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A Court Reporter’s Guide to Choosing a Proofreader

Updated: November 16, 2015

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  1. Cool! I found out my exam grade! 🙂

    I like the test them first advice, although my reporters haven’t done it that way. They’ve given me a nonrush job at first so they aren’t in a hurry to turn it in and can look over it closely. Either way works. I don’t advertise that I’ll work for free, but if someone asked me to proof 20 pages to “test,” I would be willing to do so.

  2. I don’t agree with the test for free. You can give me a small section to proof, but I should be paid for it. It also establishes the relationship the other way. The reporter wants to know if the proofer can do the job, and the proofer wants to know that the reporter will pay. This establishes trust between both parties.

  3. Wow, 15-20 pages for free? I do other types of proofreading, am interested in court reporting so I follow the blog but am not terribly familiar with it yet. 15-20 pages sounds like a lot to do for free!

    1. It might seem like more because you’re used to other types of proofing. 15-20 pages goes much faster in transcript proofreading than in, for example, a book, due to the format of legal transcripts :).

  4. Hi, Caitlin: In regards to your reply to Kaylin Tristano, “If it earned you a loyal client, though, wouldn’t it be worth it?” I agree 100%. However, I noticed that even though a few proofreaders agree with your “Test them first!” advice, as I do, their main issue is being tested–for free! Just maybe, this suggestion might work for both the CR and the proofreader: The proofreaders get paid “only” if they do excellent work on their tests. Otherwise, if they don’t, which means that their work was not “up to par,” thus, “proving” they “really don’t know what the hell they’re doing,” and therefore, not really “cut out” to be transcript proofreaders in the first place, then they don’t get paid at all. Rather than the “three strikes you’re out!” rule in baseball, they are given the “One strike you’re out!” deal. Fair and square! Plus, those who do pass the test “with flying colors” will know that they truly deserve the compensation, although the compensation might not be a huge amount, providing proof of their expertise in proofreading. Just my humble opinion from a non-PA student.

  5. I think that’s a great plan, Roger! I think reporters have a right to refuse to pay for crappy work. The first job should be a test with the knowledge the proofreader won’t get hired or paid if it’s crap 🙂 Totally fair in my opinion. That will ensure only people who really know what they’re doing ever get hired. I know there are some folks who read my site and think, “Hey, I could do that!” then immediately try to get work without ever being trained or even knowing what to look for because they’ve never seen a transcript before. The “test first” thing protects the reporter.

  6. Very enlightening post!
    To answer your question not directed at me, I would be willing to offer 10-20 pages of free (and excellent) work if it meant getting my foot in the door.
    Many graduates have stated that their investment was earned back within 2 or so months.
    I think if someone is truly qualified, took this seriously, and continued to proofread for even a few months, they would see that free assignment as an investment that only costed some time.
    And really, how much of our time is already spent on things that don’t have a return?

    1. Fantastic attitude, Betsy! I think if you got a loyal client from a free 15-20 page trial, it’d be absolutely worth it.

  7. I can only imagine that searching around for a good proofreader is frustrating enough for a court reporter. Having to pay someone for poor work only adds to the frustration. As a proofreader myself, I think offering the first 15 pages for free is a good long-term investment.

  8. I absolutely agree the opportunity to prove yourself with an excellent performance in completing a test transcript is a fantastic idea, especially as a new proofreader. It’s an opportunity for BOTH the proofreader and the court reporter to build a rapport and agree on expectations without having the cloud of — Hmm, will I get paid? or Should I pay her? — looming in the background. If you want to be able to rely on the court reporter to send you work regularly and to communicate effectively, you need to provide excellent service and show the same. Not only is it an opportunity to show off your skills, but also to show your desire to build a positive relationship with the court reporters you work with. I could, of course, be in the minority here, but it’s not ALL about the money for me.

  9. I think when anyone is first starting out and has no experience, doing some work for free is part of building a client base, reputation, and experience. The attorney I worked for gave free consults when she first started and, as time went on, she began to charge a consult fee (which increased as her experience, certifications, and expert skills increased). I think the same model can be applied to proofreading. As one gains experience, a consult fee isn’t out of the question. It shows that the client values your time and skills but also allows the client to see what type of work they’ll get. I’d be wary if an attorney would only speak with me after I paid a huge retainer and, if I was a court reporter, I’d be wary of a proofreader who demanded the entire job before I had a chance to see their work. I think the only time these types of consults go away is when you have enough of a reputation, the person already knows what level of work they’ll get (like someone at Caitlyn”s level).

    1. That’s a great way to build trust between clients and proofreaders, which can definitely pay off in the long run! 🙂

  10. My husband has done lawn care, I have done house cleaning. In both professions we gained clients by offering a small service either free or greatly reduced. This was to prove our integrity. Most businesses hire unproved employees on a 90-day trial basis. After that time, full benefits kick in. Or in some cases, full benefits kick in at at a year. After reading the 192-page “dirty” transcript in Module 1–which took me 2-3hrs and I did note numerous errors; mostly read for interest in the ending! –it seems to me that quibbling over a few pgs is counterproductive. Having been both a business owner and an employee, I can guarantee I might ask a potential employee to test but would be sure to pay for a job well done.

  11. Oh, okay. I'm sure this article would inspire my friend to hire a professional so the eventual court document from his side will be in good shape. I think this is my first time hearing about the need for any court report to be proofread so there won't be any technical error which may delegitimize its credibility. Oh ya BTW, he has a case to be presented next week and he needs someone to check on his paperwork.

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