Technology’s Role In Growing A Business

Technology’s Role In Growing A Business
By: Jim DeCrescenzo, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CLVS


There is at least one point in the history of any company when you have to change dramatically to rise to the next level of performance. Miss that moment, and you start to decline. Andy Grove

Barring a strong personal relationship, surveys have shown that price and technology are the two factors attorneys consider important enough to give a different court reporting firm a try. For the past several years downward price pressure in the freelance market has driven thinner margins for both firm owners and reporters. While a firm owner may see competing on price as a necessary evil to retain clients, doing so only makes a bad situation worse. Fixed costs, such as rent, supplies, insurance, etc., always increase. To maintain a healthy business, transcript rates need to rise commensurate with rising costs. But how can a court reporting firm justify raising rates in the face of fierce competition and downward price pressure?

If we accept that competing on price is a losing proposition, that leaves adopting and introducing newer technologies to your market as the logical alternative. While adopting new technologies involves initial investment in time and money, there are at least three solid reasons why doing so should be the goal of every court reporting firm.

First, client acceptance. Surveys consistently show law firms want to learn about new technologies, especially technologies that will save them time and money. All large law firms, most mid-sized law firms, and many smaller law firms have in-house technology managers. Paralegals are also an influential ally in exposing your clients to time-saving technologies. And many younger lawyers will not automatically recoil when a new way of doing things is presented.

Second, effective marketing. It is a very good thing any time a court reporting firm owner can get in front of lawyers to present a new technology. I always wanted to have my clients rely on me to bring new technologies to them. They didn’t always adopt every technology, but they did want to know what was new and what their competitors may be using against them.

Third, growing your market. Exposing your clients and their deposition opponents to a time and cost-saving technology is a great way to pick up new clients without any additional costs or lowering your prices. As more attorneys begin to associate you and your firm with new technology, they begin to ask that you participate and present at CLE seminars. Each of those presentations gives you and your firm more credibility and exposes you to more potential clients. Putting your new technologies to effective use in an advertising campaign creates a more powerful message than simply saying Use Us; We’re Good.

There are several technologies court reporting firms can incorporate into a successful technology campaign. If you do decide to embark on a technology campaign, I suggest initially planning to adopt at least three technologies, and always be on the lookout for the next new thing to incorporate.

One of the newest technologies is paperless documents at depositions. I’ll focus here on a paperless document product I developed called Exhibeo. As a court reporter I wanted Exhibeo to abide by three tenets: mimic the flow of a deposition; to do so without the need for the Internet; and to maintain the court reporter as the guardian of the marked exhibits.

The Exhibeo system has three components: a proprietary router, USB drives, and the app. Because it is the dominant tablet in the market, the system is designed to work on iPads.

The Router

About the size of a small tissue box, once the court reporter plugs the router in, it will create a unique Exhibeo wifi network within three minutes.

The USB Drives

The standard 16g Exhibeo USB drives can store over 300,000 documents. The attorneys can load their deposition documents, or multiple cases onto the drive. Once placed in the router, the attorney can download any or all documents onto his iPad.

The App

With an Exhibeo USB drive in the router, everyone present in the deposition taps one of three icons to login. The three designations are Leader, Guest, and Court Reporter. The Leader is the attorney taking the deposition and has access to all the documents on the USB drive. She can download any documents, conduct word searches, edit any documents and save the edited document. She can share documents with everyone present, or send a document just to the Court Reporter to have it marked. The Court Reporter has the option to return marked exhibits back to only the Leader, or share the marked exhibits with everyone.

When the witness and other attorneys login as Guests, they’re asked for a login name. Once a name is entered, the Leader receives an Authorization Request from that Guest. If the Leader accepts the request, then that Guest is an Authorized User and has access to whatever documents the Leader shares, and will receive the documents marked as exhibits by the Court Reporter. Guests may open any shared document and, similar to the Leader, can highlight text, search for text, and write private notes within a document. By clicking Save, the edited document moves to a private My Files tab. Leader or Guest documents in their My Files tab are private to that user, and can be saved to that user’s Exhibeo USB drive at the end of the deposition.

Upon login the Court Reporter becomes an Authorized User automatically. One of the first things the Court Reporter does is to create the exhibit sticker. When creating the exhibit sticker, the Court Reporter has the option to select a yellow Plaintiff’ Exhibit sticker, a blue Defendant’s Exhibit sticker, or a gray customizable exhibit sticker. Using the customizable exhibit sticker, you can choose to have your firm name on every exhibit sticker. The Reporter then fills in the witness’s last name, the starting exhibit number, and the reporter’s initials. The date is automatically filled in, and by default Auto-Increment Exhibit Number is checked. Of course, it can be unchecked to mark exhibits with a letter suffix or a number out of order. When the Leader shares a document with the Court Reporter and asks that it be marked as an exhibit, the Reporter touches Mark It. The document opens and the exhibit sticker is placed in the upper right of the document. The Reporter can move or resize the exhibit sticker, if necessary. The Reporter then touches Save, and selects either Share to Leader or Share to All. With Auto-Increment Exhibit Number selected, the system automatically applies the next sequential number to the following exhibits. A group of pages from a larger document can also be marked. When the deposition is finished, only the Court Reporter has the option to save the Marked Exhibits.

Mirroring

Any user can touch Mirror My Screen. Once that’s selected, everyone else has the option to accept the mirroring. By mirroring documents, everyone is looking at the same page.

Change Leader

The Leader also has the option to Change Leader. Changing Leader allows other counsel a chance to question the witness with their documents from their Exhibeo USB drive.

Multi-Day Proceedings

At the end of a day’s proceedings every user has the option to Save For Next Session & Logout. When they arrive the next day and login, all of their documents and marked exhibits are still available and everyone continues with the next session of the proceedings.

When the deposition is completed, everyone can save their documents to their Exhibeo USB drive. The Court Reporter saves the marked exhibits to his Exhibeo USB drive.

Cost

When I was a court reporting firm owner I wanted to buy and own software. I avoided memberships, leases, or anything else that required me to disclose my clients or indebted me to the software vendor. So I decided to sell Exhibeo systems outright. The current cost is $2,900 for an Exhibeo system. Court Reporting firms may choose to co-brand the USB drives. There are no continuing costs.

 

Training

Training is through the Members Area on the exhibeo.com website.

Security

Exhibeo never accesses the Internet, and no one can access an Exhibeo deposition without the Leader granting access.

HIPAA Compliant

Encrypted Exhibeo USB drives are available on the website.

Last-Minute Documents

When counsel arrive at the deposition with more documents, a small Exhibeo scanner will send the documents wirelessly to the USB drive in the router. The Leader touches Refresh and has access to the new documents.

Summary

There are Internet-based paperless deposition programs available. One of them may be better suited to your situation. But whichever system you choose, this technology, along with other technologies, can form the basis of a strong marketing and sales campaign.

Jim DeCrescenzo, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CLVS, is an active court reporter and a former firm owner based in Philadelphia. He has been active in NCRA and PCRA for many years. He can be reached at Jim@Exhibeo.com.

Share this post:

Comments on "Technology’s Role In Growing A Business"

Comments 0-5 of 0

Please login to comment