What is Ethics First?

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:

“Refrain from giving, directly or indirectly, any gift or anything of value to attorneys or their staff, other clients or their staff, or any other persons or entities associated with any litigation, which exceeds $100 in the aggregate per recipient each year. Nothing offered in exchange for future work is permissible, regardless of its value.” 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, including paralegals, 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 with regards to inappropriate gift-giving.

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.

Donovan Reporting has taken the pledge to adhere to NCRA’s Ethics First policies and refrain from incentive gift-giving. We are well aware that some of our competitors in the Atlanta market are participating in such practices as points for scheduling which can later be traded in for gifts, etc. While we recognize that these incentives may be tempting at times, please realize that nothing is free, and we view these incentives as a type of kickback, which is inappropriate and
against our Code of Ethics. We have at times considered participating in these programs in order to compete in today’s marketplace; however, such consideration was short-lived because we know that our standards and principles must not be compromised under the pressure of competition. At the end of the day, we hope you will agree that your choice of court reporter is much too important to be swayed by such incentives.