Whose Side are We On?


Whose Side are We On?

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By Sheila Atkinson-Baker


Given the oppositional nature of the legal field, it is not surprising that we are sometimes asked which side we are on. After all, there are plaintiff lawyers and defense lawyers, plaintiff experts and defense experts. Some attorneys would consider it a breach of duty if they didn’t go venue shopping to ensure the most favorable forum and jury for the client. There are liberal judges and conservative judges. So, whose side are we on?

This question can best be answered by looking at our clientele. Our top individual attorney, who has done over 700 depositions with us, is a plaintiff attorney. Our top law firm does insurance defense. We have provided reporters for nine of the ten largest law firms in the country and, in 1998 alone, provided reporters for over 700 sole practitioners. We also count as clients some of the nation’s largest insurance companies, local legal aid societies, dozens of government agencies and an Indian tribe. On the two largest cases we have going currently, each involving hundreds of depositions, we handle the reporting for both sides.

What services do we provide for our larger clients that we don’t provide for the smaller ones? Well, whether the client is from a large firm or is a sole practitioner, we offer the same turnaround time, the same lit support options, the same quality of reporters and the same services to all parties.

Having a large, broad client base allows our reporters greater impartiality than if they were on their own. I know from personal experience, having been an independent reporter myself. As an independent reporter, you may rely for your income on a handful of clients whom you know personally. It’s not unusual for a reporter to even wind up marrying an attorney. If a client demands a special favor, such as getting the transcript before the other side does, the independent reporter is put in the position of having to decide whether to risk losing a significant portion of her income by not providing the special favor.

With a larger client base to draw on, our reporters do not have that problem. They know that their job depends on showing up on time, producing high-quality transcripts in a timely manner and acting professionally, rather than on maintaining a close, personal relationship.

So, whose side are we on? We are on the side of smooth and swift administration of justice. We believe that dialogue and reason should be used to resolve disputes and that our civil justice system, while not perfect, is far superior to either an oppressive regimentation of human activities, or an anarchy where disputes are resolved with force. We believe that by providing swift, accurate reporting services, we help reduce the overwork and stress of legal professionals, enabling them to more effectively litigate their cases.

You can think of us as you would Westlaw or Lexis/Nexis. We serve all parties — big or small; plaintiff or defense — providing easily-accessible, accurate and timely information to help them practice better law.