Like many professionals, over the span of my career, there have been many times where I have come home from work only to apologetically inform my family, “I have an unexpected expedite. I will see you tomorrow.” As I have become a more seasoned court reporter, I have learned the importance of making backup plans to try to ease the stress of an expedited situation on all people affected.
Whether it is for a Saturday deposition, going late into the evening, or a situation where an expedited transcript is requested, the most important part of scheduling is communication.
Recently, for a special occasion, I splurged on tickets for a sought-after theater production and a reservation for dinner on a Thursday evening. I was scheduled to report a deposition the day of the performance, so prior to making my plans, as I always do, I checked with the attorney noticing the deposition. He assured me that the deposition would not go beyond 4:00 p.m., which gave me plenty of time to make our dinner reservation.
However, at the end of the 200-page deposition, unexpectedly, the non-noticing attorney (the deponent’s attorney) said, “I will need that transcript tomorrow.” Now what is a responsible court reporter to do?
My first instinct was to be service-oriented. As reporters, our tendency is to drop everything and do our best to accommodate a request for an expedited transcript. When a next-day turnaround is requested, I first arrange for a scopist (the person who performs computer editing) to be on board and work on the transcript as I am reporting it. Next, I have a proofreader lined up. What often happens is that all three of us work late into the night/morning to get the transcript out. In this instance, none of the back-end arrangements had been made.
What I decided to do was to frankly explain the situation to the attorney: that I was not informed of his needs (if I had been, I would have arranged for back-end help or sent a different reporter); that I had plans for the evening that were difficult to cancel; and, simply put, I could not get the transcript to him the following day. I then offered several solutions to meet his needs: a rough-draft transcript within the hour and the final to him by end of business the following day. That solution seemed to work for the expediting attorney’s schedule, and he said that he should have communicated the possible need for an expedited transcript ahead of time. In the end, all were accommodated!
For court reporters, there IS such a thing as a work-life balance…if we are proactive communicators and are continually solution-oriented.