When I began court reporting back in the early eighties, I started my career producing transcripts for appeal purposes with carbon paper, an eraser, and five sheets of paper. Quickly (thankfully) the photocopier was made available and wow, life was easy! Those were the days of Liquid Paper and correction ribbons for the IBM Selectric typewriter. However, by the end of the eighties I purchased my first PC and court reporting software that could produce transcripts in plain text ASCII, which I could then put into WordPerfect 4.2 for final printing, as WP could produce “nice” looking documents. In those days, getting an electronic version of a transcript meant getting either a WordPerfect file or perhaps a plain text ASCII.

Today, as software has become more sophisticated, a myriad of file formats are available for use by clients. What’s interesting to note, though, is that not all court reporting firms (or individual court reporters, for that matter) have kept up to date with technological advancements and made the investment in newer software that keeps pace with today’s electronic demands.

Transcripts are a part of the global community, so to speak, and not in the domain of lawyers only. While printing off copies is certainly one way to deal with a transcript, this can represent a significant cost in man hours, production costs and even courier/mail charges…not to mention the fact you can’t use hard copies in a database or other case management applications! In today’s sophisticated world, several key people will want to be able to access the transcript in user-friendly formats, and have it delivered to them in a cost effective way. These formats include:

  • ASCII page image files for importation into transcript and case management applications such as Summation
  • Word documents – clients and legal assistants often use this common software program to view documents
  • PDF – anyone who has access to the internet can download Adobe Reader for free and are able to read documents in PDF format; these transcripts cannot be changed and are generally in a read-only format and are fully searchable. If one or more pages needs to be printed, there are no formatting issues that change page or line numbers. http://www.adobe.com/ap/products/reader/
  • Etrans – this is a special product provided by Neeson which comes with a free viewer available from the manufacturer; Etrans allows you to print indexes, condensed transcripts and to change fonts, etc. quickly and easily, and the file is in a read-only format; cutting and pasting can be “allowed” if the end user is given access to do so. http://www.reallegal.co/softwareDownloadetranscriptviewer.asp

When selecting a court reporting agency, be sure you choose a court reporting firm that understands your file requirements and can deliver your transcripts and exhibits in a way that allows you to get on with the important work required in the practice of law.

Kim Neeson, RPR, CRR, CSR, CCP, CBC is President of Neeson & Associates, a full service court reporting and live captioning (CART) company. For additional information, you can reach Kim at: kim_neeson@neesoncourtreporting.com