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Gifting and the holiday season

Gifting and the holiday season

December 6, 2012

With the holiday season upon us, it is important to remember why NCRA focuses so strongly on educating court reporters, attorneys, and other legal professionals on the subject of incentive gift-giving.  While many offices will likely be inundated with desserts, gift baskets, fruit, and other small thank you gifts during the month of December, the ethical implications often associated with such gift giving should be kept in mind as the year draws to a close.

Based on NCRA’s Code of Professional Ethics, the association limits the total amount of gifts that court reporters can give to attorneys and their staff to $100 per year. This allows court reporters and court reporting firms to thank clients for their business for the year while preventing excessive gifts, which can sometimes result in the appearance of a quid pro quo.  This policy is an important aspect of the profession given that court reporters serve as impartial guardians of the record, and it would be detrimental to that perception if legal professionals thought of the gift as an exchange for a favor that should come back at some point.

Similarly, NCRA’s policy does not allow court reporters or court reporting firms to provide incentive gifts in exchange for future work as this can potentially hurt public faith in America’s judicial norms and give a party to a proceeding the idea that the court reporter may not truly be a neutral actor.

As a reminder, NCRA’s Code of Professional Ethics states:

A member shall refrain from giving, directly or indirectly, any gift or anything of value to attorneys or their staff, other clients or their staff, or any other persons or entities associated with any litigation, which exceeds $100 in the aggregate per recipient each year. Nothing offered in exchange for future work is permissible, regardless of its value. Pro bono services as defined by the NCRA Guidelines for Professional Practice or by applicable state and local laws, rules and regulations are permissible in any amount.

To wrap up 2012 on a professional note, keep the ethics policy in mind and don’t hesitate to contact the Ethics First Task Force with any questions. Happy holidays!