Baby Lawyering: Small Mistakes

I can’t decide whether the term "baby lawyer" is offensive. I think I find it offensive because I hear it applied to women. Nonetheless, I find myself making small mistakes that I think of as "baby lawyer" mistakes. They are mostly harmless and I catch most of them before I send anything to my boss. It’s things like spelling my client’s name wrong or inconsistently in a pleading, saying "though her attorneys" when it’s a man, and not changing defendant to plaintiff in a pleading or entry of appearance. Sometimes it’s as simple and annoying as not saving a document or saving over a document. Occasionally the mistake feels bigger, like talking to a potential client for way too long or giving advice without having the full knowledge of the situation. These are things I thought would be simple but turn out to be extremely nuanced.

I know that eventually, grown-up lawyering will involve having made enough mistakes that I know to check the names first, correct all the dates, change the client’s address, make sure the letter says "enclosure" and not "enclosures". I will instinctively draft CYA letters to potential clients or, more importantly, people we turn away. I will know the Rules well enough that maybe I won’t have to look them up every time. I will not check behind me in the courtroom when the judge says, "Counselor?"

For now, I think proofread, proofread, proofread. And don’t send anything out without another set of eyes seeing it. Really, there are people who start their own firms after graduation? Do they eff all of this up too?



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3 responses to “Baby Lawyering: Small Mistakes

  1. Tempus Poenae

    FWIW, I know a judge who refers to “baby judges”. Which cracks me up every time.

    (P.S., if we’re doing Latin pseudonyms, this is going to be mine.)

  2. Tempus Poenae

    Close–it’s “time out.” As in, “you go to time out RIGHT NOW!”

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