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Creating the Demand for Draft Transcripts, Member Review

Realtime – Creating the Demand for Draft Transcripts

Friday, August 10, 2:30 – 4 p.m. by J. Edward Varallo


Ed reminded us that what distinguishes stenographic reporters from all the rest is our ability to do realtime; and in the world of court reporting, for most of us that means doing draft transcripts. He says we must, each of us, create the demand for our draft services because lawyers don’t automatically appreciate its value until we paint the picture for them. Ed says he sells his clients draft transcripts after each assignment by asking them, “Would you like a draft of today’s deposition? I’ll have it ready within two hours, it’ll be very high-quality, and here’s what it costs.” Once lawyers realize they can have a 95% accurate transcript within only hours, at a reasonable cost, they quickly understand its value. And only we steno writers can provide it! The rest of Ed’s presentation outlined how reporters must triage to get a draft done fast: Don’t scan-edit every word of the transcript, but only stop at points you’ve highlighted as needing attention. He demonstrated how you can create a series of “realtime flags,” steno outlines that can be quickly and easily stroked, which provide a hint of the kind of mistake to look for when editing the file. The flag SP-F means “fix” something -- not very specific, but you can insert that flag immediately after a troublesome passage, so when editing, you have narrowed your focus of attention and so can greatly reduce your editing time. Other flags mean “check last question,” “check colloquy,” “check answer,” “check quote.” The more specific the flag, the better. Soon you will have an arsenal of flags that streamlines the scan-editing process significantly. Ed also shared with us tips for prepping for a RT job the night before: what kind of prep material to look for, how to cull useful information from it, and then how to devise briefs and expedients to make the subject matter easier to manage. He gave examples of his own job dictionary outlines from a recent trial where he was hired specifically to provide “same day draft” service. Ed emphasized that his ability to do fast, high-quality drafts is the chief source of added revenue to him these days and, not least, the source of professional respect from the lawyers he works for.