Finding the right court reporter to serve your firm’s needs is similar to the process your clients went through to find the right attorney. Like your clients, you want the best and most qualified, not simply the lowest-priced or most available. But how do you determine which court reporter will be the perfect fit for your needs?
Fort Lauderdale court reporters agency Brickell Key recommends that you consider the following qualifications as you review prospective reporters:
Are they certified?
Just as attorneys must pass the bar exam, court reporters must meet certain criteria for certification, says a lawyer in Bath, PA. Although the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) sets national-level certification requirements, many states have their own certification or licensing programs. In Florida, for example, court reporter candidates must pass the Florida Court Reporters Association Florida Professional Reporters Certification.
Court reporters are encouraged to attend either an associate’s degree or certificate program prior to taking the certification exam. Most class curriculums follow the NCRA standards and practices to prepare students for national Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) certification.
While the RPR and state certifications are minimum requirements, some court reporters earn additional credentials or have specializations like Communications Access Realtime Reporting (CART), which offers services for deaf and hearing-impaired individuals.
Is their previous experience a good fit for your needs?
If you’re handling a complicated case that includes depositions of medical or technical experts, you may want to find a court reporter who is comfortable and competent in the appropriate terminology. Complex litigations requiring numerous depositions across multiple geographical areas or involving extensive discovery are best entrusted to a court reporter with experience in this type of case. This level of understanding will ensure that proceedings will be conducted with little interruption or reporter supervision.
Do they have a record or guarantee of accuracy and confidentiality?
Many certification and education programs prescribe a code of ethics for court reporters which inevitably includes a commitment to client confidentiality. It’s never a bad idea, however, to get this promise in writing. This document (or a separate one) should also include a guarantee of accuracy and a plan for recourse if these expectations are not met.
To back up this written agreement, ask the court reporting firm to share their internal methods for ensuring confidentiality and accuracy, and check out their track record. It’s always OK to ask for and contact previous clients as references.
Are they professional?
Even though a court reporter is technically a subcontractor, he or she represents you and your firm and can be a reflection upon your own reputation. Although ethical behavior, confidentiality, and neutrality are huge components of overall professionalism, physical appearance and actions also factor in. Your court reporter should be dressed appropriately, communicate clearly, and perform his or her duties confidently.
What about flexibility and convenience?
Attorneys understand that not every aspect of a case is pre-scheduled or occurs during weekday, daytime hours. Your court reporter should share this understanding and be available to you upon short notice and outside the standard workday. Ask the firm about their on-call availability and scheduling process to ensure you’ll have a professional court reporter available when you need one.
In addition to reporting services, many firms offer local conference room accomodations equipped with audio and video conferencing and transcript recording technology. Ask for a tour of these facilities and an overview of the equipment to ensure they meet your needs and that you would be comfortable bringing a client or witness to the room.
Because some depositions will occur outside of your local area, out of state, or even out of the country, ask the court reporting firm if they have a reliable network of equally qualified professionals with whom they could contract in these situations.