The relationship between paralegals and court reporting firms is a vital and important component in the deposition process. It’s interesting to study the dynamics of that relationship in the marketplace and determine what can be done to improve or strengthen the bond.
A great place to begin the discussion is centered on the attitude that paralegals and/or court reporting firms might take toward their relationships.
Attitude is Everything
As a paralegal, you may believe that all court reporting firms are created equally and provide the same levels of service, follow up, and work product. If that were the case, then the only determining factor would be cost. In other words, cost should only be the single concern if everything is 100% equal when you are reviewing the options for service providers. If, however, that is not the case and there are many differences in the level of service and communication you may be getting from your court reporting firm, cost may not and should not be the only consideration. When it comes to selecting, building and maintaining a relationship with a court reporting firm, it may be a myth that cost is the only determining factor.
Most of the depositions are scheduled by paralegals, not the attorneys. Once the attorney comes down the hall and requests that a deposition be scheduled, it then becomes the paralegal’s responsibility from that point moving forward to ensure that the details of the scheduling and the coordination of the deposition is taken care of. At that point, the relationship that is in place with the court reporting firm really comes into focus.
The strength or weakness of a relationship can reflect positively or negatively on the paralegal doing the scheduling if there are issues with the court reporting firm or the communication, coordination, and work product are not up to the expectation level of the paralegal; sometimes it can be a good news/bad news situation. The good news was that the paralegal saved a few dollars on the service; the bad news was that the service wasn’t up to the expected standards, and the attorney and clients are wondering why. Creating better relationships between paralegals and their service providers will create far stronger relationships between the paralegals and their respective attorneys and firms because it reflects in a more positive manner on the paralegal.
Some questions to review might be:
- Is my current court reporting relationship meeting my expectations?
- Do I have the level of communication and follow up that I want?
- Can I improve the relationship?
From a court reporting firm’s vantage point, it is critical to understand that not all court reporting firms are created equal, nor do they all provide the same levels of service to the marketplace. These relationships that are forged with their clients is a first priority above all other factors. As a court reporting firm, guarding against complacency in the relationship is important. Establishing accounts and creating relationships with clients is extremely important, but maintaining the high levels of service, communication, and work product over a long period of time is as important or even more important to the success of that relationship. Many times, complacency can be a detrimental factor between court reporting firms and paralegals, and should be avoided at all costs.
The questions for a court reporting firm might be very similar to the questions that a paralegal might ask, but from the vantage point of a court reporting firm:
- Is the firm meeting the expectations of our clients, the paralegals and attorneys?
- Are we providing the level of communication, follow up, and work product that our clients expect?
- Can we improve the relationships we have built and are continuing to build?
As we discussed earlier, the attitude you take toward these relationships can help or hinder the ultimate success or failure of these very same relationships moving forward. Are these relationships just vendor relationships providing services or partnerships providing the pathways to future success?