What’s In A Rate Sheet?

In a moment of clarity, I sent a blog post of mine to a friend. She rightly pointed out that for many the confusion is not so much that there needs to be a contract or agreement, but rather many do not know what to put in a contract or agreement until they’ve been royally screwed.

To that end, I set out to see what people put on their rate sheets. I asked court reporters from around the country and received two or three actual rate sheets. For purposes of this post I will not add rates. Perhaps, if people ask, we can have a whole other post with regard to rates and numbers people may charge. As a general note, I express no opinion on these line items, but this gives all an idea of what others do so that we may all emulate what we want to emulate. In no particular order, we have:

  • Same day.
  • Overnight.
  • Next day (daily).
  • Two-day.
  • Three-day.
  • General turnaround time expectations.
  • Deposition O&1.
  • Arbitration O&1.
  • Certified copy.
  • No copy surcharge (O&1)
  • Rough draft.
  • Rough draft or expedite with “free copy.”
  • Excerpt only surcharge.
  • Expert surcharge.
  • Technical testimony surcharge.
  • Medical testimony surcharge.
  • Video surcharge. (proceeding videotaped)
  • Interpreter surcharge.
  • Heavy accent/uncontrolled room surcharge.
  • Teleconference/video conference surcharge. (Held over video/phone)
  • Meeting/symposium/board surcharge.
  • Transcript not ordered fee.
  • Tape transcription with down payment.
  • Confidential/nonconfidential surcharge.
  • Appearance fee.
  • Holiday/weekend appearance surcharges.
  • Waiting time fee.
  • Night job surcharge.
  • Cancellation at or after 5 p.m.
  • Cancellation before arriving to job.
  • Cancellation after arriving before setting up.
  • Cancellation after arriving after setting up.
  • Statement on the record fee.
  • Bust fee.
  • Printing and shipping of exhibits.
  • Adding an agreement to pay to rush/special orders and/or terms.
  • Adding an agreement to pay according to the fee schedule.
  • Mileage/travel surcharges
  • Hotels/accommodations surcharges.
  • Sale of audio fee.
  • Notary-only appearance.
  • Space/room fee.
  • Witness review coordination fee.

As anyone can see there are innumerable ideas and guidelines for what might go on a rate sheet. It is down to us to see to it that our time and skill is adequately compensated, and a big part of that is ensuring our agreements contemplate as many of the little what ifs as possible.

8 thoughts on “What’s In A Rate Sheet?

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  2. Hi, Christopher — I found this sentence in your sample retainer agreement interesting: “Also, you authorize us to…give general opinion on the case, sentencing and strategies.” I’d love to hear more about the origin of that as a part of the contract and also some instances where you’ve had opportunities to share your opinions. Does that lend itself to giving the impression of impropriety or impartiality if not handled delicately? The expectation to be a silent observer is one of the most challenging parts of the job for me, and when I’ve asked others in the field whether they have the same struggle I am typically met with something like “In one ear and out the other. Who cares?” Thanks! — Quaverly

    1. I think you may be citing back to a different blog post where I attached an old retainer I signed when I hired a lawyer, and I was quite surprised because they were asking for a lot of money per page if the case proceeded to depositions.

      So to be clear, court reporters and professional stenographers almost never share their opinion if they have one, or we share it privately, or we share it in a way that does not expose the details of the case. There are multiple layers to it.

      Sometimes it really is one ear and out the other, but sometimes it is very interesting or controversial material and the professional has to avoid the appearance of impropriety at all costs.

      So the retainer snippet I posted on another article was purely my lawyer being authorized to give their opinion on my case. I would not advise court reporters to give their opinions on cases in a professional sense. Public discourse on the other hand is all good! People v Smith here in NY is an example. Indirectly showed the importance of stenographers.

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