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New website allows junior lawyers to anonymously share ‘Oops!’ moments

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Aims to ‘change the culture of unhelpful perfectionism in the legal industry’

A new website has launched allowing junior lawyers around the world to anonymously share their “Oops!” moments and mistakes.

Legal Lookbacks launched last month with the aim to “change the culture of unhelpful perfectionism in the legal industry”.

The site, which has been set-up by junior lawyer Rebecca Chui, allows vacation scheme students through to trainees, paralegals and junior associates to honestly discuss their screw-ups, comment on other entries, and learn from others’ mishaps.

Already there are 15 entries, with mistakes ranging from misspelling the firm’s name, sending an old version of a document to be signed, forgetting to diarise court dates or change email subject lines, and, in one instance in the US, a rookie accidentally releasing an alleged criminal who should’ve been held in custody!

The latest comments from across Legal Cheek

One anonymous property solicitor shared this nugget back from when they were a junior:

“As a junior associate I read a client letter as an instruction to consent to assignation of a lease. It was written in a way I interpreted as ‘I’ll consent even though I’m not happy about [thing]’. The client meant ‘I’ll consent but not until I am happy about [thing]’. I wrote to the tenant confirming consent and the client went ape poo.

This was my first lesson in the ‘check, check, then check again’ school of thought. Enthusiasm, eagerness to do what you imagine is the right thing for all, or just a desire to go to lunch: none is an excuse for making certain a thing is done right. Could the client have written the instruction more clearly? Yes, but my job was to be sure what they meant, not do what I expected them to mean. Clearing up the mess took waaaay longer then triple checking the work.”

Other lessons learnt include checking numbers (“typos sometimes matter, wrong numbers nearly always matter”) and whether attachments have been sent, escalating matters to supervisors rather than carrying the burden on your own, and to remember, “sometimes things aren’t as big issues as they seem”.

The website launch comes after concerns that junior solicitors are being routinely struck off the roll for acting dishonestly.

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32 Comments

Eyeroll

But God forbid a student dares to make a spelling mistake on their TC application form.

ToP fIRmS nEeD pEoPlE wItH gOoD aTtEnTiOn To DeTaIL!!!

(63)(2)

I Know

If someone cannot spot a typo in their TC application then their not cut out for the profession.

(16)(49)

It proves the point

*they’re.

Funny how people with such high moral and professional standards can so easily fall short of their own dogmas.

(115)(3)

Muphry Fitzpatrick

This is a classic case of Muphry’s law. Delightful.

(15)(0)

CharlieN

Whoooosh.

(11)(3)

Phil McPants

Yeah, that happens to me too.

I Know

God, 1.10 and 2.09! Look at the moniker! It was comedic. Jesus. Are people that thick and basic?

(21)(6)

I See Stupid People

“It proves the point” is the sort of person who would benefit from a special sarcasm font. Tragic to be so dim.

(6)(3)

Confused

which comment was sarcastic? which comment was real? ahhhhhh!

(1)(1)

Anonymous

Oops, I hate to be pedantic but should that not be “they’re”. Rocks and glasshouses?

(3)(4)

Anon

Doh. Sarah would have preferred to have been told explicitly that the post was a joke. She finds subtle humour so hard.

(3)(0)

Betty McWetty of Counsel

I was once late for a Fast Track trial at Woolwich County Court.

That meant that after consuming three coffees on the way, I didn’t have time to have a loo break by the time the trial started.

After the first hour I was a little uncomfortable…

After the second hour I was squirming and fearing for my skirt…

After the third hour I had an oops moment, but luckily I was wearing new Tena Noir!

C’est la vie! I do not care!

(6)(1)

Asking for a friend

A friend told me he found that anecdote mildly arousing.

He’s wondering whether he should seek professional help…

(1)(0)

6 year PQE

I remember being fresh out of university and at my first paralegal role many years ago. I accidentally left the “LLP” off the firm’s name in a letter and my supervisor went ape sh*t. There was also another occasion where I was screamed at by a partner in full view of colleagues because I hadn’t checked an associates work said associate had informally asked me to pass over (which I had never even seen before the tirade). Glad I don’t work at that particular firm anymore, everything was a drama.

(45)(2)

Any Rep - Not 1st or 2nd

Sorry you were treated so poorly.

It’s pathetic how bullies in the legal world target people they perceive to be ‘weaker’ than they are.

Glad you are working somewhere much better now.

(34)(1)

Inspector Bantz

Spill the beans or GTFO: which firm?

(10)(0)

Zed

Bantz and Chuckles LLP (formerly Beer and Batnz S.a r.l)

(9)(1)

Inspector Bantz

Would’ve been funnier without the clumsy typo, son. 3.5/10.

(7)(2)

6 year PQE

@Any Rep: In the scheme of things it was a learning curve and certainly not something I do anymore, but I can imagine less resilient people may take it to heart and plainly, it’s no way to speak to anyone. I moved on to better things thank god.

@Bantz: While I won’t name names, think city and top 20 (now) and you’ll narrow it down fairly well. I had all my hopes and dreams set on going to this firm and when I got there, truth be told, it was a sweatshop full of nepotism and one rule for one, another for everyone else. Plenty of shady dealings. I made it about a year and never looked back.

(14)(0)

Alan

That seems a bit harsh. Sorry for your treatment there.

There could be a valid reason for insisting on the LLP. If you don’t make it clear when entering a contract that you are doing so on behalf of a body with limited liability such as an LLP or company, then the members/directors can end up personally liable for fulfilling the contract and paying any damages arising for breach. But they could have explained that a bit more gently.

(6)(4)

MC Reality

Mistakes are nothing to worry about. Just make sure you’re the right type and attend all the ski trips and you’ll be fine. Partners are more interested in the “right sort of chap” rather than the people who are the most competent anyway.

I’ve seen them laugh off major mistakes from their buddies and crucify the outsiders making relatively minor errors, so make sure you’re on the inside and you can get away with anything.

This is, after all, a profession of brown-nosers trying to enter the inside circles of partnership.

(73)(2)

US Firm NQ

This is disappointing but so true.

(22)(0)

Dr Anon

One only learns from their mistake(s); unless you work in N.Korea where a mistake can cost you your life!

(3)(2)

Incoming applicant

How rife is nepotism at the US firms?

(7)(0)

Richard J Trumpkin IV

None. I worked my way to partnership on my own efforts, just like Richard J Trumpkin, Richard J Trumpkin Jr and Richard J Trumpkin III before me.

(29)(0)

Richard J Trumpkin V

I hate my family.

(12)(0)

Anonymous

With all the stress in this occupation resulting in poor mental health, I’m glad there’s a space to actually talk about and learn from other people’s mistakes! We all make them!!

(11)(0)

Who cares?

Yeah… the good old “we only accept top people who have great attention to detail” BS… I once worked for a firm like that. They imagined themselves to be the next big thing. Every tiny mistake was the end of the world if a junior did it, but then I started reviewing files, correspondence and almost every partner I worked for during my TC had the worst grammar and spelling in their emails. Sometimes it was so bad it made me think they were stupid drunk when they typed it.. so yeah, perfection is very important in this profession but only to those who are below a partner level…

(20)(0)

Anonymous

This is it. Partners are not closely monitored and scrutinised so get away with it. I’ve seen some horrendous mistakes and just simply a lack of care on numerous occasions from my supervisor. I have to bite my tongue sometimes.

(7)(0)

6 year PQE

I had to double take for a moment as I was sure I wrote this! I can’t even count the times I’ve seen senior associates and partners do the exact same thing they’re shouting about and it’s maddening. I genuinely wonder how such people get these roles.

(9)(0)

Red faced

Photos of my holiday to Ibiza accidentally made it into a trial bundle.

(10)(0)

Al

I sympathise. I had an email that had accompanied a skelly go into the bundle. Where I’d been describing the court building in blunt, and rather sweary, terms.

(6)(0)

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