How to Evaluate a Court Reporting Agency

In today’s post-Covid legal industry, there are two kinds of court reporting agencies: those that provide traditional court reporting services, and those that provide remote deposition services, often combined with other features.

It is essential, whether you’re in the middle of complex legal proceedings or taking depositions, that you have a reliable court reporter or court reporting agency that you can count on. However, you may struggle to find a court reporting agency that fits your specific needs, especially if you’re in an area that has been hit hard by the court reporter shortage.

In some cases, a virtual deposition platform that offers a court reporter as part of its full-service package can actually offer more overall convenience than working with an agency that provides court reporters for in-person depositions and court proceedings. Do you know what to look for in an effective court reporting agency? Make sure you’re considering these critical elements. 

1. How Capable is the Court Reporting Agency?

Before you choose a court reporting agency, it’s important to assess the agency’s overall capability and track record. Of course, there are certain minimum standards that all court reporters across the country must meet, regardless of where they operate.

However, some agencies will naturally prove more reputable and reliable than others. Before you select a court reporting agency, it’s essential to make sure that they will fit your needs. 

Is the Agency Available When You Need Them?

Scheduling court reporters is becoming increasingly difficult in many areas of the country. Some areas are feeling the court reporter shortage more stringently than others. In other areas, the increase in cases after Covid-19 has made it more difficult to schedule vital court proceedings. If you’re struggling to get on the schedule with the court reporting agency you’re considering, that agency might not be the one for you. 

Working with a virtual court reporting agency can, in many cases, streamline the scheduling process and make it easier to get the court reporter you need in a timely manner. Often, virtual court reporting agencies will have significantly increased availability compared to their peers who can only work in person. 

Does the Agency Have Reporters Available in Your Area?

Many in-person court reporters are only available to work in a specific geographic area. Virtual court reporters, on the other hand, can work anywhere in the country–and in many cases, that can mean streamlined = cases and easier scheduling. 

2. What Features Does the Court Reporting Agency Offer?

Whether in-person or virtual, take a look at the features offered by the court reporting agency and whether they fit with your current needs. For example, you might need to know whether you need a full virtual court reporting service, which might allow you more freedom with scheduling or provide enhanced transcription and playback options; or you might find that you need a court reporting agency that can provide translation services. 

Do You Need Video Playback Options?

Sometimes, you may not want to look at the record of a legal proceeding through a written transcript alone. While a transcript can provide information about the words actually used in the course of legal proceedings, it may not offer the in-depth look you need at things like tone, facial expression, or body language.

A video recording, on the other hand, especially an HD video recording, can offer greater overall insight into your clients and the information they share with you.

While an in-person deposition may allow you to video record the proceedings, you’ll have to arrange for an appropriate videographer, then wait for them to process the recordings. A virtual deposition, on the other hand, means automatic, timely delivery of that video recording. 

Will You Need a Rough Draft?

There are several reasons why you may need a rough draft of the transcript of any legal proceedings. You may want to look over the testimony from a deposition, for example, or get more overall insight into how a specific event progressed.

If your court reporting agency offers a rough draft, you may find that it allows you to get your hands on that transcript more quickly. In some cases, a rough draft will be all you need. In others, you’ll want to make sure the court reporting agency you use offers certified transcripts as well.

Is Scheduling Simple?

Bringing everyone together for legal proceedings can be a complicated process. Look for a court reporting agency with flexible, simple, scheduling options. As virtual depositions continue to become more popular, they are often the agencies with the most streamlined and efficient scheduling, since geographic location is not part of the scheduling equation.

Does the Agency Handle Exhibit Management?

You may need to enter exhibits into evidence that are dated, timestamped, and ready for your use. A court reporting agency that helps handle that exhibit management for you can make your legal proceedings go more smoothly. 

Does Your Court Reporting Agency Offer Additional Services?

Consider factors like whether your court reporter can serve as a notary, which could help streamline your legal proceedings and ensure that you do not need to have an additional person on hand.

In addition, consider the additional advantages that may be offered by a virtual court reporting agency, such as secure storage of the content from your proceedings, streamlined exhibit management, case management options, deposition rooms, witness-only video, or even AI transcription for a quick rough draft of your proceedings. Carefully consider those advantages and features as you consider the right court reporting agency for your needs.

Related: The Pros and Cons to Remote Depositions

3. What Does It Cost to Use the Court Reporting Agency? 

Cost can be a big contributing factor when you select a court reporting agency. You don’t necessarily want the cheapest agency on the books, but you do want a court reporting agency that offers a reasonable pricing structure. There are several things to consider when reviewing an agency’s pricing structure to determine the value they can offer you.


Ideally, you want to work with a court reporting agency that offers pricing transparency. How much are you going to ultimately pay for the court reporter? What features are included in that price, and what services will involve additional fees?

If you cannot reasonably calculate the approximate cost of a court reporter based on the information provided, that court reporting agency may not be offering the transparency you need. Be wary of companies that dance around offering pricing information. 

Included Services

In addition to considering the direct cost of a court reporting agency, make sure you have a solid idea of what services are included as part of your costs–and what services may cost you extra. Will you have to pay additional fees for a video recording? What about a rough draft versus the final copy of a transcript? Can you expect to pay more if your court reporter is a notary? 

Using a virtual court reporting agency that offers many services under a single pricing umbrella can make it easier to manage the cost of your deposition. Look for a virtual court reporter that offers all-in-one pricing so you can be sure you’re getting a reasonable price. Also, make sure you know what is included in that price upfront: is it an hourly rate? Will you pay more if your court proceedings go over?

By clearly laying out pricing ahead of time, you can often better prepare your budget and ensure that the court reporting agency you have selected will fit your overall needs.

Related: Best Features of a Legal Video Deposition Platform

4. What Kind of Service Does the Court Reporting Agency Deliver?

If you’re going to pay for a court reporting agency, you need to take a careful look at the level of service the court reporters deliver, including what type of reputation they have. 

How Long Does It Take to Get Transcripts Back?

It may take time for you to get the transcripts from legal proceedings back in your hands. However, the court reporting company should offer an up-front assessment of when you should expect those reports, and they should deliver them within the timeframe initially stated. Talk to others who may have used the company in the past. Has the company provided transcripts in a timely manner, or has another law firm had to chase those transcripts down? 

Does the Company Offer High-Quality Transcripts?

Sometimes, errors can sneak into even legal documents unexpectedly. However, a high-quality court reporter should ensure that the transcripts of any legal proceedings are as clear and error-free as possible.

An effective court reporting agency may use high-quality technology as well as make sure that its court reporters are up to date on the latest accurate, efficient transcription methods. For modern virtual court reporters, that may also mean using AI technology, which can provide a highly accurate rough draft transcript of your legal proceedings which can be made available sooner than the official, certified transcript.

Is the Company Reliable?

Do court reporters show up on time for legal proceedings? Are they ready to begin when you are or do they come scraping in at the last minute, quickly setting up their gear and scrambling to get things started?

If you’re working with a virtual court reporting agency, do they offer security that can meet legal industry standards alongside a range of needed features? Often, working with a reliable virtual court reporting platform can make the whole process easier, cutting down on delays and ensuring that you have reliable access to a court reporter for your legal needs. 

Choose a Reputable, Reliable Court Reporting Agency

There are several steps involved in selecting the right court reporting agency for your needs. You need a company that is reliable, with a good reputation in the industry; one that is cost-efficient; and one that has the features and options you need as well as the skills to handle your cases. Often, working with a virtual court reporter can help cut down on potential challenges and make it easier to find a court reporter when you need one most. Remote Legal is here to help. If you need a remote court reporting platform that will help you streamline your legal proceedings, check out our full-featured online platform today.

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