Do you release a rough draft to the agency to distribute, or do you distribute it yourself?

I've noticed a lot of agencies like to maintain control over the rough draft and distribute it themselves. Mostly, I believe, it's so they can make sure the attorneys have signed order forms, good credit, are going to pay, etc.

My only worry in giving agencies control over my rough draft is that I can't be sure of who's getting it, and if I'm going to get paid for it. Sometimes orders for roughs drafts come in after the depo happens, via email. And in California we're obligated to inform all attorneys present that a rough was ordered. If I'm not distributing it, how can I know who's ordering?

I would like to think that agencies wouldn't send out roughs without paying the reporter, but I've had other unethical things happen to me. So it makes me worry.

I completely understand their wanting to maintain control over distribution, but I find it difficult to trust and difficult to explain my position without the worry that I won't be called again for work, be labeled as "trouble," etc.

I'm looking for other reporters' opinions on how they do it and how they feel about it.


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I send the rough drafts myself. Sometimes I cc the agency if they ask me to. It's usually when they think the attorney may be sketchy and want proof of when they sent it.
Hey, Kelli. Thanks for weighing in. It's nice to know how other reporters do it.

But I'm thinking that if you CC the office, then when that late call comes in and the office gives it to them, how will you know if they don't tell you?

I guess I'm just paranoid because I had an agency that I'd worked with for about three years give away an ASCII to opposing counsel without telling me. I only found out because the attorney told me, no, he didn't need a copy because my agency was giving him an ASCII as incentive to give that agency his side of the depos in the case.

I would never have guessed this agency would give out my work for free without telling me. Never.
I strongly, strongly prefer to send out rough ASCIIs myself and simply note on the job worksheet that they were ordered and sent. That way, I can be sure that they go to everyone who ordered them. Ditto with letting all counsel know who ordered what, something California reporters have to do per the Code. The only way to be perfectly sure that that phone call or email was made is to do it myself.

I have only had one agency that wanted to send the ASCIIs out themselves and also make the notification phone calls. This made me extremely nervous since there was a high office staff turnover and many administrative problems. These are, after all, matters involving the CCP and thus my professional license. I have since declined to work for them for this and other reasons.
I mostly send out the rough ascii myself and cc the agency if they request. I think there is only one agency that I work for that I send the rough draft to them and they send it to the attorney. I think this agency is pretty trustworthy so I'm not worried about them sending out my rough w/o paying me for it.

I cc the agency just in case the atty calls and says he never received it, then the agency has proof that I sent it. I also put a blurb in saying that here is the rough draft. The certified copy that was ordered will be sent out in the regular time blah, blah just so they know they're paying for a certified copy and rough draft.

If the rough draft is ordered at the depo, I put it on the record and let the parties know they can order the rough draft. I find that most agencies don't even know when a rough draft has been ordered and they often call me asking for a rough when I've already send one in bec. the production dept and client services are two different sets of people.
I usually send the roughs myself also. I have a great relationship with one firm. I do send it to them. They in turn make sure all parties are notified a rough was available. Sometimes I get an extra order. They've always paid me. Like I said, I have a great relationship with them.

I always put a disclaimer at the beginning, end, and on the footer. Something to the effect of "Draft Version Only. Not to be used in any official capacity."
So, to all you reporters that send out the roughs yourself and bypass the agency, do you get a signed order form from the attorney, making sure they TOTALLY understand EVERYTHING involved in getting that rough -- i.e., you are also ordering a certified copy, which will be delivered on a COD basis or payment is in so many days?

I think that's why agencies like to have control of the transcript, so that they can make sure they're going to receive payment and not get into a I-didn't-realize-I-had-to-buy-a-copy argument when the agency tries to collect.

The way I look at it, if the reporter is looking to the agency to bill and collect on the "product," and the reporter expects payment (rightly so), the reporter needs to cover everyone's butt if they're going to hand out the product on their own.

There are enough attorneys out there that say "yes" to a transcript only to igore the agency when that COD call comes that we need to cover our butts at all times.

Just my .02.

You're absolutely right, Judy. It is imperative to get a signed copy order form that includes a rough draft order on there. I have a blank form that I can use for any agency, and I use it whether my agency requires it or not. Or I'll get an email confirmation of the order of a certified copy AND a rough draft via email before I'll send it out.

We've got to protect ourselves and our agencies.
Yeah, for those reporters who only work for one agency, it's not a big deal to trust. But for those of us who work for many agencies, getting notified that we HAVE TO SUBMIT THE ROUGH ASCII TO THE OFFICE FOR DISTRIBUTION makes me nervous.

Agencies usually say it's to get a credit check ahead of time. But I don't have a problem waiting to distribute a rough until a credit check clears. Why the agency wants control of it, I just don't understand.

If there's an agency owner who reads this, if you could help me understand better, that'd be awesome. I'd really appreciate that.
Just curious if anyone else wants to weigh in. I'm still curious what most reporters do. I'm wondering if most agencies demand that you give them the rough draft so that they can distribute it.



I agree, if you're playing with the big boys, they generally know what they're ordering.
Several times I've had attorneys who look like they know what the heck they're doing say to me, after explaining a rough order includes a copy order, "What? I've never heard of that! I've never had a reporter charge me for a copy when I've just ordered a rough."
Oh, my gosh. That sounds like when we started making ASCIIs and the attorneys thought the cost of the deposition was going to be less; i.e., the charge for the disk only. Never mind the same amount of pages and work are on the ASCII.


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