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If you’re not managing your time — or, more particularly, if you are not managing your backlog of transcripts — you can easily fall behind. As a profession, we don’t need any black marks against us. Be responsible. Don’t offer excuses. If you worked in an office and didn’t get your work done, you wouldn’t be working there very long, would you? You would be either verbally reprimanded, written up, or fired. Depositions should be no different.
Here are some commonsense suggestions.
- Don’t take more work than you can turn in on time. Hire a scopist if you are behind on your transcripts. Hire a scopist if you know you have rushes coming up or if you’re planning a vacation.
- Use a proofreader! I cannot stress this enough. It’s not smart to take, edit, and proof your own work.
- If you have a deadline, meet it. If you can’t, immediately call the firm. Be straight with the staff members, and keep them informed of your situation. They will appreciate it, and they will know what to tell the client if the client calls.
- Don’t go on vacation without turning in all your work.
- Respond to emails and text messages and phone calls. Imagine if it were you on the other end of that phone wondering where your online order was or if you have a problem with your computer and you need help.
The other side of being the reporter is to always be prepared. Do your paperwork correctly. Label your exhibits properly. Firms don’t like it when reporters turn in a job with no exhibits or no paperwork. Your job is not the only job the firm has to produce.
I have started leaving out all my paperwork on the table under my notepad. If the attorneys want something special, I will pull out my exhibit form and write it down immediately. Colored, double-sided — I will check that box at my first opportunity. If the attorneys are talking about future depositions, maybe you should think about getting that job done quickly, so that you don’t get that phone call when you are on another deposition. Use sticky notes. Find any little trick to help you stay organized and get things right. If things are crazy and you use a scopist, write them a note while on the job and ask them to send you an email to remind you of something important.
The next time work is slow and the firm only has a few jobs or when a big job comes in, who do you think that firm is going to call — the reporter who was uncommunicative and blew past the attorney’s deadlines, or the reporter who turns in work on time and can communicate? In this day and age of computers and email, there’s really no excuse. Do what you say you will do. Be the reporter who can be counted on!
Denyce Sanders, RDR, CRR, is a reporter in Houston, Texas. She has also earned NCRA’s Realtime Systems Administrator certification.
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