What if law firms share transcripts instead of order their own?

One of our many duties as officers of the court is to fairly distribute our fees across the board to all parties in an action. If one or more of the parties, however, decides to take our work product and share it amongst their co-counsel (and not others, presumably), then that duty has been circumvented. If copy sales go down, guess what will happen to the original transcript's cost? It will likely go up.

Here's an interesting thread from my ReadBack.org website (RIP: 2010 - 2014)... Today's readback.org archive question comes from user BINITA:

QUESTION

What can I do about law firms sharing transcripts instead of ordering transcripts?

In New York I've noticed that some stingy lawyers are not ordering transcripts. Instead they are asking the one who orders to share with them. Is that happening elsewhere and is it even okay to do that? As it is, reporters get a measly rate for copies and now we are not even being asked for copies altogether!


After 3287 views and 16 responses, the Best Answer with 31 votes comes from LISA MIGLIORE BLACK

ANSWER:

Here is the language I use on my transcript order forms/contracts that I have counsel sign:

I agree that I nor any person, attorney, paralegal, or expert witness may make, copy, and/or distribute to others for future sales, monetary gain, or any other purpose and transcript and/or video without paying Migliore & Associates the ordinary and customary charges for any and all additional transcripts

 

I use the following language in the email I send out to counsel when copies are not ordered:

Transcripts and exhibits can easily be shared with co-counsel and support staff.  (Please keep in mind that sharing our work product with opposing counsel does not allow us to fairly distribute costs of our services between the parties.  Should copy sales diminish, the likely result is a rise in cost of the original transcript.  Help court reporters keep your costs to a minimum by protecting our work product.) 

By LISA MIGLIORE BLACK



OTHER RESPONSES

No, that's not cool at all.   It happens.   I once overheard an atty setting up her *sharing* plan with other attys in the room who had similar client interests.   Besides glaring at her all day (which I'm sure she didn't notice) there's not much you can do.   Although, I did read on another blog of reporters who wouldn't take it lying down and announced during/after the depo that if counsel were so obliged to share copies and rough drafts, she would bill said counsel for their drafts and copies.   Yay, for that reporter!   If this works and it's in your hearing, I'd note it on my worksheet and perhaps a follow up email, *We understand you would like to cover the cost of Atty Smith's certified copy order.*   That ought to quel her *generosity*...

Also, I've recently added language to my cert that says something to the effect of *unless specifically under the direction of the deposition officer, this copy shall be rendered, blah, blah, blah *   Also, when you send out roughs, similar language anti-sharing is helpful (or at least makes you feel better) Something to the effect of *By receiving this electronic draft you agree it is for your use and only your use, blah, blah, blah *

Beyond that, blame it on the economy.   It will get better.   Hang in there! 


By JEANESE

Oooh, and just to add briefly, A moment of appreciation for those stance attys who won't share.   They look over at you in the depo, * Um, Don't they have to order a copy? * 

Absolutely!   Thank you, Counsel.  After all, if it's a photocopy of a certified copy, they can't use it in court.   It's bunko!   So someone's going to end up getting the short end of the stick anyhow...

The worst is attys who try to make money on OUR copies.  They're overheard saying things like, *I'll make a copy for you and only charge you the copying,* etc.,  That really burns me because there's no doubt then they know they're taking food off our table. 


By JEANESE

I've been adding certified copy when I am inquiring about anyone needing a copy.  Certified copy gives the idea that it is not just putting it in a copy machine and pressing a button.  I've been amazed at how many attorneys do not know that copying a transcript is illegal.  Is there a website for attorneys that we can post that information?  Maybe it is just ignorance on their part.


By JBERGMANCSR

I think that practice by attorneys is disgusting.  It would be like sharing documents prepared by one attorney with another.  There is no way they would stand for it the tables were reversed.


By JANE71RPR

I recently had an attorney tell me she'd just get her copy from another defendant in the case.  I politely thanked her for stealing my work product and smiled.  The attorney stuttered something about asking her client if they could order a copy.  

 

I was bitter about working on that transcript.


By TLJAMAIL

Gosh, if I had a nickle for everytime I've heard that one. Oh, I guess probably a dime these days. It definitely won't be the last time you hear that, sadly!
By LKBRAGG

I have seen paper made with a large reflective strip going across the page, called something like 'non-copiable' paper.  Some reporters have used that alternating every few pages so if the attys attempted to photocopy it they wouldn't get a complete transcript.  Any seasoned atty knows that is bad practice to share transcripts this way and they don't want to piss off a state-appointed court reporter.  They know they will eventually need us so they want to keep us happy.  There is really no way to get around attys copying our transcripts.  I have learned to sort of put it out of my head because the work keeps coming and it is only one transcript. 

I work in a superior court and our transcript formats are specifically designated by statute so there is very little we are permitted to vary.  What I have done on every transcript I certify is sign it in blue ink with this below my signature: (original signed in blue ink).  I don't know if it is a deterrent, but at least I know it's my original should it ever become an issue.  I have told many people that I do not certify photocopies, so if there is no blue signature, then it's obviously not a transcript certified as accurate by me. 


By KIMPS

Is it illegal? I'm looking for some case law or something in the Rules of Court that says we get paid for our work product, and sadly can't find anything. Maybe someone could help me.
By REPORTERGRRL

I don't have an exact cite for you. But we just talked about this on www.courtreporterssite.com Look in the blog *I should have kept my mouth shut!* A response by Deborah Meyers speaks to prohibition of copying.
By JEANESE

I've been told at my firm if I even get an inkling that opposing counsel is not going to order and the deposing attorney hints to them that he or she will provide them a copy to tell my firm and they will charge the deposing counsel a higher rate.  Gots to do what ya gots to do...


By VEGAZZCHIK65

Transcript fees are outragously expensinve and with modern technology shouldn't be even needed.  It is amazing how many people fail to get justice because of this outragous expense of almost $1000 a day for something a 79 cent casset recorder can do BETTER.  On top of that, the court reports are terribly inaccurat and are on the government payroll.


By REUVAIN SAFIR

At a doctor depo, the plaintiff's attorney told the doc he had a right to review his depo because it was his depo.  He then told him to request a copy from the defense attorney, told him to read it over for accuracy, and to forward that copy to him with any changes, corrections or comments (hello!  comments?)  so he could look them over.  Basically, he was trying to get get a free copy.  I gave the doctor my card, told him he'd get the standard witness letter stating his depo was complete and ready for his review if he wanted, but that he'd have to go to my office for that and would not get a copy in the mail.  I then told the defense attorney what the plaintiff's attorney was trying to do and politely asked her not to forward a copy of the depo to the doctor.  That took care of that.


By ROSE

How are the people not getting justice because of our fees? Your numbers are off. A thousand a day & 79 cents for a cassette recorder? FYI, not all reporters are on the government payroll. Many of us are independent contractors. Check your facts ~ and your spelling.
By ROSE

Exactly! Or like asking them for free legal advice as if their time and expertise were not valuable.
By JEANESE

There is a certain kind of paper you can use that when photocopied it will copy blank and such certain attys. will not get their freebies that they think they are going to get.  I think Stenograph sells this paper.  You can insert it every other page when printing out your transcript or for attys.  you KNOW are doing this to you print your whole darn transcript on it.  It might be a little costly, but sooo worth it when they try and cheat you and photocopy it and end up with a blank page :)


By TVERES

That's a good idea. I think I'll incorporate that as well. Thanks!
By JEANESE

I doubt there's anything you can do.  If there is I hope someone comes up with an answer because I'd sure like to end that practice.  Stingy is right!


By T3

You are very positive. Hang in there people! On a side note, I doubt most reporters would be able to take that hard line approach at a depo to quel attorneys' generosity. I would like to think they would, but most likely not. It's easy to have tons of bravado on a discussion board, but in a real life setting... well, it's hard is all I'm trying to say.
By PATWORDSMYTHE

I agree. But I do know some reporters who would have no qualms about speaking out at the deposition. This is where I learned such information and I believe in their bravado, even if espoused on a discussion board.On the other hand, as I get older, I could see myself avoiding the confrontation by sending a follow up email in the essense described above. It could be friendly as all outdoors. This person wants to cover the cost of their fellow counsel's copy orders.At the very least, adding verbiage to certs and blurbs to roughs helps deter this behavior and I didn't think of it until I read it on a discussion board. Glad I did. I now have the language added and was just trying to give some, albeit positive, suggestions aside from glaring at the offending atty, which gets nobody anywhere...
By JEANESE

Hi, Binnie!  Long time.

Sorry to read that you're having to deal with crappy attorneys like that.

In addition to all of the responses in this thread, you might want to talk to your firm owner (unless, of course, YOU are the firm owner) and see if, in those instances where you overheard the I'll buy a copy and make a copy for you bit if the FO would consent to adjusting the rates accordingly.

Another good tactic is to have your audiosync going in case your FO (or the lyin', cheatin' and stealin') attorney insists that no such conversation took place.

Good luck, Binnie.

--gdw

Blah, blah, blah .... http://www.cheapandsleazy.net


By GDWARNER

A perfect solution for when you know there will be copy sharing! Make sure your state doesn't have any Thou Shalt Not Use No-Copy Paper edicts in place before you do this. You don't want to lose your license over some lyin', cheatin' attorney!
By GDWARNER

I have never been able to find this non-photocopy paper. I did an extensive internet search last year and purchased some product that purported to do this (can't remember their name right now) but it did not work. If someone out there has the exact product name/vendor, that would be most appreciated.
By TODD OLIVAS

I did know of a reporter that I worked with that had some and used to use it.  No state can dictate what kind of paper we use, especially when attorneys are basically stealing our work product!!  How embarrasing is that for them if they called and said they are missing pages of their transcript and we tell them if they would have properly ordered it from the reporter in the first place that wouldn't have happened!!

When I get done with the grueling concrete pumping hearing I am doing I will try to get in contact that reporter and find out where she got it from and let you know :)


By TVERES

Just did some Googling and found a few threads, but apparently the no-copy paper that has a wide red strip can be copied simply by decreasing the contrast on the copier. On the other hand, I found a website that sells what they call SuperSecure Paper. They are here: http://tinyurl.com/2auv7tb They offer samples, too.
By GDWARNER

Sorry, T, but that's not the case in Texas: From Section 2.4, Texas Uniform Format Manual:The use of any paper product limiting the reproduction of a record (e.g., Mylar strip/seal or copy-prohibitive paper) is prohibited.
By GDWARNER

Wow, that seems so unfair!!


By TVERES

In Georgia, there are two counties where the clerk's office actually makes the copy for the 'stingy attorney' that doesn't want to pay for copy.  Cobb County does it and Cherokee County does it.  I work for Cherokee County.  Two weeks ago had a 'stingy attorney' call me numerous times wanting a free copy.  Even called the ordering attorney that is appealing the case and asked him for free copy.  I quoted copy price.  Next day he went to the Clerk's Office of Cherokee County and got a copy.  When I inquired of clerk, I was told our Clerk of Court Patty Baker charges 1.00 per page to copy for any attorney requesting it.  I lost approximately $1,500, requesting he pay me copy price of 1.51 per page of a very difficult transcript that took me long hours and research preparing.  Clerk of Court made approximately $1,000.00 for MY WORK PRODUCT by spending just a matter of minutes at a copy machine.  Go figure!  Realize in Cherokee County, Georgia your transcript is fair game to be copied. 


By SUZIE316


Monday, June 16, 2014

Author
Todd Olivas

Todd Olivas is a court reporter and entrepreneur.
He founded TO&A in 2003.

  Comment by Francine | Monday, September 15, 2014
Just my personal opinion from experience, it would be a great idea to mandate the original plus copies to all noticed attorneys be the minimum purchase.
  Comment by Denise | Wednesday, December 31, 2014
I am an attorney and surprised by these comments. Court Reporters need to change the way they bill. They should bill by the hour for their services and not place such an emphasis on the copy of the transcripts. JANE71RPR wrote: I think that practice by attorneys is disgusting. It would be like sharing documents prepared by one attorney with another. There is no way they would stand for it the tables were reversed. However, I SHARE MY DOCUMENTS WITH OTHER ATTORNEYS ALL OF THE TIME. My time is valuable. And so is the time that court reporters spend in those depositions. With advances in technology and no rule prohibiting sharing transcripts, Court Reporters need to change the way it does business.


  Comment by Maria | Wednesday, January 07, 2015
The original transcript should be what an o/2 costs, and any copies should be minimal, since these days most orders are just for the orig. and one copy. I`ve felt that way for over 40 years as a court reporter, because I`ve always felt an o/1cc order, you never ever made any money on it considering your time and effort that goes into the job.
  Comment by Amy Shankleton | Monday, August 03, 2015
So what do you do when they want only the PDF? In many states (MI specifically) statute is to charge by the page, can`t charge by the hour for typing. The blanket clause is in effect here, also. Make your transcripts hard to feed through a copier; use covers that are spiral bound or heat sealed on the edge. I heard two attorneys discussing sharing costs in the hallway one time. When I submitted their transcripts, I totaled the original and copy costs and divided between them and explained that in my cover letter. No complaints.


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