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Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth:
Ethical Obligations and the
Pitfalls to Gifting

The advice given in the “don’t look a gift horse in the mouth”
proverb is that when you are given a present, you should be
grateful for your good fortune and not look further to assess
its value.  This may not be sound advice in our legal arena.

Gifts and incentives designed to influence your decision on
which firm to use for court reporting work is coming in all
forms.  You might wonder why your court reporter doesn’t
offer such incentives.

The answer is simple:  According to the Illinois Court
Reporting Association and the National Court Reporting
Association, such practices can be considered unethical,
depending on the value of the gifts and the terms by which
they are being offered.

The ILCRA and NCRA Code of Professional Ethics state that
members shall “refrain from giving, directly or indirectly, any
gift, incentive, reward or anything of value to attorneys,
clients, witnesses, insurance companies or any other persons
or entities associated with the litigation, or to the
representatives or agents of any of the foregoing, except for
items that do not exceed $100 in the aggregate per recipient
each year.”

This bylaw protects us from the appearance of impropriety.  
Justice simply can’t be sold to the court reporter with the
highest reward, incentive, or kickback for the work.

What’s more, since the parties to the case are the ones who
are ultimately paying the bills associated with such incentives
received by attorneys and their staff, litigants are funding the
bill for some vendors’ marketing strategies.  Whether a
violation of our rules as court reporters or the rules
governing attorneys, these practices can be detrimental for all

This means that if your court reporter is throwing around gift
cards, iPods, or cruises, something is amiss.  Your court
reporter is either not an Illinois Certified Shorthand Reporter
or he or she is not abiding by the ethical rules of their

In summary, we all must examine how our actions may affect all
parties involved in litigation:  attorneys, their staff, court
reporters, and litigants.  We all must work together to uphold
the integrity of our court records.

PO Box 36
305 West White
Marion, IL 62959
Certified Shorthand Reporters
Southern Reporting
PO Box 36
Marion, IL 62959