This blog post is going to break a couple of rules. As court reporters, we are generally taught to never publicly discuss our rates or prices. There seems to be a concern that marketing our rates will start a “race to the bottom” and unleash market forces that court reporters would not enjoy. In our opinion, we should always serve the customer’s interests rather than our own. Lower prices and competition is good for you and your clients, so it is time to talk about price and collaboration.
How Are Deposition Transcripts Actually Priced?
When it comes to deposition transcripts, some attorneys are not even sure what they are paying. A few even think that copies should be virtually free as the cost of copy machines and paper is low. What must be understood is that you are paying for the content of the deposition. Creating a perfect written record is a difficult task that requires input from, at a minimum, your court reporter, a scopist, and a proofreader. Typically, there is at least three hours of work put into every one hour of deposition testimony. A court reporter usually creates three copies of every transcript. One copy is designated as the “original” and is filed with the court at sometime before trial, a second copy is delivered to the scheduling attorney, and a final copy goes to the attorney who did not schedule the deposition (the “copy” attorney).
Historically, our industry has evolved so that the scheduling attorney is charged more than the copy attorney. An industry average for court reporting in Kentucky is around $4.25 – $4.60 per page for the scheduling attorney and $1.80 – $2.20 per page for the copy attorneys. Thus, most reporters expect to gross $6.00 to $7.00 per page.
Why Does The Price Structure Matter?
How court reporters structure their rate scales can have a real impact on attorneys who may never realize the problem. A smart attorney will always try to negotiate the best price he can for court reporting services. He or she will likely negotiate with several firms to obtain the lowest price for the best services. We will call this attorney “Mr. Frugal.” On the other hand, you have attorneys who think that you have to pay for quality. In other words, they literally choose their reporter based on who charges the most (this seems unbelievable but, trust us, it happens). We will call this attorney “Mr. Cadillac.”
Assume for a moment that Mr. Frugal and Mr. Cadillac are on opposite sides of a lawsuit. Mr. Frugal’s reporter charges $3.75 & $1.80 for deposition services. Mr. Cadillac’s, on the other hand, charges $4.60 and $2.20. As a result, all of Mr. Frugal’s efforts at finding affordable court reporting are thrown out the window whenever Mr. Cadillac schedules a deposition. Frankly, Mr. Frugal has no choice. He is obligated to pay the prices of Mr. Cadillac’s chosen reporter or otherwise do without a transcript.
Collaborative Court Reporting
Kentuckiana Reporters is trying to eliminate the pricing oddities caused by archaic price structures. We have introduced what we like to call Collaborative Court Reporting. Our collaborative approach invites attorneys to jointly set their rates at the beginning of litigation. Frankly, there is no reason why a scheduling attorney and a copy attorney should pay different rates for the same product. With collaborative reporting, we set a fixed price for both the scheduling attorney and the copy attorney at the beginning of the case. In other words, Mr. Frugal and Mr. Cadillac will pay $2.85 per page for their depositions regardless of whether they are taking the deposition or simply attending for a copy. After all, both attorneys receive the exact same product. Why not charge the same amount? With our system, both attorneys pay less than they would have while receiving the same great service.
Collaborative Court Reporting is great for divorce cases, most car accidents, and simple injury cases as both sides are likely to schedule the same number of depositions. It especially makes sense for divorce and family law matters where litigation costs are essentially coming from the same source. Admittedly, it is not a perfect fit for a case where one side might schedule 20 depositions while the other only takes a handful. In those situations, we would shift the cost proportionally to ensure no windfall for the aggressive scheduler. Again, the point is to meet with both sides from the outset and collaborate on pricing to ensure a fair outcome. In other words, make us a part of your initial meet and confer to help plan out your litigation process. This approach will allow all attorneys to save money and operate more efficiently.
Another concern that is frequently raised is whether the collaborative approach can serve everyone’s unique needs. The simple answer is that it can. For example, even though the transcript prices are split, one attorney may want video while the other does not. In that case, the videography would be separately invoiced to one attorney at the regular rates. The same is true for services such as synchronization and expedited delivery. In other words, attorneys only pay for what they need and only pay what is fair.
The other benefit of the collaborative approach is consistency. We have the resources to take depositions in every part of Kentucky and the surrounding region. In other words, you only need to make one call to obtain the same high quality court reporting services in Louisville, Lexington, Danville, Bowling Green, Paducah, or any other Kentucky location. If your deposition is in Alaska or some other distant location, we can partner with another trusted firm and ensure your rates and service. Essentially, we offer one-stop service that is fairly priced to everyone.
For more information about Collaborative Court Reporting, just give us a call and ask to speak with our Office Manager, Ann Madrick.