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How often do you make mistakes?

Posted: Fri Apr 06, 2018 8:21 pm
by Anonymous User
Second year associate here. As a bit of background, I’m a corporate associate at a V50. I absolutely love what I do, and my coworkers seem to know that I’m very enthusiastic about my work. I had a nearly perfect review at the end of my first year.

At the beginning of my second year, I hit a few rough patches where I was completely overloaded on work (billing 60-70 hours/week), and made a few small errors here and there (small typos and the like, but nothing that caused a problem or was ever caught by a client).

Of course, as the terrible Type A personality that I am, I ruminate constantly about these errors. I’ve convinced myself that I haven’t worked for a certain partner in awhile because I made one error when working for him in the past, whereas I know rationally that it’s because I haven’t had time to take on new work in the past few months.

My question is: What is NORMAL in the realm of making mistakes as a young associate? I’m hoping that some fellow lawyers can shed some light so that I can at least somewhat move beyond the days and days of misery after I make a small mistake.

Re: How often do you make mistakes?

Posted: Fri Apr 06, 2018 9:18 pm
by Anonymous User
Depends. First year, I made some major mistakes - like getting the law wrong, incorrectly concluding stuff. That happened a lot more frequently than I’d like to admit. There were also small mistakes too (spelling the client name incorrectly to a third party, oops). No one really cared and my reviews were generally good.

By second year, I didn’t make as many mistakes. I did still make the occasional spelling mistake. But nothing major.

You’ll always make mistakes - my partners make small mistakes here and there. Don’t dwell on it unless it is something that’ll cause the firm to get sued or something.

Re: How often do you make mistakes?

Posted: Fri Apr 06, 2018 10:55 pm
by Anonymous User
Mid level here. Everyone makes mistakes. I’ve been told before I lack attention to detail by people who otherwise praise my work and it stung. All I can say is if you can identify something that would prevent the mistake the next time absolutely do it. I can’t tell you these things don’t matter. But, as cliche as it sounds, all you can do is your best. Just keep working hard and showing people you care. Obsessing will make things worse not better.

Re: How often do you make mistakes?

Posted: Sat Apr 07, 2018 12:17 am
by Anonymous User
Give an example and we'll tell you if it's normal.

Re: How often do you make mistakes?

Posted: Sat Apr 07, 2018 1:26 am
by KM2016
Anonymous User wrote:Second year associate here. As a bit of background, I’m a corporate associate at a V50. I absolutely love what I do, and my coworkers seem to know that I’m very enthusiastic about my work. I had a nearly perfect review at the end of my first year.

At the beginning of my second year, I hit a few rough patches where I was completely overloaded on work (billing 60-70 hours/week), and made a few small errors here and there (small typos and the like, but nothing that caused a problem or was ever caught by a client).

Of course, as the terrible Type A personality that I am, I ruminate constantly about these errors. I’ve convinced myself that I haven’t worked for a certain partner in awhile because I made one error when working for him in the past, whereas I know rationally that it’s because I haven’t had time to take on new work in the past few months.

My question is: What is NORMAL in the realm of making mistakes as a young associate? I’m hoping that some fellow lawyers can shed some light so that I can at least somewhat move beyond the days and days of misery after I make a small mistake.


Calm down. I, and many of my fellow associates, make errors all the time. Especially when you're slammed, it's more understandable. This is part of the reason that 2-4 sets of eyes look at every piece of paper before it goes out the door. Even still, my firm catches typos and nits all the time (as bad as misspelling their own client's name), and I'm sure opposing counsel catches our stupid mistakes, but life goes on. Always aim for quick and flawless work, but if you have to choose between the two, quick is the more important than flawless.

Re: How often do you make mistakes?

Posted: Sat Apr 07, 2018 11:26 am
by BaiAilian2013
As a fifth year I would estimate...

Typos and similar - a few times a month.

You didn't know; now you do - all the time as a first/second-year; very rarely now.

Genuine, substantive, knew-better, could potentially cause a problem with the right facts fuck-ups - maybe 5-10 times per year, if you include all levels of severity from not ideal to YIKES.

Non-mistake edits where my way wasn't wrong but the partner's way is a little more advantageous in some circumstances, a little clearer, or a little more concise - sometimes none, but average of maybe 2-3 per document.

Re: How often do you make mistakes?

Posted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 8:08 pm
by Anonymous User
As a follow-up, how often would you say that you produce something that you would consider less than stellar because you were in a time crunch? Happened to me and it feels like SHIT when you catch mistakes and/or find places where you should have been more thorough after the fact.

Re: How often do you make mistakes?

Posted: Mon Apr 16, 2018 9:54 am
by ruski
KM2016 wrote: This is part of the reason that 2-4 sets of eyes look at every piece of paper before it goes out the door.


lol no. this has nothing to do with that. there is no reason 4 sets of eyes have to review some ancillary document that the client never sees (and would thus never notice a mistake in) except for the reason that it increases the bill.

95% of mistakes you make as a junior don't matter at all and have no substantive impact on the deal. sleep easy.

Re: How often do you make mistakes?

Posted: Mon Apr 16, 2018 10:09 am
by totesTheGoat
I've reviewed work with 30-year-senior named partners on the signing block that has had more than its share of typos and other minor mistakes. Everybody's busy, and I'm really not gonna pick nits with my outside counsel on the smaller day-in and day-out stuff. I'd prefer that everything came to me pristine, but fixing a few typos while I review isn't exactly the most onerous task. If it did start getting onerous, OC would get a polite email telling them to proofread their work before they send it to me. Obviously, as the importance of the specific document increases, the necessity of it being thoroughly proofread before I see it increases.