What I wish I knew my second year as a court reporter - scopists - Part II

Now, where was I? Oh, yes. Scopists are your friends.

Okay. So where can I find these scopists? Why you can find them right here on CSRnation under the classifieds.

If you are on Eclipse, you can find them at the Advantage website.
The T3 website has a list of scopists.
Here's a list of scopists by state.

Now, that you've found this wonderful list of scopists, how do you choose one? Well, that's the hard part. And basically it can be a lot of trial and error. Treat it like an interview process.

I personally send out an e-mail to the scopists that I think will match my needs. I e-mail them and request rates and turnaround times. I will not go into rates. Scopists can charge whatever they want.

After I get the rates back, I will then ask for their phone number so that I can "chat" with them about my expectations and their expectations of me. This is an opportunity for me to get to know them and for them to get to know me. What I'm interested in knowing is how much experience they have, what kind of depositions they've done, how many reporters they work for, have they been working for the same reporter for a few years, do they have a good relationship with the reporter, what is their billing cycle, do they provide references.

**NOTE OF WARNING** If the scopist cannot provide any referrals or they tell you they don't have any reporters that they work with regularly or they do a few jobs for one reporter, but then they don't get any more work, it might mean that their work is not good. Of course, if they're starting out, then they probably haven't had a chance to build up a clientele. I am always willing to give new scopists a chance, but realize that it is very time-consuming to train with a new scopist.

If you don't scare them off, and they don't freak you out, then this is where they ask for your preference sheets or you provide them with your style preferences, usually in some written format. I will then try to send them a small job. They take the job, I get the job back, I go over it. It's perfect (rarely).

Why do I say rarely? There's a huge learning curve for scopists to pick up your style. Also, honestly, some scopists are not so great. They can promise you the moon, but sometimes they can't deliver. This can be the most painful part of the finding a scopist process. I've already been through three or four this year.

But that's it in a nutshell. Questions?

Oh, yeah. You want to know the nitty-gritty mechanics of sending out a job to the scopist. This is an ideal world scenario. Do you think ideal world should be hyphenated? Probably. Anyway.

Take small job Monday. My definition of small job is 50 pages or less. Resist the urge to keep it for yourself. Too often people fall into the habit of saying why should I send out this tiny job to the scopist when I can do it for myself. Ignore that little voice. You do not want to send out 200 pages of crap to a scopist you've never used before. I guarantee you something will go wrong. It is best to send the scopist a small transcript. Not only are you getting to know them, they are getting to know you. There is nothing more annoying than having to go through 200 pages undoing something that just doesn't fit your personal style.

Sorry for the digression. Back to the ideal world. Take the job.

Go home. Go through and fix spellings or words that you want to add to your job dix or your main dix.
Zip up the audio file. I use WinZip to compress the file. Then you send it off via yousendit.com or sendthisfile.com or whatever file sharing site you wish.

But why can't I just e-mail it to them. Because even zipped up, your audio will be too large to send through a regular e-mail service. It will probably time out your webmail and cause you much frustration. Trust me, zip it and send via Internet, not personal e-mail.

You can e-mail your text file, your job dix, and your note file to the scopist. In Eclipse, if I send them those three things, the scopists should be able to choose conflicts, thus training my dictionary to pick the correct conflict. They can also global words for you and add them to your dix. I also like to send a word list. If there are words that I don't have spellings for, I kind of expect scopists to do some research on the web, but I try to keep that to a minimum.

After scopist is done doing what the scopist does, you should get the text file back and the dix file. Look through the dix and add those to your job or main dix if they are helpful Go over file.

The file should be complete, No drops, no untranslates, no mistrans. Scopists are human, they might miss a couple of things here and there. But basically, it should be ready to do a final proof. I always do a final proof. Some people do not. Personal choice. I do not judge.


Sorry for such a long post. If you have any questions or if I've missed something, please let me know.

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Comment by Patricia Phelps on October 3, 2009 at 13:09
I've just come across your blogs and wanted to let you know I've really enjoyed them. I can tell you have a sense of humor. And it's really nice of you to help the newer reporters learn about scopists, etc... And you pick such interesting things to say about court reporting topics, including your most recent post.
Comment by Kellie Zollars on October 2, 2009 at 14:16
Hi. Great article. Reporters and scopists have to have realistic expectations. Nothing clicks right away and every job is different. Having a second set of eyes look at your transcript helps catch mistakes from going out to the clients. I started working when computers were too expensive for home use (1982). The reporting firm I worked for provided in-house scoping, I proofread, then they provided final proofreading so I was spoiled early. (yes, I paid a percentage for those luxuries - but computers were slow and it was pre-realtime so you had to choose between conflicts when editing). I love having scopists do the editing. There have been times where I haven't had someone scoping my work, and I ended up working more, having less free time, and missing deadlines because I'd have an all-day depo when I needed to finish up a transcript. If I write a check to a scopist for $1,000 or more, I'm actually happy because that means I'll be expecting some great paychecks down the road myself.
Comment by Sharla Preciado on October 1, 2009 at 16:53
Kyung, you're my hero. Thank you so much for this!

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