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I know. You'd think that's an obvious statement; right?
BUT I'm noticing a disturbing trend. I'm hearing more and more about agencies who are not paying upfront on the original & 1. What you say? I know it boggles my mind too.
I've heard several reports from newer reporters. I've been taking jobs for this agency, but I'm not getting paid. They say they pay when the attorney pays them.
This steams me on so many different levels. How dare these agencies take advantage of new reporters this way? It's really unconscionable. These reporters have spent years going to school, sometimes working several jobs or racking up huge student loans to pay for schooling, and then to get out and be told that they can work, but won't get paid until the attorney pays the agency is really unfair.
How are these reporters supposed to live and support themselves if they can't pay their bills? So what should be a really exciting period for new reporters who are just starting out is turning out to be very stressful and worrisome. Instead of focusing on learning how to put together a great transcript and be a great reporter, they're focusing instead on bills.
The other reason this steams me is that it is the reporter on the bottom of the ladder who is financing the attorney's litigation. THAT IS NOT FAIR. If these reporters wanted to be lenders, they would have gone into banking. Because that's basically what they're doing is extending credit to the agency who is extending credit to the attorney. And they're not even getting interest on the credit amount they're lending. If the agency wants to extend credit, fine, let them. They're better able to afford it than the reporter at the end of the line taking the depo.
So bottom line, if you don't know, you should now. It is not industry norm for the reporter to be paid when the agency gets paid. Most agencies pay within net 30, net 60, net 75, or extreme cases of net 90. If you are waiting longer than that, please find a new agency. There are so many out there.
But how do you know whether an agency is going to pay you in 7 days, 10 days, 30 days, 60 days, 75 days, or 90 days? YOU ASK!!!!
I don't know how often I have to emphasize. Just ask!!! Get it in writing. What is your pay policy? Twice a month on the 1st and 15th? On the 15th and 30th? Once a month on the 25th? Every two weeks? Every three weeks? 30 days from agency invoices? 30 days from when you turn in?
If that is just too many questions, then this is what you say:
Reporter: Say I turn in a job on Tuesday, May 1st, when will I get paid for that job? And btw, what's your rate?
Calendar: Oh, I don't know. Let me check with my boss/supervisor/owner/big cheese/grand poobah.
Reporter: Okay. No problem. I'd really appreciate the info, and if you could just e-mail that to me, that would be great.
Kyung, you beat me to the punch!
I have been thinking of creating a similar posting.
I actually was going to title mine, "Agency Owner, Who Do You Think You Are?"
How dare an agency owner delay payment to a reporter? How dare they?
All reporters should have a rate sheet.
All reporters should have rates confirmed, approved, by agency in writing.
And what I am now adding to my rate sheet is a line for agency to state their payment terms to reporter. Whatever the pay period, reporter needs to know (and be agreeable to) that, in advance of taking any work from agency.
Gone are the days where reporters can wait for payment. A reporter provided the service. A reporter needs to be paid from the agency.
Reporters have their own life expenses: rent, mortage, utilities, etc., etc., etc. At the page rates paid, most reporters have no health insurance.
So, Reporters, before accepting any work from an agency or lawyer, have your rates approved and know the date when you will be paid.
Many agencies have Pay Periods and pay either every two weeks or bi-monthly. They furnish you this information when they send reporter their agency packet. Good business practice.
For a professional reporter to have to call and call, and E-mail and E-mail, dunning and dunning, the agency owner for payment is extremely unprofessional on the agency's part.
Remember, confirm in writing.
You forgot to say, Kyung, "I'll accept the job after I find out what your rate terms are."
This is news to me. Never heard of a reporter waiting 90 days for the O & 1 to be paid. The problem is you never know when they were paid. I worked for an agency in So Cal that would pull that crap on the copies because he knew we didn't know when the attorneys had paid. So wrong.
I agree. I feel sorry for new reporters in this situation. Here is a list of firms that I believe won't jerk you around:
Hahn & Bowersock
Grossman & Cotter
Barkley Court Reporters
Merrill Legal Solutions
Pulone & Stromberg
US Legal Support (I've had a few issues but they still pay)
Ace Federal Reporters
These are a few that I could think of off the top of my head. I know there are more great firms out there. If any other reporters want to add some names, feel free.
Interesting list. Seven of those are on my "NEVER WORK FOR" list. Not due to pay, but due to the way they do business.
Ditto, Diana. One of the companies recently cut their rates so far below market rates that most of the reporters in my area have stopped doing business with them.
Janet, send me a message who that is . I'm curious. It's been a few years since I've worked with some of these agencies. Maybe things have changed.
Also, we are talking about getting "Paid" and so that's why I posted them because they do pay their reporters as far as I know.
I recently inquired about a position in Gainesville, FL. I asked in email about how they pay (two women firm). No response. I went to the interview. I asked again. They pay when the attorneys pay. They don't want anyone calling THEIR clients either to inquire about unpaid invoices (understandable). They said, "You have to have about $10,000 in accounts receivables before you really begin to make any money.
Who has to have $10K in accts recvbls? You? The agency?
Any agency payment terms that are acceptable to reporter, no problem.
But who can work like that, waiting, waiting, waiting . . .
Everyone has bills to pay - on time!
Even Reporters have bills to pay - on time, as unbelievable as it may appear to agency!
The onus is on the agency, not the reporter, to wait, and wait, and wait . . .
When I asked, they said, "We're not going to front you the money before we get paid." Then they went on about the $10,000 in accounts receivable. I was sitting there thinking, Well, under these terms, I can work for myself under the same conditions, and not have the 30 or 40 percent cut.
No business can be run in that fashion.
Agencies need to be paid.
Reporters need to be paid.
The onus is on the agency to demand payment for the services it provides to its clients in a timely manner, so that agency may pay its bills (court-reporter bills) - on time.
If an agency wants to be namby-pamby (spineless) - not nice, but spineless - and wait unknown time periods to be paid, that is a business practice chosen by that agency.
The reporter's business practice is to require payment in a known period of time.
Mary Jo wrote: "They don't want anyone calling THEIR clients either to inquire about unpaid invoices (understandable). "
And what must be Understandable, as well, by the agency, is that the reporter has provided a service to the agency. The reporter needs to be paid - on time. If a reporter chooses to work with terms of payment that state: Reporter will be paid when agency is paid, then, that is too nebulous a term of payment. No one can work under those conditions.
So, if agency chooses to demand that from the reporter, then, agency needs to Understand, as well, that frustration and skepticism will set in with the reporter, and, if the reporter is not paid in a time period that reporter has designated (known only to the reporter, of course), then, agency will Understand that reporter is well within rights to pick up the phone and call the attorneys who requested the transcript.
We only receive the respect in life - and in business - which we demand.
I have never and will never work for any firm that does not pay the O & 1 up-frront. I have taken ONE job where the firm pays copies when they get paid -- never again. The way I see it is, if I've got the copy orders on record/order form and if the firm has actually sent out the transcript, then I SHOULD BE PAID. If the firm sends out the transcript without obtaining payment first, then collections becomes the firm's obligation and problem, not ours -- we should be paid on the copies that were sent out. Collections is not the reporter's job.
Reporters ARE empowered. We have the easiest and fastest way of communication nowadays -- the Internet. We are able to spread the word and share our experiences. Why some reporters put themselves in these situations, I just find hard to understand. If ALL reporters refuse to accept these terms, SOMEONE/SOMETHING has got to give -- and it won't be the reporters. TOGETHER we ARE strong.
You go, Quyen!!
"Why some reporters put themselves in these situations, I just find hard to understand."
The easy answer to that is
1) they have no reputation and have to start somewhere
2) they've done something to their reputation and that's the only gigs they can get
3) they're too dang shy to ask upfront