Court reporting firms are agencies that offer court reporting services to attorneys, courts, and other individuals who may need an accurate recollection of an official proceeding. That proceeding may or may not be legal in nature, but at least will have the potential to develop into a legal case. Court reporting firms serve an important function in allowing those who do not normally need the services of a full-time court reporter to hire one as needed.
The main component of all court reporting firms is the use of a stenograph in order to record a conversation between two parties. Anyone answering questions may be sworn in by the court reporter so that the testimony provided is considered to be under oath. This will likely make it admissible in a court proceeding, should that become necessary.
Court reporting firms will usually advertise a specialty to help separate themselves from the competition. This may include a specialization in business law or medical law. Due to the complexity of terms, those seeking court reporting services in these areas may want a reporter with experience so that the terms are transcribed accurately and taken down quickly. Otherwise, there could be some delay in the process, leading to more time being spent and inefficiencies. In the worst of cases, even guessing may take place.
Some court reporting firms may offer special services, such as video, as well. A conversation recorded by video tape may be admissible in a court of law, especially if the person is placed under oath. This gives a judge or jury the chance to judge the inflections and the seriousness of a statement, because they are actually seeing and hearing it as it was said, not simply reading a printed transcript.
There are a number of other things court reporting firms may focus on in an attempt to attract clients. The availability of the court reporter to be when needed is one major factor. Turnaround times are another big point. Some attorneys may be taking depositions at the last minute, and therefore may require a faster turnaround time than normal. Some firms may advertise emergency services, though this will likely be at a higher rate than the normal service.
Rates are another consideration when looking at court reporting firms. Some firms may offer discounted rates, especially for those customers who often require court reporting services, and use a particular company regularly. Rates may be specific to a certain court reporter within a firm as well. Those with technical specializations or experiences will likely cost more.