As an attorney, take a moment to ask yourself the following questions:
Are court reporters and other legal services providers always available when you need them?
Does not having access to the right services at the right time wreak havoc on your court calendar?
Is your law firm locked into a reduced-rates contract with a court reporting firm?
Do you want to pay less and get better service?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you are not alone.
As a court reporter for the last 20 years, a firm owner for 14 years, I have experienced firsthand several major changes in this industry. Not all of them have been good.
One of the current trends is simply no longer sustainable. If you practice in states like California, Texas, or South Carolina, you already know. There is a critical shortage of court reporters. It is wreaking havoc on court calendars in these states and is spreading across the country.
What’s the main cause of this crisis?
National court reporting firms and insurance companies have driven down the rates court reporters are paid to a point it is no longer a sustainable career. As an attorney, you are not paying much less, but who gets the lion’s share of what you are paying has dramatically shifted.
Court reporters are highly-talented individuals who have spent years crafting their skill and talent. Court reporters are predominantly independent contractors. They are responsible for their own gas, vehicle maintenance, parking, equipment and software costs, continuing education, proofreaders and scopists, healthcare costs, retirement funding, social security, and monthly fees for litigation support systems.
Contracting court reporting firms reduce the rates of services and products, then take up to 50 percent of the reporter’s earnings. It’s choking off the supply of court reporters. With minimal new recruits entering the profession, the current reporters are selectively choosing the more lucrative jobs; oftentimes failing to show for hearings, depositions and other legal proceedings they previously committed to cover.
Who pays the real price? Attorneys and Paralegals.
In addition to converting the profession into a commodity, which has only fueled the court reporter shortage, court reporting firms are also paying rock-bottom prices. This strategy only jeopardizes quality. Accuracy and neutrality should never be compromised when it comes to creating a certified, yet neutral, record.
It’s time for new business models. It’s time for a new approach. It’s time to lower the costs attorneys and paralegals pay for legal services. It’s time to increase quality while paying legal services providers more.
It’s time for attorneys, court reporters and other legal services providers to participate in distributed networks that instantly connects both the supply (court reporters) and demand (attorneys) sides.
This is the Uber concept. Prior to Uber, people called a taxi service when they needed a ride. Rates were predetermined and the service was usually sub-par. The cars were typically accompanied by a foul smell!
Today, passengers simply tap on an app, see who is in the immediate vicinity, and a price is revealed. If the passenger does not like the rating of a driver, they can move on to the next option. If you have used this service, you already know that drivers are happier, cars are cleaner, service is superior, and passengers are pleased. The most important element of this model? The passenger pays less and the driver keeps more. There’s less regulation, less management costs, and less overhead.
Applying this type of distributed network to court reporters not only helps them earn more, but costs law firms less. Quality of service will increase and we can attract more skilled professionals to the industry.
Most importantly for attorneys in states like California, Texas, and South Carolina, month-long delays in legal proceedings can be avoided. You will have access to available court reporters when you need them. Expedite is the solution for the legal industry.