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.

Legal Placement Services: The Difference Between Court Reporters and Paralegals

Many important professions are involved with legal placement services. Most people know the important ones, such as lawyers, defense attorneys, judges, juries, and others. However, some positions often get confused, those being court reporters and paralegals. Though they both assist law firms in some way, this is where the similarities end. This article will go on to describe the difference, and any additional amount of similarities there might be between court reporters and paralegals.

CourtReporters

The Court Reporting career path is a great choice for people who tend to be more on the shy, introverted side but are great writers. If the person gets uncomfortable around large amounts of people, they should not have to worry about doing so with this position. Besides transcribing the happenings of trials, the other tasks court reporters have that involve interacting with people is limited: swearing in witnesses, reading back parts of the trial, or asking certain people to repeat something if it is unclear. “Swearing in” is the process of reading the witness his or her rights before providing testimony.

Court reporters are sometimes called “law reporters,” “shorthand reporters,” or “stenotype operators.” With today’s technology, reporters sometimes require the skills of digital court reporting or voice writing reporting. These are self-explanatory because the reporters record and transcribe the trial at the same time. This may sound easier than it is. The National Verbatim Reporters Association (NVRA) set requirements for reporters to pass typing tests with speeds of 225 words a minute for the United States. This varies by country. This NVRA requirement is often the reason why the dropout rate for this position is very high-nearly 95% for some schools. Training is difficult because it is a very difficult skill to obtain.

Paralegals

While court reporting is a great profession for introverted individuals, paralegals should definitely be more extraverted because it is a people-oriented position. Paralegals have the option of working for a law firm or independently. While most reporters tend to serve some sort of law or government firms (though some do choose to work freelance) most paralegals work independently. While paralegals are involved with some cases-conducting research, drafting documents, working with clients, and managing cases-they are not permitted to provide legal advice to clients directly unless it is permitted by law. One characteristic reporters and paralegals have in common is every state has different laws and certifications that must be completed by both professions, but every state is different.

There are some other characteristics paralegals and court reporters have in common, though they are few. These professionals must have excellent written and oral communication skills, though for court reporters it is mostly written skills that are most important. They must be detail-oriented and portray a high sense of professionalism since they are both working with legal placement services and the government. Though the similarities are few, it is still easy to see how these two positions could get confused. Hopefully, this article has cleared up any misunderstandings for those people who are looking into working with legal placement services.

Health Care Reform: The Employer Mandate and Reporting Requirements

Many employers remain confused about health care reform, and how their business will be impacted. One of the most important parts of the law is the employer’s “shared responsibility” role, in which employers are required to provide affordable health insurance coverage to their staff. However, “this pay-or-play” mandate has been postponed, providing employers more time to understand and comply with the law.

Reporting Requirements

Employers and other reporting entities will be provided additional time to provide input and feedback on ways to simplify information reporting, while remaining consistent with the law. Known as “transition relief”, it is intended to provide employers, insurers, and other providers of minimum essential coverage time to adapt their health coverage and reporting systems.

In anticipation of the application of the provisions in 2015, however, the IRS encourages employers to voluntarily comply for 2014 with these information-reporting provisions (once the information reporting rules have been issued) and to maintain or expand health coverage to all full-time employees in 2014.

Employer Mandate (employers defined as “large” by the ACA)

No “Employer Shared Responsibility” penalties will be assessed for 2014 (the piece of the law requiring employers to provide all employees with affordable coverage). Large employers who do not offer coverage or who offer coverage that does not meet the ACA’s definition of affordable will not be penalized in 2014. However, these employers need to be ready to comply for 2015.

Individual Mandate

The individual requirement, which is effective January, 1, 2014, has not been delayed. Under the individual requirement, U.S. citizens and legal residents are required to carry health insurance or pay a penalty tax. It is expected that the set-up and operation of the new insurance marketplace, called “The Exchange,” will continue in each state.

Premium Credits through the Exchange

The delay does not affect the availability of premium credits for individuals eligible for federal subsidies. Individuals will continue to be eligible for the premium tax credit by enrolling in a qualified health plan through the Affordable Insurance Exchanges (also called Health Insurance Marketplaces), if:

a) Their household income is within a specified range; and,

b) They are not eligible for other minimum essential coverage, including an eligible employer-sponsored plan that is affordable and provides minimum value.

Benefits eligibility for full-time employees/Hours Tracking

The ACA defines a full-time employee, for the purpose of benefits eligibility, to be one working an average of 30+ hours per week. Due to the delay of the employer mandate, employers will not be required to comply with this definition in 2014. There is no need for employers to track hours in 2013 to determine eligibility for 2014, or to decide on a measurement, administrative, and stability period.

Maximum waiting period

The delay does not affect the maximum waiting period rules effective January 1, 2014. The ACA requires that an employer must not have a waiting period that is longer than 90 days. Note that some states, such as California, may have more stringent laws.

Although the two items being delayed are significant, we recommend that employers continue their diligence with understanding and preparing for the implementation of Health Care Reform provisions in 2014, through 2020.