Cost of Deposition: How Much Does A Deposition Really Cost

You are looking to depose someone but what is the cost of deposition?

How do court reporters charge providing a deposition transcript?

What are the costs to depose a witness?

In this article, we will break down the cost of deposition so you know all there is to know about it.

Let’s jump right in!

Cost of deposition overview

Litigation is an expensive venture.

In addition to the potential cost associated with the claim underpinning the lawsuit, parties must incur costs during the proceedings to defend themselves or assert a claim to enforce their rights.

Litigation can involve the following fees and expenses:

  1. Attorney fees
  2. Court costs and fees
  3. Cost of deposition and discovery
  4. Court reporter fees
  5. Deposition transcript fees
  6. Lawyer fees
  7. Expert fees
  8. Witness fees

Our list provides some of the more common fees a legal party may be required to pay, there can be more.

Let’s focus our attention on the cost of deposition and discovery.

What are the deposition costs?

The costs of deposition can be summarized as follows:

  1. Lawyer fees to prepare and conduct the deposition, to read the deposition transcript, speak with the client and reassess litigation strategy 
  2. Court reporter fees to organize and manage the deposition
  3. Court reporter fees to prepare the deposition transcript
  4. Costs for rending a conference room or space for deposition, if any
  5. Extra court reporter services associated with the deposition 

Who pays the deposition costs?

Generally, the party calling the witness or deposing someone is accountable to pay for the deposition costs.

The deposition costs assumed will be the court reporter’s fees who may charge on an hourly basis or a flat-fee to attend and organize the deposition along with a fee they may charge per-page to prepare a deposition transcript.

Just like any other services, the best practice is to call a few firms or stenographers and have them provide a rough idea of how much the deposition can cost or even quote.

The same deposition can cost significantly different when dealing with one stenographer as opposed to another.

How much does a deposition transcript cost?

The cost of deposition can vary depending on your jurisdiction, the firm selected and duration of the deposition.

Cost of the deposition transcript 

As a rule of thumb, in the United States, a court reporter may charge anywhere between $3.00 to $8.00 per page of the deposition transcript.

In other words, if you have 100 pages to transcribe, you may need to pay anywhere between $300 to $800 for the transcript.

We can also assume that every hour of deposition can potentially generate 75 pages of deposition.

A 2-hour deposition will potentially generate 150 pages of transcription and that will cost you about $450 to $1,200.

Cost of court reporter’s time

In addition to the cost of the actual deposition transcript, you may also need to pay a stenographer or court reporter either an hourly fee or flat-fee to attend the deposition for you.

Generally, a stenographer may charge between $75 to $175 per hour.

If we assume a cost of $125 per hour, a stenographer attending a 2-hour deposition will charge an additional $250.00 for the time.

Lawyer fees

Don’t forget, your lawyer must prepare and be present at the deposition.

You will also need to assume the hourly rate of your lawyer if he or she is charging by the hour.

If you are working on a full contingency basis, then this fee will not apply.

A lawyer can charge anywhere between $200 to $1,500 per hour depending on the complexity of the case and the expertise of the lawyer.

Let’s assume an hourly rate of $400 per hour.

For a 2-hour deposition, your lawyer may need to prepare for 2 hours, attend the deposition for 2 hours and review the transcript later to analyze the case for 2 hours.

That’s 6 hours at $400 per hour costing you $1,200.

Total costs

Your total costs for a 2-hour deposition can potentially be:

  1. Deposition transcript cost: $450 to $1,200
  2. Court report cost: $250
  3. Lawyer fees: $1,200

Total costs: $1,900 to $2,650.

We’ve kept the assessment conservative, the costs can be slightly less or significantly more depending on your case and selection of court reporter.

Transcript formatting effect on deposition cost

Another driver of cost relating to how much a deposition may actually cost is something that is less obvious but important.

Typically, a court reporter will provide you with a quote of how much the deposition may cost per page.

The rates can vary from $3.00 per page to $8.00 per page.

That gives a good idea but not the full picture.

The real question is, how is the transcript formatted and how many characters can fit on one line.

This is where you may have a variance in the fees charged by one court reporter as opposed to the other assume all else is equal.

The same deposition can be transcribed in 100 pages by one court reporter and 130 pages by another due to the deposition formatting used.

Depending on how many characters fit on one line, your total cost per page can change.

For example, if a stenographer formats the transcript to hold 65 characters on one line, your cost will be less than someone using 55 characters per line.

In this example, a change between 55 characters per line and 65 characters per line can result in a 10% to 15% difference in total cost for the deposition transcript.

A deposition that should have cost $1,000 can cost $1,150 just on this aspect alone.

Cost for extras

In addition to the time a court report can invoice for attending a deposition and the deposition transcript cost, court reports may also charge for additional services or extras.

Extras can include:

  1. Communication of an electronic version of the deposition transcript
  2. Additional deposition transcript copies
  3. Rough draft immediately following the deposition 
  4. Mini-pages where each page of the transcription can house 4 to 6 mini pages
  5. Index to the deposition transcript

Costs incurred by court reporters passed on to clients

Another way of looking at the deposition cost is to look at how much overhead and operational costs a court reporter assumes and must pass on to his or her clients to be profitable. 

What are some of the court reporter’s expenses that we can reasonably expect to be embedded in the price paid?

Here is a list of costs and overhead expenses court reporters generally assume:

  1. Court reporter’s equipment to record audio or video at the deposition
  2. Software required to handle the actual deposition and record audio or video
  3. Software license to create deposition transcripts
  4. Shipping and handling costs
  5. Signature fees
  6. Office expenses
  7. Administration expenses

For a court reporter to be profitable, they’ll need to cover their overhead and operational costs and have a profit margin.

As a result, a freelance court reporter may charge a different amount than one working in a larger firm with a lot of overhead costs.

Takeaways 

The cost of deposition is an important consideration when dealing with a lawsuit.

A case may involve the deposition of one witness while another may require the deposition of multiple witnesses.

It may not be feasible to depose every single witness, tough choices may need to be made depending on the litigation budget available.

Having a good understanding of how much it may cost to depose a witness will help determine how many key witnesses a party can afford to depose.

The costs may vary from one court reporter to the next.

Leveraging the knowledge you’ve acquired in this article, your best strategy is to shop around and ask the right questions so you can have a good appreciation of your true deposition costs.