How to write the minutes of business meetings legally

The only legally required meeting notes or minutes are those taken by the corporate secretary at meetings of the company's Board of Directors. However, formal notes should be taken at every important management meeting, particularly if strategy or important projects or decisions are going to be discussed. Formal notes should also be taken when an employee is warned or terminated or in any other instance that may result in legal disputes or litigation.

Create a meeting agenda template that includes the date of the meeting, location, attendees and topics for discussion.

Circulate the agenda before the meeting so attendees can add topics to be discussed. Update the final agenda and include it in your meeting minutes.

Create a meeting minutes template that includes date, time and location of the meeting, attendees, the agenda, a section for reports from the various managers, old business, new business and the time the meeting disbanded.

Include the name of the person speaking when taking notes on a discussion.

Attach any presentations or copies of any contracts or other documents that were presented or discussed at the meeting.

Circulate the basic notes among the attendees for their comments and corrections.

Store a copy of the notes in physical form in three-ring binders prepared for each meeting type: board meetings, executive management meetings, division management meetings or specific project meetings.


Consistency is key to creating corporate notes that hold up well under legal scrutiny. That is why templates and formal meeting agendas are helpful. Circulating the minutes of the meeting for comment or correction and having the minutes approved at the next meeting also improves their legal weight.


Do not add too much detail to your notes as unnecessary details may affect a court's understanding of the intent of the meeting and introduce side issues that will complicate a legal proceeding and possibly result in additional litigation.

Things You'll Need

  • Meeting notes template
  • Meeting agenda
  • Three-ring binder
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About the Author

Victoria Duff specializes in entrepreneurial subjects, drawing on her experience as an acclaimed start-up facilitator, venture catalyst and investor relations manager. Since 1995 she has written many articles for e-zines and was a regular columnist for "Digital Coast Reporter" and "Developments Magazine." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in public administration from the University of California at Berkeley.