One of the smarter people I know, a lawyer who not only knows the law but knows business and also knows how to help people, in a very practical way, to take their business from a bright idea after the third or fourth beer to a fully-fledged money generator, is my friend Noric Dilanchian, principal of Dilanchian Lawyers.
Sydney-based, Noric is equally at home in San Francisco and other international centres, explaining the intricacies, opportunities and traps in the field of intellectual property law.
When Noric gets going on a bit of a riff on intellectual property issues, which he does from time to time, I find myself struggling to keep up. What I’m endeavouring to say here is that he is *really* bright!
So I was rather pleased when Noric rang me today to tell me how much he enjoyed reading my post yesterday on making file notes. Perhaps his enjoyment was not so much about what I had written, but that I had broached the subject.
Because he went on to explain that, from his observation, making and properly storing file notes is of fundamental importance for any business.
Among some comments Noric emailed me after we finished speaking was the following, which made me sit up and really take notice:
File notes are highly regarded in legal proceedings as they comprise records made at the time of an event and hence are less susceptible to loss of memory.
This reminded me of a time I was called as a witness to a traffic accident. Problem was, the event had occurred two years before. Did I have a clear recollection? No – and I said so, much to the irritation of the legal people who had called me (I had warned them I mightn’t remember much). But if immediately after the accident I had gone home and written out what I’d seen, that could have been very helpful to them, which would have been fine with me – I had volunteered my business card to their client because at the time I thought she was in the right.
And I recalled today that in business I’ve had situations where I have come off second best because I trusted a handshake and did not have a written record of the words that had gone with the handshake! When things turned sour, it was my word against the other person’s.
So making good file notes is a necessary practice for business, large or small. And, as Noric pointed out to me, it might be appropriate to have, as well as the official, ‘just-the-facts’ record, a private file note which would record your subjective thoughts and observations on the day. Oh, and make sure you date the notes!
The bigger picture that emerged from my conversation with Noric was that keeping and storing file notes properly is part of a systematic approach to document management and retention – which is in turn a very significant element of strategy for risk management and business continuity.
It became very clear to me, listening to Noric, that file notes could be crucial in saving a business’s bacon, whether the business is a small, home-based one or a multinational conglomerate.