Years ago, as a new court reporter, nothing raised my blood pressure more than a surprise expedite.
I’ll never forget my first BIG, scary job — a heated doctor deposition. Not only was the medical jargon flying faster than 225 words per minute, but the participants repeatedly interrupted each other and, of course, talked over each other.
At the end of the long, grueling, and contentious deposition, I had a 300-page mess. I knew it would take me at least five days — and lots of coffee — to scope.
And then it happened: An attorney looked over and said the one phrase no reporter wants to hear after a bad writing day: “Can I get that Thursday?”
It was a 48-hour turnaround…
I was mortified. I stayed up two straight nights working on it. The job got done, but the extra pay was hardly worth it.
There are two types of court reporters:
Reporters who are ecstatic about expedites, and those, like my younger self, who are terrified of them.
The difference? Preparation.
The Power of Prep Work
Expedites are a gift from the heavens. You can make your entire week from one expedited job. And if you get really good, you’ll be assigned even more of them.
But some court reporters don’t like expedites at all. They see them as curses.
These reporters avoid expedites like bears avoid porcupines. Sure, they may fill you up, but they aren’t worth the trouble.
With a little preparation, though, any reporter can feel confident taking on expedites — even when they are assigned at the last second.
After my first miserable expedite, I vowed to find a better system. Not only did I want the extra money, but I wanted the challenge. No tight deadline was going to stop me!
Today, I get excited when I’m assigned an expedite — whether planned or unexpected. Instead of my stomach hurting with anxiety, I just see dollar signs. 🤑🤑🤑
It’s an amazing feeling to know I can take on any challenge.
Here’s exactly how I prepare for expedites, and how you can too:
1. Assign a Scopist and Proofreader Before the Job
Expedites are stressful when they overload your plate with more work than you can handle.
Don’t wait until you’re under water to call in reinforcements. Assign a scopist and proofreader before every job.
When you prepare your team ahead of time, you’ll have a head start if a job is expedited. You’ll just need a little communication.
Immediately reach out to your go-to scopist and proofreader when you’re assigned a new job. Check their availability. If they’re busy, find a backup and have your team ready to go before the deposition or proceeding even starts.
Your scopist and proofreader should know the basics of the job before you even begin: Date, type of proceeding, and when they can expect to get started. If an attorney surprises you with an expedite request, your team is already in place to get it done.
It may not be traditional to schedule a scopist and proofreader before a job, but we’re not here to be traditional. We’re here to maximize your time and slay stress.
2. Pre-Deposition Preparation
Once your transcript team is in place, it’s time to get yourself prepared to write a great transcript.
Every court reporter has their own routine to “get in the zone.” Here’s what helps me bring my A-game to each job:
✨ Show up early. It’s hard to focus when you’re running late and feeling flustered.
✨ Set up and double-check your equipment. Make sure everything is plugged into power and all systems are working, including any realtime feeds.
✨ Review the deposition notice. Familiarize yourself with names of the parties and the attorneys who will be appearing for the proceeding.
✨ Add title pages. While tedious, this step helps you mentally prepare for the job. You’ll thank yourself for doing this in advance when you go to finalize the transcript.
✨ Add speakers to the job. Do this as parties arrive, so you don’t have to deal with it mid-deposition.
✨ Build your job dictionary. If you have access to exhibits or past transcripts, build a job dictionary. It will help you create a much cleaner record, which makes the job even easier for you, your scopist, and your proofreader.
Make these steps a regular part of your routine — not just when you know an expedite is coming. This pre-depo checklist will have you feeling ready to let your fingers do their magic dance!
3. Streamline Communication
When you’re hit with an unexpected expedite, you can lose precious hours trying to organize job details and communicate with your team. It’s critical to streamline communication so your scopist and proofreader can start their work quickly.
First, before the deposition, add your job details to whatever transcript management system you use (e.g., an Excel spreadsheet or Stenovate). This will enable your scopist and proofreader to get started on their work right away.
Next, share your files, exhibits, and job dictionary as quickly as possible. I use Stenovate (shameless plug) because it provides a shared workspace for each job, and my whole team can be on the same page FAST without excessive communication.
After a depo, I instantly drop all of my files into Stenovate for my scopist and proofreader. My scopist can get started on the job before I even get back to my car, if she likes! #DreamTeam
4. Follow Your System Every Time
Treat every job like an expedite, and you won’t be blindsided.
Once you have your system in place, follow it the same way, each time:
1️⃣ Line up your scopist and proofreader.
2️⃣ Do your pre-depo preparation.
3️⃣ Streamline communication with your team.
You may also find unique ways to keep your team efficient and happy. For example, my proofreader likes to work in 25- to 50-page increments — rather than being handed 300 pages all at once — so my scopist exports PDFs as she scopes.
We actually do this for every single job, not just expedites, which makes our transcript production fast and efficient. Everything is bite-sized. They can work simultaneously, so we’re usually days ahead of schedule — even on regular turnaround jobs.
With your system in place, no expedite will ruffle your feathers. You’ll be cool, calm, and excited to take on the challenge and earn more money without breaking a sweat.
Learn to Love Expedites — And Ask for More.
Finally, here’s the real secret of the most successful court reporters:
They aren’t just prepared for expedites — they actually LOVE them. 😍
High-volume reporters will actively seek out expedited jobs. They tell their agencies and attorney clients that they are 100% prepared to meet tight deadlines. Clients trust them, so these reporters get the biggest, toughest, highest-paying jobs.
Learn to love expedites — and prepare yourself for them — and your earning potential goes through the roof!
There you have it. The simple guide to producing transcripts quickly and efficiently. Now let’s get busy! Zoom, zooooooooom! 🚗💨