This from a reader ....
“Why is it that I only get any satisfaction in my job through feeling the person on the other side is an idiot?"
We are only human and everybody needs to cling to the raft of superiority in this cold and stormy sea of professional life.
In an industry where what we are selling is our “cleverness”, we are measuring our very selves against those we are working opposite. So to come across someone who is obviously even more incompetent than you is a wonderful resource of external validation and gives you a great rush of adrenaline. It’s the buzz of completing a high profile and technically challenging transaction, without having to do the transaction.
To be able to throw up your hands in exasperation and turn to your colleagues and say "this idiot has forgotten to put the primacy of the English translation in this Chinese company SPA/urghh he hasn’t capitalised *Business Day* even though it’s a defined term in this post enforcement call option agreement/she’s forgotten to exclude the carpets from the sale/he’s used *effect* instead of *affect*" is the only external validation of our cleverness we are ever likely to receive, except for being made a visiting professor at the College of Law. If your working life is 40 years you need as much evidence as you can find to help you believe that you are good at the job and bring some value and that you're not simply a document management system providing an insurance wrapper through a service your client thinks is too expensive.
Happily this small moment of external validation can be enjoyed in any size of firm. You'd be surprised how many people are incompetent and how far they have risen up the career ladder. You can find them anywhere.
As for the question - whether it's wrong to feel the sense of joy - of course it isn't. In a job like this you need to be able to take your comfort wherever you can. You are not the only one. Any guilt you may feel should be leavened by the application of the rule which says that the more stupid mistakes the other side make, the more unpleasant and unreasonable they are.
Anyway, if you are actually feeling empathy for other human beings when they are in difficulty then perhaps you need to reassess your choice of career.