Ethics in Court Reporting, Litigation Support and Legal Video
The Importance of Ethics in Legal Video
An article by Accurate Vision's Chief Executive Officer
As court reporters, litigation support professionals and legal videographers who operate within a free-enterprise system,
competition is a factor that drives many of our important business decisions.
Entities within our respective professions compete with each other for exposure and for the acquisition of new clients,
and very often the competition gets heated, to put it mildly.
Striving to keep competition from getting highly unfair, antitrust laws, trade regulations and other forms of legislation quite clearly define
legal and illegal business practices, but do a vague job at best of defining the difference between ethical and unethical practices.
Thus businesses and professionals are left to define ethics as they see fit, and many simply conclude that something is ethical as long as it is legal.
I’m of the opinion that, in an ideal world, the words legal and ethical would in fact be synonymous — the legalities of doing business and the ethics
of doing business would be one and the same. But in the real and no-so-ideal world, we're often confronted with a course of action which, while perfectly
legal, is not the most ethical way to proceed.
In this article I’ll explain why and how I leverage ethics as the CEO of Accurate Vision, and hopefully shed some light on the importance of
business ethics in your choice of a legal video provider.
I operate on the premise that employee loyalty and customer loyalty are so closely tied to business ethics
that it is improbable a company will last very long if it engages in unethical business practices.
I’ve seen a number of companies fail in our industry during my fifteen-year tenure as Accurate Vision's CEO,
but none of those failures came as much of a surprise. Their demise was obvious because each of them had very
high turnover rates in two areas where high turnover is extremely detrimental – in HR, and in their customer base.
Employees were there one day and gone the next. New clients came, booked jobs for a few months at the outside, then took their business elsewhere.
Turnover rates that high are indicators of unethical practices including but not limited to price gouging for short-term profit, failing to pay vendors their just due,
poor or non-existent customer service and over zealous sales efforts which promise services and benefits that never get delivered.
I run Accurate Vision for profitability and expansion over the long haul, not the short term.
The only way to accomplish that is by developing and nurturing long-term business relationships with legal-video consumers, and with my staff.
Viable, long-term relationships are plentiful for companies that are driven by strong ethical values.
That’s why I’m bullish on ethics.
Protect Our Customer's Relationship With Their Client
Have you ever booked a deposition video job with someone who poached your client or tried to solicit the client on their own behalf?
Chances are good you have, or that you’ve at least heard such horror stories. But you never have and never will hear a factual story
about Accurate Vision stealing a client because poaching is explicitly forbidden in our ethics code, and I personally police and enforce
that tenet of the code for blood.
Over 90% of our customers are court reporting firms, litigation support professionals and other legal video companies who trust us to service
their clients. Many of them have been booking legal video jobs with Accurate Vision for well over a decade. And while there are numerous reasons
why they remain our loyal customers, one of the most important is that we always protect their relationship with their client.
On jobs where you require a legal-video service that works “behind the scenes”, our videographers always represent YOU, our customer.
They never promote for their own benefit as videographers, and they never represent or promote Accurate Vision as a company.
Videographers sign an affidavit to that effect when they join our network, and I enforce it without compromise.
The same holds true for my administrative staff. They work diligently behind the scenes to ensure your clients remain loyal to YOU,
not to Accurate Vision or to our videographers.
Did you know that the words "Accurate Vision" are never spoken once during 90% of the legal video jobs we cover?
Always Deliver Above And Beyond What We Promise
Delivery failure is in my opinion the most common unethical practice engaged in by businesses, including professional service providers.
Perhaps it is so rampant because it is rarely absolute and instead occurs in degrees of severity. Usually something gets delivered,
but that something falls short of what was promised to a greater or lesser degree.
Another probable reason why delivery failure happens so often is the apparency that there are plausible excuses for it.
And when accused of delivery failure by their consumers, the company’s senior management tries to buy forgiveness with such excuses.
You were promised a flat hourly rate for the video deposition but the invoice arrives with mileage, parking and shipping fees that were never quoted.
You go straight to the owner of the video service about this, and the owner blames it on an overzealous sales rep who failed to mention we always
charge for incidentals – we have to or we’ll go broke.
Another example is where equipment failure results in a blank master tape and, to your horror, you discover that the videographer did not have a backup
system on site for the deposition. You contact the video service and the top brass throws the videographer under the bus, guaranteeing you that
we’ll never use that vid again.
The list of delivery-failure-horror stories in our profession goes on and on – including everything from wrinkled bed sheets for backdrops to
non-existent customer service during and after the deposition. And so does the list of who’s to blame.
I’ve eliminated the possibility of delivery failure at Accurate Vision by implementing a simple and highly ethical policy.
We not only deliver what we promise, we deliver more than we promise.
I’ve also eliminated the delivery-failure-blame game by mandating that the buck stops at the top, with me.
On each and every video job that we execute, my goal and the goal of my staff is for you the customer to say, “Wow! Thank you!”
I am at fault when that doesn’t happen, regardless of any appearance to the contrary, which is why I personally take whatever measures
are necessary toward remedying the situation until I do achieve complete customer satisfaction.
Always deliver above and beyond what we promise.
This is the senior and most important tenet in Accurate Vision’s code of business ethics.