How to Build and Maintain an Amicable Relationship with Your Court Reporter
In the legal business, the relationship between attorney and court reporter is an important one. These are two roles that depend on each other greatly. What is a court reporter if a legal practice doesn’t hire them? And how could an attorney do their job without the skill of a court reporter? They need each other, which is why it is beneficial for a court reporting firm and legal practice to build an amicable, professional relationship with each other.
Legal practices are aware that court reporters have the ability to make or break a case. When an attorney enjoys working with a specific court reporter – maybe it’s because they are reliable, they deliver transcripts ahead of time, their editing skills are excellent, or they are flexible to deposition times and/or travel – that attorney will likely go back to the same court reporting firm for future work. An ongoing relationship is ideal, and it is important that these relationships are formed on integrity.
While the previously listed characteristics of a court reporter will make a law practice call them back for future cases, what will make a court reporter want to work for a specific attorney or legal practice again?
4 Ways to build and maintain an ongoing, amicable relationship with your court reporter:
1. Don’t speak too fast or at the same time as others and ask your witness to do the same. Your court reporter is transcribing every word of the deposition and it is important to be considerate of the speed at which you are speaking so that they can get every word down. For the same reason, it is vital to not speak over another person and to provide verbal responses. It is always a good idea to lay ground work at the beginning of a deposition with a witness. For example,
ATTORNEY: “One thing I always like to remind people is that, as we’re asking questions, it’s best if you'll give me an opportunity to finish each question, and I'll try and do the same with giving you an opportunity to finish your answer.”
THE WITNESS: (Nodding head affirmatively)
ATTORNEY: “And one other thing please. You shook your head. Remember, for the record, the court reporter is taking down everything we say. So, when possible, give a verbal response, either yes or no or whatever the verbal response may be."
2. Be respectful of the court reporter’s time. The court reporter needs 15-30 minutes to setup and will need to determine the best place to sit, ideally closest to the deponent. There may be times, especially in the early morning, where a court reporter cannot gain access to a conference room until an office opens. It is valuable to plan accordingly, if a deposition is scheduled to start at 8am and the building needs to be opened early.
3. Allow breaks for the court reporter to use the restroom and/or eat. The court reporter is sitting quietly in the corner of the deposition and sometimes it is forgotten that they are even there. It is important to remember that just like you, they need to be able to have a break every now and then to be able to use the restroom and/or eat a snack. Allowing for breaks will keep the court reporter much happier and your transcript more accurate. No one wants a transcript from a court reporter who was struggling to stay alert because it had been far too long since they ate. Skipping lunch and/or breaks can seem like a smart way to save time in the moment, but it’s important to think about the final product, the transcript, when you are making this decision.
4. End at a decent hour, if possible, or set proper expectations upfront. Perhaps it is easy for you to work through dinner, or all night if that is what it takes to finish a deposition in good time, but you should also think of the court reporter when making this decision. The court reporter may have a family to take care of. It might be part of the job to work odd hours at times, such as restrictions on when an expert witness is available. Setting expectations upfront with the court reporting firm on how long a deposition will last, allows for scheduling the right reporter for the job.