Collaborative Meeting Minutes- The solution you have been looking for!

We need to have accurate minutes of our collaborative meetings because we have no interim court orders and we need to have a record of our conversations and of the work towards ultimate settlement.

The History- first lawyers were taking the minutes, but found it to be difficult to participate effectively in the meeting and take accurate minutes.  Then some lawyers started bringing in paralegals to take minutes, but they weren’t always accurate, which caused some lawyers to take the job back.

The Solution- bring a paralegal and two digital tape recorders (one for back up).  Have the paralegal take notes and timestamp them with where that particular conversation is on the tape.  Then have the paralegal transcribe the minutes using the tape after the meeting.  Then the lawyer will review and edit them and if the lawyer wants to listen to a certain section of the tape again to perfect the minutes the time stamped notes come-in handy to keep the lawyer from wasting a lot of time listening to parts of the tape that she is not interested in revisiting.

Warnings- Tell everyone in the first meeting that you are tape recording.  Be sure to include that disclosure in your written minutes.  The common practice is to erase the tape after the written minutes are approved by the team and the parties.  However, the team and parties could agree that they don’t want the tapes erased until the case is over.

Controversy/Question- Does tape recording the meeting cause people to be uneasy or apprehensive?  When I first considered taping the meetings, I thought it might have a chilling effect on the conversation.  I have now tape recorded over 20 sessions and can report that it has no effect whatsoever.  It doesn’t even have the positive effect of encouraging parties to behave better.

I highly recommend taping the meetings to improve your minutes. You will love your minutes, especially when you have complicated topics at the meeting for example:  a business valuator speaking in hyper-technical business valuation speak.