As the COVID-19 pandemic shut down court systems across the country, Burlington-based startup eCourt Reporters continued to provide guidance to its customers faced with the challenge of conducting legal proceedings virtually.
The startup’s core product is a mobile and online platform that connects court reporters, attorneys, legal videographers and government entities. Attorneys can view profiles to find the right court reporter based on their experience and background.
When the pandemic hit, eCourt Reporters recognized its customers were challenged by technology, especially when conducting depositions virtually, said president Karen Renee. To help meet that need, eCourt Reporters developed a series of training videos and offered one-on-one training sessions.
As the legal system embraced virtual depositions, attorneys and court reporters were left figuring out how to conduct them to the appropriate legal standards. It prompted a lot of questions: What is the quality of the deponent’s internet connection? Is there someone in the room with the deponent who legally should not be present? Might there be a picture on the wall or an object in the background that could be incriminating?
“You’re dealing with people’s lives here,” Renee said. “The results of a lawsuit can change a person’s life forever so it’s nothing to take lightly.”
Just before the pandemic hit, eCourt Reporters was featured on WISN Channel 12’s “Project Pitch It” series, where the company won a $5,000 prize as well as professional business coaching services.
Although the startup’s user base of 1,700 increased after the show aired, eCourt Reporters then saw its revenues and new user count decline in the early months of the pandemic. The company, which has attracted users from all 50 states, is now seeing those numbers return to pre-COVID figures, Renee said.
“I think now that virtual has stepped into the legal world, it has allowed us to have a better connection to other states,” Renee said. “The virtual thing has allowed us a great way to increase our business overall because now we have a way to train virtually.”
The startup’s next move is to expand offerings on its website, including new services for attorneys and court reporters, such as process servers, interpreters, scopists and proof readers.
“We also have plans to expand internationally; we’ve already been asked to,” Gerulat said. “We’re not ready for that today, but that’s definitely in our plans going forward.”
eCourt Reporters Leadership: President Karen Renee and vice president Judy Gerulat City: Burlington Website: ecourtreporters.com What it does: A two-sided marketplace for law firms, government entities and court reporting agencies to schedule court reporters and legal videographers. Founded: 2017