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Court reporting firm opening satellite offices

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A Charleston-based court reporting firm is expanding statewide. 

Utilizing technology and an innovative leasing program, Realtime Reporters LLC is in the process of establishing a network of locations across West Virginia. The company has satellite offices in Huntington, Morgantown, Parkersburg, Wheeling, Beckley and Flatwoods. A lease agreement is pending in Clarksburg with plans for continued expansion in Martinsburg, Elkins, Princeton, Lewisburg and Williamson.

Realtime owner Teresa Evans says she implemented the aggressive plan because "time is money." Established three years ago, the business is among the largest in the state with a staff of 18 court reporters, four videographers, three transcriptionists, four proofreaders and two office employees.

It was a law firm that suggested offering multiple locations.

"Recently, I had a client approach me about opening satellite offices all over the state to offer videoconferencing so their attorneys didn't have to travel," said Evans, who began working as a stenographer 32 years ago. "They related that the insurance companies have started refusing to pay for mileage and are cutting the travel time reimbursements in half."

Those cutbacks had resulted in a 5 percent reduction in annual billing for the law firm.

"They envisioned sending the deponent to a remote location with our reporter, and the attorney staying back in their hometown," said Evans.

After researching potential solutions, she determined the most logical and affordable alternative was to lease existing conference rooms.

"I settled on a plan of seeking locations where a current business would have a conference room that was underutilized in its use but could be rented by us on a per-use basis, leaving a videoconference unit in that room for the ‘landlord's' use as well," she said. 

The offer enticed a wide variety of locations including the Parkersburg Art Center and Tamarack in Beckley. Realtime's Charleston headquarters is a 5,500-square-foot renovated restaurant building at 713 Lee St. The structure, which had been vacant for a decade, now features five conference rooms.

The satellite locations will result in a savings of both time and money, according to Evans. As an example, she referred to a recent situation during inclement weather in Cabell County. The videoconference arrangement eliminated the need for travel on snow-covered roads for the Charleston attorney. 

"Lewisburg is a three-hour trip down and back for what may be a one-hour deposition," said Evans, the spouse of Fifth Circuit Judge Thomas Evans. "I'm not about wasting time."

She says the videoconference rooms are not limited to use for only depositions.

"We can also provide these services to other businesses," she said. "(Examples include) someone wanting to do a face-to-face interview with an applicant for a job or an attorney needing to meet with a client and neither of them having time to travel. The possibilities are endless."