spanking

Spare the rod, spoil the associate.


The senior partner of a boutique family law firm has chosen to motivate his lawyers by promising a "limited future" for anyone who uses incorrect case references, and threatening to "discipline" them for misfiling.

Moss Fallon has offices in Marlborough and Mayfair and is run by Justin Moss, the Senior Partner and a former Clifford Chance solicitor, and Harriet Fallon, the Managing Partner and a land management specialist, who founded the firm together 13 years ago.

An insider told RollOnFriday that a disciplinarian culture at the firm, which specialises in divorce and vies for work with the even-more-colourful Vardags, had caused them "acute anxiety".

In one all-staff email leaked to RollOnFriday, Moss wrote, "There have been a number of cars [sic] recently of wrong cases [sic] references on correspondence and pleadings. People pay quite a lot of money for us to get things right. Not wrong. There is a limited future for anyone who continues to make this mistake".

Moss excused his own mistake, adding, "Cases, not cars, but you get the picture".


moss1


In another edict, Moss made plain that misfiling correspondence "is not acceptable behaviour at this firm" and that "persistent offenders can expect to be disciplined".


moss2


Some readers will share Moss's frustration with sloppiness, while others will sympathise with the stress that can accumulate when just a typo causes a management meltdown. But which camp is right? Whichever one wins the poll:

 

Tip Off ROF

Comments

Anon 01 October 21 08:04

Anyone practising as a family law solicitor in Wiltshire is not going to be terribly bright, and is at the bottom of the pile in professional terms. This guy is obviously very insecure as a result.

Gobblepig 01 October 21 08:31

If the problems of fee-earners getting case citations wrong in correspondence and mis-filing their letters are so endemic that the managing partner has to send a firm-wide e-mail about it, it does rather suggest that the firm is a bit crap. The impression of incompetence is heightened by the fact that the managing partner appears to get Andrea Bocelli to type out his e-mails.

Truth teller 01 October 21 08:34

He is right. We are a profession, allegedly. 
 

2 things to think about:

 

when I was a trainee solicitor many years ago a colleague made a typo and it cost my firm nearly £1 million. That’s what can happen when you put $ and not £ in a document. 
 

In other professions mistakes are simply not tolerated. Pharmacy is a good example. People die if they make mistakes. We as lawyers only cost our client some money (usually) when we make mistakes so they are tolerated. Sloppy. 

Anon 01 October 21 09:09

You couldn’t make this up.  Partner sends round email to all staff criticising them for poor attention to detail in an email that contains basic errors.  
 

On the comment above, if a £ / $ was inserted by mistake in a matter when it was clear that it  was not intended and it went to the heart of the transaction, I’m very surprised that this wasn’t subject to a unilateral mistake defence and rectified or at least negotiated.   

Anon 01 October 21 09:13

@0804….

and Mayfair. 
 

There are plenty of solicitors in the City who are not terribly bright either, whose legal knowledge is limited and who have little client contact or experience of actual advisory work  - but who are prepared to work long hours doing often tedious jobs in return for more money and a perceived increase in status.  
 

 

Anonymous 01 October 21 09:40

Truth teller 01 October 21 08:34

He is right. We are a profession, allegedly. 
 

2 things to think about:

 

when I was a trainee solicitor many years ago a colleague made a typo and it cost my firm nearly £1 million. That’s what can happen when you put $ and not £ in a document. 
 

In other professions mistakes are simply not tolerated. Pharmacy is a good example. People die if they make mistakes. We as lawyers only cost our client some money (usually) when we make mistakes so they are tolerated. Sloppy. 

 

that is true but other jobs / professions where the consequences of mistakes are counted in lives not pounds and pence (such as pilots, doctors, nurses, police officers) there are strict limits on working hours (pilots can only fly 900 hours per year), whereas solicitors at least in PP are constantly expected to work beyond contractual hours to keep demanding clients happy. No surprise mistakes are made when 200 page documents are being drafted late at night / early in the morning. 

ShootyOriginal 01 October 21 09:40

What's the punishment for the correspondence pin being out of chronological order?

And what's his preferred filing order for each day? Files notes first, then paper correspondence, then emails? 

Personally, I hate it when a colleague can't use the single-top-left-corner hole punch properly. It's not hard: not too close to the side, not too far into the document, and perfectly aligned with all the previous items on the pin. Disassemble and re-punch everything every so often if it starts to look sloppy. Proper single-hole punch placement becomes like muscle memory after a while. We should train all fee earners and support staff in it. Possibly on the LPC: it's several times more useful than, say, domestic conveyancing. 

I'm totally with him on this, BTW. A kindred spirit, you could say. The profession needs more petty martinets.

Seán 01 October 21 09:55

I love the passive-aggressive faux accidental typos:

"Draft": "I refer to your daft agreement ..."

"Shortly": "I look forward to hearing from you shorty,"

pugnosedgimp 01 October 21 10:41

 

new

Seán 01 October 21 09:55

I love the passive-aggressive faux accidental typos:

"Draft": "I refer to your daft agreement ..."

 

used to work for a partner who when a junior associate had written a document called "Draft Issues List", printed off copies for his boss then gone off to the meeting. He was surprised his document didn't get handed out, but on closer inspection he had titled it "Daft Issues List".

while it's a heh story and a good reminder of need for attention to detail, surely the partner could have started the meeting with a bit of humour by just making light of the typo...

JB 01 October 21 10:52

The £/$ story above sounds like cr*p to me too. A simple Lord Hoffmann style mistake construction would likely have sorted it out.

Anonymous 01 October 21 12:06

Seán 9.55, there was a wonderful anecdote in the Gazette a few years ago, about a solicitor who had dictated 'ipso facto', which a typist had turned into 'if so, fatso...'.

Boyzone 01 October 21 13:03

I once received a letter which should have said “I cannot be asked to do that” but read “I cannot be arsed to do that”! 

Anonanon 01 October 21 13:28

I once dictated a letter to the court, meant to say "We do not intend to disrespect the court". My secretary typed it as "We do intend to disrespect the court". Thank goodness I spotted that before it went out. 

Glasshouse 01 October 21 13:46

If you go to the mossfallon website page, Justin’s bio has appalling grammar (including a typo, a comma where there should not be one, and a missing comma where one is needed). Keep an eye on the detail yourself Justin mate!

Truth Teller 01 October 21 14:11

The £1m loss came from the client being so annoyed that 2 future instructions were immediately withdrawn from the firm’s pipeline. 

@Truth Teller 01 October 21 15:11

Not really a loss then as it didn't put the firm out of pocket - just work that didn't materialise.

Anonymous 01 October 21 15:18

@Glasshouse - yes, he probably shouldn't have put grammar on such a pedal stool.

Old timer 01 October 21 17:47

When I was an articled clerk a good few years ago I received a letter headed "With prejudice".

Anon 01 October 21 18:00

"I am pleased to attach Counsel's onion". 

"Unless your client ceases [blah blah], we will apply for an urgent injection"

Anon 01 October 21 21:07

@truth teller 

As others have said, the story about the £/$ is clearly nonsense.  
 

The client would have rectified the contract, when that amount was at stake, and in such a case of a clear unintended error benefitting one party,  whilst the firm or its insurers would have picked up the rectification costs, the contract would have been amended.   

Tired girl 01 October 21 23:29

So many times I’ve almost signed off an email with “kind retards” - luckily I’ve managed to catch it on the final read through… so far.

No effort 02 October 21 06:06

If I receive work to check which is full of typing and grammatical errors then I view the author as lazy and disrespectful.  
Paralegals and trainees might want to think about that. 

 

Anon 02 October 21 09:13

My auto spell correct copied to many amended “Ask Leslina Jones to join us in the meeting room if she has finished her call “ to “Ask lesbian Jones to join us…” 

Surname changed to avoid blushes. 

SecularJurist 02 October 21 21:43

ShootyOriginal 1 Oct @09:40, what a fun-packed life! Anyway, the new LC will be good at single hole-punching; that's what he did in the City (plus copying, paginating, scanning and the coffee run), the FCO and should be made to do the same at the MoJ and leave the work to real lawyers.

 

Anonanon 1 Oct 13:28: at least the 'n' didn't go AWOL in 'court'.

anon 04 October 21 09:34

Regarding the measure of loss of not getting new work, if the capacity was taken with work from another client then there would be no loss.  

Anon 04 October 21 12:59

While in-house as a very fresh faced junior I wrote an email (cc'd to plenty) to a senior credit officer called Angus and managed to omit the "g" in the salutation (spellcheck fine with it of course).  I still don't know if it's best to (a) ignore it, (b) email direct to apologise (c) reply all again to correct typo. Went with (b), never heard back.

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