Scoping and Deposition Proofreading

What is a scopist? courtroom

Most legal testimony does not take place in a dramatic courtroom — it’s in a law office at a deposition. Before the parties make it to trial, they take testimony from the plaintiffs, defendants, witnesses, etc., at a deposition. A court reporter transcribes the testimony given at a deposition using various machines and software in a kind of shorthand called stenography, and reduces that information to a deposition transcript.

The court reporter sends me, the scopist, this transcript via e-mail and the Internet, and I go through it and fix it. I add punctuation, I correct misspelled words, and I add missing words. I make sure the correct speaker is identified, paragraphs are paragraphed correctly, the pages are formatted correctly, the appropriate words are used and that the untranslated stenography is erased and replaced with English words. I usually listen to the full audio of the deposition so I can catch all the problems, though sometimes I just do proofreading of transcripts where the court reporter has already scoped her work and I simply read through it. Once I’m done (I’m given anywhere from a few hours to a week to finish the trancript), I e-mail the completed transcript back to the court reporter.

What skills do I need to become a scopist?

First and foremost, you must be a naturally good speller. You must have a basic understanding of computers, and a good grasp of Internet searching. Several times a day I’m looking up spellings for obscure terms, people’s names, company names, cities, places, products, etc. You also need to have the self-discipline to complete difficult tasks in a timely manner. There have been many, many times when I’ve wanted to throw in the towel and run far, far away from difficult transcripts, but I never have. You will quickly lose clients if you don’t meet deadlines and don’t produce top-quality transcripts.

I completed an online scoping course at Best Scoping Techniques. Though I “graduated” over eight years ago, I still receive job leads and industry info from Best. I could justify the cost of tuition alone from the work leads that I’ve taken advantage of over the years. But the course itself is online and self-paced. It includes learning to read steno, lessons on punctuation and grammar, familiarization with medical and legal terms, and learning the best ways to do Internet research. Practice transcripts are provided as well. Also included in the course are tips on how to organize your business, send out invoices, and advertise your scoping skills. It’s a great way to break into the business of scoping. If you decide on the BeST course, please put down Tasha Hoke as your referral.

What equipment do I need to become a scopist?

Special CAT (computer-aided transcription) software is needed to do this kind of work. The different systems range in price from $100 to $1,595. Currently I use the latest version of Case CATalyst. Other necessary equipment includes a decent laptop or desktop computer and headphones. That’s it.

How much money can I make as a scopist?

This is the million-dollar question! As a scopist you are essentially running your own business and working as an independent contractor, so the income will vary greatly depending on how much you want to work, how good you are at scoping, how many clients you have, how much sleep you are willing to lose, etc. Here’s a link to a scopist rate and income survey from 2010 so you can get an overview. From my experience working part-time and full-time as an established scopist, (after completing the BeST course and having a few months to market my scoping skills), I’ve earned anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 per month.

Interested in becoming a scopist?

Does scoping sound like a good work-at-home job opportunity for you? If so, consider heading over to Best Scoping Techniques to check out their frequently asked questions, tuition prices, and enrollment application. Remember to put down Tasha Hoke as your referral if you do decide to enroll.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments below!

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  1. Marc

    Wow, I had never heard of scoping before. Very interesting. How long does it take to go through the course so you can actually start?

  2. Administrator (Post author)

    BeST is a self-study course, so it depends on your motivation and available time. It took me a couple months. Thanks for visiting my site!

  3. sheila

    I’m thinking of taking the course at BeST. Did you have any prior experience before starting the course? I’m an English major and am thinking of switching over to scoping, so i can work from home.

    1. Administrator (Post author)

      I did have experience proofreading deposition transcripts before I took the BeST course, so some of the information in the course was already familiar to me. But Judy & Cathy over at BeST are pretty thorough in their lessons and even give sample transcripts for you to practice on.

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