I am going to try to be careful here. I know it's important that we don't go into too much detail on page rates, but I am noticing that page rates seem to be going lower and lower.

I have a friend who was certified in 1978. She stopped reporting for many years and is just now trying to break back in. She told me that when she first started out, page rates were really, really low. So low that it was barely worth it. Something must have happened to bring page rates back up to be more competitive and now it seems to be going down again.

I'm interested in knowing from reporters who are familiar with the industry over a long period of time whether there is any cyclical nature to page rates. Have they gone down only to go back up again and then back down? If so, what do you think caused the rates to go in either direction?

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Shanna, you will have to excuse me if you sense any vitriol in my reply; it is not directed at you.

The answer is simple.  Rates go down or are low because there will always be reporters who are bottom feeders and willing to work for these rates. They'll take anything. After all, it's better to "work" than not at all, right?  At least that's what I keep hearing over and over.  Reporters do it to themselves . . . one . . . at . . . a . . . time.  Like . . . giving away free rough ASCII's, but I won't go there again -- not in this thread, anyway.  As soon as reporters wake up and simply refuse to work for low-balling firms/rates, this will stop.

Yeah, that's kind of what I was wondering about. I wondered if at some point, the low rates scared off or discouraged so many reporters away from the industry that they had to raise the rates to bring them back or encourage more to come up. It is very hard to get started out as a new reporter, but I will say that a line has to be drawn in the sand somewhere if we want to make a decent living at this gig.

I think the best way to break into the industry as a new reporter is to just take anything and everything: workers' comp, PI, doctor's depos, hearings, etc., the stuff many "seasoned" reporters won't or don't want to take. But that doesn't mean to take the work at any price. Everyone has to start somewhere (and it's usually at the bottom); that holds true for every industry.  Be a good reporter -- no, be a great reporter, take pride in the quality of your work, and the good work/good pay will come with experience. There will always be some firm/reporter/person out there trying to take advantage of a reporter who is willing to take work at a low rate; it can't happen if we don't let it.

I started reporting in 1990 when there was a shortage of reporters and plenty of work.  Over the years, the schools were spitting them out left and right, and I think they made the CSR test easier because there was such a shortage.  Then the contracting with insurance companies started, and between that and so many reporters looking for work, pages rates started dropping and dropping, maybe around '97? I don't remember exactly when.  I distinctly remember telling myself that if I can just hang in there a few years, some of the older reporters will start retiring and others will get disgusted with the lack of work and quit and the work will pick up, and that's what happened.  In the past few years it's gotten very competitive again.  Not sure how it will change this time.  I have a definite line in the sand I will not cross.  This job is too hard to work for peanuts, although it must be terrifying to have spent all that money and time on school and not be working a lot.  Good luck!

Okay. Very interesting. So it does seem to be at least a little bit cyclical just like our work tends to be -- feast or famine. Lol. Thank you for your insight, ladies.

I started reporting right when CAT systems came out.  My first few jobs had to be dictated and typed and I swore there had to be a better way.  The last straw was when my corrections came back and I had to submit corrections on the corrections (I think the office gal was brain-dead that day). 

Back then I think it was a 50/50 split.  I believe I was the second person to purchase a CAT system in the firm (a 50+ reporter firm) and at that time they refused to up the percentage, even though I was essentially reporter & typist at that time.  I think it took a bit until more reporters were on CAT before they increased our percentage.  

I remember reporter rates going up and up based on the lack of reporters to cover jobs, then finally somebody started guaranteeing payment in so many days vs. when the firm got paid.

But I seriously don't EVER remember rates going down until this recession/depression hit.

But, Deborah, notice now that the recession/depression hit and all the people that quit the profession -- for whatever reason -- are now coming back?

Well, I don't know anyone that left and came back myself, but I don't know a lot of reporters either.  I do remember rates going down when the contracting started.  I started right when CAT was starting.  I had to do three dictation tapes to graduate school, but I went right on computer when I started.  The firm I worked for first had in-house scopists (I actually was one while I was in school) and kept about 50%.  I finally figured out she was making money on the scopist's work and on mine and said I wanted to do my own!  She insisted on them scoping at least half my jobs; so I left and started freelancing and never looked back.

Hi there.  I have been an agency owner for 23 years in L.A.  Page rates have gone down primarily because what we can charge the law firms has gone down as well!  The large companies such as Veritext and US Legal Support have cut rates, and everyone has to compete with them to bring in work.

I suggest to all reporters that you focus more on the quality of the work.  A high page rate gives you no net gain if the depo goes only 3 hours and there is no copy.  Try to work with agencies that give you full-day depositions with at least 1 copy order.   You will make more money per day/year than by holding out for a very high page rate that leaves no room for the agency to make a profit.   Agencies seek great reporters with rates in the middle of the pack, not bottom-feeders to reporters who charge too much.  

Great reporters equal - and deserve - great rates.  They do the work.  They have the certifications and experience.  Great reporters deserve great rates.

Agencies are taking too large a cut - and employing too many staff.

Hear, hear, Deby.  I would rather take a half-day job at a higher rate than an all-day job at a lower rate. An O & 1 in NorCal is uncommon.  That usually only happens when the SoCal attorneys wander up here. I'm willing to bet that a NorCal half-day depo at a higher rate that is most likely going to be at least an O & 2 is going to be the same or better than a SoCal all-day depo at lower rate and 100% certainty of being an O & 1.

Hear, hear!  Completely agree, Deby and Quyen!


I agree also.   If you are doing a bunch of low rate depos, you will have to pay scopists and proofreaders to keep up the flow of transcripts out the door, more parking, more gasoline.   I would rather do less at a higher rate.   Thank heavens I moved to Nor Cal because we don't put up with that (as much.)   When I moved to Nor Cal 20 years ago, my income when up 20K right off the bat.

If a reporter is working for Veritext, money is flowing from your pocket to the investment company in Bahrain that owns Veritext.  Veritext Corporation is a portfolio company of private equity firm Investcorp International, Inc.   In other words, its profits go to a much of billionaires in the Gulf nations.    


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