Why It Is Important To Be Early – Court Reporters And Legal Videographers


Having a 9:00 a.m. start time is typical in California.  Los Angeles attorneys say they don’t want to start before 10:00 because of traffic, but because of the Federal and now California seven-hour rule, unless everyone wants to be working past 6:00 p.m., the deposition has to start so the clock can start ticking.

Los Angeles and Bay Area traffic is legendary, and San Diego’s is not far behind when traveling south in the morning.  Witnesses show up at depositions late with the excuse of traffic and not knowing where to park.  Attorneys are oftentimes “stuck” in a hearing and are “running late.”  Does the court reporter or videographer have the “luxury” of being late because of traffic or parking issues?  I would postulate that a service provider can never be late.  It might not seem fair, but that is the way it is.

And the responsibility of a court reporter/legal videographer is not only to be on time, but to be 30 minutes/one hour early.  The legal videographers I work with consistently arrive an hour early and start their setup.  Unless there is a mistake in scheduling, I rarely have come across a late-arriving videographer.

Court reporters have less gear and need less time to set up and, I believe, push the time envelope.  Secretaries, paralegals, and attorneys start checking for the court reporter’s arrival, and if there is no one there at 8:45 for a 9:00 a.m. start, they begin panicking, calling the court reporting firm they hired.  There are few calls the staff of a court reporting office hates more than, “Didn’t we book a reporter?  Is someone coming?  Should we call another firm to make sure we have someone here on time?”  The clients panic, and then the court reporting firm panics.  It is a terrible way to start the day.

I know when I do get to a job early, 45 minutes or so, I love the feeling of getting set up, having my title pages done, and time for a cup of coffee.  I am relaxed.  Everyone is relaxed.  Sometimes if I am working at a doctor’s office, and I am not allowed to set up, I will sit in the reception area, turn on my computer, and work on the title pages.  I walk into the conference room with my computer on and at least the title pages done.

I am sorry to say attorneys don’t ever want to hear excuses about being late.  If there is a catastrophic accident or a person gets sick, fine.  Being late should happen maybe once every 12 years.  My advice:  If you are going to be late, call your firm and let them know.  They can call the client and give them the assurance the court reporter will be there.

Let’s all be incredibly great in 2013.  Relaxed court reporters are happy court reporters.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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