Hello everyone! I am being sent on my first job where a rough is required at the very end of the job. They did not give my agency a title page or any names, and I am not sure if they are going to be looking for it to be emailed to them just within, like, an hour of the job or if they are going to sit there and stare at me, waiting for me to burn them a disk of the rough ascii...

Can anyone tell me a little more so I can be prepared on what needs to be done to have it a good rough at the end of the job? I am a little nervous, seems how I have been working for three years, but not achieved realtime yet. So I will have some untranslates that will need to be fixed!

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According to the NCRA guidelines (if you want to go by that), the title should not be put on a rough. I've attached a disclaimer page that I got somewhere along the road way back when.

I agree with Kelli. They will work with you on the rough. I have never had to do it on the spot, but I've e-mailed it that evening. I've never had a problem with them. If you have time and look at the screen and see things mistran'd (sp?), you might want to make up a flag stroke for yourself that is an untran and then you can go from untran to untran. I use sp-f.

Usually they let you go home and clean it up and then email it later. If you are on Catalyst you can define things on the fly from your machine. If you want to know how, email me and I will explain.
Also, this is a good way to move towards getting into realtime. It helps you not be afraid of the attorneys seeing the messy spots. If you want you can define a stroke to come up as "REPORTER'S NOTE: " and then write yourself a note like, check question/check answer. You can flag these or just scan for them and then fix them in your clean-up. You can scan for your untrans and then send everything to the attys. If they want something right at the depo, provide it and then ask if they want you to go home and clean it up and provide a cleaned-up copy later in addition to the uber rough. Usually they just want the cleaned-up one.
Good luck,
You can do it.
One thing I forgot to say, our firm puts a page on the front of roughs indicating this is a rough draft, bascially, this is not the final.....
You can also put a header on every page indicating "ROUGH DRAFT".
It's important to designate it as a rough so there's no confusion down the line.
I pretty much do what the others do. I have a disclaimer page at the beginning, have a "Rough Draft" footer, put proper names in on breaks and lunch, and email it to them when I get home. On one rare occasion, the attorney sent his paralegal to the conference room immediately after the dep and I gave her the file on a jump drive. She went to her office, copied it, and brought me back my jump drive. But as I said, that was one rare occasion. All the other times, I've emailed it when I got home. No one's ever complained I didn't get it to them fast enough.

If you're not writing realtime yet, will you really be able to produce a good rough draft an hour after the job is over? I think I would give this job to a realtime writer. I had to give away an excellent job once because I knew I couldn't turn in 200-plus pages right after the job ended. It was painful, but I knew it was the right thing to do.

It's one thing when they ask you right there. Then you can let them know you'll give it first thing in the morning or whenever you feel you can within 24 hours, but in this case, they are being pretty specific that they need it right away. It might be one of those really difficult days where there aren't a lot of pauses or breaks to do your cleaning up.
Thank you all so much for your information!! I am going to incorporate it all. I especially like making sure every pages says it's a rough somewhere.

Janiece, thank you for your offer!! Unfortunately, I am on Eclipse, but I would still love to learn macros (I believe they're called) so I can fix things on the fly!

As for giving the job away, I am having my company find out more info about it so that I can decide if I really need to give it away. I am a pretty clean writer, but due to switching theories still in a major way, there are untranslates. But I can just go through the transcript on lunch, breaks, and if they are going to give me an hour or two afterwards and just press "U" to go from untranslate to untranslate and fix them. And a lot of the times it's because I made something on the fly and I only have to global it once to fix it through the whole job. I kind of want to resist giving this job up. Number one, I really want the experience. I DESPERATELY want to start realtiming by the end of the year. Number two, I think that's kind of cheap for them not to want to pay someone for realtime, ask for a rough at the end of the job that's perfect, so it kind of cheats their way around a little bit.... Just my opinion.

And just an FYI, I did recently have a 4-day job, 200 a day. I asked them at the beginning if they would need anything extra so I could be prepared. Told me no, ten-day turnaround was fine. 5:00pm on the last day, a Friday, the four attorneys looked at me and asked when they could have a rough of every day of the depos. I told them I could have all 800 pages to them by the end of the weekend and they said "Oh, we can't have it right now???" They acted like it was fine, but that sort of rubbed me the wrong way and made me nervous about future roughs. lol.
I love all of this advice though. I will probably print it out and keep it!
If they want a usable rough at the end of the day, yes, I agree with Patricia, they should have ordered a RT reporter who provides interactive RT. It's the same skill. OK, if they talked slow all day and took many breaks including an hour lunch and no interrupting and no reading from exhibits, yes, then a rough at the end of the day does require a lower degree of skill than a RT hookup. But how often are we encountering that scenario? HARDLY EVER!!

I do rough draft but not at the end of the day. I can't write clean enough. If I could write clean enough, I'd be taking RT hookup jobs. I lose this work but it's better to lose a job than have an agency get a complaint about the horrible unusable rough draft that mine would be at the end of a day.

Of course I have good days but honestly it's only about 20-30 percent of the time. The vast majority of my work is speed-talkers, interrupters, constant reading from exhibits, and few breaks. I look at my RT output 100% of the time and it frequently ain't pretty.
Hi, Erica. You asked what you can do to be prepared on what needs to be done to have a good rough at the end of the job. Whether this is your first rough draft job, or a rough draft job done by someone who does them all the time, your agency should be providing you with the full caption, including the names of the law firms, and THE NAME OF THE WITNESS. This is critical, and it's bare-bones preparation for a RD job. What if the caption is Ascher v. Doak, and the witness's name is Paul Hinz? Seems tame enough. But 30 seconds of Internet research will tell you that this is a biopharmaceutical case, and Paul Hinz is a patent holder for, quoting from the online Complaint, "Amino Acid Analysis (AAA) by RP-HPLC, which is used in protein characterization to analyze peptide or protein concentration, content and molar ratio or, alongside UV spectrophotometry, to gain an extinction coefficient." That will all come up in the expert witness depo. Do you know if this is the depo of an expert? That's critically important to know.

Walking unprepared into a deposition like that, with rough draft expectations, is a nightmare for a reporter of 30 years, with 17 lawyers sitting around the table and expectations of not only an immediate (within 1 hour) rough draft, but a final transcript overnight. I know, because it happened to me ... everything except the "unprepared" part, you see, because the agency I was working with on this highly technical case (where I changed the names up there to protect the innocent) provided me with the case caption, attys' names, witness name, and 3 previous transcripts from other expert witnesses. So was it a piece of cake? Hell no! It was one of the hardest things I've ever reported. But could I get the rough draft out and the final done on time much, much easier than if I walked in cold? Of course! ... because I was a step ahead of the game going in.

Erica, you might just walk into a job that's a piece of cake for you. But I'm taking this opportunity to say (now speaking generally) that I feel very strongly that reporting agencies have a DUTY to provide the reporter with as much information as they can obtain to prepare for the job. It can be as simple as the Complaint in the case, or some other pleading. It's easy enough to request from the law firm, and it's done ALL the time. (I'm thinking of an agency who might say, "Oh, dear! We don't want to bother the client with those trivialities!" ... but that's bull) How an agency can assign a case to anyone, not knowing the caption, not knowing if this is an expert witness in a biopharm case, or, say, an econometrician (some reporters HATE numbers) is so far beyond my comprehension. You just can't do that, and I think it's a great disservice not only to the reporter, but to the end client, who is expecting to get WHAT they want WHEN they want it, simple as that. They aren't interested in why something can't be done, only that it is done.

It sounds harsh, and maybe it is, but you absolutely must know what you're walking into before you get there. Rough draft work is on a much higher level than plain vanilla reporting, and the expectations can be great. Most of my work is realtime, but did you know that many times, for whatever reason, one side or the other will ask for a rough draft to be e-mailed to them immediately at the lunch break so that they can review it over lunch?

If you have a chance to become familiar with the case, look at previous deps, perhaps read about the case online, find the pleadings online, make up some of your own shortcuts and brief forms, enter case-specific spellings and the spellings of the main attys, that all goes a long way towards enabling you to provide excellent service to the end client. Some reporters may balk at having to do their own research off of a pleading, but after all, this is special services work ... expertise, if you will ... and that's why reporters with realtime-related expertise are paid the big bucks. Good luck!

I totally echo and second what Mary Ann says. If I know ahead of time that I am doing a rough draft or a realtime job, I insist on at least the caption and appearances prior to the depo. I have even threatened to have the job be reassigned if I don't get this preliminary info and sometimes I get some flack about that, but it only took one time of being unprepared on a realtime case to make me a believer. Let's just say it was a Japanese interpreter and also a "check" interpreter in a patent case who were arguing over the meaning of Japanese words. If I could have hid under the table, I would have, the realtime was soooo bad. I found out later that the agency knew all along what I was going into but because I didn't insist on information, did no more than what I asked for.
What I usually do is get the caption and do some research on the names and the witness name on the Internet and make some brief forms ahead of time. I bring a thumb drive in case they want it immediately after. Otherwise, I just arrange to send it to them by e-mail later and I try to get it to them by e-mail by the end of the night. If I think the rough might take me longer than that, I tell them it will be by noon the next day. If they want it immediately, sometimes I'll ask for 20 minutes to sit there and clean up names and such and I'll bring the thumb drive into their office a little later.
It's often that while I'm on the job, I think it's really bad and I have a lot of cleaning up to do because every mistake gets amplified in my mind. Then when I'm cleaning up, I realize it's not so bad. Don't be too hard on yourself for the mistakes. As long as it's readable, even phonetically readable, they can use it. I also use the steno stroke of check with an asterisk and it's defined as **CHECK**. This means that I think I flubbed something or it didn't translate very well and need to check it (and sometimes means check the audio). If I search for those and also the untranslates in a rough job, I can usually get everything that needs a lot of cleaning up.
Hi, Lisa. One thing I have to say from your post is that we are way, way too hard on ourselves. Now, I'm not going to go so far as to say bad realtime is okay -- it's not -- but remember when we were in school? Our teachers always said, "Trust your notes. It's there." And as I've come through the ranks of reporting, from newbie to realtime reporter, and I've seen others do it too ... we worry about quality. Did I get it right? Did I drop something (I might add, "that matters")? But, as you said, we can think we suck and hate ourselves for it at the time, and then, miracle of miracles, when we go back to check, it's all there, and it's just fine.

Another thing that happened to me about 3 years ago, a firm sent me on a job, and it was totally, totally out of control for many reasons, including that the judge was an a-hole. I had no warning from the firm about it, and when I called the firm owner, I was literally in tears over the incident ... and she said, "Ohmygosh, Mary Ann, I knew this was going to be Judge A-Hole! Didn't anyone tell you???" Uh, no. Thanks a lot. Now when that firm calls, I'm very wary and ask a lot of questions about the job, turn down most of them. I think a lot of times firms do that to reporters, then play dumb about it, because if they actually said what the reporter was in for, they'd be facing no coverage, or instantly higher rates based on the difficulty of the job.

I had realtime described to me one time as letting someone look in your lingerie drawer. Fits, huh? After awhile, though, you realize that everyone has the good lingerie as well as the ones with holes in them, so it's okay. I agree with all the good tips you've gotten from the others, especially having your firm stand behind you and get the needed info to make a good rough draft. I can only add that if they don't get the info for you, call the paralegal to the hiring attorney and they will usually gladly take care of your needs. Good luck and remember to breathe.
Just wanted to echo the obvious advantage of being prepared (as much as you can) in advance. I was assigned to a biotech patent job fairly early on in my career for a VERY BIG law firm. The CR firm I worked for, however, sent me a transcript file from a previous depo. I spent several hours going through the word index and putting in as many briefs as I could the night before.

It turned out to be a super technical expert depo, as I had suspected from the looks of the transcript file, where one word literally took up half or most of an entire line in the transcript -- no, really, it did. Wish I could remember some of the words right off the top of my head right now. Of course, after a question that was literally half a page long, the expert "didn't get it." I knew, just KNEW, the attorney was going to ask me to read it back, not because he forgot his question, but because he was testing me to see if I really got it. I read back the half-page question, and the attorney sat back in his chair, with an impressed look on his face and with a smile, he said,
"Very . . . good." Dang, that felt good to nail it.

So, I join in encouraging you to try to get as much information as you can about the job/case before going in. Not only will it help you write more confidently and cleanly when you're a bit more prepared but it will also make you look darn good! ;)

Good luck!


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