TRANSCRIPT CHARGES and RELATED CONSIDERATIONS
This page is not intended to serve as a rate schedule, but it does contain rate ranges for court reporting services in the Kansas City area and should aid the reader with determining if you are paying too much for court reporting services. If you require a quote for an assignment you would like us to cover, please contact our office.
How Fees Are Charged For Court Reporting Services
Fees for services provided by freelance reporters are generally charged by the page, in addition to an hourly or per diem attendance fee billed to the taking attorney/party. It is important to note that transcript page rates reflect the cost of the court reporting service provided, not a duplicating charge you might expect from a copy shop. It is also important to note that freelance court reporters are not employed by nor subsidized by state or federal governments for the services they provide. Therefore, page rates for transcripts provided by freelance reporters are usually higher than page rates charged by court reporters employed by state or federal courts who are provided with a base salary and benefits.
Charges to the Taking Attorney/Party (original costs)
As of June 2023, the effective base page rate for a certified original transcript of a deposition in the Kansas City area generally ranges from $4.50 to $5.85/pg. The effective base page rate takes into account the practice of some firms that use fewer characters per line, expand standard pages, add filler-text pages, and charge transcript page rates for word index pages1.
In addition to the original page rate, the taking attorney/party is also invoiced hourly or per diem attendance fees. Hourly fees are more common than per diem fees and range from $30 to $65 per hour, with either a two- or three-hour minimum, depending on the provider. If a transcript is not ordered to be transcribed, the hourly charge is typically about three times the standard hourly rate, commonly $125/hr. but can be as much as $175/hr. For court reporting firms with per diem charges rather than hourly, the taking party can expect to be charged about $100 per half day, with proceedings four hours or more typically incurring a full-day rate of $180 to $200.
Other charges specific to the taking attorney/party may be incurred for the preparation of notices, subpoenas, subpoena service, cost certificates if applicable, and for obtaining signature of the witness.
Original page rates charged to the taking attorney/party are traditionally higher than for other attorneys/parties wanting to order a copy of the transcript. For the past decade or so in Kansas City and many other regions of the country, the original base page rate has not increased as much as copy rates, but there have been some increases in the form of hourly rates and administrative fees. One of the reasons that original base page rates have stayed as low as they have is due to the influence of large national and regional court reporting agencies that contract with insurers and large corporations for real or perceived lower rates, but then they sometimes shift those reductions in fees, assuming there are any, to other parties in the litigation. See Networking, Insurance Contracting, and Cost Shifting.
Charges to Other Attorneys/Parties (copy costs)
As of June 2023, the effective base page rate for a certified copy of a deposition transcript in the Kansas City area generally ranges from $2.25 to $3.55/pg. The effective base page rate takes into account the practice of some firms that use fewer characters per line, expand standard pages, add filler-text pages, and charge transcript page rates for word index pages1
The page rate for a copy of a transcript in a proceeding has historically been a fraction of the rate charged to the taking attorney/party. Thirty years ago, it was about a third of the original; more recently, it is a little over half. But many large court reporting agencies are going a lot further and increasing copy prices to extraordinary levels, adversely affecting nonscheduling parties who want to order a copy. See Networking, Insurance Contracting, and Cost Shifting.
Additional Services and Charges
Freelance base page rates on the original and copies can increase with additional services requested and other factors, including but not limited to:
- Expert Testimony
- Arbitrations and Hearings
- Video-Recorded Proceedings (videographer fees additional)
- Participants Appearing by Phone/Videoconference
- SOFTGHAOS (sustained overly fast, technical, garbled, heavy accent, and/or overlapping speech)
- Interpreted Proceedings (interpreter fees additional)
- Rough Draft Delivery (same day or soon thereafter)
- Realtime Translation (live text feed of proceedings)
- Expedited Final Transcript Delivery
The above charges vary from firm to firm, with the most significant increases tied to rough drafts, realtime translation, and expedited delivery. A same-day or next-day final can double costs. So it is definitely better to plan ahead if at all possible so that you do not need to order an expedited transcript, saving you and your clients hundreds of dollars! Learn more about Additional Services and Charges.
Ancillary Charges To All Parties
It is common for there to be charges to all ordering attorneys/parties for the preparation of an electronic file package*, exhibit handling** (processing and archiving exhibits marked and used as part of the record), and delivering hard copies of transcripts and/or exhibits. Prices for these services vary from firm to firm. When cost is a deciding factor, be sure to ask the court reporting services provider for details and confirm the rates in writing when scheduling. When rates are provided, ask if they are their standard rates. Beware that some firms may offer what amount to introductory rates to entice parties to schedule and then charge their regular rates soon thereafter.
*For a reasonable flat fee, our electronic file package contains the transcript in multiple file formats that attorneys and legal pros desire, including:
- PDF (.pdf) (full-size and condensed transcripts, each with a word index)
- E-Transcript (.ptx) (full-size and condensed print options along with the word index)
- Page-image ASCII (.txt)
- Summation ASCII (.txt)
- TextMap (.xmef)
- Other popular file types
When exhibits are ordered, they are linked to the condensed PDF transcript at no additional charge. Making PDF exhibits OCR searchable is included at no additional charge. Archival and online access is included at no additional charge. Some firms charge for these types of services.
Buyer Beware: Unequal weights and measures and other questionable practices
Because transcript page layouts – margins, indentations, characters per line (“cpl”), lines per page – are not set by statute for freelance court reporters in most locations, comparing prices from one service provider to another can be a challenging endeavor.
Several of our competitors use page layouts which produce 2 to 5 percent more pages from the same testimony. While this can be fairly insignificant if you only take one or two depositions a year, it can really add up when you need to take multiple depositions in a case. Years ago, we verified the page layout on a transcript of one competitor produced over 20 percent more pages from the same testimony, and that competitor is still in business today. So just be aware that the same testimony can produce more pages of transcript depending on the page layout – sometimes a lot more – and cause costs to balloon by double-digit percentages.
As an example, a transcript billed at $4.10/pg that is formatted so that it produces 22 percent more pages than it otherwise would results in an effective page rate of $5.00/pg. If the firm also bills for word index pages at per-page rates, the effective page rate is even higher.
So while a page rate may be the same or lower than ours, the number of pages may be significantly greater, resulting in much higher costs overall. See Transcript Comparison Study to discover how much more you may be paying with firms that charge for word index pages at the same per-page rate as transcript pages.
If that were not enough, some court reporting services providers prepare unnecessary pages, include filler-text pages that have historically not been a part of the official transcript, or will expand text on standard pages causing them to spread across multiple pages. These practices increase costs to you and your clients in small ways but can add up to significant dollar amounts.
Conversely, Cornerstone Court Reporting Company and a few other locally owned court reporting firms and solo practitioners do not engage in these practices and can therefore provide much better value. Our expenses can be significantly lower than large national firms while offering the same or even better client services, including nationwide scheduling and other value add-ons.
Get Extra Value With Cornerstone Court Reporting Company
No jurat fees
No duplicate title pages
No excessive admin fees
Single-page reporter certificate
No unnecessary filler-text pages
No per-page fees for word indices1
No mileage charge under 80 miles round trip
No additional charge to make scanned exhibits OCR searchable
Standard page layout with 52 cpl/25 lines per page, regular indentations2
From time to time, we are asked to consider offering a discount off our standard rates. Although our hallmark is quality rather than discounts, we strive to be very competitive, and we are always willing to consider a case discount if all attorneys/parties agree to use us for all depositions in the case.
We hope this information is helpful to you and your clients in evaluating your court reporting provider options. At Cornerstone Court Reporting Company, we plan to continue a tradition of providing quality court reporting services at fair and competitive rates to all parties with an advertised turnaround time on transcript delivery of 8 to 10 business days.
If we can answer any questions or be of further assistance as you consider our services, please do not hesitate to contact us. We look forward to the possibility of working with you.
CORNERSTONE COURT REPORTING COMPANY, LLC
Myles Megee, Owner, CCR-KS-MO-IA, RPR, CRR
Certified in Kansas, Missouri, and Iowa
Registered Professional Reporter
Certified Realtime Reporter
(913) 375-8637 (Cell)
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1Read the “Buyer Beware” section for important information regarding page layout and charges for word index pages. For more detail, read the Transcript Comparison Study to discover how much more you may be paying with firms that charge for word index pages at the same per-page rate as transcript pages.
2Checking the page layout of court reporting service providers can be important when comparing rates. Just one character less per line can result in an increased page count of 1 to 2 percent