Why Every CA Court Reporter -- Whether Official or Freelance -- Should Care About AB 5

It occurred to me to start a list of reasons why every California court reporter should care about AB 5. It seems like some reporters -- mostly those working in court -- think they are immune from AB 5. Or, if not immune, then the affects that are talked about are overblown. Nothing could be further from the truth. And I plan to use this page as a repository of reasons why that is the case.

This list is not exhaustive and will be added to as the true effects of AB 5 are felt on Jan 1, 2020 and beyond:

  • - If you have a scopist or proofreader that you pay as a 1099 contractor, that relationship is changed by AB 5 and they potentially must now become your employee.
  • - If you enjoy moonlighting in the freelance court reporting world while having steady day job employment as an official, the moonlighting work is likely affected by AB 5.
  • - If you ever plan to leave work as an official and go back out into the freelance world, AB 5 impacts the nature of the freelance business model that awaits you.
  • -If you enjoy your position of being in demand as an official, AB 5 will likely drive up competition for your job as more freelancers seek employment there as well.

TOP 10 Reasons Why Court Reporters Should Have An Exemption In AB 5

  1. 91% of freelance court reporters wish to remain independent contractors.
  2. The unpredictability of when lawyers schedule depositions makes it impossible for agencies to incur the consistent overhead of formally employed reporters.
  3. Most agencies do not have full-time work so reporters would have to have multiple employers.
  4. Formal employment is less attractive and less lucrative to freelancers.
  5. Litigants will have a much harder time finding court reporters since AB 5 makes the profession less attractive.
  6. Lawyers are exempt. It is impossible to argue that court reporting is not part of the legal profession. If being known as officers of the court is not part of the legal profession, what is?
  7. Court reporters should be considered professional services because they have a law-related license from the State of California.
  8. The court reporting exam is arguably far more rigorous and with a far lower passage rate than the State Bar Exam.
  9. Court reporters have always traditionally passed the Borello test.
  10. Freelance court reporting has long afforded women an upwardly mobile and flexible path into an honored profession that AB 5 threatens to stop.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Todd Olivas

Todd Olivas is a court reporter and entrepreneur.
He founded TO&A in 2003.

  Comment by Dick Manford | Thursday, October 31, 2019
Re item # 6: It is indisputable that court reporting is part of the legal profession. Unfortunately, new Labor Code Section 2750.3(b)(3) exempts from the ABC test an actively-licensed lawyer practicing law, not the legal profession. The simplest legislative solution would be to add to subdivision (b)(3), or add as new subparagraph (xii) to subdivision (c)(2), the following: A freelance Certified Shorthand Reporter, as defined by Business & Professions Code Section 8018, who engages in the practice of shorthand reporting as defined by Business & Professions Code Section 8017.

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