When can we just say "no" we cannot accommodate a rough draft or expedite?  I have had my last 6 jobs in the past ten days be rough drafts or expedite.  I've tried some scopists and ending up spending more time fixing their edit jobs.  Every one of these jobs have been expert, extremely technical, with my nose in the documents they were reading from (at 300 words a minute) for every page I'm editing.  I am not going to sacrifice my health. 

What is so hard about the reporting agency at least asking if a job is going to be rush or a draft needed? I seem now that almost all of my jobs turn out that way.  These attorneys just think we are machines operating machines. 

Yes, for the ultra realtime merit writers it's a lot more doable.............but there are a lot of good reporters/writers out that are not of this caliber that something has just got to give sometimes.  There are only so many hours in a day.

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I freelance - so perhaps I have more flexibility in some ways. Admittedly, I also end up scrambling/scraping for work in return. RE: Roughs and Expedites - I usually try to head this stuff off at the pass and ask the agency what the deal is. I know they get annoyed because they don't want to have to ask the assistant who doesn't want to ask the lawyer, but then I say, "Look, I don't want to get there and tell your client 'Not gonna happen.'" Do I miss out on jobs because of this? You bet (and it sucks). But I don't like being in a pickle because of a lack of information; so I take the hit. Perfect example is if I know I'm going to be out of town over a weekend or a week - sure, I can do a regular turnaround. But any services requested while I'm gone won't happen. Can we take that chance on the job? I've told you my deal, now you tell me.

I feel like counsel don't always know they'll need a rough. It's discovery after all. I have some awesome agencies that will tell me if they have been ordering roughs in the case as a rule, and that will help me decide if I can add the job to the plate. I ALWAYS ask when they'll need the rough too, and a shocking number are pretty laid back with "Oh, by then end of the week is fine."  It totally helps in planning. Others want to get it to their expert the next day; so I have to adjust.

Expedites? Seriously, if you have trial in three days, you should should tell the agency, and the agency should tell the reporter - even if the trial is likely to be continued. There are some slow weeks where I would love to get an expedite or rough to make up for a loss. But other times, I'm swamped. Again, I try to get this info before I accept the job if I think it would create a problem. I'm sure some calendar people don't like it and it has hurt me in some situations, but that's the only way I've been able to balance it.

And, yes, I suspect attorneys assume we go home and hit a button to print out this stuff because, you know, all the trade words, funky-town names (I'm in California), and random e-mail addresses in questions like "And is that your personal e-mail? Hotpharmasalesstartrekguymeow@yahoo?" just, you know, come up automatically in our software, duh - not. Seems to be a combination of them thinking it's easy AND maybe reporters trying to portray it's easy...? Maybe we hurt ourselves by never letting them see us sweat. I think you can be professional and confident and still allow people to know you have a tough job - doctors seem to have that one down.

Cynthia,

Wow, thanks for that post!  I know, there are times when I know I cannot accommodate a rush and ask in advance and low and behold, someone wants it expedited.  I had a bitch of a 250 page job that I told the agency in advance I could not get out a rush of any kind.  Opposing counsel, not their client, wants a rough.  He didn't get it.  That agency never called me for work again.   Attorneys think nothing today of just saying after "Oh, and I'll take a rough.  And the kind of cases I mostly take, anymore they are reading from tons of documents, things not in my dictionary, and I don't like sending out a very poor rough.

Not to mention the days when there's just no time to edit, meaning it's so damn fast that there's hardly a chance to take a sip of water.  Breaks are consumed by going through the transcript editing my flagged spots so that I can grab the witness for a few questions not to mention how about walking around, going to ladies room, and checking phone.   Kelli, getting a 220-page rough out in 5 minutes, not in my wildest dreams.  I edit all day, too, but it's only the jobs where there's a lot of the witness reading documents that I can do much more than the many machine macros I use.  You people are amazing.  

I just got home from writing all day on a 220 page job and I got the rough out in less than five minutes.  However, I was cleaning it up all day.  Roughs are not a question, bring them on.

If you get too many expedites in a row, of course you cannot take on any more work.  That has nothing to do with the caliber of reporter; we can only do so much.  I do know some reporters, however, that take dailies five days a week.  They don't look at their work; it goes from scopist to proofer and out the door.  I'm not willing to do that.  There have been multiple times I've found errors a proofer wouldn't catch because they were not there.  I was and know if there is a wrong speaker, etc.  Pretty scary.

Here's a thought.  And before everyone gets their panties in a bunch over the term "plain vanilla," it's what I say, a term I use for regular, no special services, 10-day delivery work.  Further, it's the plain vanilla work that keeps agencies in business.  Take away an agency's realtime work and they will be sad.  Take away an agency's plain vanilla work and they will close the doors TOMORROW.  Okay?

BECAUSE an agency runs itself on plain vanilla work, and it's the rock-solid reporters who cover that work that keep them in business, I'm amazed when I read things like you put up, Kerry, because agencies who do nothing to determine the specifics of the job cannot POSSIBLY put the best reporter for the job ON it.  Taking the time to determine standing orders up front, if it's medical, technical, an expert, going to go after hours, if ANYONE (and that means the copy side) wants an expedite, rough draft or whatever, is part of being a good agency run by good, knowledgeable agency owners.

Bottom line is that there are some very out of touch agencies run by agency owners who are only interested in getting in a quick buck (through someone else's hard work, I might add) ... more interested in that than anything else.

It's the way business is done now, and it's unfortunate.

One thing you might do, Kerry, is to make crystal clear your capabilities to every agency you work with.  Give yourself plenty of time to get rough drafts out.  Keep it positive and tell them, I can turn around a next-day rough draft for you anytime!  Then if next-day delivery of a rough draft is not sufficient, they have been warned and YOU have plenty of time to get it out, but also, they will be ON NOTICE of your capabilities and able to keep you off of immediate rough draft jobs.  If they don't it's their own fault.

Let them know somehow that on-site requests for immediate delivery or next-day delivery (if you want to extend it to next day) simply cannot be accommodated and that you must know going into the job what the expected delivery time is.  Use lawyer-y language to say upon learning of an expedited request you will "make every effort" to accommodate, but there are so many variables involved, including difficulty of the job and availability of scoping support, that again, you will simply do the very best you can.  Keep the wording positive but again protect your own ass.  Perhaps the forewarning will prompt the agencies you work with to either more fully investigate their jobs before assigning them to you, or schedule you for more regular work and avoid the special services.

I cannot IMAGINE running an agency and not finding these things out.

Hang in there, Kerry.

M.A.

Mary Ann, thanks.  In a perfect reporting agency world, even if they ask all those things up front, given the environment today of it being a drop in the bucket for an attorney to say "Oh, and I'll take a rough," whether next day or in two days, if I have an all-day tough, technical reading-from-documents job, and someone wants a rough, the agency wants you to accommodate period, no excuses.  I've even had a couple of them say:  Send us your file, and we'll get someone to edit it." 

I sure don't get the services I want or need from other companies/businesses in the world, even when they screw up and don't do something right.  Still have to wait for when they have time, according to their schedule, to get back to correct the job they did.

Kerry, it's nice to see your cute face again!  You're looking good, girl!  

I hear your pain.  Reporting is fraught with jerks making unreasonable, unfair demands on us!

What I do to try to avoid these situations is I take less work so that I have more of a time cushion to be prepared for the unexpected expedites and rough orders.  So I usually only take jobs a couple times a week, depending on the length of the jobs.  And I'm doing overflow for several different companies, so if Monday turns out expedited for Reporting Firm 1, I canNOT just call Reporting Firm 2 and say, "Oops!  I need to wriggle out of Tuesday's job to edit this rush.  You don't mind, do you?"

I, too, have had a reporting firm try to take the editing away from me when I wasn't getting the transcript to them as fast as they wanted it.  I apologized profusely and basically told them that in order for me to be willing to put my certificate on a transcript, I need to be the one editing it.  

I have also experienced reporting firms not calling me back after I have set a boundary with them that they did not enjoy.  And what I do is (if work is slow enough for me to invite more work) I send out an email once a week to all my reporting firm clients (addressed to me and blind-copying them) and just let them know my availability for the coming week.  I keep the wording light and upbeat, as if nothing is wrong.  It's like I don't accept their rejection.  I don't give up.  

And almost without exception, eventually those firms will have a busy day where they are desperate enough, and they know I do good work, and they swallow their pride and call me again to cover a job.  There are probably only two reporting firms of the maybe 30 firms that I've worked with in the Denver area since 1986 who have held a personal grudge and never called me back.  

So I set my boundaries.  I do the best job I can.  If my "No" offends someone, I wish it wasn't so, but I just move on.  I've learned that lesson from attorneys.  I've seen attorneys in depositions make mistakes, make people angry, screw up, be wrong about something they were just adamantly arguing for, etc., and in a split second, they just move forward like nothing happened.  It's a good skill :-)

If I'm on a job and I start to get any inkling whatsoever that someone might order a rough, I will ask them on a break if that's a possibility.  I know that I write cleaner when I know I'll be doing a rough.  Then if the reporting circumstances are horrible, I will interrupt more frequently.  And if they still won't play nice, I will explain to them that I will not be able to produce a rough unless they speak one at a time.  And that way, by the end, when I'm telling them "No, it won't be possible to produce an overnight rough of that melee," they're not as shocked and offended, and they're more prepared to hear me say, "But I can get you a rough in three or four or five days."  

So that's another trick to the art of saying no.  I always try to say, "No, but this is what I can do for you."  The No can feel harsh and heavy, so it's best not to dwell on it.  It's easier to move forward from the No if you lead them forward immediately.  "How about this?  How about that?  How about the other thing?"  They still have a frowny face, but they get over it quicker.  

I also had the experience once of agreeing to take a depo right before I went out of town for vacation.  I told the reporting firm scheduler that there was no way I would be able to do an expedite, but she assured me they would not order expedite, and she was willing to take the chance.  Sure enough, they wanted it expedited.  I apologized profusely and said I couldn't do it and explained my situation.  The reporting firm kept using me, but that attorney never wanted me back on his jobs.  So from that experience, I learned to not take jobs right before going on vacation.  I carve out several days before my vacations to catch up on all my work before I leave town.  

So the truth is that I do make less money than some court reporters because of these practices.  But my serenity level is also much higher than many reporters I know!  And I guess serenity is pretty important to me.  I'd say it's worth it :-)

Yes, but that doesn't fly either.  I have even had an agency ask for my file so they could have someone else edit the job.  It's like we have to accommodate the client all the time, no matter what.  Of course you always want to give the best service you can.  I've used a lot more scoping services this month because everything I've taken has been a draft or expedite and they were not supposed to be.  Or after the job, the next day they call and want it expedite.  The scopists have done a poor job, too.

Kerry, as far as the scopists doing a poor job, I seriously think they're not being trained properly.

Randall, I love Denver, and I'm sorry if I made it sound like a crappy place to work as a reporter!  But I can understand how it might seem like that since I was responding to Kerry's email and only addressing the problem areas and questions that she was asking about.  And I was pulling examples from my 28 years of reporting experience, not just from one month of reporting in Denver.  OMG!  Yeah, if that was the case, I would definitely find a new profession in a different city! 

Honestly, I've never worked as a reporter in a different state, so I have nothing to compare it to, and I don't know if it's any better or worse reporting in Denver than in other cities and states.  All I can say is that more often than not, there is too much work for me to keep up with, and I'm usually turning down work.  But I am not a workaholic, so that may not be saying much!  And we definitely have our feast-and-famine spells, as I imagine is true for much of the court reporting world.  

If you do decide to give Denver a try, a couple of the firms I work with that always seem to be looking for more reporters are Agren Blando and Calderwood-Mackelprang, so you might give them a call.  

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you too :-)

Kerry (and Judy as well) the subject of scopists and the quality of scoping services deserves a whole separate thread.  Better to not do that, though, because it always devolves into a black pit of negativity and name-calling.  Just as reporting and how it's done is changing, so should be the "scoping" field (in quotes because note-reading is no longer necessary for a "scopist")

No kidding, Mary Ann.  The sheer determination by reporters (along with developing CAT technology) is enabling some to write near-perfect transcripts, and apparently the scopists are benefitting handsomely by turning out more pages thereby increasing their income dramatically.  Huh?  How about a discount -- a LARGE discount for clean writers?  It does seem only fair.  But then again, if they want to keep working for the subpar reporters that have page growth of 5%, 10%, or more, go for it.  There are a lot of excellent reporters out there that are fed up! with scopists doing less and less while raising their rates at the same time.  In the end of the day, they're only hurting themselves because the excellent writers will find CAT proofreaders (or maybe transcriptionists that are being phased out by India) and give them a raise.

And you're right, the term "scopist" is antiquated.  We need to find another term better suited for what the job entails. 

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