Dear Colleagues:
There's a nasty rumor going around that firms are giving away FREE ROUGH DRAFTS to attorneys. Now, I know times are tough out there, but this is a highly slippery slope! This could cause a landslide of freebies given away, not to mention page rates going down.

I BEG OF YOU: Don't give away a product that has value and that you've worked so hard to attain a level of expertise to be able to produce. Our work HAS VALUE. If the reporters refuse to give away their roughs, I'm not sure how the agencies would get around that, but reporters (staff and freelance) need to come together on this issue.

I know it's really hard to get work right now, but this isn't the answer. I'd love to hear if this is going other than in my little corner of the world.

Ly

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LuAnn,

Your "page" says you're a videographer, but your post says you're a reporter. I'm confused (not hard to do sometimes). Are you a videographer or reporter?

Judy
I noticed the $150 an hour for attorneys.....NY attorneys get up to $800 an hour, and one attorney I worked for made $1200 an hour....they can afford to pay for the rough and for everything else.
Attorneys around here regularly get $400 hour, at least. $150 is cheap.
I had an attorney from Modesto CA tell me they have a deal w/ their reporting firm where they get all their roughs and realtime free on every job in exchange for all their work.
He tried to get a free rough from me, threatened to not use me for the next day, blah, blah, blah. I don't know if he was bullshitting or he really is getting all his rough drafts free. I don't know why a reporter would give away a free rough, although I have heard it being part of the realtime price. Giving away realtime is just plain nuts.
I think 1-800 is referring to law firms that have an 800 number for call in's. Having an 800 number GIVES the impression of being a great or big law firm. In truth, it's a service they pay for. They pay for the incoming calls.
I have one word to say: NEVAHHHHH!!!!!!
I was asked by an atty at a depo if I would give him a free rough. My response was no. He informed me that his reporting firm gives him free roughs, and also provides free realtime. I thought he was trying to get something for free. I never ever thought agencies would do this. Maybe I was wrong. I personally will never give away my work product or that of my reporters.
Mary Ann, you're right.

I remember years ago when a reporter would complain she had seven attorneys at a depo and only one or two ordered, and the rest thought they would get a free or cheap copy from the others. I never had that problem.

When I did work for the attorneys, and they would say, "Call attorney X and get a copy of the depo of X." I would refuse. I would explain to them that a court reporter did the work and she should be paid for her work, just like the attorney was getting paid for his work." A particular associate kept doing that. And the look on his face.
I think it's awfully nervy of some of those high-end litigators to argue with, or even simply make statements about the perceived high cost of our services, or bickering about why they shouldn't engage in copy-sharing or passing around a rough draft. It's nervy because very often, those are partners in those big-name law firms, and there's usually an associate sitting in the deposition with him whose sole assignment is to have the next exhibit ready to hand to the witness. After that, he's a piece of furniture, okay? About a $500-per-hour piece of furniture, not even taking notes, not EVEN using a powerful tool like realtime to help their side's case. Hell (someone else swore, so I'm swearing) ... hell, they could have the deposition summarized by the end of the day, notes and everything, printed out and ready to go. But nooooooo ... those big law firms still rely on the billable hour, and they want those second-chair associates to be able to bill for the exhibit-handing time AND the 5 hours it takes them to go through the rough draft and prepare their summary. So who's scamming the client now? That just burns my butt (cleaned up, because the other person just swore once, so I'll just swear once, dammit -- oh, sorry.)

M.A.
Still on vacation and lovin' it ...
Freebies: It's happening. We can't name names on this forum, and even if we could, I'm not sure what good it would do. I was sucked in twice (two different 1-800-type court reporting firms) in the last several months with "flat fee" pricing - VERY GOOD per-page pricing, but found out after I arrived at the deposition site that it was realtime, rough drafts, copy sales all over the place ... called the firm and said NO NO NO! And they said you're already there and have agreed to it. I finished my job, and after I received the money for it, had a long talk with the managers, and ended up on one of them saying DON'T CALL ME ANYMORE. The other court reporting firm said, okay, we won't do that to you again, but haven't called me since. ALWAYS SOMETHING, HUH???
Lori,

I see you're currently in CA. Holy cow, how many different states can you report in?

AFTER you got there you found out about their deal? Maybe I'd stick around (maybe not too), but I would not be hooking up or providing a rough if I wasn't getting paid for it.

Would you mind e-mailing me the names of these two agencies, please? mail@depo911.com. I'd like to make sure I don't get suckered into their "deal."

Thanks.

Judy
A recent discussion in another group suggests that flat-fee pricing may (may) be the wave of the future in billing for court reporting services. You show up at a job ready to provide anything the parties request, from instant delivery to next-day, expedited, rough drafts, realtime hookups -- whatever the client wants, and to however many parties are present -- for one flat fee.

I think it's critically important for reporters to make crystal clear what that flat fee includes. Even sending out your own rate sheet, it's probably worded as $x per page, but I also include the wording "each copy sale" or "each rough draft" or "each party hookup," then "subsequent same-side hookups," so that it's crystal clear that I'm to be paid for each.

I know Lori, and I can assure you that you DON'T mess with her! I can also tell you that Dick and I had this very conversation within the last week, and we came to the conclusion that if I got to a job and discovered a billing issue with the reporting agency, that would HAVE to be resolved before I'd go forward with the deposition. Almost all of us have order sheets that we have to get signed by the attys or else we don't get paid. Reporting agencies use those order sheets to protect the reporter and also themselves, and they want them signed before they'll send copies out because sometimes attys claim they didn't order a copy, or didn't want something expedited when they clearly did. So ... those same agencies shouldn't be shocked or surprised or whatever other descriptors they want to describe their reaction when reporters start to stand up for themselves.

It's a shame that firms are attempting to take advantage of reporters like this. As I said, I know Lori, and I know she keeps current with issues affecting the profession, and she's very much the reporter advocate, for herself and others who might stand to be abused by such practices. But what about those reporters who don't keep current, who don't know about these dangerous trends, and who don't know that one side cannot unilaterally change an agreed-to contract?

One of the best things reporters can do to educate their fellow reporters is to get them interested in at least reading online forums and message boards. Of course, I'd suggest starting with CSRNation! But after looking them all over, reporters can decide where they feel most comfortable.

As I've said before, I can't say that decisions I make for myself are the right decisions for everyone else. But I like to have all the facts and listen to the opinions of others before making those decisions. The best decisions are informed decisions, when we're not just taking a stab in the dark, or guessing and hoping we're right.

I don't want everyone to think like me.

I just want everyone to THINK.

Encourage a friend to join CSR Nation ... today!

M.A.

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