NCRA - Ethics First Program
- DID YOU KNOW — that incentives, gifts, and rebate programs are being offered by court reporting firms to influence the hiring decision?
- DID YOU KNOW — that reporting firms who give valuable gifts are not following the National Court Reporters Code of Professional Ethics, which states any gift, incentive, reward, or anything of value is not to exceed $100 in the aggregate per recipient each year?
- DID YOU KNOW — that the amount of these gifts may be considered by the IRS to be revenue to you and create a taxable event to the recipient, whether it be a lawyer, legal assistant, or any other employee of the law firm?
Court reporters serve a critical role in maintaining the integrity of the judicial system by serving as an unbiased officer of the court. Incentive gift giving can degrade that neutrality, potentially hurting public faith in America's judicial norms as well as debasing this time-tested requirement that the court reporter remain impartial to all sides in a proceeding.
Similar to attorneys, judges, paralegals, and other legal professions, members of the National Court Reporters Association must abide by a very strict Code of Professional Ethics. One of the most important provisions states that all members must:
The purpose of this provision is to avoid the possible appearance of partiality or favoritism on the part of a reporter.
The practice of providing incentive gifts to attorneys, clients, or representatives of clients dilutes the integrity of the legal profession as well as the status of the court reporter as a neutral and impartial officer of the court.
NCRA created the Ethics First program as a positive and proactive effort to encourage court reporters, firms, and the clients that they serve to promote the impartiality and neutrality of the court reporting profession and avoid even the appearance of impropriety concerning inappropriate gift giving.
The American Bar Association has also noted the potential problem with law firms receiving incentive gifts related to litigation. A 1993 ABA formal opinion reads:
HansonBridgett, a large Northern California law firm, noted that there are implications with any gift giving. They found that firms that do give extravagant gifts need to file 1099 forms to recipients. HansonBrigett concluded: