As the consolidation of the court reporting business continues in full force, the competitive landscape of the deposition market is getting more intense by the season. Court reporters get their business from a myriad of sources. Word of mouth, paralegal and lawyer events, and online marketing all contribute to how the typical court reporting agencies grow their businesses, but court reporter contracting is often the elephant in the room.
White Hat Court Reporter Contracting
Contracting can mean different things to different people. For some, contracting may mean bidding on RFPs from local, state, and federal governments. Because the RFPs are often open to the public and are put in place to drive competition, this type of contracting is what we would consider “White Hat” contractings.
However, there is another type of contracting that is running rampant in the court reporting industry. This involves large, national court reporting firms doing deals with even larger insurance companies and national law firms. In effect, these court reporting firms offer highly discounted (and sometimes free) court reporting services and are able to turn profit by shifting the cost burden to opposing counsel.
This type of contracting isn’t only unfair to the parties themselves, it actually impugns the integrity of the court reporter. In an industry where court reporters are expected to be 100% unbiased and impartial, how is it that some firms give obvious financial preference to a particular party of a lawsuit?
In some states, such as California, laws are being passed where the parties to the lawsuit must disclose when they receive discounted pricing on transcripts.
As litigation costs continue to rise, the parties are becoming evermore cost-conscious and as insurance companies and corporations have more and more control over the litigation process, it’s incredibly important for court reporters and agency owners, not to lose their moral character in exchange for a high volume contract.