Legal experts rely on information to make their case. It is therefore essential that all kinds of information, from historical documents to eyewitness accounts, be properly documented. Without proper documentation, lawyers may lose crucial pieces of the evidence puzzle. In addition, discovery that is not properly documented may not be admissible into a court or may introduce mistakes into the evidence analyzed by both sides in litigation.
Given the importance of court reporting, it’s no surprise that individuals who perform this work take their jobs seriously. Like any profession, however, court reporting firms and their personnel fall on all points of the spectrum of expertise. To make sure that your legal team gets the benefit of premier court reporting, to safeguard the strength of your case and protect your clients’ interests, ask these four questions before contracting for services.
Do They Use the Latest Technology?
Court reporting has evolved significantly over the past three decades. Expert reporters have remained up-to-date on the latest technology and use it to provide expedient, accurate and secure transcripts. While in the early days reporters would take manual shorthand or repeat testimony verbally into a machine, now they make use of digital recordings.
Court reporters may use a variety of high-tech methods. They may monitor and annotate digital recordings and ensure the accuracy of a transcript. Many court reporters do not need to be in the room while testimony is taken, as they stream the proceedings live over an internet connection. These kinds of innovations ensure there is a human being to confirm the content of the transcripts, while relying on the advances of modern technology. When hiring court reporters, you want them to be fast, reliable and accurate.
Are They Part of a Full Service Agency?
Law firms that contract for court reporting services have a full suite of needs. Complex litigation requires not only discovery, but all elements of investigating and building a case. Instead of undertaking a time-consuming and expensive process to find an agency that provides all necessary services, it’s preferable to contract with one company to supply everything you need.
Look for an agency that is not limited to court reporting services. Ask if they also go the extra mile and provide expert service in the areas of record retrieval, courtroom setup services, language translation services, video services and others. Knowing they offer everything you may need means you won’t be left scrambling before a tight court deadline to pull together essential evidence.
Are They a Member of the NCRA?
Dedicated court reporters understand the necessity of properly transcribing the spoken word. As evidence of this commitment, many court reporting firms and individuals are members of the National Court Reporting Association. This association has existed for more than a century and offers education and training programs to ensure members meet the highest standards of the profession.
In addition to high educational and training standards, members of the NCRA adhere to a Code of Professional Ethics. This sets out obligations for ethical conduct toward the public, the bench and the bar. A firm that hires a member of the NCRA, therefore, can rest assured the court reporting has been done in a fair and objective way that both legal counsel and the court can trust.
What Areas Do They Service?
Litigation work happens wherever evidence needs to be gathered. Often, this means lawyers drive many miles into remote areas or have to go to a trial location mandated by the court. Local court reporting services may not have the resources to get where you need them to be, especially on short notice. Even if they are able to fly into town or drive to the site of the deposition or trial, they will likely bill your firm for travel time and accommodation costs.
Ask whether the court reporting service has personnel ready and available within your state and city, so you don’t have to worry about delays. Magna has a broad reach throughout the U.S., so you can rest assured your professional court reporter will be on hand with reasonable notice.
Magna offers clients many benefits apart from its large reserves of professional talent. The firm has experienced people, having been in the industry for a number of years. It has kept pace with changing times in the court reporting industry, using up-to-date software and technology to offer premier services to clients.
Choose the Right Court Reporting Solution
As legal counsel, you have a responsibility to your client to provide the best possible representation. While in-depth legal research and solid arguments are fundamental to making the case for your client, it is also essential that every witness’s testimony is properly documented. In front of a jury or a judge, a case can turn on a single word, and you want to know that evidence has been deposed and recorded in a way that is accurate and objective.