows, and at the end of the day when the client asks how soon the transcript can be delivered, you’ll proudly say, “I can deliver it in a few hours.”   Not only have you made a client very happy, but you now can charge expedited rates.  A win for everyone!

If you would like to learn more about these products, please visit this link for information about RealTeam and this link for ConnectionMagic.  And watch your e-mail for an upcoming Planet Depos webinar showcasing realtime reporting teams who have mastered simultaneous transcript production.

The Importance of the Court Reporter’s Neutrality

The Importance of the Court Reporter’s Neutrality

Court reporters are the undisputed “keepers of the record.” Their impartiality is one of the three legs upon which the American justice system stands. Knowing what to do and when to do it in order to maintain that stature is critical to the stability of the legal system.

We compiled a few of the more common scenarios that our court reporters face in their everyday work. The actions they take either ensure or jeopardize their neutrality and integrity in conformance with NCRA’s Code of Professional Ethics (COPE).

Scenario 1: Non-Verbal Witness Responses

Often court reporters will come up against this one. Witnesses, while usually directed by their attorney otherwise, like to respond with head nods, gesturing, or other non-verbal responses.

It is not the court reporter’s role to serve as an interpreter as to the witness’s intended response.  Likewise, it is not their role to prompt the witness to give a verbal response.   In fact, it is the role of the lawyer(s) to prompt a verbal response from the witness.  If the lawyer does not prompt the witness, the reporter is obligated to indicate in the record “No verbal response.”

COPE Advisory Opinion 31 supports this behavior, indicating “When a reporter is intentionally placed in the position of being a factual witness at the direction of counsel for one party, that reporter may be viewed as an advocate for one party over the others. The reporter thus loses the impartiality mandated by Provision No. 1, creates a conflict of interest (Provision No. 2), and generates the appearance of impropriety (Provision No. 3).

Scenario 2: Going Off the Record

One party will often request that the court reporter go off the record, but the other party or parties do not agree.

As the keeper of the record and officer of the court, court reporters are not to go off the record until all parties agree. It is the job of the lawyers to come to an agreement, and you must keep the record open until that occurs.

This is supported by COPE Advisory Opinion 6, which states that a reporter must be “fair and impartial toward each participant in all aspects of reported proceedings and maintain the integrity of the reporting profession.

Scenario 3: When To Provide Deliverables

One side may reach out to the reporter to provide them with a copy of the transcript, exhibits, or audio for review prior to it being available to all.

In order to maintain impartiality, reporters must never provide any type of deliverable to one party or to a third party for review prior to making it available to all the parties.

Providing them to one party first would be in violation of COPE Provisions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 9, which speak to the importance of neutrality, to the security and confidentiality of all the materials in their possession, as well as to the fact that one must be vigilant and guard against “not only the fact, but the appearance of impropriety.”

Scenario 4: Giving Opinions on a Case

At the conclusion of the deposition, an attorney may ask the court reporter for his or her opinion of the witness.

Once again, to the point of neutrality, a court reporter must never offer personal opinions about any aspect of a case.

Providing a party with a personal opinion would be in violation of COPE Provisions 1, 2, 3, and 9, which speak to the importance of impartiality and integrity of the profession.

Court reporters not only preserve the integrity of the profession, they ensure that every litigant receives “Equal Justice Under Law.”

Divorce and Depositions: What You Need To Know

Divorce and Depositions: What You Need To Know

Guest Post by Russell Knight, Esq – Attorney with The Law Office of Russell D. Knight

The legal process of divorce is extremely formal.  The process is formal because a divorce is the unwinding of two lives once intimately involved and now actively opposed to each other (at worst) and mutually apathetic (at best).  Getting to the truth of the matter in a divorce, therefore, requires many tools amongst which depositions are key.

When a divorce is initiated, a petition for dissolution of marriage is filed and a series of purposely vague allegations are made, e.g., “the parties accumulated various marital assets throughout the course of their marriage.”  A counter-petition is usually filed by the other side with similarly loose terminology.  Initial documents are vague because facts are undetermined and/or neither side wants to commit to a set of facts before discovery has started.

Discovery and Divorces

Discovery is the process by which each party exchanges documents to determine what the facts are in the case.  Accurately identifying the facts in a case is necessary to adequately negotiate and prepare final divorce documents or to prepare evidence to present in a possible trial.

Most discovery is done via a notice to produce. A notice to produce is a laundry list of items that the other party may have in their possession and should share with the requesting party.  These are usually taxes, paystubs, bank statements, and other documents.

Beyond a notice to produce, a party is allowed to issue interrogatories.  Interrogatories are a series of written questions that must be answered.  Typically, interrogatories are limited to a set number of questions.

But what happens if one party to a divorce needs information and the other party is being evasive or dishonest?  You do not have to wait for a trial to question that party on the stand -you can request a deposition in advance. A deposition is a formal meeting between the parties and their attorneys with a court reporter present.  A party to the divorce case or a third party may be the subject of the deposition.

The Role of Depositions in Divorce

The attorney requesting the deposition will formally introduce him or herself for the record as a court reporter is writing everything down that’s said. The deposing attorney will then proceed to question the witness as to whatever subject matters need to be investigated.  In a divorce case, these questions will often involve tracing money that is no longer available, determining what expenses were reasonable, and getting to the bottom of textured parenting issues.

The adverse party’s attorney will be present at the deposition and will have the power to object to questions during the deposition.  There is no judge at the deposition to rule on the objections so these are merely put on the record.  Those objections can come into play should one of the lawyers try to submit the court reporter’s transcript into evidence at trial.  During the deposition, the objections merely keep the deposition focused along appropriate lines.

In a divorce deposition, one of the most important objections is “harassment.”  A deposition is a tool for uncovering undocumented information, not an opportunity for a party to aggravate their spouse one last time.  Either party may say something like, “let the record reflect that counsel is raising his voice” should things get heated.

The transcript of the deposition will then be available for both parties to use at trial.  Typically, the lawyers will ask the same questions to the deposed party at trial that were asked at the deposition.  If the party provides a different answer at trial than they did at the deposition, the attorney may then introduce the transcript to the court in order to impeach that party and, hopefully, extract the question they were looking for.

Depositions are inherently confrontational and are therefore typically a tool of last resort in a divorce.  To avoid a deposition, provide full disclosure during discovery and act in good faith to all requests for information.  If the opposing party cannot cooperate completely with discovery or when providing discovery omits or confuses matters, you will have no choice but to depose that person for the sake of obtaining essential information for negotiations or trial.

Russell Knight, Naples Divorce Attorney

About the Author: Russell D. Knight

Russell Knight is a Naples Florida Divorce Attorney who has been practicing family law for over 13 years in Naples, Florida and Chicago, Illinois. His office specializes in family law, divorce, child support, and child custody cases.

Preparing For That First Court Reporting Assignment

Preparing For That First Court Reporting Assignment

Planet Depos wishes to share with court reporting interns the following tips to help them transition from their student role to the official reporter on any assignment:

  • As you begin your internship, prepare to upgrade from your student version of software to a professional version (Case CATalyst, Eclipse/Advantage, ProCAT, StenoCAT, DigitalCAT).
  • Learn how to run the Audio Synch feature of your software. Create a practice assignment and listen back to the Audio Synch to ensure that it is running and that the volume and quality are satisfactory.  If the quality is not sufficient, consider adding an external omnidirectional microphone to your equipment and use it on every assignment.
  • After your assignment, practice reading back as though you were the official reporter.
  • While interning, edit every assignment you take to hone your editing and proofreading skills.
  • Learn the benefits of creating and using auto-include files and how to create templates for title pages, appearance pages, certificate pages, etc., and perfect those during this internship opportunity.
  • Check your state’s notary public rules and get your notary certification and seal in preparation for becoming the official reporter, if your state requires these.
  • Memorize witness oaths/affirmations as you will need to administer one or the other before each witness. Here is an example of a combined oath/affirmation that you may wish to adopt:
    • “Do you solemnly swear or affirm, under the penalties of perjury, that the testimony you are about to give, shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?”
  • Seek advice from your mentor on the job about marking exhibits so that you will be familiar with how the process should be handled when you are the official reporter.
  • Learn when to interrupt and know that even veteran reporters find they may have to interrupt from time to time.
  • Always dress the part of the professional that you are.
  • Continue to practice every day and remember to practice before each and every job – even when you become the official reporter.
  • Feel free to ask your mentor questions. If you are in need of a mentor, please consider Planet Institute and simply fill out an application.

These tips are intended only as a brief guide for students entering the court reporting profession.  The National Court Reporters Association and state reporting associations can provide more extensive guidance in these areas.

Court Reporting: An Under-Marketed Profession (Updated)

Court Reporting: An Under-Marketed Profession (Updated)

Some unsung professions simply don’t get the spotlight they deserve. It’s obvious that we need talented doctors, dentists, and teachers. But there are other indispensable professionals who have amazing mental processing skills in essential positions. A court reporting career showcases those stars. Planet Depos offers an incredible path in court reporting.

Along with lawyers and paralegals, court reporters are the lifeblood of the legal discovery and depositions business. It is a role that is essential to the legal process, and it is catastrophic that it isn’t marketed enough to young adults choosing their career path. We aim to shed a light on the basics of court reporting and the court reporter career outlook. We hope to inspire and locate the talent to pursue this career, or encourage another excellent fit.

Court Reporting Career - Planet Depos

What is a court reporter?

A court reporter, sometimes known as a stenographer or shorthand reporter, transcribes the spoken word/testimony at court hearings, depositions, trials, arbitrations, or any official proceeding. While there are several types of tools and technology used to make the record, the primary method today is a steno machine, a word processor with a modified 22-button keyboard, upon which words are “written” phonetically.

A certified court reporter must be able to write at, minimally, a 95% accuracy rate at 225 words per minute, though higher level certifications require rates of up to 260 words per minute. Elite court reporters can offer a service known as realtime, where their record is streamed as it is created to laptops and tablets in the room.

Often court reporters will take work outside the courtroom, providing captioning services at events, for broadcast TV, or even radio broadcasts for the hearing-impaired. Court reporters working in closed captioning often provide realtime captioning for corporate events, live concerts, sporting events, and conventions.

Why are court reporters so important?

Think of court reporting and its impact on society. At Disney’s EPCOT, there is a ride called Spaceship Earth, which takes riders through the history of civilization. One of the very first things seen is an ancient Phoenician recording history in shorthand. From early civilization to now, recording history has been essential to building society.

Court reporters are an integral part of the legal process. They are responsible for recording and preparing verbatim transcripts of proceedings to be used by attorneys, judges, and litigants. Court reporters also serve the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities by providing realtime captions for live television programs, as well as one-on-one personalized services in educational and public environments.

How long is a court reporting program?

Typically, court reporting schools are 2- or 3-year programs, but it can take up to 3 to 5 years to complete the court reporter training coursework. It is highly dependent on the amount of effort put into developing the skill set to become a reporter.

Check out the list of certified schools and programs on file with the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) to find the right fit for you!

A court reporter at work at a steno machine

A court reporter at work

Is certification required for a court reporting career?

In some states, certification is required; in others, not. The most recognized certifications are those offered through the NCRA. The entry-level Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) requires passing a skills test with 95% accuracy at 225 words per minute. There is also the advanced Registered Merit Reporter (RMR) certification, which requires 95% accuracy at 260 words per minute. According to the NCRA, the highest level of certification available is the Registered Diplomate Reporter (RDR). The Diplomate Reporter differentiates the advanced, veteran reporters as the elite in the profession.

What personality traits and/or interests do court reporters typically possess?

  • The court reporter’s primary responsibility is to record the spoken word as quickly and as accurately as possible, so it’s important to have a passion for words and strong language skills.
  • Discipline, a strong work ethic, and a quest for knowledge are three key traits among successful court reporters.
  • Court reporting requires a high level of technical performance, so an interest in cutting edge technology is a plus.
  • If you’re a procrastinator, then court reporting is probably not the direction for you. Great court reporters thrive under time and deadline pressures.
  • Reporters must be exceptional listeners and can concentrate for long periods of time. Accuracy and attention to detail may impact a case and, ultimately, a life.
  • History has shown that playing a musical instrument, particularly the piano, is another commonality in successful court reporters.

How much does a court reporter make?

Just as anything else in life, what you get out of something is the product of the effort you put into it! Court reporting is no different, and salaries can range depending on your situation. Many reporters work as independent contractors at their own pace, taking jobs to match their lifestyle. Other reporters work in fulltime positions within the court system.

As of April 2019, the average annual salary for a court reporter was $56,865, with an average range of $41,029 – $74,428. Reporters who have invested in continuing education, advanced certification, and cutting-edge technology typically earn $100,000+.

What types of court reporters are there?

Again, it is important to remember that there are different types of jobs for those who master the skills required to become a court reporter. A freelance court reporter is an independent contractor, or one who works for one or more court reporting agencies. Their work primarily consists of recording testimony taken in the discovery phase of a case (depositions), as well as meetings, arbitrations, and hearings.

An official court reporter is typically hired by a court system and works inside the courtroom. These reporters are generally fulltime employees of the court and work regular hours. Have you ever watched Parks & Recreation? Ethel Beavers is an official court reporter who utilizes a steno machine in her job.

Interested in politics? Have you ever noticed the person recording the proceedings of Congress, or reporting the State of the Union address by the President of the United States on television? These are yet other opportunities for those who have the brains and stamina to make it through court reporting school and to take their career to the greatest heights!

And speaking of television, do you know how closed captions are generated for live programs such as the news? The captions for all live programming are generated by the amazing talents of a court reporter.

What is the court reporting career outlook?

In a word: Strong. There is a critical shortage of stenographic reporters across the nation. In 2013, the NCRA commissioned a report on the impact of the shortage to the profession and to the industry. The Court Reporting Industry Outlook Report, published by Ducker Worldwide, concluded that the demand for court reporters would exceed the supply within five years (2018); that nationwide, an additional 5,500 stenographic reporters would be needed to fill the void. The profession fell woefully short on meeting the demand and many stenographic schools closed, resulting in fewer enrollees, and fewer professionals entering the field. These numbers also do not consider the number that have and will continue to retire.

Due to the necessity of court reporters in legal proceedings, it’s a profession that is at its prime to enter. Large metropolitan areas are in desperate need for new professionals, and agencies will often move you to locations with more jobs than you could ever hope to cover. The areas that are seeing the greatest demand for new reporters are California, Texas, Illinois, New York, and Washington, D.C.

There has long been speculation that technology will take over the court reporter’s job. Many courts and court reporting agencies are implementing new technology, such as digital reporters, to fill the deficit of stenographic reporters. These new technologies are unable to provide many elite services that experienced stenographic reporters deliver, such as realtime. Stenographic reporters are, and will be, an essential piece in the legal landscape. The profession is here to stay and joining now can provide you with a fascinating career for the rest of your life.

Join Our Team

If you are a court reporting student and thinking of joining our team, check out Planet Institute, our court reporting mentoring program. We will match you with an experienced court reporter for you to shadow.

Are you an experienced reporter looking for your next adventure? We’re hiring court reporters around the world. Fill out our reporter profile.

Hire a Court Reporter

For more information on scheduling a court reporter, contact Planet Depos at 888.433.3767 or scheduling@planetdepos.com. If you are ready to schedule, we have easy online portals for domestic scheduling and international scheduling.

Original Post By Brittany Davies & Updated by Julia Alicandri

An Interview with Kaylee Lachmann, RPR

An Interview with Kaylee Lachmann, RPR

A Planet Depos interview with brand-new court reporter, Kaylee Lachmann, RPR.

Kaylee, can you tell us about your journey through court reporting school?

After I graduated from college with a foreign language degree and realized it wasn’t doing much for me, I started working as a legal assistant. I was considering going to law school, but I wasn’t totally sure I wanted to be an attorney, so I started researching other careers in the legal field, and that’s when I stumbled upon court reporting. I was living in Oregon at the time, and there were no court reporting schools in my area, so I opted for the entirely online program through Clark State Community College. Going to school online was tough because I didn’t have a lot of other classmates to commiserate with, but in retrospect I think it really helped keep me focused. I wasn’t comparing my progress to anyone else, and I just kept my head down and worked as hard as I could. It took me a year and a half to get through school, and that was largely due to the fact that my then-boyfriend (now husband) helped support me, and I was able to quit my job about halfway through court reporting school so I could focus on gaining speed. We pinched pennies there for a while, but it was worth it! Court reporting school was by far the hardest thing I have ever done, and it is my proudest accomplishment.

What were your job options or considerations once you completed the program?

After I started court reporting school, we ended up moving to San Diego – which I was free to do, thanks to the online program. As I neared the end of court reporting school in the summer of 2018, I wanted to try my hand at the California CSR, but I was ineligible since I did not attend a California-approved court reporting school. They require students who did not attend California-approved schools to either be RPR-certified or have a year of experience as a working reporter – both of which I didn’t have. I scrambled to obtain the RPR in time for the November 2018 CSR, and I received it in October. However, it takes 4-6 weeks for the RPR certification to be officially processed, so I was still ineligible to take the November CSR exam. After working so hard to get through court reporting school as fast as possible, I was discouraged and felt bogged down by bureaucracy. I just wanted to start working already, so I started looking into other options, such as transcription and relocating to work out of state. That’s when I stumbled upon a great offer from Planet Depos to bring me out to Washington, D.C. to start working. Moving across the country was a big undertaking, but it has been a great first step for me. I am still planning to go back to California for the next CSR exam, and I have plans to eventually move back. It’s crazy to think that the first CSR exam I am eligible to take will take place about a year and half after I reached 200wpm in school!

You passed your RPR before you began working!  Very few reporters do.  What do you feel was the secret to your success?

I took each leg of the RPR a few times. When I took the first few, I would be sitting there, thinking that it sounded slow compared to my practice dictation, but my fingers would just freeze, I would stop breathing, and I would get dizzy. What helped me the most was getting into the habit of purposely breathing slowly and deeply when I was practicing and just focusing on the words flowing into my ears and out through my fingers. I also prepared for each test by getting used to dictation at way higher, insane-sounding speeds and just trying to get a stroke for every word. I am also a musician, and I have played piano and other instruments since I was very young, so that definitely helped me through my court reporting school and certification process. I already knew what it meant to spend hours upon hours in the practice room honing a skill, and I think that is probably the number one skill you need to build speed!

You’ve had just a few weeks’ experience as a brand-new court reporter.  Any surprises?

Not really, but I have really been enjoying the variety of subject matter that I’ve had to cover so far. The variety was one of the things that drew me to court reporting, though, so it’s not too much of a surprise!

Any advice for students nearing graduation?

Court reporting school was tough and required maintaining a very high level of motivation every single day. What helped me was finding a practice routine and sticking to it no matter what, but taking breaks is also so important. I find that the quality of my practice sessions goes down if I don’t take breaks, so it’s better to just take a break in the first place and make the most of the time I do put in.

Probably not fair, but where do you see yourself in five years?

Hopefully still freelancing, and maybe even traveling for a few international depos!

About Kaylee Lachmann

After completing her undergraduate degree at the University of Oregon, Kaylee Lachmann decided to attend court reporting school online through Clark State Community College in Ohio. Kaylee recently obtained her RPR certification and launched her court reporting career in Washington, D.C., where she lives with her husband, Kyle, and cat, Phoebe.

7 Questions You Need to Ask Your Transcription Vendor

7 Questions You Need to Ask Your Transcription Vendor

It seems inevitable that attorneys, doctors, corporations, and even government entities will need audio or video files transcribed into text. These files can range from court hearings and trials, voicemails, examinations, meetings (board, annual, financial, town hall, etc.), to interviews, investigations, and even podcasts or webinars.

It is important to select a quality transcription company to avoid disappointment in the end product. But how do you ensure you’re selecting the best transcription company for the task? Here are 7 questions you should ask before you make your final transcription vendor selection.

Who is doing the transcription?

If you search for transcription jobs, you may notice there are thousands available with very little in the way of experience required. Some companies will require their transcribers go through a vetting process, but many others will hire anyone just to keep up with the demand. When you’re relying on the accuracy of the transcription, you need to make sure they’re only hiring the best. Find out if your firm is using court reporters and other experienced transcribers; it may save you in the end.

Where is the transcription being done?

The economy is global, for better or worse. While many projects are great to outsource, your transcription may not be one of them. You may save a few dollars if you use an overseas transcriber, but the results may not be what you expect, or what you need.

How are the files being transmitted?

While this may not seem as important, since practically everyone uses email these days, you may want to find out exactly how you’ll submit and receive the files. Can your provider send via encrypted email, or a secure portal or form? With the constant fear of hacking and unsecured communication, this may need to be higher on your list than you thought.

What types of files can the transcriber handle?

Qualified transcribers should be able to handle practically any format, and they should have the resources available to convert and enhance the files if necessary. Make sure your transcription company can handle more than just MP3 and MPEG files. They should, at a minimum, be able to handle those, plus CourtSmart (used in most courtrooms), FTR Gold, AAC, MP4, and many others.

How much will the transcription cost?

This can depend on several variables, including the length of the recording and the clarity, as well as how quickly you need the turnaround. A good rule-of-thumb for quality transcription companies is a standard 10-day turnaround, with quicker turnarounds at an extra fee. Once your transcriber receives the files, they should be able to provide you with an accurate estimate.

In what format will you need the final transcript?

Final transcripts should be deliverable in a wide variety of formats, not just a Word doc or PDF. Check with your transcriber to ensure they can deliver in the format you need. Popular formats include PTX, PDF, ASCII, Word, LiveNote (LEF), TextMap (XMEF), Case Notebook (PTZ), Summation (SBF), and trial software such as Sanction (MDB) and Trial Director (CMS).

Will the transcript and audio/video be searchable or synched?

A searchable deliverable can make finding the information you need quick and easy, especially for lengthy transcriptions. It’s not going to help you to receive 100+ pages with no way to search through them easily. Similarly, if you’re planning to play the audio or show the video with the transcript, you will want to receive a transcript that is synched to the original file.

With these seven considerations, you should be in a much better position when searching for your transcription vendor. Any high-quality provider will be able to answer these questions confidently, and you can feel secure knowing your transcription is being handled by a qualified vendor.

As a leading provider of transcription services, Planet Depos and our team of transcription project managers, transcribers, court reporters, and back-office technologists can support projects of all sizes. We’re well versed in handling file conversion, enhancement, and providing deliverables in many different formats. For further information, assistance, or a quote, just fill out our easy and secure online transcription request, or call 888.433.3767.

Knockout Depositions: Gearing Up for a Winner

Knockout Depositions: Gearing Up for a Winner

Knockout Depositions: Gearing Up For A Winner

Image via Warner Bros./MGM

Did you know Creed II is coming to a movie theater near you this Thanksgiving?  You may remember, I’ll take any excuse to talk about my hero Rocky Balboa, and will happily weave his story into any topic, even your depositions.  If you don’t remember, here’s your reminder/warning.   Read on to get fired up about any upcoming depositions you may have and take them on like a heavyweight champ.

To many Philadelphians like myself, Rocky is a real hometown hero.  His appeal extends beyond the City of Brotherly Love, however, and for good reason.  Rocky is the gritty depiction of hard work and the big payoff – often not pretty, with little and big obstacles along the way, which in the end serve to make the realization of the goal that much more rewarding.  When the bell rings and you’re still standing, so to speak, the peals ring that much clearer and sweeter after such hard-won success.  Really, when you think about it, preparing for depositions, and your case in general, is not that unlike Rocky preparing for the big fight with Apollo Creed back in 1976.

Setting the goal:  Rocky is doubtful he can beat the champ, even when Mickey signs on board to train him.  However, he decides he will go the distance, something no fighter has ever done against Apollo.  This is his goal, and it spurs him on in his intense and unorthodox training (punching raw meat in a freezer?!), even when he is discouraged by the media’s portrayal of him as a loser.  In the same way, paralegals and attorneys set a goal with each case, discuss this with their client, and work doggedly to attain that goal.  The filing of notices, motions, preparations for depositions, etc., all lead up to the “fight.”

Assemble a team:  Rocky has Mickey, Paulie, and of course, his beloved Adrian, to train and support him as he gears up for his big day.  Similarly, attorneys have their paralegals, and their court reporting team.  It’s extremely important that the team works together, each providing his or her expertise.  The reporter provides realtime, instant rough drafts, and the final transcript, while maintaining confidentiality and providing redacted files as needed.  The videographer provides the high-definition video of the proceedings, with excellent audio quality, which can even be synced to the final transcript if requested.  The videographer can assist with video clips to be used as exhibits in a deposition, as well.  They can assist with additional tasks such as printing (and shredding!) of exhibits.  Interpretation may be required, and the trusted court reporting agency is an obvious choice to provide the best available interpreter with subject knowledge expertise.  This agency can also assist with trial presentations at the appropriate time.  See an example here.

In essence, the common denominator here is hard work.  Training for a fight against the world heavyweight champion is no joke, and neither is working on a case.  It takes committed professionals putting in the time and effort.  Reporters use any prep materials provided by paralegals to put together word lists, familiarize themselves with the terminology, etc., as do interpreters.  The court reporting professionals strategize to ensure they are at the location early to allow ample time for set-up, guaranteeing no delays in the proceedings.  They turn in their product on time, to assist the legal team in maintaining their schedule.  When it involves an expedited transcript and video, this is no problem for the best-in-class court reporting agency.

For your own knockout depositions, contact Planet Depos.  You can schedule online, or email scheduling@planetdepos.com or international@planetdepos.com to reserve coverage.

18 Deposition Tips from Court Reporters

18 Deposition Tips from Court Reporters

There is a lot that goes into taking a deposition, and a lot that goes into making the record. We’re often asked by attorneys and paralegals if we have any tips for their depositions—what can they do to make sure the deposition goes smoothly. Our court reporters put together a list of tips to making a clear and useful deposition record for use in court and/or impeachment purposes.

  1. When scheduling the deposition, provide the court reporting agency with the Notice of Deposition or full caption. The court reporter needs this information to prepare the transcript. Providing it ahead of time not only saves time but eliminates the need for you to have it available for the court reporter at the time of the deposition.
  2. Introduce yourself to the court reporter, present your card and indicate whom you represent, e.g., “My name is John Doe and I represent the Defendant Samsung.”
  3. At the beginning of the deposition, take a few minutes to give the witness a complete set of instructions. For instance, you might say something like this:
    “Good morning, Mr. Jones. My name is John Doe and I represent the Defendant Samsung in this matter. I’m going to be asking you a series of questions today. The court reporter is taking down every word each of us says. Therefore, it is important that we both speak loudly and clearly so that the court reporter is able to hear and understand what you and I are saying. Doing so will result in a complete and accurate record of today’s proceedings. Please allow me to complete my question in full before you begin your answer; and, by the same token, I will allow you to complete your answer before I ask my next question. If you and I interrupt each other, the record becomes filled with dashes, which may cause confusion later. The reporter can only write one person speaking at a time. Therefore, it is important for all of us to avoid talking over one another so that the reporter is able to get a complete and accurate record of the entire proceedings and so that the questions and answers appear in the transcript without dashes and interruptions. When responding to my questions, please give a verbal response because the court reporter can only write verbal responses on the record. The court reporter is not permitted to ‘interpret’ the nod or shake of your head. Similarly, it is often difficult to understand the meaning of ‘uh-huh’ and ‘uh-uh’ in the transcript.  Finally, if you do not understand any of my questions, please feel free to ask me to repeat or rephrase it and I will be happy to do so.”
  4. Always ask the witness to state and spell his full name so the record accurately reflects the correct spelling.
  5. When the witness gestures in any way, restate in words what the witness demonstrated. For example, “For the record, the witness is indicating about three feet.”
  6. When reading documents, read slowly and indicate when the quoted material begins and ends, e.g., “In Paragraph 3 of Exhibit 7, it indicates, quote, ‘Please keep hands and feet inside car at all times,’ end quote.” Also, provide the court reporter with a copy of any documents that are read into the record.
  7. It is important that the reporter always be seated next to the witness (or next to the interpreter if the deposition testimony is being interpreted) to ensure that he/she can both see and hear the witness.
  8. Allow the court reporter to mark and keep track of the exhibits, which will ensure consistent and sequential numbering. Don’t forget to allow the reporter to completely mark the exhibit before asking your next question.
  9. When going off the record, please state, “Off the record” so it is clear that the comments are off the record. Remember, all parties must consent to going off the record. If one party objects to going off the record, the reporter is obligated to stay on the record in accordance with the Code of Professional Ethics of the National Court Reporters Association. When ready to go back on the record, please state, “Back on the record.”
  10. When going off the record in a video deposition, make it clear whether you are going off the video and/or the written record. For example, state, ”Off the written and video record” or “Off the video record.”
  11. For telephone depositions, always identify yourself before speaking so that you are properly identified in the transcript.
  12. Avoid asking the court reporter for his/her opinion of the witness or the testimony. Court reporters are Officers of the Court and must remain impartial at all times.
  13. The court reporter’s job is mentally and physically taxing. Plan to take a short break, about ten minutes, every 1.5 hours and at least 30 minutes for lunch.
  14. If you are having trouble hearing the witness, assume the reporter is as well and ask the witness to keep his/her voice up.
  15. If the deposition is being videotaped, be aware that microphones are very sensitive. Ruffling papers will distort the audio and quiet whispers will likely be recorded.
  16. Consider retaining the services of an interpreter if the witness’s English is poor or if he/she has a heavy accent. Doing so will ensure a clean and accurate record and avoid misunderstanding and disappointment at trial.
  17. The court reporter earns his/her living by selling deposition transcripts. It is inappropriate to share your copy of the transcript with other counsel unless you represent the same party.
  18. Remember that you and the court reporter have the same goal: to create a readable and useful transcript. Work together as a team.

Following these tips and working with an experienced court reporter will help your deposition flow easily and ensure a clean transcript for your case. Schedule your deposition today, or reach out to our scheduling team for more information.

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