What to Look for in a Firm

Here are some of the benefits my old firm provided. You will not be able to get all of the these things from most firms, but I am going to order this list according to the most important benefits to me. You can make note of what you want in a firm and move near a firm that provides all that or at least negotiate with a firm for the things that matter most to you.

BENEFITS:

0. Direct deposit every two weeks, regardless if attorneys pay or not.
1. Excellent in-house proofers that charge only 0.15 a page.
2. Paid mileage.
3. Handle all production.
4. Pay for all UPS costs for exhibits
5. Require that we don’t work for another firm (streamlined life, no different rules, no conflict schedules), and so, give us ample work.
6. Give bonuses twice a year (loyalty bonus and Christmas bonus).
7. Supply the netbooks to provide realtime on for free.
8. Provide exhibit stickers and business cards free.
9. Tech-savvy. Everything is online. I check my schedule at night at 6:00.
10. Take taxes out for us.
11. Excellent marketing team that holds seminars for attorneys to obtain their CEUs, so we always have new clientele.
12. Give us a bonus if we get an attorney to use them.
13. Provide the professional version of DigitalCAT FREE with free periodic training.
15. Give us raises for higher certifications achieved.
16. Have scopists on standby for those on DigitalCAT (with a discounted rate).
17. Offer attorneys everything. There’s nothing another firm offers that we don’t have. We even schedule the depo for them if they are flying out of state, even if it’s not covered by our firm.
18. Offer dental, medical, and 401(k) plans.

19. My colleague, Ksenija, has a firm very much like mine, and hers even has an in-house accountant!
20. Offer a 401k program with which they match a certain amount we put in, and they also have a financial expert come in once a year for free!

f you work in TX or CA, your page rate will be higher and you will get more copy orders, but you will have to deal with the stresses of working with multiple firms, sometimes unpaid mileage, ridiculous traffic, checks that trickle in, and lots of overhead. It’s all priorities. It’s not that I don’t get paid well (I do), but I just don’t get paid as much as if I were in CA or TX. This has partly to do with the fact that the TN organization is not as good as the ones in CA and TX, so, for instance, we have to cover all the little court cases, which is not lucrative for the most part.

21. Believe in us. They appreciate us all, which makes us want to work harder for them, but they believe in us. A firm their size rarely hires a first-year reporter, but they took a chance. They also sent me on large copy jobs and very technical cases that I know that I would not have been able to take if I had to fight seniority in other firms in TX or HI. Finally, they lent me all the equipment to provide realtime within 9 months of working, which, in turn, greatly improved my writing and love of reporting.

WHAT SHOULD I ASK?
If I were a student getting ready to meet with a firm owner, these are the subjects I would eventually cover:

Page rates/appearance fees. Compare with other freelancers in the area.
Are we compensated for mileage?
Do we have to drop off exhibits, or are they mailed? Do we have to pay if we mail them to you?
Do you have in-house proofing/scoping? Cost.

One of my colleagues mentioned her firm reimburses for parking, which is a huge savings! Firms like these are a blessing to us all, attorneys and the court reporting profession as a whole, because we want to represent them in the best fashion possible. Everyone benefits.

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