As a corporate legal professional, you know that organized and accessible minute books are the foundation for an effective legal team. Having proper maintenance and timely filings is integral to efficient processes, enhanced client communication, and productive workflows.
The Canadian Legal Innovation Forum, in partnership with Athennian, hosted a webinar on digital minute books which outlined best practices for making the switch from paper, ranging from technical advice to tips for company alignment.
The pressure to move toward virtual minute books has increased tremendously in the past two years due to the sudden shift to remote work. However, even before this change, legal professionals were striving toward technological solutions to manage their data.
Firstly, paper minute books can be voluminous and take up valuable in-office space, causing many law firms to look for off-site housing. In addition, with “at-your-fingertips” as the accessibility standard in all other departments, legal teams were finding it hard to keep pace when collaborating involved moving manual documents from law firm to client and back.
Today’s Digital Minute Books
Until recently, a digital minute book meant a scanned copy of a paper source of truth, which was significantly easier to manage than hard copies, but still required the constant toggle between paper and computer with paraprofessionals playing the role of messenger between the two.
Today, a digital minute book exceeds those expectations. Converting your paper minute books to the cloud offers the unique benefit of creating a shareable, instantly accessible, and easily maintained single source of truth. When a minute book is designed, altered, and updated through technology, it frees up time and allows for swift and streamlined collaboration.
As outlined in CANLIF’s webinar, the benefits of virtual minute books are expansive, but the process of digitizing can be daunting, especially without appropriate planning and change management. Below are some best practices for digitizing your minute books in a way that avoids friction, promotes alignment, and mitigates risk.
Clearly Define Your Needs & Wants
Start with outlining what your expectations are for an end result. How do you want to share your data? Who do you want to share it with? How will your minute books be organized? What are you hoping to achieve through moving to digital?
These fundamental questions will help frame your strategy and keep your team aligned to the same goal throughout the project.
Foster a Supportive Environment
Just like in any business process, company-wide alignment is critical. It can be helpful to create a committee of people from each department who can serve as support touchpoints during the entire digitization process from research to implementation. This ensures quality control, managed expectations, and a transparent chain of command for questions and concerns.
In addition to internal support, ensure that your project’s positioning is optimistic and firm when discussing it with clients. Open communication and well-defined benefits can be crucial for assuaging external hesitation.
Create A Detailed Chain of Custody
When moving your minute books, outline each document’s journey from start to finish, especially if your migration process requires the use of a trusted outside scanning vendor. Detailing exactly where your minute book will be, how long it is expected to be there, who is responsible for it at that location, and who is responsible for the transition to the following location eases pressure and creates transparency.
Design a Plan for the Future
Approach your plan for your fully digital minute books with the same attention as your migration plan. Define naming and template standards, and specify your protocol for sharing the virtual data with each client. How much access will they have to their minute book in practice? How much time should a client expect before seeing data changes?
Trust the Experts
Find a platform that understands the unique complexities in entity data and minute book migration. Ensure that their team fully understands the labyrinth of formats, and organizational challenges, that make this process intimidating. Choose a specialized migration team, like Athennian’s, that is dedicated to a secure and seamless transition to digital.