In New York deposition reporting, there can be a little confusion when it comes to billing. Every company can do it differently, but many follow a standard practice that I will explain here. This will assist you in filling out dog sheets and billing forms by agencies. It is information specifically for when you are taking a job through a company.
When you sit for a job, typically there will be two attorneys there. One will be questioning, or will be the lead questioner/company client. The other will be the witness’s attorney. The lead questioner is almost always the purchaser of the original transcript, also known as the O. In New York, typically we provide a courtesy copy to the lead questioner. This is an O+1. Generally, your original rate covers this O+1. In New York, it’s also become practice to give the witness’s attorney a complimentary copy, this makes the job an O+2. Generally, your original rate covers this O+2. It’s my personal belief that we do this courtesy copy thing in order to waive filing of the transcript pursuant to CPLR 3116.
What happens when there are more attorneys than the lead questioner and the witness’s attorney? Typically, you must ask them if they are ordering a copy of the transcript. If your agency has a copy order form, you should also get them to sign the copy order form. Every attorney ordering a copy adds to the number after the O+2, and adds to the amount you should be making per page, depending on what your copy rate is. Succinctly, if one attorney is ordering a copy, the job is an O+3, if two attorneys are ordering a copy, the job is an O+4. There is no limit to the amount of attorneys that can order a copy.
Now, quite frequently non-party witnesses are deposed. These are people that are not part of the lawsuit but may have information related to it. They may appear with or without a lawyer, and generally they do not have a lawyer. When this happens, there may be two attorneys in the room, but neither represents the witness. The rules I described above change. Now the job is an O+1 for the lead questioner, and you ask the other attorney on the case if he would like a copy. In this case, if you receive an O+2 or more, you should be getting paid for that copy sale. Typically, if the witness has a lawyer, the lead questioner is going to share a copy with the witness’s attorney, but you may still ask the witness’s attorney if they would like to order a copy.
Let’s say a case has dozens of attorneys present physically or by telephonic appearance. How can you be sure you know exactly who is ordering, and how do you get people to sign order forms if they’re not there? Succinctly, be polite, professional, and give clear, confident instructions that everyone ordering a copy of the transcript should send you an e-mail with their name, contact/appearance information, and whether or not they would like a copy of the transcript. This way, instead of scrambling to write down who is who and hope they’ll get back to you when you call, you’ve put yourself in a position of strength where the information is waiting for you in your e-mail box.
A Word of Advice.
The easiest way to remember this all is: The lead questioner pays original. The witness’s attorney gets a copy off the lead questioner so you don’t need to ask her anything. You ask everyone else if they want a copy. In the end, all this billing and O+2 stuff is useful shorthand for telling the agency how many people want the transcript. You can always fix a mistake in billing later. It is much more difficult to get a copy order from from someone you didn’t ask, or confirmation in writing you did not obtain. Stay focused, get copy order forms signed, keep good records of who was present, who ordered what, and you can’t go wrong.
Split The Bill.
Sometimes, two or more attorneys will state they would like to split the bill. You should still make every effort to get a copy order formed sign, and indicate right on the order form and/or that a split bill was requested, and which parties wish to split the bill. If this occurs, you should still bill for and receive your copy sales, especially if you received signed copy order forms.