Credit: Lawyer Monthly
No matter what type of case one finds themself wrapped up in, the experience is a stressful one. For most people, the world of law is tumultuous and frightening, full of jargon and terms they can hardly wrap their heads around. But the stress is more than just a lack of understanding about how legal proceedings work. Whether the plaintiff, the defendant, or simply seeking the counsel of an attorney, legal services have the potential to be expensive. When spending money in such how amounts, people want to be sure they’re working with the attorney they can trust.
Getting past the stigma that follows attorneys, however, can make this initial jump difficult. It’s no secret that attorneys aren’t exactly the most well-liked professionals out there. According to a 2020 Gallop study, only 22% of people surveyed felt lawyers were ethical– apparently, up several percentage points from the previous year. The statistics are surprising, given how important it is that a client works with an attorney they can trust.
“Some people don’t like lawyers, that is, until they need them,” says Kenneth Eade, an attorney and novelist.
When looking for an attorney to help them with whatever legal assistance they require, the client should first and foremost be comfortable with the person they will be working with. Testimonials and recommendations from friends and family mean a lot, certainly, but that should not be what ultimately leads a client to select a specific legal professionals. A client and attorney must properly click, as the client should be confident in not only the work the attorney can do, but the kind of person they are.
“…The lawyer must communicate often with the client, documenting those communications, at least with a memo in the file, every time to avoid misunderstandings,” Sean McDonough, an attorney in Orlando, says. “Expectations are managed through communication, and in the eyes of a legal malpractice jury, if a communication is not documented, then it never happened. Also, it is important that the lawyer develop an appropriate personal relationship with the client; a client is much more willing to forgive a lawyer who is not perceived as just another vendor.
Having an attorney one can trust is a weight of the shoulders of most, but what many don’t realize is that a quality attorney isn’t the end. A case isn’t managed by a singular attorney– instead, attorneys work with a group of legal professionals whose individual jobs are key to constructing an impenetrable case. Thankfully, finding those individuals is not up to the client in the throws of a trial. It is up to the trusted attorney to find litigation support that is equally as trustworthy.
Most firms employ paralegals of their own, taking that factor out of the equation, but litigation support is usually found from an outside source. Similar to what it takes for a client to find a quality attorney, attorneys must go on a mission to complete their teams with court reporters, legal video specialists, and other litigation support professionals they can rely on.
For the general population, “litigation support” is one of those terms that leads them to scratch their heads. It has something to do with the world of law, but what exactly that is isn’t exactly clear. That is because the field of litigation support is a diverse one. The phrase is defined as “the process of providing consultation and support services to attorneys or others in regard to current and pending cases,” which can be satisfied by a number of professionals.
Litigation support firms offer a wide variety of services, namely court reporting as one of the most frequently sought out services. A quality court reporter is essential to the outcome of most cases, as they are tasked with recording exactly what was said and how it was said so it can be used for reviewal at a later date. Court reporters should be able to accurately record over 200 words a minute, which clearly illustrates just how important they are to creating a record of events. For those who practice realtime reporting– court reporting where the client can see the transcript in real time– accuracy is doubly important.
“A court reporter of good quality should be fast and accurate, certainly, but they should also be communicative with their clients,” Envision Legal President, Monice Campbell, says. “The facilitated relationship between reporter and client makes a world of difference in not only pleasing clients, but keeping them.”
Having a professional who is attentive is wildly important to the outcome of a case, of course, but one can’t sneeze at the importance of having the best technology at one’s disposal as well. If a litigation support professional uses decades-old technology, it is likely there may be processing or stalling issues. The litigation support professional may still be talented, of course, but the technology used should raise questions.
Take legal video specialists for example. On top of being certified to work in court, legal video specialists should utilize the best audio and video equipment available to them. Why? So everyone can be properly seen and heard. Attorneys and their clients don’t book a legal video service just for fun. They book this service to see with their own eyes what happened during the legal proceedings and reassess them. Whether recording a deposition or trial, it is imperative these aspects are as clear as possible so the video recorded can be used later.
Some might question the point of hiring a legal video specialist when they’ve already booked a court reporter (and visa versa), but the two services aren’t opposite sides of the same coin. Together, the services can enhance one’s litigation support experience. Transcripts recorded by court reporters can be transposed over legal video for a higher quality litigation support service– but this can only be achieved if both parties use the latest innovations in tech.
During the global pandemic, quality litigation technology was even more important. Without remote depositions, legal proceedings would have come to a total stop. Court reporters and their staff stepped up to help attorneys and their clients continue with the course of law by employing videoconferencing technology that is as safe as it is clear. With remote depositions attorneys could meet with their entire legal teams separately, but face-to-face.
Technology does not make a lacking litigation support professional a great one, but it can make a skilled professional be perceived in a negative light when tech failures arise. Attorneys should ensure they’re booking the professionals who can deliver on their needs, and have the technology to make that delivery. If they don’t stop to make that distinction, it will reflect badly on them.
Understanding how important a court reporter, or another litigation support professional, is for the sake of one’s case, should make it a comfort when their attorney suggests bringing in litigation support. If an attorney is a detective, litigation support is the tools that detective uses to compile a complete list of facts and details to strengthen their case. Having a skilled attorney who surrounds themself with equally as talented individuals is crucial.
Next time you need a lawyer, don’t be afraid. Be confident you’re working with a group of professionals who truly want nothing more than to provide you support.