Court reporting services are invaluable when it comes to recording depositions and other testimony for legal cases. Since you're likely billing clients for the cost of transcripts, it's essential that you make sure you are being properly charged for them to help you manage business costs and protect your reputation. Here's what you need to know to verify you're being charged correctly for transcripts.
Know the Formatting Laws
Although this varies from state to state, the local Board of Court Reporting typically requires court reporters to format transcripts in a specific way to promote consistency. Since technicians charge per page of transcription, learning what the formatting requirements are in your state can help you verify you're not being overcharged for the service.
For instance, in 2014, three Georgia court reporters were accused of overbilling for services. It appears the transcripts were intentionally formatted incorrectly to allow the technicians to charge more for them. It is unclear exactly how the pages were mis-formatted, but the Georgia Board of Court Reporting requires pages to have a minimum of 63 spaces per line and 25 lines per page.
Visit the website of your state board to determine what the formatting requirements are in your state, and make a habit of performing regular random audits of transcripts to ensure you're not being overcharged.
Check the Fee Laws
The government also typically regulates some of the fees court reporters may charge for transcripts. For instance, the Judicial Conference imposes a maximum rate of $3.65 per page reporters can charge for transcripts and $0.90 per page for secondary copies ordered by other parties. However, this rate only applies to in-court proceedings.
Reporters may charge more per page for depositions, arbitration proceedings, and other out-of-court procedures. In Michigan, the average per page rate is $3.25 to $3.75 for an original transcript, and the law allows reporters to charge two-thirds of that amount (about $2.15 to $2.50) for copies. Research the relevant fee laws in your area and review your invoices to verify the charges you're being billed fall in line with them.
Legal transcripts are a critical part of the legal process and can have a significant impact on your case. Taking time to verify you're being charged correctly can ensure that you are, in turn, billing your clients correctly and help you keep your costs in line. For more information about court reporting services, connect to a reporter or agency in your area.