Anonymous: “Imagine Reporting in San Diego was recently acquired by Lexitas – one of the latest monopolization/consolidation moves here in CA, hence the Dallas address on the invoice. The result? They bumped up the prices. The actual per page rate comes to $9.44/pp for this 143 page transcript, after factoring in all the add-ons. I wonder how much $/pp they paid the reporter…”
I have to point back to my research about tacit parallelism. Even where competitors are not actively colluding, they see that they can jack up the prices because everybody is jacking up the prices. I don’t believe that Lexitas or Imagine was a part of the Speech-to-Text Institute or the market manipulation there. But we’re seeing how the continued consolidation of the field is leading toward very high prices for attorneys. It seems page rates are being kept artificially low and some of these companies are relying on the add-ons and surcharges to make a buck. It’s pretty smart, since it can almost double revenue.
Just to drive this home — and I get it, I’m in a different state — reporters in New York City are 30 years behind inflation. If their rates had kept up with inflation, the rate would be around $6.00 per page. That’s on our automatic O+2s . Now, to put this into perspective, reporters aren’t generally making $6.00, and though I’m overjoyed when people come out of the woodwork to say they make more than that, I hate to tell you that you’re in the deep minority. When I came out of school I was offered $2.80 (2010). Many of my classmates were offered $3.25 and that was considered a good rate. Last year I had at least one person report that they were still being offered $3.25. Some say they’ve gotten $4.00. Some say they’ve gotten $4.50. Nowhere near $6.00.
And again, with all the add-ons, we’re looking at a charge of $9.44 or $9.46, so it’s basically taking what reporters should be paid, adding 60%, and sending out a bill. That’s in the context of a profession where previously there were 70-30 splits in favor of reporters. Then we look at what reporters are being paid, and just to be nice, we’ll take the $4.50. $9.46 – $4.50. $4.96. That $4.96 is 110% of the $4.50. And now just to complete the thought, $9.46 – $3.25. $6.21. 191% of the $3.25 attorneys might pay if we just cut out the middleman — or at least the middlemen charging high.
The skeptic says: So what? You’re New York. This is California — or Texas — or wherever. To that I say if there was a genuine shortage on the scale that it was advertised as being, agencies would simply be pulling New Yorkers to go certify, license, and work. And this can be mathematically shown. If the rate for New Yorkers should be close to 6 and is actually 4.50 (we’ll cut out the 3.25s and 2.80s and pretend everyone’s getting a decent O+2). 6 – 4.50 = $1.50. We’re talking about a 33% raise for some of the best-paid people and more than doubling the income of kids who get out of school and accept $2.80 a page because they just don’t know any better. And that $6.00 is still a heck of a lot lower than the $9.44. Even if we went back to the 70-30 splits with $6.00 to the reporter, it’d be around $8.58 a page. This also doesn’t account for places where the cost of living is lower than New York City, which would effectively be an even higher raise. Again, these business folks are all about numbers and money. If there was a monumental shortage rather than a desire to depress court reporter incomes, they’d be easily pulling people in with raises or a lower cost of living — unless everywhere in the whole entire country is as underpaid as New York City, which seems unlikely. They were paying us 25 cents on copies while Ohio was getting 2 bucks.
So thank you to my Stenonymous source. You not only helped me show my audience the heavy cost of court reporting add-ons potentially doubling attorney bills, but also help bring out the fact that the shortage that was advertised (70% of the field vanishing by about 2033) is not the shortage we got (coverage issues in the California courts that refused to use money earmarked for enticing court reporters),
The rest is up to the people that share this article and keep attorneys and court reporters informed.