During a deposition, an attorney’s primary goal is typically related to getting the information needed for their case. A court reporter’s primary goal is to create a complete and accurate record, or transcript, of everything that is said during the deposition. Depending on the deposition, you, as an attorney, may want the transcript more quickly than normal. You may want it later that day, the next day, or within a few days.
The main factors that determine how quickly you will receive your transcript are the skills and productivity of the court reporter and the court reporting firm.
However, there are some ways attorneys can help improve how quickly they receive their transcript. Let’s discuss them.
Give Advanced Notice
The more skilled court reporters are able to turn a transcript around overnight, or even faster, provided they are told in advance. Attorneys who wait until a deposition is over to ask for next-day service might be met with disappointment, but those who ask for a quick turnaround when they schedule the reporter’s services are much more likely to accommodate.
Your court reporting firm and reporter will likely do everything they can to accommodate any request you have. However, a reporter may already have a booked schedule and there may be many other attorneys wanting their deposition transcripts too. Often this can be an issue of a reporter prioritizing their time with their current workload.
You will not always know if you’ll want the final transcript back within the next few days. But, if you think you might, let the firm you’re scheduling with know. They will do the best they can to schedule a reporter who will have the time and skills necessary to meet your needs.
Communicate With Your Staff
Court reporting firms and reporters often take charge of their own workload by asking when the transcript is due even before the deposition is scheduled. Unfortunately, the attorney’s staff may not be told how quickly the transcript should be returned, increasing the odds of a last-minute request. Let your paralegal or secretary know if you think you’ll need a quick transcript turnaround so they know when scheduling the deposition for you.
Be Clear In Your Request
If an attorney tells a reporter they’d like the transcript as soon as possible, the reporter may not interpret that in the same way the attorney may be thinking. So, be clear so there is no confusion. Your transcript might be the only one the reporter has to work on. Or, it could be one of ten, with four that have to be finished within the next three days.
Give Additional Information
Certain cases will require many days of depositions in a row, with technical terminology, and different locations. You may want your transcripts the evening of or day after each day of depositions. Let your reporting firm or reporter know this in advance. This will help them plan how they will be able to meet your needs.
If you’re really needing that transcript to prepare for your next steps or next deposition, asking your reporter for a rough draft is a great way to get the transcript sooner. Of course, the rough draft will not be perfect, but it will give you something to start working with before you receive the final. If you think a rough draft will be helpful, let your reporting firm know in advance so they can assign a reporter who is comfortable with providing rough drafts and also able to deliver a better quality rough draft.
Assist in Creating a Smoother Deposition
Good court reporters will work through any situation. However, there are certain factors during the deposition that make it easier for a reporter to create an accurate transcript and get it to you more quickly.
- Ask for better enunciation – Some attorneys will start a deposition by telling the witness that court reporters can’t write “uh-huh” or “huh-uh” into the record. However, in addition to not being true (court reporters can include any sound uttered), this statement doesn’t clearly state what the attorney (and court reporter) wants—which is clarity. In order for the record to be clear, the witness needs to answer audibly so there’s no misunderstanding on what they meant when they said “uh-huh”…or whatever guttural noise they made. Therefore, instead of saying that the court reporter isn’t able to record noises, try telling them that every sound will be part of the record; so it is in their best interest to speak clearly and loudly enough for the court reporter to capture their full meaning.
- Give the court reporter time when asking him/her to complete multiple tasks – In addition to recording every word made throughout the proceedings, court reporters are also often asked to perform small tasks for the attorneys (mark exhibits, search for information, assist in arbitrations, etc.). Unfortunately, many of these tasks overlap. As such, it is important that an attorney gives the court reporter time to complete one task before continuing the deposition, to prevent him/her from leaving any information out of the record.
- Include actual breaks – For long depositions, many attorneys choose to work through lunch instead of breaking. They have food delivered and take bites in between questions. However, you need to remember that court reporters need breaks too—in order to stretch, give their minds (and fingers) a rest, and to eat. They can’t do this if questions are still being asked. It’s physically impossible to eat and report at the same time. Providing even a short 15-minute break is enough to allow the reporter to eat, run to the restroom, and walk around a bit. Remember, a refreshed reporter is better poised to capture a complete record than a tired and hungry reporter.
- Provide technical terminology in advance – Refrain from surprising your reporter with unexpected technical terminology. If you know the deposition is going to be technical in nature, provide a listing to the reporting firm at least a day before so the reporter can become familiar with those terms. And, please articulate clearly when saying those terms. You may know what you’re talking about, but if the court reporter doesn’t know the term she may think you said something else and quote you incorrectly.
- Help moderate when witnesses speak – Court reporting is a difficult job, made even more difficult when witnesses talk over one another and attorneys become irritable when asked a question. Make sure you get the best possible record by reminding witnesses to slow down or speak louder when needed and requesting that only one person speaks at a time.
In conclusion, understand that when a court reporting firm or reporter asks for clarification they are doing it to secure an accurate record and make sure you get what you need when you need it.
In another article, we discuss Different Types of Video Attorneys Can Use in Depositions and Cases.