Imagine you are on a New York street in the wee hours of the morning. As you walk by an alley, you see a man stabbing a woman and grabbing the purse she's clutching. She's near death from the many blows he's delivered. Do you scream, "Stop"? Do you yell for others to help? Do you attempt to fight off the attacker to save the woman before it's too late? Do you walk by and do nothing? Surely you would offer some kind of aid.

Why when you see people causing the death of our profession would you stay mute and do nothing to help?

Electronic recording has already taken over many of our courtrooms nationwide, and we are now seeing that freelance agencies are following suit. Court reporting agencies are soliciting electronic reporters with the promise of an fun and easy job with no legal experience necessary. Filling the seats that court reporters with educations and experience used to fill with people armed with nothing more than a tape recorder is the death of our future.

I am seeing an abundance of firm advertisements that offer gifts and rebates to attorneys that seemginly violate our Code of Ethics. These expensive gifts are either being funded by the working reporter or by the parties to the litigation. Instead of judgments ending up in the hands of injured litigants who need their judgments for living expenses, medical bills, and lost salaries, funds are being gobbled up in litigation expenses by firms who are basically stealing from the poor to entice the rich to utilize their services; it's a warped version of Robin Hood. Furthermore, these type of bribery to get business is shortsighted. If it's fair for one reporter, it's fair for all, and the end result of these gifting practices is a revolving door of clientele that is loyal only until they have a free gift in their hand; then it's on to the next reporter's offering. Such gifting programs stab at the heart of the integrity of our profession.

I'm screaming. I think it's time to fight. I need help.

It is time to educate attorneys on the difference between ER and stenographic reporters. Since many stenographic firms are utilizing both methods, attorneys may not even notice the absence of a machine underneath a conference table. Explain the dangers to your clients and ask them to notice their depositions "by stenographic means." Tell them how electronic recording affects the quality of the transcripts they receive. Explain about the dangers of their record being gone forever should the recording be lost or damaged.

Use your marketing skills. Design a leaflet that you can insert in with your transcripts that advertises the superiority of stenographic reporters. Utilize them to market your services and educate your clients on the importance of certification and membership with our professional organizations. If you come up with something clever along these lines, share your ideas with your colleagues. (Please see my post, entitled, "Army of One.")

Whether it be false advertising, unethical gifting practices, or contracting, any infraction eats away at our reputation as reporters. Don't turn away. These are your jobs, and part of your job is to protect against the appearance of impropriety. We already serve as guardians of the record. Why not take this a step further and be good stewards of the profession on a higher level? If someone in your area is violating the ethical code, who does that hurt? I suggest it hurts your pocketbook, it hurts your fellow reporters, and it damages the reputation of court reporters everywhere.

NCRA has come to the aid of many reporters in the past on a national level with battles on the topic of ER, and the recent PAO 45 is a step in the right direction, but I say we take our fight to the street level. One person might have a fighting chance against an attacker, but two people have an even better chance, three, four, five...

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Comment by Lisa Migliore Black on September 22, 2009 at 3:28
That is absolutely disgusting, Debbie. For this firm to solicit business from another reporting firm's calendar is about the most shameless thing I've heard of, and I've seen some pretty shameless crap.

I imagine your client wasn't too impressed since he/she was willing to share the letter with you. Perhaps you could implore him to forward a firm-wide email on your behalf that explains all the reasons why this is so very unethical and so very costly in the long run. My educational flyers are still available for personalization at no cost, which might be a good follow-up reminder to anything your associations/boards in CA might be able to do on your behalf. Contact me at for more information about the flyers.
Comment by Debbie Landi on September 21, 2009 at 19:24
So...I'm totally late finding this blog posting and didn't want to start one myself, but just to let you know what is out there in the world of gift giving..... please see below the verbatim language (the names have been changed) from a letter one of my clients received recently. I'm mad as hell and I suspect they are getting some business. And exactly WHAT can I do about it? If a legal secty works it out right, she can get $275 for setting her VERY first depo....!!!!

"XXX Firm would like nothing more than to retain your Firm as a client and our #1 goal is your satisfaction. We do a little work with your Bay Area office and as of late your XXXXX office has been experiencing the refreshing difference of XXX Firm.

For every Deposition called/emailed into XXXX Firm…..I’m personally dropping off $25 Gift Cards to Chevron/Shell, Nordstrom, Macy’s or Visa. No questions asked. It is an added incentive to really show you how eager we are to serve. Just imagine how we take care of your Depositions and the promotion is DOUBLED to $50. Simply let me know what depos are from another Company’s CalendarTranscripts. AND……for every depo we receive from you that came from another Court Reporting Firm’s calendar, . 

"BTW…for your first Deposition with Firm XXX….I’m dropping off a “First Time Depo” gift card for $200. "

Hell, for $275 per depo setting, maybe I should be giving them jobs off my calender!
Comment by Kyung on March 9, 2009 at 19:50
I took a job last Thursday for a criminal trial in Fullerton Superior Court. Why? Because they had no court reporter. It's happening here in California. I hear the budget is so bad in Los Angeles County that they're going to be doing layoffs this fall.
Comment by Lisa Migliore Black on March 8, 2009 at 18:44
Here's a link to the sample graphics. Again, contact me with your company info as you'd like to see it appear at the bottom, and I'm more than happy to personalize it for you or your state association.
Comment by Lori Byrd on March 8, 2009 at 13:24
This discussion is the best use of a blog or forum for reporters -- thank you, Lisa. I'm new to CSRnation, but an old veteran at reporting, and I'd like to add to your very well-written comments and to Michelle's well-written reply (both of which I agree with ardently): Our profession needs to continue growing in professionalism. Realtime output to clients is imperative. We all should be striving to do it. And when we think it's good enough when we're at 99.5% good translations, we should strive to be better. We just have to be better than the competition. This profession has taken me from manually typewritten transcripts to internet streaming instant transcripts, and I know there will be a fun challenge the next time I write on that steno machine. I personally think the client firms should be giving the reporters and reporter firms nice gifts!

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