CoverCrow, Inc., a SoCal software startup, has launched a new software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform to simplify job-matching for court reporters and court reporting agencies. The site, CoverCrow.com, is the first customized job platform for stenographers to offer on-demand job fulfillment, real-time data, and automated job-matching tools. And it’s free for professionals who sign up for the service.
“We like to call it a combination of Uber and Upwork for the court reporting profession,” said CoverCrow president Cassandra Caldarella, a graduate of South Coast College in Orange, CA. She “came up with the idea because there’s a growing court reporter shortage, and the demand for court reporter services continues to grow. Also, we human court reporters need to be able to compete more effectively with digital reporting and electronic recording.”
Currently, stenography jobs are advertised on agency email blasts, SMS text messages, CSRNation email blasts, or a variety of Facebook job boards, and are usually assigned to the first court reporter who responds. But that often doesn’t make sense, according to Caldarella. “A lot of the time, there’s no thought given to geography, when it would be much more efficient to hire reporters who are physically closer to the job location, cutting down waiting time for the attorney clients.” And there are so many Facebook job board groups now that by the time you hit them all, you’re finding that perfect job only to find it has already been covered. And your email inbox is flooded with hundreds of job alerts each day, most of which are jobs that are outside of your desired coverage location or are for services you don’t provide.
Also, the way job notices are shared now, a court reporter working “on the record” has no chance to respond. Even if a reporter is a strong match for a job, if the reporter doesn’t become aware of it until a break or they’re off the record, it’s often too late to accept the assignment.
Real-time Map and Automatic Job Assignments
“CoverCrow.com has a ton of great job-matching tools,” said Caldarella. “Two of the coolest are our real-time map and our automatic job-assignment algorithm.”
The website’s map gives a bird’s-eye view of locations where both jobs and reporters are currently available. An agency can match them geographically, in real time. Caldarella notes that this can help agencies save their clients time, as well as manage bonus costs. And it can help reporters take on more jobs with less travel time, for more work and more pay.
The site also lets reporters set up job preferences by location, case type, hardware needed, experience required, favorite agency, and availability. Then, when a matching job is posted on CoverCrow, the platform can accept and schedule it automatically, even while a reporter is working.
“And that,” said Caldarella, “saves time, improves productivity, and makes more money for everyone in the business, and ultimately increases client satisfaction.” It also leads to better reporter engagement with the agencies.
Court Roll Call Feature
One of the most customized tools for the court reporting industry is the Court Roll Call feature, which allows a court reporter to check-in to a Courthouse and Department on a specific date and time, and when an agency places a job order for that location, the court reporter will be notified before it gets published to the job board and the agency is instantly notified that there is already a court reporter assigned to that department. This is perfect for last-minute coverage requests and reduces an agency’s stress, allows court reporters to make more money, and efficiently distributes resources allowing other jobs to be covered during the court reporter shortage, ensuring that another job gets coverage by preventing two or three reporters showing up for one job location.
It also keeps the court reporter’s location private and an agency’s job coverage need confidential. Currently, there are Facebook groups where reporters can share their location and agencies can post job coverage requests, but it’s ineffective because many court reporters don’t wish to share their whereabouts because their peer-competitors are on these groups or other agencies for whom they work, and agencies are guarded about their job needs out of fear that another agency or reporter might seek to send coverage to that location and steal that job, which happens frequently.
Used for All Jobs, not Just Overflow or Last-Minute Coverage
CoverCrow was designed so that all of an agency’s jobs would be posted on the CoverCrow platform to get covered. There are advanced capabilities for agencies to post jobs that will only be posted to job boards according to their Tier Levels. Agencies can assign each of their reporters to a Tier level, ranging from 1-3 and overflow. By posting every job on CoverCrow, the freelancers will have every job appear on their dashboard for greater visibility and job management capabilities. This leads to greater engagement of court reporters which can lead to better success of the platform in covering last-minute jobs because everyone is active and engaged on the platform. This is a huge advantage for smaller agencies who cannot afford to build custom portals for their reporters. And it’s a huge advantage for reporters who work with multiple agencies, providing them with one access point.
More Job-Matching Tools
The CoverCrow website provides many other features that are useful for both agencies and court reporters. These include:
- Advanced filters for remote jobs that are via telephonic or videoconference.
- Customized job board to post, assign, accept, and track jobs.
- Real-time dashboard, plus live reports, to monitor current job status.
- Automatic alerts that filter out “noise” to show only the types of jobs that users define.
- Document vault to keep all key documents in one place, including rate sheets, agency onboarding paperwork, previous transcripts, witness lists, W-9 forms, and more.
- Direct messaging in-platform between agencies and court reporters.
- Two-way ratings and reviews to give agencies and reporters more transparent relationships.
Private Beta Success, Visions for the Future
The public beta launch of the CoverCrow.com website experienced an impressive 600 sign-ups in the first 3 weeks in April of 2020. Registrations have continued to over 1,000 freelancers and 35 agencies in the first six months of launching.
“We private-beta-tested the site over the last half of 2019, and after a lot of tweaks and refinements, and were ready to scale up with more users,” said Caldarella.
Court reporters and agencies can sign up for the service for free at CoverCrow.com.
Caldarella expounded, “We plan to monetize the platform and build affordable subscription tier levels with more advanced features and functionality, but the basic level that we launched with will always be free. Our philosophy is that posting jobs and covering jobs as has always been done, should remain free. But we plan to monetize the site with more advanced functionality and added features, including data analytics, which will be game changers.”
“We also plan to expand our services to more people in the legal profession,” added Caldarella. “We’d love to provide the same kinds of job-scheduling tools for interpreters, videographers, notaries, and other legal service providers. We’d also like to add attorneys as schedulers, but only through the agencies. We are inclusive of agencies and view them as central and key players in the industry, especially the smaller reporter-owned agencies.”
Caldarella confessed, “I’m not doing this to make money off the backs of hard working court reporters. I’m doing this to help fortify the stenography profession and ensure our survival long into the future. If we can meet the demand for our services and supply the market efficiently, we can overcome the threat of extinction. There is no hope without the success of a platform such as CoverCrow to transport and propel us into the future.”
Caldarella concluded, “Our motto is calendaring coverage collaboration. We aren’t trying to ‘disrupt’ our industry or the relationships in place now. We just want the system to work better! We want to give reporters more job opportunities, provide agencies with better scheduling tools and cost controls, and ultimately have every court reporter job pass through the CoverCrow platform.
CoverCrow.com is a cloud-based, on-demand job-calendaring system designed specifically for legal service professionals, like court reporters. It uses proprietary algorithms to match court reporting freelancers with court reporting agencies at the touch of a button. CoverCrow’s online platform is feature-rich, highly automated, and mobile-friendly —with real-time location data and automatic job acceptance tools—for both on-demand and scheduled job fulfillment.