Most students entering the court reporting world, or for that matter any profession, for the first time never give a thought to the differences in court reporting agencies. Like anything else in today’s highly specialized world, everybody is an expert, and, yes, court reporters are different and so are the court reporting firms that they work for. Before you send out a resume to a firm, I would strongly suggest you do some research and see the type of work they do. It is so easy now, check out their website. New court reporters are wasting everybody’s time if they send a resume to a firm which is marketing itself as a real time firm. New court reporters should look for firms that have easier, simpler work for them to start with and learn from. Unfortunately, most firms are too busy getting clients and collecting their money than to work with new reporters. Sad but true. There is very little of a give-back philosophy in our highly competitive world.
What is the simpler work? From my prospective, it is work that is billed out at lower rates because price is the driving motivation, not necessarily quality. As in everything, quality costs more. Who are the clients without the deep pockets or who are the clients do don’t like spending money? You figure it out. Not too hard. In court reporting firms where lower price is the driving factor in their client base, don’t expect to get paid the rates you may have heard floating around in school. You are taking a job to learn and gain experience. Compensation is not, or rather should not, be your prime motivator. It takes time to hone your skills. As your skills improve so will your paycheck.
Just want to take today to thank everybody for their wonderful comments about my blog. When I started writing, it was really to add some informational material to my website. With the passing of time, and speaking with many people looking for work, I realized that in my profession, court reporting, there is really very little material to help reporters, who do not read about or go to meetings, learn the real ins-and-outs of our profession.
I have always felt it incumbent upon myself to give back to a profession which has been so good to me. That’s really why I do take the time each day to answer almost all emails and calls from reporters. I do see many personally also. Obviously, sometimes I am just not in the mood. Life gets in the way. But as I have said many times, persistence pays. You might just catch me on one of my very good days and get a lot of personal attention and information.
And I guess I am very disappointed in how few people give back in ways that are unnoticed and un-publicized.
As one of the few court reporting agency owners who actually speak to new graduates and, yes, I meet many of them, here are some pointers how not to get a second chance, in other words, be called again. After looking at many new reporter transcripts recently, I would strongly suggest you have a knowledgeable friend, relative or professional read over your transcript before you send it in. I would think that every firm has somebody proofreading transcripts of new reporters, as we do, but it does not really bode well for you if you have lots of mistakes and corrections. It is very time-consuming for the office, even if they are charging you to do the corrections, which I recently found out some court reporting agencies do charge for doing corrections.
I think my biggest pet peeve is reporters using wrong words. It sounds like what I wrote so I will just pop it in, having really no idea of the meaning of the word and how it is used. Actually I was shocked at the extent reporters do this. It doesn’t get caught in a spell check and only a very careful proofreader will pick it up because it looks good to them, too. It won’t look so good on an errata sheet which a lot of people in the office see. When we get one back that is particularly horrible, we are finished with that reporter, no matter what their work looked like before. You just never know what kind of work product you will be getting. First impressions on everything count and court reporting has become terribly competitive so sharpen all your professional skills. There is still lots of work around for those who put in the time and effort in every aspect of their work.
I had always assumed that when a court reporter has achieved real time status that that was an indication of several skills, writing real time and also putting out a certain level of quality in their transcripts. Real time court reporters are the top of our profession and I, like many of my clients, assume that when you are getting a real time court reporter you are also getting a certain level of quality in their transcripts. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Yes, they have mastered the technical skill of writing well real time but in the process these real time court reporters become so assured of their level of skill that they no longer feel the need to proofread their transcripts with the same level of concern as court reporters who are not so sure of their skills. Unfortunately, some of the most corrections we receive back on errata sheets are on real time depositions where I guess the court reporter thought that the feed/rough ascii level of accuracy supersedes the need to put out a higher quality transcript. If you are a real time writer and wonder why you are not getting these great real time cases anymore perhaps it is simply a function that your final transcript is much sloppier than other court reporters who writer poorer but are much more careful in their proofreading.
There are several court reporting meetings coming up in March and April which will attract court reporting agency owners, court reporters and court reporting vendors. If you are not already a member of your state court reporting organization, I strongly suggest you join it immediately and go to meetings. You will be able to meet court reporters and learn much about the court reporting firms in your state and just general information about the court reporting industry in your state. Court reporting companies are very different in the type of court reporting work they do, the type of format they want their court reporters to use and their forms and procedures they want their court reporters to follow. You will also learn about opportunities and just general information about court reporting and court reporters which will be very valuable.
If you are not a member of the National Court Reporters Association, NCRA, join immediately. There you will find many meetings which attract court reporters as well as owners of court reporting firms looking to meet court reporters, vendors, and information that will keep you up-to-date about court reporting technology. Learn about your profession and support your profession. You can’t have enough knowledge and knowledge about your chosen profession is crucial. I personally always look at a court reporter’s state and national credentials when we are looking to use overflow reporters. The more letters after your names, the more in demand you will be.
Too many times we receive calls from court reporters who are having difficulty getting paid by other court reporting agencies and asking us what to do. Most court reporting agencies are very honest in what they pay and when they pay. However, here are some of the things we do as an agency from we take work from other agencies that we have not worked for. We check their reputation with other agencies in their area. Court reporters should ask their court reporting friends about the court reporting firm. If you are a new reporter, ask your teacher. They probably know about all the court reporting companies. Out-of-state companies, check out the local court reporting associations and contact an officer.. We all have reputations, good, or bad. I know it is tough out there but there is no sense working if you are going to have problems getting paid. You Must check out who you are working with. If it is a last minute call, ask what rates they are paying and what their payment terms are, ie, 15 pays, 30 days. Just say you don’t want to bother them down the line. Do you have to wait until they get paid? Everybody does things differently. With all our years of experience we too have not gotten paid several times by court reporting firms over the course of our business life. Stuff happens!
Our court reporting agency, Toby Feldman Inc., has always tried whenever possible to help other court reporting firms in New York City and also court reporting companies nationwide who we compete with when they need a court reporter and lend many court reporting firms in New York our conference room free of charge and allow other New York City court reporting firms to not only use our NYC conference room but bring in their own reporter. So I ask, how does this harm me? I am not losing any court reporting clients. These are their clients. I am not losing my court reporter for the day. Am I in harm of their court reporter stealing some valuable company secrets? So why is it that so many court reporting firms do not give these same professional courtesies? It would be a much nicer world for of us if we were just a little nicer and more thoughtful to each other.
I often turn to LinkedIn to find court reporters and court reporting companies in areas that I do not know any court reporters, videographers or court reporting firms. There is a lot of activity in the court reporting industry on LinkedIn. I find many discussion groups that many court reporters participate in. I also have found that there are many court reporters, court reporting companies and people who do business with court reporting firms on LinkedIn. I have also found many employees at all different levels members of LinkedIn. So since my favorite topic lately has been trying to give some advice on how to get jobs, well, certainly put up your professional court reporting or videographer profile on LinkedIn. I was really surprised to see how much activity the court reporting community has on this website.
My favorite topic these days is court reporting in new york city, especially concerning new court reporters and how they can best get that toe in the door of the court reporting agency they want to impress. Here is the method one new court reporter in new york used and how it worked out. Yes, we do give her work a few times a month. It really involved basic business and people skills. Obviously, your resume should be done with a lot of care. Yes, we do get mostly sloppy resumes. Ouch! End of the line for this one.
Send a thank you. Yes, thank yous work in the business world. Thanks for taking the time to look at my resume. Any possible occasion, New Year, whatever, about once a month, a short and nice email, please keep me in mind. I would very much like to work with you. Compliments do work! Keep in low-keyed. There is definitely room for new court reporters to get work and move up the ladder in the court reporting firm they choose. Target a court reporting firm; pay attention to it; keep in touch with them in a low-keyed way; make sure there are no typos in your correspondence and be available for whatever court reporting assignment might come up. Most court reporting firms do not want to lose clients so won’t send you someplace over your head. I feel good about 2013 and this seems to be a better year for most firms than 2012.
Hang in there. You picked a great profession, court reporting, and a great career, court reporter, but it take time and effort.
Been away for a little while but I still think it is crucial to write about jobs and the thoughts I express as an employer of a new york city court reporting firm are really relevant to all professions. In today’s economy, and having survived in the NYC court reporting agency business for over 30 years, I try to give back and help new court reporters in new york city as well as answering emails from court reporters nationwide.
This is my experience with a new court reporter in NYC this week. A recent court reporter graduate called and wanted to get some more experience sitting in. I spoke to her for a while to get a feel of what this court reporter’s skills were so as not to send her somewhere above her head. My nyc court reporting agency called our court reporter scheduled for the case and the attorneys on both sides to make sure it was okay for a new court reporter to sit in. We are a busy new york court reporting firm. I spent time on the phone with this court reporter and my staff spent time on getting approvals from clients and the court reporter assigned. Got back to this court reporter with all the info.
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Guess what? She never showed; never called and everybody in the room got involved with whether they should wait for her. Amazing right? And court reporters wonder why they don’t get called. This is a first for me in over 30 years. To spend the time and money and somebody gives you an inch in an impossible field to get a half an inch and treat it that way, wow! Actually, I never cease to be amazed by court reporters and their behavior every day of the week.
Tomorrow I will write about the other recent graduate new york court reporter who I also saw this week who I gave a job on the spot!