August is now the cruellest month after lawyers reminisced about the most stupid error junior lawyers have made at their firms.

"She ran out of desk space on a deal and placed a couple of lever arch files of due diligence docs on top of her waster paper bin", said 'Buzz'. "Then went home without moving them back onto the desk".

The recollection of the most magnificent failures was prompted by 'SlimmerKnave' on RollOnFriday's discussion board, who asked posters to divulge the dumbest thing an NQ, trainee or paralegal had done at their firm.

It threw up a trainee who enclosed a Without Prejudice offer in a trial bundle, and a junior who emailed the other side their client's instructions.

One junior lawyer was "unsure about what to do with all the correspondence from clients which came in without a reference", said 'ruftytufty', so "she hid them in a cupboard. All the correspondence from clients without references was for newly litigated cases".

'Shatner's Bassoon' encountered a "useless trainee" who also maintained a "cupboard of shame". "He shoved anything he cocked up/didn't know how to deal with" inside. It was discovered when he moved on, causing "a couple of weeks of frantic, pant-shitting damage control" in the department.

An "older guy on a second career" spent two hours of his vacation scheme photocopying a set of pleadings one page at a time, said 'Sorrydidyousaysomething', missing the telecon to discuss them in the process. "Found him wandering around in the corridor. He told me 'someone' had asked him to photocopy something but he couldn’t find the meeting room. I explained yes, that was me, and the meeting was finished".  

"I was nice to him at the time, but I couldn’t exactly give him a glowing write-up". Alas, "he'd stapled the pleadings back together with the little stapler as well, looked like a fucking 2 year old had done it. I suspect he's head of Tax somewhere and has never stapled a thing since".


"That's Iain. He sits with me. He's nice enough."

One poster admitted that he had done the most idiotic thing he'd encountered. "I got into a lift on the first day of my training contract, saw the lift was manufactured by Schindler and said 'Oh, it's Schindler's lift!'", confessed 'Alan Partridge'. "Next to the head of IP, who had no sense of humour and also happened to be Jewish. Not my best ever move".

"A guy who was a trainee at same time as me was given the White Book one day", said 'ShootyMcShootyface'. "Two pages had Post-it Notes attached. 'Copy that for me', said the partner. He wanted the two Post-it Noted pages. He got (a few days later) the entire White Book".

There was also the "very keen young lady" who worked in the motor fraud department and didn't bother getting her correspondence checked before sending it. She bypassed the claimant's solicitors, said Shooty, "and wrote directly to a claimant saying, 'We think your claim is fraudulent and you're going to prison'".

An infamous Clyde & Co trainee generously hole-punched a document for a barrister "to save him time", and then proceeded to fax it to him in front of her awestruck colleagues. She also walked out of a client meeting straight into a stationery cupboard, and was so determined not to reveal her mistake that she stayed inside until the meeting was over.  

Everyone makes mistakes, and readers, unless they are clients, should be reassured that many of the people who were dunces then are probably partners now. As for the genius who "posted on RollOnFriday about how everyone at his future training firm was a t**t", he's probably running the place.

Tip Off ROF


Anonymous 16 August 19 09:10

One of my intake slept with the (married but vile) head of litigation. Everyone knew, and although she got an NQ job, she'd probably have got it anyway, but was mortified (even though we sympathised - she was put under pressure and plied with alcohol ffs), retreated into herself and eventually spoke to almost no-one, then left. 

BallyM 16 August 19 09:12

I asked a trainee to carry out some legal research and produce a memo. The day after it was due, I asked him for the memo. His response was an email to me, saying "Sorry, I don't know anything about that area of law". Great.

Anon 16 August 19 09:30

Remember a few years, a trainee/AC going before a Master and when asked 'Are the pleadings closed' answered 'what's that?'

The Master called him a buffoon, threw the papers at him and said 'don't ever come back'. 



Bingo Bongo 16 August 19 09:33

There are two law firms (in a certain part of the UK) with very similar names. I know a trainee who rocked up bang on time day one - just at the wrong firm. Senior partner from other firm had tears streaming down his face. Absolutely priceless.  

TheJimmyWriggler 16 August 19 09:53

A while back I was working in-house at a finance company and I was asked to prepare a response to a 'lawyer' who wrote in to explain why he wouldn't repay the outstanding interest on his loan. Initially the letter appeared well-written and it had convinced the customer service teams who dealt with complaints. But it did not quite add up to me. Anyway I soon determined that this chap was not a lawyer, but was a paralegal at the firm and he had been 'borrowing' firm letterhead paper and some choices phrases to create the impression he was qualified. So I rang him at work at about 09:15 one morning to catch him out. Turned out his firm didn't know what he was doing and he claimed the letterhead was the only paper he could find in the office! But the threat of me reporting him to his employer and the SRA for his offence over a few hundred quid soon got his attention and within minutes he was crying over the phone. I nearly felt sorry for him but then I remembered how hard I worked to qualify so that soon stopped. We agreed if he paid in full that day and never wrote another letter like that, I would leave him be. I suspect he is a partner now, probably leading up a fraud team.

Anon 16 August 19 09:56

I had a trainee who I had and asked to amend a table and remove a number of entries (it was a long doc and probably about 20-30% of the entries I had asked removed.  They made the changes in track and I double checked I was happy with them and asked her to clean it up and circulate to the team (including two partners) - she accepted all changes, hit save and merrily sent it and left the office immediately (I hadn't even had the chance to open the email when I saw her legging it).

Unfortunately you always need to double check that you have deleted the rows in a table and not just the contents when you are doing it in track - I open the doc, scroll down and halfway down the first page … blank row... I proceed to see that she hasn't deleted any rows and basically sent a document that contained a ludicrous number of blank rows to two partners for "their review".

Despite being pissed off that she hadn't spent 30 seconds to actually look at the document before sending it I fixed this and politely sent an email round to the group with an amended version noting that I had spotted "a couple of track changes gremlins" in the previous version that I had corrected... needless to say I got a very sheepish email first thing the next morning when she had realized her error.

Anon 16 August 19 10:14

Best one I ever had was my male trainee leaving me a voicemail message that he was going to late into work because he was having his blonde highlights done before his holiday. 

Anon-y-mous 16 August 19 10:21

@Anon 09:56 That email you sent was exactly the right response in that situation and you should be applauded. I have on occasion done this myself for juniors.

While we all want to throw things or shout at people who make mistakes, public shaming doesn't achieve anything.

Anon 16 August 19 10:43

I remember attending a meeting (qualified) in an empty office rather than a meeting room - the computer wires etc came out of an area in the floor that should have a cover over it.  The cover was missing.  So towards the end of the meeting I move back my wheelie chair to start weighing up the client's options and the usual pontificating.  Only to have the wheel go into the hole and me go backwards at speed - splat.  Poor clients were so embarrassed for me I was the only one laughing.

Anonymous 16 August 19 11:06

I turned up to a training contract interview at a US firm a day early...  After some HR confusion they came to the lobby and kindly explained this to me.  Rather than send me home like the moron I was, they kindly let me chat with some of the existing trainees who gave me some good advice and tips.

The next day I returned for interview and got an offer - and a few laughs from the partners interviewing me!

Getalife 16 August 19 11:07

@anon You should ask that trainee to handwrite letters of apology to the partners for sending a document with additional columns in the table. Can you imagine the time they would have wasted peering at the screen trying to work out where the numbers were? Just fortunate you got there in time to save the day or else they may still be there now, endlessly questioning why the number of  columns didn't correspond to the exact amount of info in the table. She should be ashamed. Someone notify the SRA, she should be outed by the profession for her compete lack of professionalism and particularly for wanting to leave the office at a time which would allow her to get home before midnight! 

Botzarelli 16 August 19 11:16

"a junior who emailed the other side their client's instructions"

I've seen this done accidentally by a senior, highly rated partner. The error was spotted by the recipient and as a matter of professional courtesy they raised it, the email was deleted and not referred to again. The partner also explained the situation to the client and it was all fine. The worst thing here would be if the junior didn't notice and didn't act openly to remedy the situation asap. 

Even worse than all these was the senior EU Commission official who faxed the response in a CJEU case to the Court. 400 pages. White side. Lost the case. 

Angela 16 August 19 11:33

“Alas, "he'd stapled the pleadings back together with the little stapler as well, looked like a fucking 2 year old had done it. I suspect he's head of Tax somewhere and has never stapled a thing since.” ⚰️

AllTheFeels 16 August 19 11:55

I remember in my first seat I sent off some stock transfer forms to HMRC. When HMRC wrote back to confirm payment of the stamp duty, they didn't include 2 of the forms. I thought I had forgotten to send all of the forms to HMRC and basically had a mental breakdown, sobbing in the toilet for 10 minutes to a fellow trainee. I then went to the Associate and showed him HMRC's letter, to which he responded that HMRC had obviously just forgotten to send two of the forms back (this was what had, in fact, happened).

I definitely f*cked up a few things when I was a trainee, but that was a good lesson in the fear of f*cking up is often worse than the actual perceived f*ck up. 

Anon86 16 August 19 12:07

A trainee didn’t bother to turn up and attend a client meeting because he was waiting for his Ocado delivery...priceless.  

Anonymous 16 August 19 12:21

How about a trainee who was trying to serve a claim on a company, but helpfully put the claim documents into one of the firm's self-addressed, postage-paid envelopes, only for the would-be served company to post them straight back to the serving firm...

Anonymous 16 August 19 12:55

I was with a trainee at a seminar in chambers.  There were three or four speakers, introduced by the head of chambers.

Afterwards, at nibble and drinks time, the head of chambers came over to us for a bit of a chinwag.  Trainee: 'Who was the very engaging man who introduced the speakers and was talking about x and y?'  Head of chambers:  'Oh, I'm sorry, we haven't met.  I'm Peregrine Rawnsley-Prawnsley QC.  I'm the head of chambers.'

random 16 August 19 12:57

Anon 16 August 19 09:56 - the trainee probably wasn't familiar with the vagaries of track changes - why would they be? seems a bit trivial!

Fatcat6 16 August 19 13:33

I was a Trainee at a large regional legal aid firm in the late 1990’s. A fantastic, and often very funny, experience. I made loads of gaffes but a Uni pal in his second six at a nearby chambers told me about his first appearance before the local Magistrate’s bench glumly over a pint one night.

He started off well enough he thought and as they broke for lunch asked the lugubrious clerk how he thought he was doing. “Not so bad,” said the clerk “but you might want to try addressing the Chair of the Bench as ‘Madam’ and not ‘Sir’ after lunch. 

Anonymous 16 August 19 13:35

"seems a bit trivial" - clearly some non lawyers on this thread!

I feel like people are holding back on their good trainee stories though...

Important 16 August 19 13:47

I was a trainee many years ago waiting for a hearing before in Chancery Masters. They were just building the courts in the Thomas More building and all the rooms had been temporarily moved round. I went into what I thought was the waiting room and opened my Daily Telegraph. In due course some one came in and asked me who I was in front of. Without dropping my paper I said, "Oh, some old codger."  "Well this old codger's got work to do, would you mind leaving my Chambers", came the reply. Sorry again Master X. 

Anonymous 16 August 19 13:47

I once received a phone call from the other side to ask why I had faxed them the same letter 9 times. I asked the trainee dealing with the matter why they had sent it so many times and the response I received was "the letter kept coming out the bottom of the fax machine so I didn't think it had gone through".

For once, I was speechless.

Down Under Lawyer 16 August 19 14:07

A couple:

Shredder next to photocopier.  Title documents left on shredder for copying. You can guess what happened.

Junior lawyer filed Supeeme Court appeal without client instructions. Fortunately for the firm the appeal was successful.








TrainingWheels 16 August 19 14:11

Being a trainee and %£*$ing up is a bit like learning to drive .  I find that those who were a bit crashy and smashy in their early days tend to be better, more careful drivers as time passes. 

Unlike my driving, where I was a bit crashy back in the day, I didn't ever ****-up as a trainee.  But I ****ed-up royally as a Partner.  Alas, that is was PII is for (just don't tell any crashy or smashy trainees that!!).

BallyM 16 August 19 14:15

Similar to the error of accidentally sending the client's instructions to the opponent, our post-room team once accidentally enclosed a biscuit with a letter out to our opponent. This was discovered when the biscuit was posted back with a note saying 'I think this is yours'.

TraineeMe 16 August 19 14:24

I worked in a small City firm as a trainee.  On one particular case, I was told to serve proceedings on a notorious Italian lawyer (who turned out not be permitted at all to practise in E&W), who was almost as notorious as his own clients. 

Upon arrival at my destination, I boldly strolled into the office, up the stairs to the first floor and was duly greeted by the gentleman.  When I announced my presence and reason for being there, I was duly told to "fuck off".  Instead of complying with the invitation, I brushed off the 'unprofessionalism' and I stood firm, thinking how proud my supervisor would be.  When I was nearly booted back down the stairs, I decided I would 'serve' the papers by dropping them and legging it; but shouting back "you're served" (apparently, that's how one properly effects service by hand if the papers are not well received).  

Arrived safely back at my office, regaled those interested enough to listen and was then informed by a fellow trainee that this same Italian lawyer was none other than Saddam Hussein's lawyer.  

Anon 16 August 19 14:24

Trainee in my intake who called the lady in HR responsible for sending our paperwork to the SRA a "F**King pig" in a trainee group WhatsApp. 

Nayland18 16 August 19 14:39

A partner asked me to accompany him to a meeting with counsel and emailed me the papers to read beforehand. I completely forgot about it until he popped his head round the door ten minutes before we were due to leave and asked me to find a case to put his folders in. There were no cases to be had, and this panicked me so much that I failed to do any other preparation. Once in the car the partner discovered, through a series of increasingly worried-sounding questions, that I had done no background reading, had forgotten to bring my notepad, and hadn't even brought a pen. He then had to distract the barristers while I begged a pen and paper from the receptionist.

Anon 16 August 19 14:51

We were once upon a time advising an sovereign on the issuance of a US$500M dual tranche bond. Various documents required the signature of the country's King, literally. A trainee had omitted to include one such document in the suite sent to the Ministry of Finance, who were to coordinate his signing. Alas, on the day of signing, that came to light, and we had to track down the bloody King for a signature... peachy. 

That said, as a first seat trainee, I attended a conference call with a partner and a client with respect to the mark-up of various commercial contracts for the sale of certain medicinal products. I was recording the entire conversation on my Iphone, hidden in my pencil case (yes, I had a pencil case :( ). My notes were sparse, and those taken were perfunctory. I thought I'd impress the partner with my 'photographic memory'. Some two hours later, the call ended, and I was asked to turn the documents. I returned to my desk only to realise that I hadn't actually pressed record... 

Anonymous 16 August 19 15:00

I did an insolvency seat in my first year and really didn't "get" it at all.  I was sent to a Masters hearing to ask for some esoteric order (unopposed thank God), and stuttered through what I thought I was asking for in a very uncertain manner, whilst clutching my copy of the Insolvency Rules with white knuckles.  The Master looked at me blankly and said, "I'm sorry, I simply do not know what you're asking for" and asked me to repeat what I'd said.  It went no better second time around, but instead of hurled papers and shouting, he very kindly asked me to bring up the Rules to his desk and talk through it with the Rules in front of me.  I felt like I was doing reading practice back in primary school, but he did eventually give me the order.

Alreadyoverqualified 16 August 19 15:22

Took a trainee to a client meeting to take notes (lets call them "T"). T was the sort of trainee that arrives at 9:15am coffee in hand and then stands around chatting until 9:45 and leaves the building like it's on fire at 5:31. T fell asleep. Client asked me if T was ok. I sheepishly sent the client an apologetic email afterwards explaining T was new and we wouldn't be charging for T's time (contemplated, but decided against, claiming T had narcolepsy). In spite of this (and a number of other incidents) T was awarded a job on qualification.

Have also caught out a lot of legal research which has been cut and pasted from ropey sources found via Google searches (including consumer forums and in one case a Daily Mail article). One time I asked a trainee to write a draft client bulletin - the draft came back and it seemed really good - until I became suspicious and found out it was cut and pasted from another firm's website. 

One of the funniest was a vacation scheme student, who I asked to sit in on a conference call and suggested it might be helpful to take some notes (with a view to them shadowing further work on the matter during the scheme). The student sat on their ipad (I was thinking maybe they used the ipad because of dyslexia or something similar) - but midway through the call I realised they were just browsing instagram! When we came off the call the first thing they said was "god I'm hungover". Didn't get a TC.  



Anonymous 16 August 19 17:26

We had a legal secretary who had completed the LPC and was trying to find a training contract. A Partner asked her to proof read a report that he was intending to send to his client. She returned it to him having amended the content of the report as she didn't agree with his recommended advice.

Anonymous 16 August 19 20:27

- Once overslept and missed an insolvency petition hearing (actually two, as I was going to oversee my colleague's file too).

- Sent an email enclosing pleadings headed "Urgent" and the Partner didn't think so.

- Gave an undertaking to the Insolvency Office by accident without running by the Partner.

- Sent a document to Court by ticked the wrong applicable CPR section.

That Partner was a nice man; he would tell me off but he offered some very constructive feedback for my appraisal (perhaps the only one who spoke out), and he taught me never email your colleagues when you could simply walk over and speak in person.

Moral of the story - I am no litigator.


Anona 16 August 19 21:53

@getawife The blank rows ordeal might cost one, and would certainly contribute to one missing out an offer. It’s demonstrative of one not really giving a fk about the details - the details justifying the fees. Perhaps you ought to track the him/her down and instruct on your next important transaction (presuming it qualified and you have something to transact)

haribo86 16 August 19 23:02

many many errors my time

- dressed down on what turned out to be not a dress down day

- having been addicted to using a dictaphone for secretarial support on letters, wrapped up a voice message to an important client with: "please do call us as soon as you can - end of dictation"

- didn't ask partner to check a charge registration document and so, due to 2 rejections, a client's charge was not registered over a property within 21 days (had to arrange for re-execution of the charge!) 

- sent the final DD report to the other side


Drinking and Thinkingag 17 August 19 02:01

“Power without responsibility; the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages” Rudyard Kipling.

If you are authorised to delegate a task, the responsibility for the outcome of the task remains with you. If it becomes necessary to rectify a subordinate’s mistake, JFDI. Don’t feel compelled to explain why; the recipient will know. Mistakes happen, it’s how they are dealt with that counts.

Trainees and junior solicitors are among the brightest and freshest minds in society. Arguably some do lack a degree of (un)common sense, but if you want them to do something for you, make sure your instructions are crystal clear. Don’t sneer and mock if they make a mistake it will shatter their confidence. Unless you’re one of those obnoxious gnomes in the profession who enjoy doing so because you’re creepy and a little inadequate.

Anon 17 August 19 02:19

Amateurs the lot of you. How about a trainee at my old firm who accidentally misdirected an email to an equity partner (instead of his mate), calling said EP a c*** at least 10 times and graphically describing the physical violence he’d like to visit upon him, and yet somehow still kept his training contract.



Don't get on trainee's backs - Senior Solicitors are total f*ckw*ts too.

Take the largest firm in the world (on some metrics) who had to defend a GBP £ Eight Figure claim against them for fraud upon public company stakeholders - which one of their former partners 'turned a blind eye to' over many years.

The firm asked their in-house counsel (a former / semi-retired partner) to analyse their position; and write a report for the firm's board as to their exposure / settlement strategy.

A copy of the report ended up in the boxes of disclosed paperwork - Leading to interminable discussions on the claimant's advisors part as to whether the defendent firm had deliberately provided it.

A bottle of wine with a journalist (and the resulting story) indicated 'cock up rather than conspiracy' = Rapidly and generously settled.


Anon 18 August 19 15:29

I once had a trainee whom I asked to do some legal research on a particular insurance related point arising from a recent judgment - a copy of which I provided. 

Instead, the Trainee inexplicably used as the basis of the research  a case from the mid nineteenth century dealing with totally unrelated facts and principles,  which he took a week to read, recording about 8 hours a day in the process, and then basically reported verbatim in the note having cut and pasted huge sections in dense blocks of text.  When I asked why they had done this, and why the trainee had cited a case on a totally different area of law, they said “sorry, didn’t think to check the name of the case or what year it was”. 

The worst thing was that when I wrote off the time, the partner blamed me for not being clear enough in my instructions.  

Trainee didn’t qualify and didn’t stay in the law  



Anon 18 August 19 15:32

a trainee in my team sent a message on skype complaining about how thick the Secretary was that worked for him and how she was overpaid.   Unfortunately the message was sent to the secretary.  Fortunately she wasn’t at her desk so said trainee raced like a demon possessed to her screen and deleted the message.  All of this in an open plan office where everyone saw.  

MostDefoAnonymous 18 August 19 17:03

Trainees who f*ck up usually go on to become excellent solicitors. I'm testament to that. As a trainee, my transaction team received an opinion from a QC (20+ years qualified). Being the smart alec, I spotted several spelling mistakes and grammatical errors in counsel's opinion so, decided to correct them and send them back to him (copying the entire team) as a courtesy so he wouldn't have to re-write the memo. Thankfully my supervising solicitor had excellent diplomacy skills and the team had sent a lot of work to that counsel's chambers such that he overlooked it. I'm now a general counsel. 

Anonymous 18 August 19 21:24

I shredded countless original share certificates and I'm glad. Glad glad glad glad glad.

I also sent a letter to client that had my chocolate finger prints on it. Kit Kat the most likely culprit.

I'm expecting to have a very good Brexit.


iamsobored 19 August 19 10:57

I'm sure that many trainees would have some excellent stories about the treatment they've experienced at the hands of their inept supervisors...

MangoGate 19 August 19 14:30

One of my all time favourites was a trainee who organised a set of numerous trial bundles in chronological order - day and month - completely forgetting the year. Before sending them off to be paginated and copied. I think the NQ supervising the trainee nearly had a nervous break down. 

I remember pagination and photocopying being my absolute achilles as a trainee- I could never get it right. Having a page 1Aai(1) is clearly a sign of too many late nighters. Also numerous bundles ended up with smudges of my blood on them (I was always covered in paper cuts). 

BananaJempson 19 August 19 15:00

My first client meeting as a trainee had me sat in the room at the Associate's request, awaiting the clients' arrival - when they filed in he nodded at me and I went over to introduce myself to the three gentlemen that entered.

Maintaining eye contact, I gave a brief "Hello, I'm..." introduction and shook hands with gentlemen 1 and 2. When I got to gentleman number 3, however, I looked him in the eye, gave the introduction, extended my hand and then watched as his smiling face rapidly crumbled into a rather furious scowl... it was at that point I looked down at his extended hand, and realised that it wasn't a hand that he had, but a hook. An actual hook.

To make matters worse, as I'd already committed to a handshake by that point (and in a blind panic) I simply gripped said hook between my thumb and forefingers and gave it a little "how do you do" shake.

Absolutely mortifying stuff. The Associate (quite rightly) never forgave me for that and the client sacked us shortly after.

Anon 20 August 19 07:17

A friend of mine during her TCs managed to shred a client's original will. Her supervising partner, a kind gentle older man, lost all control when he found out, shouting at her in front of the office, "CALLING YOU A F**KING IMBECILE WOULD BE AN INSULT TO F**KING IMBECILES!" 

Anonymous 21 August 19 09:47

Had a trainee who, after 3 days of leaving the office at 5.10pm, had to be taken aside by the partner on Thursday of his first week and informed that it was a 5.30pm finish.

Towards the end of his traineeship, I discovered that the same trainee had spent numerous hours on research for another associate on a specific point on the statutory conversion of long leases to ownership in Scotland. He'd done the exact same research for me 6 months previously (for the same client, albeit a different property) - but doing it again apparently hadn't jogged any memories for him.

Billy Gunn 21 August 19 12:56

Once had a trainee so desperate to score brownie points he copied text from an email from his dad (at that time a reasonable size law firm) and send it round the entire firm on the pretence that it was all his own work, warning us to look out for a notorious title raider being back on the scene. One of the senior partners then responds to the email, again to the whole firm, telling the trainee to watch what he was saying as the notorious title raider was a client. Still cringe to this day. 

Anonymous 21 August 19 20:05

We had a vacation schemer in and I realised I had the most monumental and out of control disclosure exercise to do in a day. Having sorted through the documents I asked the vac schemer to put the documents in chronological order for me with earliest date first. Came back to my desk to find the papers on my chair. Looked at them and she had put them in categories of people, ie who had sent the email. I asked what she had done and she said she thought this was a better way to do it. 


I’m not a rageful person but I genuinely didn’t know whether to cry first or batter her repeatedly over the head with the documents. 

Anon 22 August 19 01:18

At every comment which lambasts trainees for leaving the office "early", this is plain idiocy.  "It was a 5:30pm finish".  Why?  "Oh my god, the gall to walk out of the office 20 mins before the the randomly allocated time!"

Presenteeism is the bane of business everywhere. Hanging around the office for the sake of hanging around the office does nothing for productivity or efficiency.

Dave 22 August 19 07:10

Years ago, I asked trainee to prepare a research memo on a particular point.   One day late, he came into my office, dumped the file on my desk, proclaimed that he had 'taken a look at it, but that it was too hard for him', turned on his heel and walked out.   Now senior counsel at a global oil and gas outfit.

Rhode 22 August 19 20:02

Forget to renew the liquor licences for a pizza chain in Glasgow. No booze over the Christmas period across the entire chain.

Faxed a draft sale contract to client selling his business. He waited at the other end to prevent his employees finding out about his plans. Fax went into the out tray. I went to the pub. Someone else in  the office inexplicably picked it up from the out tray and refaxed it later. Found by client’s employees on the fax machine the next morning. I can still see the Senior Partner holding the phone receiver away from his ear to reduce eardrum damage

Switchboard rang through to say X was on the line. The world’s worst client. I audibly groaned and said “Oh no not him”. I realised switchboard had put him straight through the when I heard “Yep. That’s right. It’s me again”


Anonymous 23 August 19 12:43

Once had a trainee who always turned up at the office 15 minutes late, when confronted about it he said he would have to get the earlier train to get in on time which would mean he would have to get up earlier and do everything that bit earlier.

We asked him to do this and the response we got from said trainee was that he was very disappointed in us. Needless to say, he didn't last long. 

London Lawyer 23 August 19 13:30

I was in court as a trainee on some weighty application which was set down for a day in front of Mr Justice Saville as he was. This was about 30 years ago. My opponent trainee had got her results the night before (those were the days when you started your training contract before the Finals results which were issued in a frenzy of newspaper late at night in London). She was beyond hung over and was (as she told me) confident that she would doze her way to good health during the day of learned argument. It then transpired that the judges bundles were not the same as counsel's which had been her responsibility. So every time a page was referred to she became a de facto bingo caller and had to shout out the equivalent page number in the  judges bundles which she had a copy of. Not only did she have to remain alert and sharp the whole day but every pained shout simply reminded everyone that she had messed up the bundles. She crawled out of court.

Anonymous 23 August 19 15:31

Had a vac schemer who failed to find any results for a simple google search (which was checked before-hand to ensure there were things for him to report back on).

He then asked me to dictate to him an email for him to send to HR to request a training contract. I politely declined and wished him luck (not least because I had more important things to do). So he asked around the office if anyone could help dictate to him this email because he couldn't write it himself.

Whenever he got work from an associate, he would ask his supervisor to ask the associate to repeat the instructions because he wasn't listening properly.

If I see him here as a trainee, I think I will cry.

Anonymous 04 September 19 12:31

A trainee once got blind drunk at a party we held in the office.  Could barely walk or speak.  After she disappeared, it transpired she had passed out on a sofa in reception and had wet herself.  Had to be carried off into the loo by some female colleagues and cleaned up.

Anonymous 16 September 19 10:35

I once gave a trainee some manuscript comments on a doc. These included changing the words "Company Number" to lowercase, which I signified by scrawling a down arrow through the C and the N.

The amended doc came back to me with "ompany umber".

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