Court Reporter Firms – A Most Valuable Resource For Small Law Firms

It would seem that law firms would have no problem hiring the best court reporters. But that’s often not the case, especially for smaller law firms that don’t have a human resources department. Although smaller firms know what they want in a reporter, finding the time and resources to determine whether a reporter meets their qualifications can prove difficult, and usually results in their using one of two methods to find the right reporters: seeking professional references from other law firms that require litigation services, or seeking reporters through the aid of court reporter firms. While professional referrals can be helpful to finding top rate reporters, seeking a reporter through court reporter firms is usually the better option for two reasons: many reporting firms offer additional litigation services associated with court reporting, and contacting a reporting firm is the best way to choose from the largest number of qualified candidates.

In some cases, court reporter firms that offer additional legal services are contacted to secure these services alone. But the most common reasons that law firms turn to reporting firms is for assistance with depositions reporting, which begins with hiring the right reporter for a company’s type of depositions. In terms of deposition type, the first selection criterion is whether a law firm conducts video or non-video depositions. In today’s legal scene, the assumption that a reporter has experience in video depositions is automatic. But insuring that the experience exists through a reporting agency is the safest bet. The next selection criterion is whether a reporter has experience with a law firm’s case area. For example, a health law firm would be wise to hire a reporter that has training and experience in medical terminology. The third selection criterion is what type of reporting technology is desired, such as digital reporting, voice writing, real time reporting, etc.

The three selection criteria mentioned above are the basic building blocks for choosing the right court reporter. But there’s also a fourth selection criterion that isn’t as straightforward as the rest: determining whether a reporter has the right personality. From a distance, a court reporter’s personality would seem to be one of the last things that determined his or her court reporting ability, as a reporter’s job doesn’t involve interacting with attorneys or deponents during the reporting process. However, there are various instances of poor transcript quality and even emotional reactions from reporters due their previously unnoticed personality flaws. While the majority of reporters are professional enough to handle circumstantial feelings of boredom, bias, unexpected anger, etc., some reporters aren’t as adaptable. To avoid such reporters, reputable court reporter firms evaluate their candidates’ personality in addition to their credentials and work experience.

How the Law Treats Lawsuits by Debt Collectors and Original Creditors Differently

As I have pointed out elsewhere, people can be sued for debt by one of two different kinds of plaintiffs: “original creditors” or “debt collectors.” Broadly speaking, original creditors are the persons who originally claimed that you owed them money for some credit-based transaction. Debt collectors are other entities who either came into possession of the debt after it was delinquent or are acting (as independent contractors) for the original creditor.

Loan “servicers,” who come into possession of the debt immediately after it is incurred and administer the debt in the usual course of business, are considered “original creditors” even though the debt obviously did not originate with them.

Legal Impact of the Entity Suing You

Because original creditors have a direct, non-collection relationship with the general public, they have commercial pressures preventing them from acting too horribly during the collection process. Their collection activities risk alienating or annoying the public and thus, in the eyes of the law at least, they are held in check by the market. Therefore, the law does not provide any remedy against original creditors per se. However, this does not mean that original creditors are permitted to do anything without limits during the debt collection, just that there are no laws directed against them specifically. If they commit “outrageous” and abusive acts, or if they “defame” you by publishing false information, or obviously if they assault you or commit some other crime, you would still have your normal rights under the law.

Some states probably have specific laws directed against the collection process, too, either as part of their “merchandizing” codes or otherwise, so you should not automatically write-off the behavior of original creditors.

Against debt collectors, however, you have much more specific rights. And this goes back to the commercial realities underlying the transactions. There is no customer-based relationship between the debt collectors and the people from whom they are collecting. There only customers are either the original creditors, or none at all-they are acting independently on their own behalf and, as far as the market is concerned, are free to take any actions whatever to collect the money. This has given rise to some extreme and shocking abuses, and it led to the passage of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), among other legislation.

Because of the lack of market countermeasures to debt collectors and the legislative response, the relationship between individuals and debt collectors has become significantly regulated. The FDCPA makes “unfair” or “deceptive” collection techniques illegal in general, and it specifies a large number of particular practices as violations. But even if the action is not specifically named as illegal by the FDCPA it will still be illegal if it is unfair or deceptive. This allows lawyers and individuals fighting on behalf of people abused by debt collectors to be as creative in stopping obnoxious practices as the debt collectors are in creating and implementing them. The FDCPA provides attorneys fees to people suing debt collectors (if they win), but otherwise the remedies are fairly small, with the exception of “personal injuries,” which can include emotional distress. So that opens the door to real money a little bit.

Again I would remind the reader that remedies are not limited either to federal law (FDCPA), as some states may have better laws, or to debt-collection related laws. Reporting false information is defamation, and behaving beyond certain limits is “outrageous” enough for states to provide a remedy. And these remedies likely include punitive damages, various forms of “compensatory” damages, and other forms of relief that can be much more substantial than those provided by the FDCPA.

In conclusion, it is far more advantageous legally to be sued by a debt collector, as the law provides many more remedies against them. You are not without any remedy, however, against the actions of original creditors if they are sufficiently extreme.

What Has the Law to Do With a Wedding Invitations List?

One Saturday afternoon I brought my 17-year old nephew to my solicitor’s office. We were attending a wedding dinner that night. I ushered him into my chamber, and he found himself surrounded by voluminous law books, law periodicals and law reports. He cast an amazed look at the amount of papers piling up on my desk – all requiring my urgent and immediate attention. I also had several large cards laying haphazardly on the desk – wedding invitations.

My nephew, who was interested in a career in law, took a book titled ‘Family Law’ and began reading it. Meanwhile I continued my work of drafting a statement of defence to a plaintiff’s statement of claim, preparing an affidavit in reply at the same time. I also looked at some files of divorce cases which were scheduled for hearing at the High Court next month.

After reading for about 20 minutes or so, my nephew stood up and posed me a question: “Uncle, is there a relationship between whom one invites to his wedding and the law?”

“The simple answer to that question is, no, there isn’t. Whom do you invite is not governed by any law, of course. There would be legal chaos if there be a law governing how many guests one could include in one’s wedding invitations. But there may be relationship between whom one invites to one’s wedding and the state of one’s later married life, albeit a fortuitous one. Why do you ask?”

He shrugged, and said,” No particular reason. Just ask for the sake of asking.”

“OK, but you must avoid asking such questions in the future. If you are interested in the law, you are of course encouraged to ask questions – and good questions only. For example, you might want to ask why, in the first place, there are laws governing marriages and divorce.”

His curiosity piqued, my nephew was all ears, as I continued: “In the first place, do you know that a marriage is a contract? That means it entails contractual obligations on the part of the two parties to the marriage, and that’s why there are marriage and divorce laws and regulations.”

“Oh,” came my nephew’s answer, “I didn’t know that. It sounds rather unromantic that a marriage is a contract.” How true.

We spent the rest of the afternoon in my chamber. After my personal introduction to contract law, my nephew became quite interested in the law of contract. I handed him my Guest’s Law of Contract and he began to read it.

That evening, as we mingled with the guests who made the list on the wedding invitations, I couldn’t help reflecting on the question my nephew asked of me in the office earlier. Of course, a marriage (which is always lauded as being made in heaven) is a romantic affair, an occasion for joy and cause for celebration. Who would like to be told that, in the eyes of the law, a marriage, properly formalized, becomes a contract just as much as an ordinary, cold agreement comes into force after all the terms and conditions are fulfilled? Which couple would seek the solicitor’s legal advice on marriage while they are busy preparing the wedding invitations, wedding cakes, wedding reception and the associated paraphernalia? Of course that would be the last thing on their mind.