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Scopists are freelancers who work on court cases behind the scenes. They trancribe the legal testimony taken down by court reporters on steno machines, helping to polish up that testimony into transcripts used by lawyers and judges.
The job of a freelance scopist is very important, as many legal matters are major criminal cases or lawsuits involving people’s lives and large amounts of money.
Once you become a scopist, you’ll need to find scopist jobs so you can use your skills to earn some money. Fortunately, there are many different places you can find work as a freelance scopist.
In this post you’ll discover 14 great places to find scopist jobs.
First, let’s take a look into exactly what a scopist is, how much money you can earn as as a scopist, and where you can get scopist training.
A scopist is a freelancer who produces written transcripts of depositions, trials, and other proceedings that were typed onto a steno machine by a court reporter. You can read a more detailed description of scopist here.
Exactly what does a scopist do?
Using scoping software, a scopist combs through the initial typed transcript that was taken down on a steno machine by a court reporter at a legal proceeding.
The scopist usually listens to an audio backup to ensure they get everything as they’re reading through the transcript. Doing this, the scopist produces a nearly final version of that transcript. They then send it back to their court reporter client for one final look before the court reporter submits it to their lawyer clients.
There is a very important distinction between scopist and transcriptionist. A scopist produces only transcripts taken down by court reporters on their steno machines. A transcriptionist produces any type of written document except for a transcripts taken down by court reporters on their steno machines.
How much money do you make doing scopist jobs?
As a scopist, you can earn very good money. And when you work on transcripts that are expedited, you’ll earn even more.
You’ll find in-depth information about how much you can earn as a scopist here.
You’ll get a detailed breakdown of scopist rates per page here.
What qualities do you need as a scopist?
A good and reliable scopist is a valuable asset to court reporters. If you’re interested in earning money as a scopist, you should have:
- a good work ethic
- good communication skills
- good listening skills
What skills does a scopist need?
Scoping is an important job. If you want to succeed as a scopist you need:
- good scopist training
- training in a scoping software
- great spelling and punctuation skills
- reliable computer
- good internet
How can I get scopist training?
If you’re not already a freelance scopist, you’ll definitely need training before you can begin this job. Scoping is quite involved, and you cannot just dive in without knowing what you’re doing. A scopist needs to learn how to deal with legal documents as well as how to use the software necessary to scope those documents.
If you haven’t received scopist training yet, you can get a head start on it with this free scoping mini-course by Internet Scoping School.
Where can I find scopist jobs?
Good news! There are many different ways you can find scopist jobs.
Scopist training programs
Learning scoping from an official scopist training program will help you with finding scopist jobs. Two online scopist courses include lessons on how to market yourself and find court reporter clients. These two are:
Scopist jobs websites
There are two websites entirely devoted to helping scopists find work. These are:
Asking court reporters you know
The reason some people learn how to become a scopist is because they know a court reporter and that court reporter has told them about scoping. So if you’re a scopist, it’s likely you know someone who’s a court reporter.
You may even be a court reporter yourself. Some court reporters take scoping work when their court reporting work temporarily slows down.
When you’re looking for scoping work, don’t be shy about asking the court reporters you know if they have any transcripts that you can work on.
Be professional and polite, and let them know your rates. Unless you know that court reporter very well, you should contact them via email rather than by phone or text. Since they know you, that court reporter will probably be more likely to give you work than a scopist they don’t know at all.
Cold calling court reporting firms
Many freelance scopists don’t know any court reporters before they start scoping. That’s okay, you don’t need to. You can cold call individual court reporters, court reporting firms and courthouses to let them know about your scoping services.
Do an internet search for court reporting firms and individual court reporters. You can easily find firms, but individual court reporters will be harder to find on the internet.
Email court reporting firms, letting them know about your services. Also ask those firms if they’ll give you the names and contact information of some or all of the stenographic court reporters who take work through that firm. Stenographic court reporters are the only people who use scopists. The people who do digital recording of court cases, who also sometimes call themselves court reporters, do not use scopists.
Also find out which courthouses employ stenographic court reporters as opposed to using digital recorders or audio equipment. Look up their courthouse contact info and let the court reporters there know you’re available for work.
You don’t need to limit your searches to your immediate geographic area. You can work for court reporters anywhere in the country or even the world.
There are several Facebook groups devoted to connecting scopists with court reporters. In these groups you can create posts letting members know you’re available to take scoping jobs. You can create the same post in multiple groups. You’ll also find posts from court reporters looking for scopists to help them with their transcripts.
Some of these groups are for all scopists, no matter what scoping software you use. Others are only for scopists using a specific software.
Facebook scopist jobs groups for all scopists
Job Board – Steno/Voice Reporters, CAT Scopists & Experienced Proofers – over 8,400 members
The Court Reporter/Scopist Connection – over 7,100 members
Scopists & Proofreaders – NCRA – over 4,600 members
Scoping & Proofing Job Board (Court Reporters, Scopists, Proofreaders) – over 2,400 members
Court Reporter/Scopist Connection – over 1,900 members
Scopist Needed Today – over 1,800 members
Facebook scopist jobs groups for scopists on certain software
Case Catalyst RealTeam Scopists and Proofers Available/Needed Today – over 900 members
Case Catalyst Daily Scopists and Proofers – over 400 members (this group is for lucrative daily copy and expedited scopist jobs)
ECLIPSE Reporter/Scopist/Proofreader Group – over 3,300 members
ProCat Scopists – over 150 members
Facebook group for payment issues
There’s also a group for scopists to let each other know about any court reporters with whom they’ve had a payment problem.
Scopists Beware – Non paying reporters – over 600 members
I wish you all the best with finding scopist jobs! When you start searching, also be sure to have a look around the internet on Linkedin Jobs, Indeed.com and other job search platforms. While searches on these sites don’t ordinarily turn up results for scopist jobs, you never know.
If you’re ever looking for headphones to use while scoping, feel free to look through my post on the best headphones for scopists.
(This updated post was originally published on August 10, 2020.)
Cover image by Mudassar Iqbal
Sabina Lohr is a lifelong freelancer turned entrepreneur who created World of Freelancers to help others discover how to work for themselves online and live the freelance lifestyle. She’s always really enjoyed the freedom that freelancing brings, including several years on and off of working online while traveling and living abroad.