It’s 7:00 o’clock on a Thursday night, and there’s a court reporter on the forums “in desperate need of a scopist.” Sounds harmless, right? Except for the fact that you have no idea what their preferences will be, if they’re a decent writer, how quickly they pay, or if they even pay at all. Unfortunately, one of your main reporters is on vacation and you really need the extra work.
In an industry that demands perfection under tight deadlines, there’s not much time to waste on a bad reporter or scopist, yet we tend to rush in, overcome by desperation. But it doesn’t have to be this way. It is possible to find wonderful, trustworthy clients.
One of the most important pieces of advice I can give new scopists is to simply be wary of expedited or emergency jobs until you have established a trusted scopist/reporter relationship. While it does work out for some scopists, that’s not always the case. Under these circumstances, it is very difficult to deliver a great product that meets the reporter’s preferences.
There is no such thing as a perfect transcript; we’re all human. And when you add an expedite to the mix, it’s a recipe for chaos. It’s also important to note that, since every reporter and scopist is different, it takes multiple jobs before a scopist can learn a reporter’s preferences and before a reporter feels confident in the scopist’s ability.
And, court reporters, it’s in your best interest to find a great scopist before you desperately need one. Take the time to weed out the scopists who will only prove to cost you time, money, and your sanity. A skilled scopist will actually save you money in the long run.
The 9-1-1 Call
When I first began my journey as a scopist, I would constantly respond to emergency jobs, trying tirelessly to grow my clientele. Needless to say, my clientele grew, but my frustration increased while my income stayed the same. I was so afraid of not having consistent work, I would continuously put myself in these kinds of situations. Hindsight being 20/20, if I had spent that time researching what makes great clients and how to find and keep them, I would have had a much smoother first year, i.e., better-quality clients, increased income, better grasp of a work/life balance, et cetera.
When All Else Fails
While it’s always better to veer on the safe side, sometimes you do have to take risks. However, you can minimize this risk by over-communicating, only accepting small jobs initially, and requiring payment before the jobs start piling up.
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