While President Trump may have recently tweeted the above question in earnest, it’s actually an excellent question that might even baffle some lawyers.
Though secretly recording a client is bad form, borderline (and depending on the jurisdiction, definitely) unethical, and just generally sketchy, depending on who your client is, and what they’re asking you to do, it could be what protects both your liberty and your license to practice. We’ll likely be hearing more about it thanks to Mr. Cohen.
Notably though, there are in fact several types of lawyers that do routinely record conversations with clients (with their consent, of course). Below, you can read about three types of lawyers that routinely record.
Lawyers That Provide Focused, Personal Attention
For lawyers that don’t want clients to obsess over what they’re writing down, or don’t want a computer screen or notepad to divert attention, recording a meeting for later review and note taking is actually a good strategy. Also, when an attorney takes an important client call that contains instructions while out of the office, recording the call can make recalling the exact instructions much simpler.
Similarly, for patent and transactional practitioners, recording a meeting might make it easier to get something exactly right that an inventor told them about, many months later.
Estate Planning Lawyers
Another type of lawyer that frequently records communications from clients are estate planning attorneys. Not only can a recording of a client help with getting things right, it might help to settle issues of capacity and intent if a challenge comes up.
Have you ever tried recording a friend, family member, or anyone really, doing something silly, and they caught you recording, and stopped immediately? If so, you’ve seen first hand the power of recording. And it doesn’t just work when it comes to people acting silly. When people are mad, angry, threatening, or acting out, the power of the camera or an audio recording device to stop it is awesome.
For attorneys that have clients who scare them due to outbursts, or have a history of acting out of line during meetings, it may not be the worst idea to openly record your interactions to harness the power of recording to encourage your clients to keep their emotions under control.