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04.05.16 | Blog Posts

Why Do Federal Agents Still Take Interview Notes by Hand?

The Insider: White Collar Defense and Securities Enforcement

Anyone who has attended a law school lecture in the last decade knows this sight: row after row of students typing on laptops, each taking down a nearly verbatim transcript. At the same time, anyone who has attended a witness interview—a proffer—in a federal criminal investigation in the last decade knows this sight: a group of Assistant U.S. Attorneys and law enforcement agents, all asking questions, while a single agent takes down occasional notes by hand on a yellow pad. Student notes can impact grades; agent notes can put people in jail. Yet the typed student notes will almost invariably be more complete than the handwritten agent notes. Why are law students taking better notes than federal agents? [...]

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