How to Run an Effective Legal Meeting

//How to Run an Effective Legal Meeting

For lawyers, time is money. If your firm isn’t running meetings efficiently, you are losing valuable hours and you’re likely frustrating your team and even your clients in the process. Try these tactics for running meetings that are effective and efficient.

Set a meeting agenda

Create and distribute an agenda before the meeting and follow it faithfully. Designate one person on your team who will be responsible for drafting the agenda and then guiding the group through the discussion, making sure that the conversation does not stray off topic. For client meetings, be sure to send the agenda beforehand via email. If you’re a Smokeball user, your emailed agenda will get organized along with all other communication and files related to that matter, so you’ll be able to find it easily when you need to reference it in the future.

Stick to strict time limits

Decide beforehand what time the meeting will end, and plan to stop precisely at the stated time (if not before). Enforcing these strict boundaries for your meetings is crucial; if you let a few meetings run over, you will soon find that most do, and your whole schedule will get off-track. Keep an eye on the time during each meeting to make sure that you are moving through the agenda at an appropriate pace. You don’t want to rush through the agenda and miss the opportunity for important discussions, but keeping everyone focused on the most important topics is crucial.

Build in time for discussion

When planning a meeting, it’s important to include ample time for conversation and questions. By building this time into your agenda, you will be able to keep the meeting on track without cutting off important team contributions. Set aside 5-10 minutes at the end of each meeting to clearly lay out next steps and make sure your team has accomplished everything they planned in the meeting.

Follow-up immediately

Keep the momentum going after an effective meeting by sending out a list of action items immediately upon its conclusion. Designate someone to take detailed notes during the meeting and then document next steps for all parties in a followup report. This report will keep everyone on track with relevant action items and allow you to accomplish more between meetings.

Well-run meetings can have a major impact on your firm’s productivity and bottom line. Thoughtful meeting management can transform a tedious feature of office life into an effective tool for collaboration.


By |June 11th, 2015|

About the Author:

For years, Josh has helped lawyers become more organized, productive, and profitable. A trained litigator, Josh came to Smokeball from a large east-coast law firm where his practice focused on franchise, insurance, marine, and general litigation. His work with Smokeball, and his continued passion for what he does each day, is driven by a desire to help lawyers and their staff do better in every way. Knowing well the stress and strain put on today’s legal professional, he regularly focuses on improving work and life in the law. He has traveled the country working with and learning from lawyers and their staff. Josh speaks regularly to bar associations about successful law firm practices and other legal topics. Recent notable engagements have been with the Chicago Bar Association, the Illinois State Bar Association, and the Missouri Bar’s Solo and Small Firm Conference. In addition to his work at Smokeball, Josh serves on the Writing Resource Center staff at The John Marshall Law School. Besides legal technology, his research interests include judicial decision-making, jury decision-making and psychology, and legal writing. He has written and overseen research exploring causal effects of sex/gender on federal appellate court decision-making, and assisted with research for a forthcoming textbook on judicial decision-making. Additionally, Josh sits on the Board of Directors of Chicago-based Community Activism Law Alliance and on the Board of Directors of Chicago Fringe Opera Company. Josh holds his J.D., cum laude, from Washington University in St. Louis, where he served as a Senior Editor of the Wash. U. Law Review, held the prestigious Thompson Coburn Research Fellowship, served as Research Assistant to then-Vice-Dean (now Chancellor) Andrew D. Martin, and clerked at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. He holds a B.A. in Political Science and a B.M. in Music Performance with Honors Scholar distinction from the University of Connecticut, making him a Huskies basketball fan through and through. Follow Josh’s activity on LinkedIn, and keep up with new articles on the Smokeball Blog.