Do Legal Video Costs Help or Hurt Deposition Job Profits?

Published in early 2012, this report by Accurate Vision Legal Video's Director of Public Surveys reveals startling
facts about the hidden costs court reporting firms and litigation support services pay for legal video.
 



Legal Video Depositions And Your Bottom Line

Legal Video is a fact of life that court reporting firms and litigation support services must contend with.

Recent advances in audio-video technology have brought down the cost of producing and presenting high quality video evidence. This in turn has caused more and more trial lawyers to lean toward using video depositions, day-in-the-life videos, video site inspections and other forms of visually recorded evidence. More often than not, the onus of finding and arranging a professional legal videographer falls on the shoulders of the court reporter, reporting agency or litigation support service.

At first glance, providing legal video alongside of reporting and support services would appear to be a plus – a way to boost profits in the current economic climate where every dollar counts. But is that always the case? Do profit margins improve on jobs that include legal video, or do they suffer?

Needless to say, the answer to that question varies depending upon who you ask. Legal video is a money maker for some. For others it’s an expense that cuts into profits. And then there are those who are happy because they’ve figured out how to break even on legal video costs. But why is there such a variable from one reporting agency to the next? From one litigation support service to the next?

That is exactly what we set out to discover in this 2011 Year End Survey.

Conducted in December of 2011, the survey focused primarily on U.S. court reporting firms and litigation support companies that service clients nationwide or across large geographic regions of the country.

The first set of survey questions was asked of all respondents and was aimed at finding out, on average, whether the respondents profited, lost money or broke even on providing legal video to their clients in 2011.

The tabulated results from the first set of survey questions fell into five groups of replies labeled A through E in the following table.

A. 34% said they probably made some profit from supplying their clients with legal video but were unsure as to the exact degree of profit
B. 26% said that providing legal video for their clients definitely cut into the profit they would have made from the court reporting or litigation support services
C. 21% knew for certain that they realized increased profit on jobs where they provided legal video, and they also knew the exact degree of profit
D. 14% said they probably lost profit on jobs where they supplied legal video but were unsure as to the degree of loss
E. 5% were unsure one way or the other

Next we posed a second set of survey questions to Group B – those who definitely knew that legal video had cut into their usual profit from jobs. The questions were designed to find out why legal video reduced their profit margin. The next table shows what we found.

54% of those who suffered reduced profit on video jobs said they expected to lose money because there are always “hidden costs” with legal video
23% of those who suffered reduced profit on video jobs said they honestly tried to profit from the video but failed at doing so because of inefficient operations within their own company
12% of those who suffered reduced profit on video jobs blamed it on unprofessional videographers
6% of those who suffered reduced profit on video jobs said they have resigned to giving the video away as a necessary amenity, just to keep their clients happy
5% were unsure why their normal profit margin suffered on jobs where video was involved

With “hidden costs” outnumbering all other answers by a margin of more than two to one, we questioned this group further to find out what those hidden costs consisted of.

51% said that the amount of time spent by employees when locating and scheduling videographers was the biggest hidden cost in arranging legal video
32% said that unexpected time spent by employees corresponding with videographers about logistics and job specifications was the biggest hidden cost
12% said that the biggest hidden cost was in the form of jobs they could not bill their client for because of sub-standard video and/or audio quality
3% experienced hidden costs by losing good paying clients after they unknowingly assigned jobs to unprofessional videographers who upset the attorneys
2% gave reasons other than the above

These results quite solidly point to a small but consistent group of hidden costs as the root cause of profit loss on video jobs.

But survey results must always be verified!

To verify our findings we went back and asked one last set of survey questions to Group C – the 21% of our initial respondents who did realize increased profit from jobs where they provided legal video.

If “hidden costs” were really the cause of profit loss on video jobs, then Group C would necessarily have discovered and resolved most or all hidden costs in order to turn a profit from the video they had provided. And these additional questions provided us with the verification we were looking for.

In each case where a company realized profit from the video they provided in 2011, they had effectively uncovered and in most cases had fully eliminated each one of the hidden costs listed above!

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We hope this article will be of value and use to you the reader.

Comments and suggestions are always welcomed.

If our Year End Survey has alerted you to the probability of hidden video costs in your organization, call us toll free at (800) 383-5704 and find out how we can help.

Director of Public Surveys
Accurate Vision, Inc.

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