Making More for Your Time

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01Jan2008

Making More for Your Time

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Atkinson-Baker Nationwide Court Reporters – DepositionsEFFICIENCY TO THE RESCUE

Time is a very important commodity, especially to a Court Reporter. The management skills involved are stressful at best, and as we all know, there are never enough hours in the day to accomplish all your tasks. There are a few different ways a Court Reporter can make more income for time expended. Two ways that we will discuss in this article will be learning and providing Realtime, and the use of Scopists.

Realtime to the Rescue

You would be amazed at how much time Realtime can save you. Although it is the next big step for most court reporters, only about ten percent of reporters across the country provide Realtime support. This is a huge hole that needs to be filled.

Realtime can make you more money per page, and can even excuse the need for a scopist, if your skills are up to the task. Many reporters even turn reporting Realtime into a game: To write the perfect transcript. It does make reporting more challenging. The decision to go Realtime isn’t an easy one, but it can make a BIG difference in that paycheck. The reporters who are doing it are finding they get to a point where there’s not a lot of editing to do because of how cleanly the transcripts are translating. That immediate feedback as you sit at the depo really helps. This also cuts back on the amount of hours you put into the transcript and so it increases your “hourly” pay. So, make the commitment to make the change, and soon, you’ll see a difference in what you’re making for your time.

If you still are not ready to make this change, or are transitioning over, this is where a scopist comes in.

Help for You

I know, you say that a scopist can be expensive, and sometimes even make mistakes, but the right scopist can be worth their weight in gold–err, transcripts. Yes, it is true that scopists are not free, and they are also not present at the deposition, but with the right preparation and management, they can greatly enhance your income and give you free time to spend doing other things. You do have a life, right?

In a nutshell, scopists can free up your time for more leisure, help with a quicker turnaround time, or help make more money by getting you out on more jobs. I will explain the benefits of using a scopist and the frequent questions associated.

What is a Scopist?

The term “scopist” comes from the first computers that were used to translate the stenograph text into English using CAT software. Those computers had a diode screen, or scope as they were called, with little green text screens. The combination of the words “periscope” and “typist” evolved into “scopist.”

There are many skills that a scopist must be proficient in to be considered trained. The two most important skills are good English and punctuation and the ability to read machine shorthand. People who tend to make good scopists usually enjoy working with words, have a wide vocabulary, and must be good spellers. The interest is particularly important because if they aren’t following the lines of thought, a scopist could put the wrong words in the context.

Believe it or not, there are very few scopists out there in relation to the amount of court reporters. The current ratio of scopists to court reporters is around 1 to 3,500. So finding a good scopist is sometimes tricky. Don’t worry, though. With the advent of the internet, e-mail, and new technology, scopists are easier to locate than ever before.

Why should I use a Scopist?

Have you heard the phrase “two heads are better than one”? Well, the same holds true for transcripts. Two sets of eyes are always better than one. In most cases, particularly the less experienced reporters are very preoccupied with getting the phonetic record on their machines, so they may not have time to follow the conversation being made. A scopist’s single most important responsibility is to add another set of eyes and ears to the testimony. This is to make sure that what is written makes sense.

In a recent survey done here at Atkinson-Baker, reporters were asked why they haven’t used a scopist. The most common answer given was simply the costs associated with another person. It is true that scopists do charge for their services, but they can also increase your pay by enabling you to take more jobs. Think about where you make the bulk of your money. Is it from going to the deposition and writing the record, or is it at home proofreading and scoping your transcripts?

I’m sure you said that reporting is the more lucrative time spent, so why spend time scoping if you don’t need to?

If you would like to figure out, by the numbers, if a scopist is right for you, just figure out how much you make an hour on a given job, then figure out how much an hour a scopist charges. Chances are your time is more valuable than you think. If you would like to figure this out, we have provided a worksheet on the next page of this newsletter to help you see how much you make per hour, and the differences that you could be making with the help of a scopist.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could just write the record, and do a final proof, then let the other details be handled by a scopist? In today’s technological world, all that the scopists need you to do is pop the electronic note disk in your computer, translate your notes, e-mail your notes to the scopist and in a short time, your transcript is returned in a form ready for a once-through proofreading job.

How to Find that Special Scopist?

Finding a scopist is easier than ever. Many advertise on the internet through their own website, or through sites designed to help you find a scopist. First, you must decide how often you would like to use a scopist, and what qualities you would like to look for. Think about what you consider important, then search. In our third issue almost a year ago we covered some of the options, but as with all things associated with the internet, there are many more sites out there ready to point you in the right direction to find the perfect scopist. Be sure not to wait until you have a bunch of expedites over a weekend before you use a scopist for the first time. Do a little research and find a backup so that they’re there when you need them.

Scopist Listings and Resources

ReporterSupport.com Looking for a scopist who is available NOW? This valuable FREE service is the perfect way to find the help you need. Freelance reporters simply fill out a request and scopists who are available for work will respond directly.

www.mazco.org/scoping/catlist.htm – A sister site to ReporterSupport.com above, this page has a listing of over 400 listings including email, phone and websites for scopists that work with the following systems: Aristocat, Case Catalyst, Cheetah/Turbocat/Smartcat, Digital Cat, Eclipse, Maestro, Oz, Premier Power, ProCat, StenoCat, XEC-5 and Xscribe.

Scopists.com – This website contains free listings of over 500 scopists, organized by state and city. The listings include the scopist’s training, experience and equipment. Most of them contain e-mail and street addresses as well as a phone number. A reporter can also prepare a confidential query for a scopist, proofreader or audio transcriptionist which gets sent to all site subscribers, and can place a free classified ad.

Depoman.com – This site has a section of free ads for scopists in their Classifieds section (toward the bottom of the page).

NCRA Job Bank – There are several ways to access the job bank: You can visit them online or you can call the NCRA at 1-800-272-6272 and ask them to mail or fax you the listings. This service is free for members but there is a $10 charge for non-members. The listings are also published every month in the classifieds section at the back of the Journal of Court Reporting.

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