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What should I expect from you as a scopist?

You should expect excellence. You should expect me to give you back a near-perfect transcript. It will still need to be proofread; nobody's good enough to scope with absolutely no errors. But you shouldn't get back a transcript that you have to rescope.

You should expect that when you get a job back from me, you can proofread it quickly, scanning for obvious errors.  It should be quick and painless to proof.  It should never take you longer to proof than it would to scope it yourself.

On the same token, you should not expect a perfect transcript. It is simply not possible, especially if you've sent a file for scoping that is rather messy. The cleaner your file is from the beginning, the faster it can be scoped and the cleaner it is returned to you.

If you know that a file is particularly messy, it's always best to openly communicate that with your scopist. Together you can evaluate the file and determine an appropriate page rate based on the increased amount of editing that particular file will entail.

Are there things I can do on my end to make your job easier and more efficient?

Yes, most definitely.

1) If there are a lot of untranslates that are propers or job-specific terms, it's always more efficient for the reporter to quickly global those in for the scopist. At the very least, a spelling sheet, what some call a dog sheet, should be provided. Many of my reporters find it simpler to global those terms themselves rather than typing up a spelling sheet. Please attempt to get all spellings from the attorneys and/or witness before you leave the depo. It's so much easier to have the proper spellings than for me to have to flag those areas. It also makes for a much better-looking transcript and one that is much faster for final proofing.

2) If you're sending audio with your transcript, it is essential that the audio be of good quality. It is usually not advisable to rely solely on your laptop for recording. For instance, most laptops have noisy fans which create so much noise on the recording that the scopist can't hear. The best way to record the proceedings is with the use of an external mic. If the room is large, it is very helpful to have several external mics placed throughout the room in order to capture the voices.

3) In order for us to work most efficiently together, it is important for you to communicate your editing preferences to me. I will provide a preference sheet to be filled out by you to which I will refer each time I edit your transcripts. It is important that you add anything additional you can think of to that sheet. If at any time you come up with any other preferences, just let me know. I would rather return a transcript to you in the condition you want it with the preferences you have designated than return a transcript in which you have to spend time correcting preferences. Our goal in working together is to turn an excellent transcript in the least amount of time as possible. This is only possible with the two of us working together.

4) If a transcript is messy, you'll either need to clean it up a bit or prepare to be charged for the editing time it will take to get it in a completed condition. I hate for that to sound so harsh, but I have been given some transcripts to scope that were really transcribing because so much was dropped from the testimony. A job in that condition almost always earns me less than minimum wage, and I'm not willing to accept that.

5) If there are any exhibits that will be helpful in scoping the job, please fax and/or scan and e-mail those to me. It can make all the difference in the end product if I have access to those exhibits, especially if they contain job-specific terms and/or quoted material. When working on trials, it is helpful to me to have witness and exhibit lists and to know which attorneys are present for each side.

6) Since I scope for several reporters, it is helpful to check my availability before sending a job.

7) When I receive a job, it is my intent to always send you a quick reply letting you know that I have received the job. If you haven't received a reply from me acknowledging the receipt of the job, please get back in touch with me to ensure I have received the file. I would hate for you to think I'm working on your job if I never received it in the first place.

8) Please put in all speaker identifications before sending the jobs to me. I wasn't present for the proceedings, and I don't want to guess at who is speaking. It can make for a very inaccurate transcript.

What is your normal turnaround time for things such as depos and hearings?

My normal turnaround is six (6) business days, or weekdays. If you give me a job on Friday morning, it will be due back to you by the following Friday evening. If you send a job to me after 2:00 p.m. CST, it will be counted as having been received on the following morning. Weekends are not included in my turnaround time. I try really hard not to work on weekends so I can spend time with my kids. I will work weekends and nights if that's what it takes to get a job back on time, though. If I accept a job, I will do whatever it takes to return it in pristine condition on time. I'm happy to accommodate you for expedites and daily copy as well.

Also, my transcripts always seem to end up to be more pages when finished than when submitted. The last Scopist had a real problem with this. I don't know if it's a problem with me or what - but paragraphing and making Qs and As always add to your transcript, and she didn't agree with me. Is this something that is a problem for you?

This seems to differ between individual reporters. Almost every reporter I have, the pages grow on a job from simply adding paragraphs. I have, however, had some clients who were very sloppy writers and their transcripts grew because of the amount of dropped text I was adding in for them. I figure, according to different page layouts, a transcript could easily gain five pages or so just from paragraphing alone.

I've only had one instance where this happened, and I had to institute this practice after many years of really recreating the record and only getting a small percentage of the page rate. But once I added over 30 pages of text, and the agreement that the reporter and I came to in that instance was that 10 of it could be due to paragraphing, but the other 20+ pages, I would be paid 3.00 per page. The reporter agreed that, after all, those were pages I created, so I should be paid for them.

In all instances, I always try to be fair and try to come to an amicable agreement with the reporter. I never want anyone to feel cheated. I always want you to feel as though you're getting your money's worth. I like to be the right-hand man that you can't do without.

I am trying to get back to realtime - but I am certainly not there yet. Will you make dictionary entries and send things like that back to me? And do you also mark questionable areas in the transcript?

I always make dictionary entries and submit them to you after each job. That's what's so great about Eclipse; it creates all the dictionary entries it can think of for inclusion into your dictionary, so it can really be built up fast. I LOVE reporters who update their dictionaries. It's really the only way to improve the tran rate, and really helps us both out. The cleaner the notes, the faster I can get it scoped, the faster you can proof it and get it out the door and bill for it.

Yes, I mark any questionable areas in the transcript for your attention. I can do that by placing some sort of flag such as ^ or @ next to the questionable spot, or I can do it all in comment lines if you wish. It's totally up to you.

Rates and billing procedures

I always like to get this all straight from the beginning because it can be a tough thing to deal with at a later time if everything isn't clear in the beginning.

My rates are dependent upon the quality of writing. I tried long ago when I started scoping in 1996 to have a set rate schedule, but got burned so many times by sloppy notes that took way too long to edit. Don't get me wrong; I don't expect perfect notes. But if I have to do major editing, I feel it's only fair that I'm compensated fairly for that effort. This really serves two purposes. One, I get paid fairly for my effort. Two, at any point that the reporter cleans up their notes, I'll decrease the page rate, so usually reporters will strive to have clean notes so they can have a lower page rate.

I also charge differently according to whether you want me to listen to every word of audio, just spot-check with audio, or no audio at all.

So if you'll let me know what you're looking for as far as audio is concerned and also send me a sample of your notes (just a small unscoped transcript will be fine), I can let you know what the rate will be.

My usual practice is to bill on the 1st and 15th, and payment is due upon receipt of the invoice. If you need me to tailor that to your paycheck schedule, just let me know. I'm happy to accommodate you in any way you need. I just ask that you rank my invoice up there along with your mortgage and the groceries. :o) Scoping is my only income, so when a check doesn't arrive on time, it can really affect me negatively. You expect your transcript on time; accordingly, I expect my invoice to be paid timely.

What is your procedure for receiving wav files?

I can download wav files from your account with Xdrive, Whalemail or FTP.  You can also send files via a free service at www.sendthisfile.com.  I offer a free upload service right here on my site. You'll need to get an upload password from me in order to upload a file.

Of course, I can also utilize audio via tapes and CDs sent through the mail.

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