What Are the Differences in Hiring Local vs. Outsourced Court Reporters?

There are lots of court reporting companies who promise cheap transcripts and quick turnaround times, hoping to attract the business of cost-savvy firms. But while it may seem attractive to hire the lowest bidder, most attorneys soon learn the truth of the maxim “you get what you pay for”—and may even lose a client as a result.

Local versus Outsourced Court Reporters

As incredible as it may seem, not every transcription agency is focused on delivering a quality product. Many prioritize turnover—getting the maximum number of orders in and out of the door—above all other considerations. Speed is important, but it is only one component of proper reporting. Unfortunately, many quick-transcript companies give speed preference over professionalism, experience, or even accuracy.

Consider what you might be sacrificing in favor of a speedy result:

  • Smooth procedure. It is one thing for a person to transcribe an audiotape of events, but quite another for a court reporter to accurately produce an official record. Third-party transcriptionists are often unfamiliar with court procedures, have less than optimal grammar skills, or fail to understand the specific legal or technical terminology used in the case. The transcript will likely be rife with errors or omissions if the transcriptionist does not understand what was said, delaying court proceedings.
  • Format. Before attorneys outsource their transcripts, they should be sure to check which file formats are offered by the reporting company. Some companies may only mail paper documents, some send copies on CD, while others offer compressed and indexed transcripts that are easily searchable. If you request a digital format, you must make sure you have the correct program to read it; system compatibility is a common problem with cheap transcription providers.
  • Transcript safety. It is not enough to transcribe and deliver the court record; a good court reporting company should also store and protect confidential information in its archives. If there is no way of archiving the record, the transcript may be lost forever, potentially denying a defendant his right to retrial.
  • Customer care. When something goes wrong, the company you hire should be willing to fix its mistakes (or at the very least, acknowledge them). However, some transcription companies do not require their court reporters to stay accessible after completing a job, and may not have phone numbers or contact information on file.
  • Accountability. There is no substitute for using an actual person in the room to perform your court reporting. A certified court reporter can be used for the entire length if a case (reducing handoff errors), and he or she can stop the proceedings for clarification to preserve the final record.

At Casamo & Associates, we know how important it is for attorneys to have unfettered access to competent court services. That is why our staff of fully qualified court reporters can be scheduled with the click of a button, and we provide a spacious, wireless-enabled conference room for all of your clients’ needs. Use our online scheduling form to request a court reporter for your next deposition.

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