Court Reporting: In-House Videograper

Deft Depth

Active member
A job opening in my city has come up recently, and I have a phone interview with them in the morning.

The job title is "In House Videographer" and it's for a well-known and well-established court-reporting agency whose base of operations in located where I live. The job entails taping court-depositions both in-house and out in the field. It also requires knowledge of media-formatting and different production methods.

Also included in the job description is a service they offer called, "Day in the life of" videos. As a news videographer/editor, I pretty much do this on the daily and feel highly qualified for this job.

The only thing I'm not really sure about is what kind of salary this job entails now. I make a comfortable living at my current job, but I feel I'm worth a raise with a company that is as well-respected in the legal community throughout the Midwest as this one is.

Does anyone here have any background information on what type of salary is coming for this type of job ? Input appreciated!


Well-known member
I looked into doing this type of work on the side. To get hired at a nice rate, you needed to be certified through one of two professional court reporting organizations. Both entailed a week long seminar and a test, which you pay for, that cost anywhere from $1300-$2000. It seems most big law firms require this certification to shoot depositions these days. You also need to be able to mic EVERYONE and monitor audio in a mixer. I know there are several on this board who have done, of currently do, this work who might have better insight. Hope it works out for you. My guess is this is a $25k/year job if it's an in-house gig.

Necktie Boy

Well-known member
Law firms make big money, but don't pass it along. And if Mike is correct on the pay, that pretty sad. But I don't see the lawyers paying big bucks for video.


Well-known member

I hope you are not making the move trying to increase the excitement in your life. Depositions can pay well but are very black and white. You hit record and then don't move for 90 minutes or so except to change tape.

Not to downplay this side of the profession, but if you are use to chasing news this will be the equivalent of becoming a librarian. You are expected to sit still all day, say yes sir a lot and document every item and objection introduced to the discussion. It can be a good living but be aware of the environment you are walking into.

$25K sounds low, but it is an in House job-likely considered a "starting" position.

Alaska cameradude

Well-known member
I've done these before on a freelance basis. I do NOT have any
certification. In the course of doing them, I have talked to
several firms that do legal depositions and found out, it depends
on the state. For example, one case I did a shoot for, was being
tried in Texas (I think....I may remember wrong). This state
did NOT require any certification, so they were just looking
for a videographer with video camera, lighting, and a mixer
and mics capable of setting up sound for the witness and all lawyers
present. This was the case with all these that I have done, so apparently
there are some states who do not require certification.

As noted, it is pretty boring, you set up a 'medium shot'
on the witness, and basically just monitor audio after that.
Whenever you go 'on record' or 'off record' you do a short read in or
out, giving your name, title ('independent videographer' or something
similar,) and the time you are going on or off record. You need good
audio from everyone, so you need several good mics (one for yourself
as well as the witness and lawyers so you can do the 'read in and outs'.)
and a mixer. Pretty easy work really, but pretty boring. In my case,
it paid pretty good, and I'd be expecting a lot more than 25k per year.
But that may be what they are offering as a lot of 'staff' video jobs
seem to be looking for the 'cheapest' labor they can find, regardless
of the ability of the applicant.


Well-known member
The reason I mentioned the certification is, from what I've researched, because it's easier for one side or the other to get the deposition thrown out on technical grounds if a non-licensed Videographer is used. I've found that licensed videographers can make as much as four times more than non-licensed and most bigger law firms are moving towards certified court videographers to avoid any issues in court. As far as state requirements for licensing, I'm not sure who does and does not require it.


Well-known member

I know a couple of people that have done the certification. One said it was worth it and another wants his money back as it made no difference in his business after being certified. Both live and work in the same general market.

Anywho, I know that different states have different requirements. I say research your area and made the best decision you can. Investment in yourself can be good as long as it is applied toward a larger goal.

Deft Depth

Active member
Law firms make big money, but don't pass it along. And if Mike is correct on the pay, that pretty sad. But I don't see the lawyers paying big bucks for video.
The company I'm applying for is contracted out by hundreds of law firms throughout the Midwest. The lawyers may not pay big bucks for video depositions, but I've heard that this company charges a lot for it.

I don't know what their rates are, but I'm willing to bet their services-- be they stenographer or videographer-- aren't cheap.

The job says CLVS certification isn't required for employment, but it's a bonus if you are certified. I'm going to inquire whether the company is willing to pay for my certifications, which I suspect they are. All I hear about this company is that they are well-paying, easy to work for, and that they treat their employees well.

Yes, this work will likely be more boring. I realize that. But if the pay is right and it means more stability for my newly-wed wife and I, than it's an opportunity I have to seriously consider.

Additionally, I always try to embody the notion that, "Wherever I go. There I am." Essentially, I'm happy with what I'm doing as long as it involves photography, editing, lighting, attention to detail, etc. I feel like as long as I'm in a job that involves those sorts of things, then I'm happy...even if I don't necessarily like who I am doing those jobs for, be they lawyers or reporters.

Interview is just moments away. I'll let you know how it went. Thanks for the replies.


In the words of the great Public Enemy,

Don't believe the hype.

The interview went well, but we did not have equal salary expectations. In fact, the salary numbers thrown out in this thread were fairly accurate (and unfortunately inadequate).

Upside if there is one, they told me to re-apply for another opening they had in IT: someone who basically oversees the video department and directs new ways of using technolgy (kid's stuff for us: FTP, Video-Conferencing and Web Capture, Live-streaming) to move the company forward, etc, etc.

Anyway, we'll see.
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Well-known member
I'm not surprised about salary. Assume you could make a high end rate freelancing and pull $85k/year. That's what that company will gross on your work. They aren't going to spilt it 50/50 so you could expect about $25k while they profit $60k. That's just how business works. You'll never make as much as a staff photog as you would freelance doing the same work. It's just harder to get as much work as a company that can market and sign large groups of law firms to contracts.