How to choose the right court reporter

When most people think of a court reporter, the first thing that comes to mind is the reporter present during proceedings in a court room. What comes to mind less frequently are the many times lawyers or self-represented parties need to choose and hire a court reporting firm for transcription services, for example, at examinations for discovery.

Choosing the right court reporting firm can be a daunting task, with many options available and finding a quality court reporting service is the best way to ensure you obtain a quality record to use in your proceeding.

When you start looking for the right court reporting firm, there are some things to look for to ensure you get the best service.

Things to look for when choosing a court reporter:  

  • Certifications

At the minimum your reporter should have a provincial certification; additional qualifications can indicate that a reporter has been tested, and has the training and reliability you’re seeking.

  • Experience

Beyond the obvious general benefits of an experienced professional, where your case involves complicated material or terminology having a reporter with experience in your field can make a huge difference in terms of the quality of the record.

  • Neutrality

The court reporting service chosen should have no special connection to either side. You want a neutral reporter to provide the most indisputable record.

  • Communication and accessibility

You have the ability to call the firm and speak with a professional who will give you customer support and deal with your inquiries as they come up, not play phone-tag over voicemail.

  • Availability

You want a court reporting service that can be flexible with timing and travel if the need arises.

  • Timing

Finally, you want a court reporting firm that provides transcripts on a timely basis that meets your needs, so you can be prepared when you need them.

Once you’ve found one or more firms that you are confident will provide quality service and meet the requirements above, there are a few more inquiries to make to help you make sure you choose the one that will meet your specific needs.

Questions to ask the court reporter:

  • Ask about the pricing system

Whether it is hourly or flat-rate, whether there are any additional fees, and what the cancellation fee is. While this is hopefully not the deciding factor, you want to find a service within your budget.

  • Ask how individual reporters handle interruptions and clarifications

Interruptions in the middle of a line of questioning might be disruptive to the flow of an examination; it is important to speak with your reporter beforehand or at the beginning of an examination, to agree on how these will be handled.

  • Do they meet any special requirements for your case?

For example if you need the transcript on an expedited basis, will this be possible? Can they supply any video or audio equipment you need?

If you’ve followed these steps, you can proceed with confidence knowing you have found a court reporter that provides reliable quality service and suits your specific needs.