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I often am taken aback by what I perceive to be the state of our relationship with the legal community - meaning lawyers - men and women alike - and I wonder if we bridged the gap, would it help or hinder.
What do you think?
I am addressed with comments such as the following: (from attorneys)
So how does that thing work? (referring to our steno machine)
It's all voice-recorded, right?
How do you get all her objections?
You guys don't use those little thingy-majigies anymore? (referring, again, to our writers)
What's that? A six-month course?
Why don't you just record it?
Do you have to go to school for that?
Do you just use the laptop now?
You mean it translates into English??? Wow! So you just go home and, what, print it out or something?
And I'm sure you've heard these comments as well.
It takes all that I have to calmly explain in a most rudimentary way, until their eyes begin to gloss over - then I stop - for they had no idea that, yes, it takes training; and yes, I still use the little thingy-majigy (holding it up for them to see! Look!)
What on earth do they think I'm doing there at the end of the table?
They say "Knowledge is power," so in this case, would it be?
Do you think if the legal community really knew -- were educated, perhaps -- on just a few of the salient, fundamental details of what we actually do, it would be beneficial?
Do you think they would be more appreciative, monetarily speaking?
A couple of months ago while waiting for things to start, the wit and the atty engaged me in the "How do you do that" conversation. I explained that one character on my keyboard can either be that letter or a word or a phrase, depending upon which other characters I invite along.
The attorney said, quote, "That's hard."
The look on my face had to be saying, You didn't know that??? because that's what I was feeling.
Then I thanked her for spewing out her objections at super-human speed forcing me to combine my two strokes of AFS for "assumes facts" and NIV "not in evidence" into one stroke, because she just left no time... to AFX for the whole shebang!
Anyway, sometimes I flip around on all of the CR sites and read what we're talking about, and it's interesting and informative -- to US.
We're in our own little world. And I do like it that way. I just wonder is it too sheltered when the people we go to work with every day have NO IDEA what we're doing there! Where did the breakdown occur?
Or is it by design?
If we let them in to our world with all the knowledge of what we do, would they find a way to oust us or in some other way threaten our existence because of what they learned.
It just makes me wonder as the deadlines grow shorter, the service demands grow higher, for less, the per diems are cut, a draft "thrown in" for good measure, diminishing early arrival fee, later and later after-hour per diems, SEND THE ROUGH AND THE EXHIBITS... as the videographer is announcing his read off - the client wants it NOW! - just makes me wonder when I hear these comments, if they even realize what they're asking for...
What do you think?
There is no way to bridge the gap between attorneys and court reporters. Attorneys perceive themselves as the superior beings. The attorneys you are talking about are the ignorant, average, smalltime (real good attorneys also refer to average attorneys as smalltime) attorneys. The attorneys you are talking about don't see you grunting and complaining (like their secretaries) about what you are doing. This has been the perception of court reporting since women began to rule the court reporting world - and this goes back to the days of the sewing machine operators in the 1800's.
I think most of those attorneys ask those questions simply to make idle chitchat, on a level with the witnesses or other people in the room. Real high quality attorneys know better. Since I am in Tampa I watched the Casey Anthony trial, mostly to watch the court reporter. I am far from the high quality of a reporter as Kelli or MaryAnn and others here (and I know it).
I'd suggest when those average attorneys ask you those things, smile and say something like, "It's a very intense course which most cannot complete. We have a national association, with various levels of testing to for certification. I am able to do this because I have an incredible brain." (LOL)
Hi, Jeanese. Here's what I think. You ask where the breakdown occurred, and in my opinion, the breakdown between "We provide" and "You pay for" is as a result of some very dangerous court reporting agency owners around the country who were in way over their heads, years ago and also today. They know nothing about business, the value of a service or product, yet they have gone a long way to add to the definition of a word that may not even be in their vocabulary, "commoditization."
As far as the clients are concerned, you will never find a more arrogant and demanding person to work for than a lawyer. Ask a young associate. Ask a paralegal. Ask a legal secretary. Many of them would also throw in "obnoxious," just to get personal. Every reporter will have their own perspective. At this point in my life, I limit my practice to realtime work only. I arrive early, set everything up, and make sure it works. When everyone walks in, they sit down and go. It's like magic to them. If more realtime terminals are needed, no problem. Stay late? No problem. Send a rough draft at lunchtime? Okey-dokey. Immediate rough draft? Fine. Delivery of the final first thing in the morning? You got it! I never push back. The answer is the same. "Why, yes, I CAN do that!"
I don't care, really, that I have a hard job yet I make it look effortless. That's what experts do. And that's not self-serving Mary Ann comment, because many of you reading this post do exactly the same thing. Yes, I could take the time to explain scoping, DropBox, having a scopist in another time zone, brief forms, editing from the writer keyboard, macros, the value and cost of a great CAT system, and all the other things that go into the magic. But the atty could also come back with the cost of law school, the intranet at his office, the back-office work that goes into preparation for a huge patent infringement deposition, how his trial team worked for hours scouring the documents for a smoking gun, the signal words he was saying each time he came to a smoking-gun moment in the testimony, and all the things that go into his own personal magic that make him a partner and a great litigator. As you are questioning the value of doing so, I just don't think a busy litigator wants to hear about the trials and tribulations that got us to where we are. He's an expert at what he does. So are we. Proceed from there with his one simple request: "I want what I want when I want it." They do not care how we do it, just THAT we do it.
You see, while I think it's beneficial to explain a little bit about how we do what we do ... and I do that sometimes ... I also pause for a moment and let them take in the cost of the equipment and the comments I've made about the value of excellent realtime. I let them think about that, and then I kind of lean over towards them and say, "But you know the very BEST thing about all this?" sweeping my hand over the realtime setup, my writer, my computer, iPads and netbooks on the table. "The very BEST thing about all of this ... is that it won't work without ... me." Big smile. They sometimes say, "That's all YOU?" And I simply say, 'It's ALL me."
And it IS all me. It's all you, Jeanese. We're a service profession, and we are there to serve. All those things that you listed, quick delivery, staying late, immediate rough drafts, readable realtime (that's mine thrown in) are valuable to our clients. I say, be prepared for anything to serve our clients. Be prepared ... and be smart enough to enough it's valuable. That is an encouragement to follow good business practices which say charge for valuable things, and charge even more for things that are high in demand and short in supply. All those things are indeed being requested nowadays, and the way to show the client that they ARE valuable is not to give them away for free.
That's what I think!
M.A. (Mary Ann Payonk, Washington, DC)
Mary Ann hit it right on target. Attorneys are demanding. The majority of the attorneys want the transcript ASAP so they can send it to a client, expert, sit and evaluate it and think of their next move, etc. Any of you who have been legal assistants and prepared for trial know what I mean.
As for the stupid questions, they are usually just making idle chitchat at an educationa level their client can understand.
Hey, Mary Jo! Instead of saying, "I am able to do this because I have an incredible brain," next time say, "I am able to do this because I have incredible fingers."
You'll have a client for life ...
I remember in my younger days, when I was real thin, pretty, and big boobies (yes, big and real), having an attorney sit there and undressing me with his eyes. It was unnerving. But he always ordered. At a state attorney's depo one time, he asked the deponent (inmate) something like, "What color was her clothing?" The answer was, "Hot pink, like her dress (mine)."
Wow, this thread is going downhill real fast.
Just as I was ready to come out of my non-blogging status...
Guess it wasn't meant to be.
Back to Facebook I go ~
Jeanese, don't go back to Facebook (ugh). Stay and play on this site!
Hi, Jeanese. I can understand backing off as a result of a screaming, out-of-control verbal attack. Totally understand that. I've done it myself. I consider CSRnation a (1) social (2) networking site. If it was all business all the time, I could understand someone's hesitancy to be more, well, social. You threw out some great questions. I really enjoyed answering them! Stick around. Voice of experience here. You're not responsible for thread drift. The rest of us degenerates can handle that just fine!
(Judy: Facebook? I don't care for it either!)
I tried it for a while and decided I couldn't stand hearing every miniscule event of everybody's life, usually misspelled, so deleted my account.
Hi, Judy. Yes, I'm out of the loop there. It is definitely more social than business networking. I consider CSRnation business networking with a bit of social thrown in. I've got a court reporting friend who says he gets most of his work from facebook. Really? It's not that I don't believe him, because he's quite the unique personality, but I do find it hard to believe. Wow.
Mary Ann, Read your thoughts and I SO TOTALLY AGREE. As the years go buy we are EXPECTED to write realtime, EXPECTED to hand out IMMEDIATE rough draft, Lawyers have absolutely NO REGARD for the record anymore, and on top of that, amogst a HOST of other freebies, we are EXPECTED to take a paycut. When was the last time we got a RAISE? Are there any LiveNOTE Reporters out there who feel the same way? Get there an hour early, bring all your equipment, PLUS now they want you to bring laptops too, Prep time is easily an hour, BUT you almost always go in cold because they will NOT send you a word list, they're too busy, no breaks, they want to work through lunch, go late, sometimes VERY late and look at you like you got three heads when you tell them you're fatigued. AND NOW after all our training and expertise that we do to do realtime, NOBODY wants to pay and agencies are including that in their "DEALS" to clients. PLUS I'm even afraid to take a referal anymore, because you have to pull teeth to get paid. We are the ONLY professionals who give our service, and HOPE to get paid? Try telling your plumber you'll pay him when you get paid on a job. AND NOT ONLY that, if you're not up on your past dues, when you FINALLY try to get paid, deals are made where you are asked to take a reduction and you run the risk of NOT getting paid at all. COME ON PEOPLE, unite. WE are the ones providing the service. WE HAVE TO STICK TOGETHER. Sure if you don't take it someone else will, but in the end they will have the same headache. We have such a wonderful skill, what we do is special, this is ONE JOB where you cannot take out the human element and produce like we produce. Look in the mirror, what we do is amazing and it is VERY difficult, and we go trudging off to work every day, praying it will be a good day. Our personal life suffers because we are not in control of out business life, but that is the nature of the beast of this job and that's why we SHOULD get paid well. ANOTHER NOTE: Does anyone do work for Schwartz Simon Edelstein in NJ? Are you having trouble getting paid? Please advise, SEIZE THE DAY and may the force be with you.