Some lawyers write a lot, some jot down key points, but most lawyers take notes when they meet with a client.
Why do it?
To document what was said? To record your thoughts about what was said? To write down additional questions, issues to research, or what to do next?
These are all important. But not the most important reason for taking notes.
The most important reason for taking notes is to let your client see you taking notes.
To show them you’re listening, recording ideas, plotting ways to help them.
You’re not just taking up space in the room, you’re working.
Taking notes is a way to document effort. The client sees that you’re doing what you were paid to do. Win or lose, they see that you tried.
Taking notes is also a way to validate the client. It tells them you value what they say, and, therefore, you value them.
When a lawyer doesn’t take notes, what’s a client to think?
It’s also important to take notes at a deposition, statement, arbitration, or hearing. You want opposing counsel, the adjuster or other parties to see you taking notes. It suggests that you are hearing things you can use to harm their case or enhance yours.
It’s a way of getting in their head, throwing them off their game.
You might think it works the other way around. You intimidate the opposition by not taking notes, showing them you’re not at all concerned about their case. Your nonchalance suggests you don’t see them as a threat, they’re not saying anything worthy of note. It makes them wonder if there’s anything they’re missing.
Which strategy is best? I’ll let you decide. But if my client is in the room, I’m taking lots of notes.
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