Forget to order a court reporter for a deposition or court hearing or trial? Opposing counsel will not confirm whether they are appearing for deposition tomorrow so unable to confirm reporter? Planning on settling case but want to keep deposition pending for tomorrow to put pressure on other side? All of these result in the following in the reporting industry: last minute cancellations, late cancellations the day before, and last-minute requests for reporters. However, a new wrinkle has emerged: a reporter shortage. Due to this shortage of working reporters in Los Angeles County, and across the nation, reporters are now demanding cancellation fees for late or last minute cancellations and are often unavailable for last-minute requests. Reporters are independent contractors in Los Angeles County, and it is not unusual for them nowadays to receive 15 to 20 job offers for the next day before noon.
How did this happen you ask? Depends who you ask. Reduced and stagnant compensation due to corporate unlicensed entities commoditizing the industry; overemphasis on 4-year degree education; and length of time it takes to complete program are just a few of many. Many skilled industries are currently experiencing shortages of skilled workers – court reporting being one of them.
So how do you ensure you will have a competent reporter for your deposition or court proceeding? Develop a strong relationship with preferably a reporting agency with a local physical office and local connections in the community in which you take depositions and file cases. They will more likely have a better and long-standing relationship with the reporters who work in that geographical area. If you choose or your client dictates that you use an out-of-state, unlicensed entity, make sure you schedule a reporter as early as possible and confirm the order one business day before in the morning. No longer can you wait around until the last minute – you either will end up with no reporter available or with a reporter that no one likes to work with but who finds available work in this shortage every day with many different reporting agencies.
Changing office workflow to ensure that all depositions scheduled for the next business day are confirmed or cancelled before noon is critical – without confirmation by noon, it is highly likely that the scheduled reporter will find another job as if they do not work, they do not get paid. Finding a substitute reporter in this reporter shortage is next to impossible, and the only option will be to cancel and reschedule the deposition. This is already happening and will likely occur more often when confirmation is delayed the day before.
The costs associated with rescheduling a deposition when a reporter cannot be located may seem small in comparison with overall litigation costs, but the waste of time of the parties involved, including the witnesses, is a cost that no one wants to pay. A few adjustments to the discovery scheduling roadmap in your office will go a long way to ensure that a competent, professional court reporter will be available for your deposition or court hearing or trial. Will it be enough? Only time will tell.