By Linda Evenson
There is a current ad for a tax service that boasts, “Free! Free! Free!” Today I got an email from a reporter who was asking about scopists charging for checking quotes in exhibits.
Here’s what I told her: If you ask for something that is beyond the normal scope of a scopist’s job, such as checking quotes (which can take a long time), you will usually be charged more because it takes more time, plain and simple.
I had a long-time client who started wanting me to do that, and I did it for free for quite a while. Then he started having his office copy me on all his exhibits, and I was getting a bunch of pages that I had to go through, so I started charging him $25/hr.
If the attorneys would say, “Looking at Exhibit 1, page 12, paragraph 4…” it was easy. When they didn’t tell me where on God’s green earth they were quoting from, it often took me 15 minutes to half an hour to find a quote. Sometimes I never could find it, in which case I’d leave the reporter a note, “Can’t find.” If there were only a few exhibits and it didn’t take me long to check quotes, I didn’t charge him anything.
You have to realize that if the scopist spends his/her time doing
something you normally do to save you having to spend your time doing it, it’s worth something. I often could have done another 50-100 pages or more in the time it took me to search through exhibits, and that’s money I’m losing if I don’t charge for my time.
Normal research of spellings is part of a scopist’s job; checking every quote in an exhibit is not — especially if you want it done in addition to listening to the audio to make sure it’s perfect. When I started charging the above-mentioned reporter for my time, he had no problem with it because he knew it saved him a bunch of time he could use elsewhere. He was always very fair. He’s still one of my favorite clients to this day.
Just remember: Like they say, time is money. And that’s true no matter whose time it is.