Reply To: Legal Videography, maybe not


I can’t speak to rural areas, but in large urban areas like Houston, I don’t think it’s hard to get started.

I was an in-house legal videographer for a few years, and after a different career took me away from it for almost 4 years, I decided to get back into it as a contractor around 2009. Perhaps it was the fact that I had prior experience giving me “luck”, but all I did for marketing was call local court reporting firms I found in Google, ask for the scheduler, introduce myself, get their email address, and send them my info PDF sheet with rates, equipment, etc. That’s it! Several firms booked me on jobs on that first introductory phone call without even seeing my info yet! I expected it to take a couple of months for firms to get to know me and trust my work. I half expected I’d have to resort to first-job-free type incentives but I never needed anything like that. I was working 4 to 5 jobs a week within two weeks just from those initial phone calls.

The Legal Video industry is plagued by the “brother-in-law video” issue. That’s the belief that anyone can pick up a camera and go out and shoot depos and it will be good enough. As someone who has run a video department since 2012 and processes / distributes the work of other shooters, I can tell you that too many shooters don’t know how to use zebras and audio meters and can’t get basic exposure and volume right. And that’s just the AV side of things. Technique, procedure, and attention to detail are also huge areas of concern. (ie, preventing problems, catching and reacting to them in seconds rather than minutes or hours, knowing how to resolve technical issues that come up, dealing with clients in a way that they enjoy having you at the depo, filling out paperwork correctly, etc)

So my biggest piece of advice for potential newbies is to work with someone who is good at the job and get trained properly so you don’t cause disasters. One way to do it is strike a deal with a firm or individual shooter who might like having another dedicated shooter on his team. Having more shooters makes it easier to give out YES when clients call, and that floats you up in people’s lists. You should be able to find someone willing to train you in exchange for being a dedicated member on his team, and then he’ll book your jobs for you and you won’t even have to do any marketing yourself!

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