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.

 

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Signed transcript orders or transcript orders stated on the record mean the reporter must be paid at the time the 0 + 1 is paid, not to wait for copies to be paid.

Exactly right! 

Again, the onus is on the agency, whether or not they want to "extend credit" to their law-firm clients, not on the reporter, when they have obtained signed transcript order forms or transcript order is stated on the record.

To add to Judy's list: 

4)  It's been an "accepted" business practice in the reporter's geographic location. 

I know of one firm on Kelli's list that pays on 0+1, but makes reporter wait to be paid on copies.  Absurd, when reporter has signed/stated-on-the-record orders.

5)  Reporter has been out of freelance arena for a while and "has to start (again) somewhere."

But, truthfully, haven't those "bad business practices" been going on for a very long time?

And reporters have "accepted" them?

And they become perpetuated?

Awareness needs to start in the c. r. schools, where teachers instill business-practices knowledge in their students.  When I went to c. r. school, there was no course on business practices.  Just:  You work for an agency and they pay you, generally when agency was paid.

We were young, and, yes, that bus. practice is absolutely unbelievable.

I am setting up freelancing my legal assistant business.  I just got my business cards.  I made a brochure.  I have sent out my first 40 leads.  I have right on my brochure "Payment expected at end of job."  (Meaning I want a check before I walk out the door). 

Congratulations, Mary Jo!  Whether for full- or part-time, wishing you much success! 

Read through the thread and agree with all.  Kelli, I've been reporting for a long time - 35 years.  Most of that time was in Richmond, Va., and I can tell you that the norm for the majority of that time was the reporter got paid when the atty paid, and that's for the original and all copy sales.  I've been gone for ten years now, and I'm sure ... well, let's say I hope the standard has changed there.  Of course, nowadays my policy is net - original + all copy sales - in 30 days.  To read that young reporters are being taken advantage of and not paid for the original is just disturbing.  Looks like agency owners are making getting paid contingent upon when they get paid for the job.  Independent contractors are working for the reporting agency, not the atty client, so that makes no sense. 

M.A.

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