First of all, where does that expression originate? According to Wikipedia, it’s “an American English idiom that conveys the meaning of ‘from beginning to end.’ It is derived from the description of a full course dinner, in which courses progress from soup to a dessert of nuts.”
Now that we all learned something, let’s talk about the “soup to nuts” of transcript production. At the heart and soul of every transcript is a lawsuit, arbitration, or some other reason for getting testimony on the record. Most people think of court reporters as sitting near a judge in a courtroom (I mean, the name is “court reporter”), but more than 70 percent of the nation’s 50,000+ reporters work outside of the court. These are known as freelance reporters.
Nowadays, most freelance reporters work for large court reporting agencies. A firm will call one of these agencies and schedule a deposition. On that date and time, the agency will send one of their reporters to cover. After the testimony is complete, the reporter will then send the file to me so that they are free to take another job 😊. They also have the option of spending that time to edit the file themselves if they choose too. If you’re wondering why a verbatim transcript needs to be edited, I’ve discussed a little bit of that here.
After editing, it’s sent to the production department, mainly in a form as simple as a .TXT file. From there, the file is briefly checked for accuracy (never too many eyes) and then ran through a variety of programs designed to create specific files that work with a variety of programs that many law firms use. These programs provide many features such as text-mapping (which allows the exhibits to be linked throughout the transcript) and video sync, features that many high-end firms with large caseloads demand.
Once these files are created, they are bundled and sent together electronically. This is often referred to as “the etrans” and is quickly becoming the favorite way for firms to receive transcripts. A disc with all of the pertaining files is created as well (unless the firm is super-duper environmentally friendly) and sent to the firm who ordered the deposition. Some firms still like hard-copies printed, both in full-page form and condensed (four to a page), and mailed to them. In my experience working in production departments, this is something that is a slow death. More and more firms are going green to reduce the amount of unnecessary paper being printed, shipped, and stored in a room to collect dust. However, the firms that still want their hard-copies will fight until their dying day to keep them.
Firms who are a part of the case also have the option to purchase copies, but the original transcript will either go directly to the courts or the ordering firm. There’s also what’s known as a “read & sign” where the witness can read the transcript and check for arbitrary errors. This will frequently dictate who will get the original transcript for a select period, but now we’re getting technical, and this blog post is long enough.
“What we are waiting for is not as important as what happens to us while we are waiting.” – Mandy Hale