I just wanted to share some information with this board about the SoCal Stip. I'm sure we are all familiar with it, and the more we give in to it, the more it becomes perpetuated in Southern California. We personally fight it at every request at Maverick Reporting, and I thought it might be beneficial to share how and why.

Essentially, Plaintiff's counsel is attempting to gain a free copy of the transcript by stipulating that the original transcript be sent to them, and that a certified copy may be used in court in lieu of the original. Why? It's simple- Plaintiff's counsel does not work on a retainer agreement like defense counsel does; they take a huge percentage (30-40%) of the judgement or settlement on the back end in lieu of a retainer up front.

Here's where the SoCal Stip comes into play. By receiving the original and being able to use a certified copy in court, plaintiff's counsel can now rip apart the bound original, scan it, copy it, and use it to benefit their case. They pay no fees up front on behalf of their client for the transcript, thereby saving potentially thousands of dollars in transcript fees, which would come out of their final percentage of the settlement or judgement. Pretty smart. However, it goes against the Business and Professions Code whereby we are obligated to provide all services at an equal rate to all parties.

Here's what we have found to be very effective in killing the Stip- we tell the attorney that they have the option to pay for the original if they would like to receive it, or they can pay a lower rate for the copy. The language looks something like this:

"Dear Attorney X,

Thank you for the follow up. If you are requesting the original transcript, you will need to be billed for the original transcript. If you’d prefer to receive a copy, you can be billed at a lower rate for the copy. We are familiar with the Socal Stip and unfortunately, we do not honor providing free copies of the transcript. It goes against what we are legally bound to do by the Business and Professions Code, which is to provide all services at an equal rate to all parties. If you were to receive free copies of the transcript, it would give you an unfair financial advantage over the other parties in this case. The party that receives the original transcript is responsible for making payment on the original transcript. Please let me know how you would like us to proceed."

Be forewarned- I've been screamed at, hung up on, called every name in the book, and the attorneys at times are extremely angry, but I believe this is the right thing to do. We have also had attorneys quickly give in and order a copy. As reporters and agencies, we cannot give any party a financial advantage as officers of the court. I hope this is helpful information, as I get calls from reporters and agencies all the time in this regard, and just thought I would post in a broader forum. I welcome your thoughts and feedback.

All My Best,

Jason Buktenica

Maverick Reporting, Inc.

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I do believe that one can require a password in order to open the file, and restricted printing, or no printing at all, can be added.

Oh, I see

It is possible to send a locked etran that cannot be printed except one page at a time. and you have to maneuver the page so it is on the screen.

I agree 100 percent!  I'm so sick of giving away free copies that I moved to Idaho!  Keep up the great work at eradicating that SoCal stip! 

I add my unwavering, complete, and unending support to this. Bravo.

I just had this issue this week.  Even opposing counsel had the balls to have a photocopy of a "original" transcript in front of him when he told me he did not want to order a copy.  I called my office and said I'm billing a higher rate.  I live in Northern Cal and we don't charge the higher rate.  In this case, I am.  This is BS.

Jason,

I'm curious about the language of "if you receive the original, you are billed for the original."  I work in Southern CA and the practice I am accustomed to is always billing the original to the noticing or "taking" attorney of the deposition.  If you then bill the original to opposing counsel (either defense or plaintiff), then would the noticing/taking attorney get billed for just his automatic copy and the reporter's hourly/per diem?  The resistance I get from attorneys is, "well, I give opposing counsel the original on my depos and he gives me the original on his depos and it all evens out, in a manner of speaking."   And I have asked attorneys at depos if they know WHY they do the stip at the end, and 98% of them say "no, I don't know why; I just have been told to say it."  I even had one attorney tell me his boss gets really irate if he deviates from the standard stip in any way.  

So it's a very steep uphill battle this fight against the Stip.

I think you-all need to have two rates. One rate is an O&2 charge to the atty invoking the So Cal stip and another rate for when everybody pays for their own copy.

I agree!  If agencies would all just work together in a united front we would all benefit and earn the money we deserve.  Tks for working towards this cause!

A fantastic response, Jason! I was unaware of the SoCal Stip as a proofreader, but I enjoy knowing the nuances of what you face. WHEW.

:D

Karryn

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