Okay, I'm just a TAD peeved, to say the least. On a job right now.  I just had an attorney say to me this morning, "I'll take a mini, electronic and regular.  I'll take a rough if there's no charge."

Me (almost speechless in disbelief): "Really? People are giving away free roughs?"

He: "Oh, yeah. It's getting really competitive out there. And we take the rough electronically only."

I asked him which firms were giving away free roughs. He said two firms that he uses all the time. (Please don't use any of the firms I work for -- EVER.) I asked for names.  He wouldn't say specifically, only that they are small firms in San Jose. Well, there goes your argument for small firms being so "ethical" and "righteous," giving away your hard work for free.  Then again he could be simply lying to me to see what I'd/we'd be willing to give him for FREE, if anything.

I mean, is this really what small firms are stooping to, to compete?  "So instead of little gifts, we'll work for you for free."  Sure, it's no sweat off the firm's back; it's at your (the reporter's) expense. I know none of the big, bad, dirty national firms that I work for is giving away free roughs.

Me: "Well, we don't give it away, so I suppose you don't want one."

He: "No."

Good! Then happy note-taking to you, sir.  I hope you brought some extra pens so you don't run out of ink.

I don't know about you, but I'd rather quit the profession the day I have to give away a free rough -- or any work product, for that matter.

I mean, wow!  Just WOW!!!  I have other choice words, but I'm sure they are entirely inappropriate for a semi-private forum.

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If you have to give away a rough, make sure it's real rough - something mine would look like.

(I'm laughing right now).

Mary Jo, the more I think about this, the more I like it. IF it ever came down to this, it would not take much effort at all to delete half the entries in my main dictionary and retranslate the job and send that out as the rough.

I like the way you think! ;)

Dear Quyen,

I'd say his response does not ring true.  The way I read it, he was only trying to get something for nothing.  You bit into his bait.


He could not provide you with any specifics of agencies.


I doubt there were any.


An extremely important lesson I learned many years ago is:  Talk Is Cheap. 


It's very cheap.


To me, he was just trying to get something for nothing.  Next time, don't be surprised, just professional, and say that a Rough ASCII is a service, and there is a charge for that service.


Good luck!

I didn't take his bait.  If I did, I would have offered him a free rough too. But I was most certainly annoyed, though, no doubt.

I don't think anything I said to him was unprofessional, either. Yeah, I know talk is cheap; that's why I was trying to find out more information from him by asking which firms. Since we don't give free roughs, I think it was reasonable for me to assume that he didn't want one in this case.

I have to admit it took the best of my restraint to not laugh out loud to his face.

Mary Jo:  Unfortunately, my roughs are quite clean, and I'd have to go back and actually manually untranslate a bunch of stuff to make a free rough worthwhile.

You took his bait in that you became annoyed.  You engaged in a conversation about allegedly free roughs.   


There should be no conversation, other than calmly and professionally saying that a Rough ASCII is a service, and there is a charge for that service.   


I did not say anything you said was unprofessional.  I just meant it was emotional and naiive.


But that's how we all learn.

"I just meant it was emotional and naiive." Really?  And who died and made you the old wise one? I'm surprised you didn't call me "dear."

I have gotten private confirmation that this is, in fact, happening, that the small firms are giving away free roughs. I promised not to name names. Omnipotent One, maybe you should get your head out of the sand and ask appropriate questions, when necessary, and deal with reality and "learn" instead of living in La La Land.

Hi, Deanna.  I think you're right - he was trying to get something for nothing.  Many years ago when I first started trading realtime for cash money, working in Richmond, Va., we started noticing that very often when attys were from California, they would ask for realtime and say something along the lines of, "Now, you're not going to charge me for this, are you?  Because back home, we get it for free."  After a while of noticing this from Left Coasters, I decided that, indeed, talk is cheap ... except when it comes to realtime.  I got in the habit of suggesting to them that if they "got it free back home," their hometown court reporter might enjoy a trip to the East Coast next time, and it might be cheaper, because with me, realtime was never free.  They did that with realtime but never specifically just the rough draft ... until recently, that is.  It was a New York atty who asked me for a rough draft, "Only if there's no charge.  Do you do that?"  I said, "No, I don't."  And he said, "Then sorry."  Meaning sorry, he wouldn't take a rough draft then.  But, Deanna, I can assure you that there are agencies out there who are offering not only no charge for a rough draft, but no charge for realtime either.  Talk to some reporters in the Columbus, OH area about free realtime.  It happens!  And there are agencies out there who do not charge for expedites - and I mean even overnight.  Some reporters won't charge extra for a rush delivery unless they have other work backed up.  That's just bad business - bad for them, bad for others.  I know it's hard to believe that agencies offer free services to attract business, but yes, that's what it's come to ... not for all agencies, but surely some.  Not all reporters will provide free rough drafts ... not all, but surely, some do.  Reporters can always say no to that, but there are reporters out there who'll take any job and work for peanuts.  Everyone has their limits ... or none at all.  Hope all is well out your way.


Mary Ann, I happen to agree with you about reporters taking less.  In quite a few fields of work, whatever it is, people are taking less for varied reasons.  There will always be the new reporters coming into the field not understanding the work, commitment to long hours if necessary with no advance notice, busts without substantial compensation thereby losing a full work day, etc, etc.  They are not used to the pay we made on a regular basis for providing outstanding service and product whenever it was expected of us and we were more than willing simply because we were well compensated and loved what we did.  The field has changed forever I fear and I have to decide if my commitment is going to be worth the compensation.  Hopefully the attorneys will wake their clients up.  I do work for a handful of attorneys who would never negotiate because they are so pleased with their choice of reporter and agency.  I, myself, have less work because I want my rate, but that's a personal decision.

Quyen, I actually like your response to the attorney and would have said the same thing.   

Thanks, Rosalie. I don't see anything wrong with that response, either. :)

I had it happen to me but I think it was worse. The attorney had his assistant call me at home (don't even remember how they got my home number) and told me they would use another reporter the next day of the case if I didn't give them a free rough.  I told them go ahead and get another reporter. They still used me the next day. The attorney brought it up the next day and said his firm at home gives free roughs and realtime for every job in exchange for the law firm giving them all their work. Never found out if he was BSing me or they really do get it free but neither would surprise me. I think he was from Modesto. Honestly, I don't blame anyone for trying to get something for free, but I really didn't like it that he had his secretary threatening me.

I have worked with a small firm in San Jose for more than 20 years, and we have never given away a free rough draft.   The agency has lost a lot of business, though, over the years.   I don't know what other firms are doing.


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