Scopists are freelancers who work on court cases behind the scenes. They trancribe the legal…
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Life as a freelancer is a bit of a mystery to most people who are not freelancers. Delving into the unexpected can be scary, and that fear can really put people off of thinking seriously about moving from traditional employment to self employment.
Scoping, as well as proofreading, transcription and even most court reporting positions, are freelance jobs. A lot of people won’t touch jobs for scopists because they don’t know what to expect. So here is a little insight into the work life of a freelance scopist.
Life as a Freelance Scopist
Scoping is what is called an online job. Working online means you work not in an office environment but elsewhere on a computer, while sometimes using the internet, of course.
Although scoping itself is done on a software program that is offline, sending and receiving files, communicating with court reporter clients, finding work, looking up correct spellings, etc. does have to be done online, thus the term online job. If you’re interested in earning money as a scopist, you can read 6 ways to become a scopist here.
The scoping field will continue to thrive well into the future. You can read what Linda Evenson, founder of and teacher at Internet Scoping School, has to say about the field of freelance scoping here.
Traits of a Good a Scopist
Because scopists are self-employed and work online, you have to develop, or somehow already possess, some traits and skills that are necessary in office jobs and some that are not. Knowing what your court reporter clients want, being able to handle your taxes, motivate yourself, communicate effectively, focus, be dependable, pay attention to detail, and meet deadlines are necessary.
If you’re lucky, you’ll walk into this job with all of these traits already in place. If not, you’ll need to learn them and hopefully that won’t be hard.
Freedom, Flexibility and Variety
By far the greatest benefit of being a freelancer is the freedom to work when you want. The work life of a scopist has no routine. You will not have the same type or amount of work every week. And you definitely will not be working 9-5 Monday through Friday.
If you adore mornings, you can do your heaviest work right after you awaken and spend the rest of the day taking care of other business, and yourself. If you’re a night owl, you can take care of your body clock by sleeping through the sunlit hours and living your life at night, like you want.
When you freelance online, you can also work anywhere you want. If you focus best at a desk in a chair, go for it. If you need to get out of the house, you can go to a library, coffee shop or anywhere you’re able to pull out a laptop and get some work done. If you like to travel, working at an online job is one of the most effective ways to make this happen. More and more people are traveling and working online all the time.
The job of scopist, as with many online jobs, is full of variety. Of course, variety is a wonderful thing and everyone loves it. But, if you’re the type who likes to know what to expect from your job, the uncertainty which accompanies this variety can be a little unnerving.
Court reporters rarely know how much or what type of work they will be doing in a given day, so this is true also for scopists. You have no idea what type of transcript you’ll be handed or when. However, when you do have a transcript or two or more to work on, you can work on them any day of the week and any time of the day you want as long as you get them back to your client in time.
Sample Month in the Work Life of a Freelance Scopist
You may be able to land faithful clients soon after you begin your career, or it may take time. This primarily depends upon you – the quality of work you produce, your networking skills and the effort you take to find and keep your clients. Whether your transcripts come from regular clients or people you’ve never heard of, your work will be different every day because no court reporter works on the same case, or even same type of case, all the time.
One week you may have several hundred pages of a dozen slip and fall cases that are quick and easy to scope and due back to the court reporter in the regular five-day turnaround. This would be a pretty ideal week.
The following week your workload could nosedive into only 20 pages, but it’s one simple car accident case and you finish it in an hour. So now while you may not have much money coming in, you have tons of time to take care of the rest of your life and then relax.
The next week you may work only one day as well, but it’s on extremely technical testimony from a metallurgy expert motoring along with a thick accent at 250 words per minute for four hours. And your client needs it back the next day. After you spend your day pushing your way through the testimony to the end, you’ll have the rest of the week not only to thank God that it’s over but that you got paid extra because it was expedited.
Now you’re really hoping for some more work because of the two light weeks. So you start asking around for work on Facebook groups. Now one court reporter who works in a courthouse sends you 300 challenging pages of trial testimony in an embezzlement case. And a freelance court reporter sends you 400 easy pages from several different car accident depos. You’re probably going to work more than you’d wanted this week, but it makes up for the two weeks that weren’t busy enough and it helps you not feel pressured for money if the next week or so isn’t busy enough either.
100% of the time being a scopist as well as a proofreader, transcriptionist, or court reporter is unpredictable and some of the time it is challenging. But it is always far better than sitting in a cubicle all day every day like you would in a regular job before working online became a thing. In the millenia before the internet it was almost impossible to work any time, everywhere with the level of freedom, flexibility and variety you can enjoy as a freelance scopist. But now it is totally possible.
Sabina Lohr is a lifelong freelancer turned entrepreneur who created World of Freelancers to help others discover how to work for themselves online and live the freelance lifestyle. She’s always really enjoyed the freedom that freelancing brings, including several years on and off of working online while traveling and living abroad.