Expedite Legal, Enhancing Coverage Nationwide?

Everyone is moving faster than ever into new solutions to problems. Adaptation of technology has spiked like never before. There are many hyped technologies out there that promise the world and don’t deliver. Then there are real companies with a tangible product. After taking the time out to review Expedite’s public-facing materials and after having a brief exchange with Expedite’s CEO, Eve Barrett, I am convinced that Expedite is among the companies out there that has a real product. In this case, it’s also a unique product.

We can think of Expedite as the Uber for legal service professionals. It’s helping link providers, namely court reporters and interpreters, with customers, namely courts, lawyers, agencies. I learned that the product is set up to be flexible. People can register as both a customer and a provider. This means that traditional reporting agencies can make use of Expedite to get coverage or get work. This means that independent court reporters can use it the exact same way.

A post I came across on Expedite’s blog, the Docket, sums business up well. Be willing to stick your neck out a little bit. In my view, there is great importance attached to being a skeptic, but we cannot allow our skepticism to hamper our willingness to try new things. I had touched briefly on Expedite’s model in my shortage solutions series. There was some honest skepticism there. But in normal times, we were experiencing a shortage of reporters partially as a result of the disjointed state of the market. There is no central marketplace to just log in and find a reporter. It’s not like the stock market where you can get immediate data on every business out there. There are a lot of tools out there for finding reporters or finding work. Why not add Expedite to your arsenal?

In my exchange with Ms. Barrett, she pointed me right to the Provider FAQ, blog, and vlog. I saw there’s a provider referral program. If a provider refers a provider and both get verified, there’s a bonus. I asked about whether the same was available for providers that refer customers to the program. It was confirmed that anyone can refer anyone, and the bonus shows up in the next job taken with Expedite. This is a smart way to get people using a nationwide app, and I think a robust referral program is a smart move.

The website and app are both available for customers. The app is available on Apple Store and Google Play. The overall message is one of courage and commitment to us. We’ve all been to the recent educational webinars. Presenters have talked about letting go of fear, adapting, making changes to enhance our businesses. I think Expedite is a major enhancement to many reporting businesses.  I asked pretty bluntly if there’s anything she’d tell reporters in the industry, or even people outside the industry. I’ll end with part of the response I got, as it says all it needs to say about the power of the individual. “My goal with Expedite was to help save the profession by alleviating the critical shortage. I also wanted to create a new business model for court reporters whereby they could work more efficiently, keep a higher percentage, receive payment faster, and market their services on a free platform. I’m just one reporter trying to solve the problems that have plagued our industry for decades.”

Shortage Solutions 4: Direct Market Apps

So by now everybody knows the Uber story. Basically replaced or pushed on the conventional taxi company and made it so that you no longer had to call a company or hail a cab, but could just click in on your phone and get door-to-door service.

Expedite is kind of like that for legal service professionals, AKA stenographers. Court Buddy is kind of like that for lawyers. With more industries trying the direct market app approach, from food delivery to barbers, we are seeing people really give the direct market apps a try and it might be worth looking into as a potential shortage solution. Like other direct market apps, there’s bound to be competition and a growing number of apps to fill that void.

A word of caution: These direct market apps are only good for us if the players know their own market. Be a part of that. If you don’t know your market, join a mentoring program. If you know your market, be a mentor, guide the others in your market so that they can take advantage of these new ideas. Look at Uber. There have literally been articles about how Uber tries to use “psychological carrots” to get drivers to drive cheap. We don’t need to drive cheap to get work. If you start to notice these apps playing the carrot game with you, don’t be afraid to beat them with a stick!

Second word of caution: Agencies are reportedly telling their reporters not to use Expedite and even allegedly withholding work from those that do. Know why? Their entire business model relies on being the middleman, and apps like Expedite can subsume the middleman position and can threaten their livelihood.

Apps like Expedite also can dispel the illusion of a shortage in areas where the ongoing reporter shortage may be less severe than companies would like clients and reporters to believe. As reporters, we need to identify that the shortage may be exaggerated in part so that companies can say “there’s nothing we can do but go digital” and recreate the glut of reporters that they used as an excuse to depress our rates nine years ago in New York.

The 2013 Ducker Report forecasted a shortage, and we’re all coming up with ideas and solutions every day. Coincidentally none of them do away with the stenographic reporter. Remember: The future is malleable. You do not need to throw away a vibrant and wonderful career on the say-so of somebody who’d profit from you getting out of the business.