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From Zero to Warp Speed

The Demands of the Legal Industry Drive Hutchings Court Reporters, LLC to Stay Ahead of the Pack

“We’ve learned over the years that technology can move from zero to warp speed in a very short period of time,”

says Kathy Konzen, Account Executive for San Diego’s Hutchings Court Reporters, LLC. Certainly, Hutchings has more than just a few years upon which to base such a statement. The family-owned-and-operated company opened its doors in 1953, and has had nothing short of a phenomenal presence in the San Diego legal community for more than 30 years. Moreover, in the last decade, the company has also experienced exponential national growth, with more than 1,200 settings each week from east to west and everywhere in between, as well as internationally.

The impressive growth the company has experienced has landed Hutchings Court Reporters a position within the top tier of agencies in the highly competitive national court reporting industry.  That growth is due in large part to Hutchings’ incomparable technological innovations and its commitment to not only a consistent presence in the San Diego community, but ongoing contact with existing and prospective clients.  Hutchings knows that personal service has been the keystone for growth in San Diego and elsewhere.

Clients: 360-Degree View of Service

“Relationship preservation and building upon that foundation is our top priority,” says Jeff Koller, General Counsel & Client Services Administrator for Hutchings, where he’s been for almost 15 years.  What sets Hutchings apart first and foremost is its emphasis on educating its clients as to their services, technology, and the industry itself, even if that is at the expense of not obtaining an account.  “Often, decisions are made based on pricing, which we commonly do in so many purchasing aspects of our lives and business.  With regard to court reporting, there’s a bit of education that can go a long way in getting to what you are truly being charged.  What we call rate-stacking is a common practice in our field. It’s  a standard practice for agencies to charge a page rate  and other charges for exhibits, shipping, video services, and realtime.   But, from there you could incur a fee for the condensed transcript and/or word index, then there’s a charge for the electronic versions, and sometimes even a charge for those files on a disc, as well as to be uploaded for online access.  We don’t charge clients like this,” he says.  “We have a transparent approach to our rate structure that we provide to clients.  We do not charge for many services that our competition does, nor do we add pages to the transcript  and charge for them in the form of double covers, errata pages, wide page margins, condensed transcripts, or word indexes.  These practices alone can increase the cost of the transcript by upwards of 20%, if not more,” he continues.

This transparency of business practices is certainly one of the first reasons attorneys are attracted to Hutchings.  More importantly, it’s one of the reasons that Hutchings has so many long-standing relationships. “We are not in denial about the competitiveness of the industry.  We know that we can lose a client rather quickly after spending a long time earning their trust, which is why we are so accessible to them. The legal community in San Diego is a close-knit group, and Kathy is in her own backyard here.  She’s the one making sure that what started for a client in A is finished in Z, and that this is repeated each and every time our services are requested,” he continues.

Make no mistake that makes for a great deal of work.  With more than 1,200 settings made with Hutchings each week that means the confirmation of reporters, videographers, interpreters, conference rooms, and the thousands of calls, faxes, and cancellations falls on the Hutchings’ team. And they welcome it, 24 hours a day.  “We are a 24/7 live company, where a live person can be contacted regardless of the day or time,” says Kathy.

This accessibility and transparency has certainly made an impression on the San Diego legal community as a whole.  “Hutchings is the member services provider for the San Diego County Bar Association, and went through an extensive screening and vetting process for this privilege.  We were chosen due to our transparent approach to transcript formatting, pricing, as well as our focus on client support both locally and outside San Diego,” Konzen explains.

Hutchings’ commitment to serving those in the legal industry also extends to its active role as one of the founding members of the San Diego SoCalPros Chapter which was started in 2003. Jeff currently serves as the organization’s President.

Technology & Innovation: 24/7

Konzen and Koller, both attorneys themselves who litigated cases from inception to completion for several years, know all too well how crucial access to depositions, exhibits and even video can be at a moment’s notice.  Recognizing a need and as a way to further promote mobility, Hutchings was the first reporting company to offer real-time streaming to all mobile devices, including iPads, iPhones, Droids, Blackberries, etc.  “We were the first agency to implement this technology allowing attorneys, their clients or experts to view the deposition transcript in real time without the need of any software regardless of where they were in the world as long as they had an internet connection and log-in information. Previously, you needed preloaded software or a viewer add-on, but through this method all you need is an internet connection and the access link we provide.  In addition, there is a chat feature permitting two-way, live communication between the onsite attendee and the remote party,” Koller explains.

To illustrate just what a vital role technology plays for Hutchings’ clients, Koller remarks on a recent circumstance which occurred on a Saturday morning.  “My client was starting trial on Monday morning and needed two specific exhibits from an expert deposition taken the week prior.  Within five minutes, the large files were available to her online.” But, he admits that without the time spent educating all of their clients on the services that Hutchings provides, she may not have known that she could gain access to those exhibits and transcripts.  “We’ve found that one’s learning curve and receptiveness to embrace certain technology services is much more prevalent when timing is, as you might say, mission critical,” he adds.

Hutchings is also currently finalizing its Mobile App for access to deposition calendars, transcripts, and exhibits.  The App will be available this year.  Moreover, “As technology advances daily, we are also embracing and evaluating alternative methods of video teleconferencing by promoting various access portals and the means to do so.  At Hutchings, we believe that mobility counts,” he adds.

COMMUNITY PRESENCE: 365 DAYS A YEAR

There is little room for dispute over the fact that Hutchings has a strong presence in the San Diego legal community.  As one of the oldest court reporting agencies in the city, and as such an integral part of SoCalPros in San Diego, Hutchings seems to be everywhere, and they wouldn’t have it any other way.  “In recent years, we have shown tremendous support of the programs and services of the Alzheimer’s Association.”  In fact, since 2004, Hutchings Heroes have enthusiastically participated in the yearly Walk to End Alzheimer’s and have raised more than $130K for the organization to date.  The company also selects a non-profit or charitable organization to support during the holidays or times of disaster each year.

In San Diego, they have actively supported the Tariq Khamisa Foundation (TKF), through their involvement with the San Diego SoCalPros chapter.  In regards to the support provided by a group focus on TKF, Koller says “When the presence of 10 to 12 companies gets behind a charity, we are able to do so much more. We found that other associations were made aware of the foundation and at least one group, San Diego Legal Secretaries Association, made TKF their charity of focus during this past year, which is incredibly rewarding.”

Warp Speed Growth

With a tremendous foothold in the San Diego community, as well as nationally and even internationally, where else is there for Hutchings to go?  Frankly, according to Konzen, “Wherever your case takes you, we are there.”  Hutchings is certainly doing their part to make sure they are there, and it’s paying off.  The company grew almost three-fold in the last five years, something which, Konzen and Koller are both tremendously proud to be a part of.  However, with all of their technology, and their commitment to being a visible and active part of the legal community, Koller insists that it is the strong foundation upon which the Hutchings family built its business many decades ago that keeps the company moving forward. As the company grows, they are determined to maintain that same accessible, commitment-to-service philosophy that preserves client relations and earns the company new local and national accounts.

Koller sums the past, present, and future success of Hutchings up very simply.  “The truth is that humans make mistakes and technology breaks down. So we work very hard to prevent that, and to respond quickly and effectively. That’s why a live person will always answer your call.”  In the meantime, Hutchings intends to keep doing what it does best: staying ahead of the pack with innovations in technology, and transparency for all of their valued clients and those considering their services.

Contact:

Kathy Konzen, Esq. (kathyk@hutchings.com)
or Jeff Koller, Esq. (jeffk@hutchings.com)

Jennifer Hadley

Jennifer Hadley is a Staff Writer for Attorney Journal

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About the Author: Jennifer Hadley is a Staff Writer for Attorney Journal

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