They had one job.
Solicitors - under the protection of pseudonyms - have confessed to the biggest mistakes they made when they were yet to qualify, reassuring trainees who are worried that their early unforced errors may have already put their legal career in jeopardy.
'Martian Law' confessed that he fouled up just two weeks into his training contract, when he accidentally forwarded an email in a litigation matter to the other side "without checking the email chain, which included confidential advice from our own expert...That wasn't fun".
'Muto123' did equally poorly when he sent a spreadsheet containing the confidential details of all his client's employees to every single person in the client's business. "Went off to play football, checked my phone again to see a message from the partner asking if I could recall that email asap. Never sprinted so fast back to the office".
In a worthwhile learning moment, Muto123 discovered that the imagined fallout was worse than the reality. "Surprisingly the client took it much better than feared", recognising it was a mistake and telling the chastened trainee that most of the recipients "probably knew anyway".
Other solicitors remembered fearing dire repercussions for stumbling across something they should not have. "When I was a trainee I attended the firm’s Christmas party and witnessed a partner and a PA having a bonk in the male toilet 30 minutes after the official finishing time (they were legless and thought everyone would’ve gone by then)", said 'memobo'. "I spread it to my trainee friends and the incident became known to everyone. The partner gave me a hard time but quit before I qualified".
'Marshall Hall' was a first seat trainee when his supervisor gave him a divorce to deal with. There was "diddly squit money to actually argue over", until the client called to say that her husband had settled a personal injury claim for a substantial sum and had vowed to "'spend the lot' before she got her hands on any in the divorce case".
"Boss told me to go ahead and get an injunction. So I applied, but 'on notice' rather than ex-parte. Ooops. By the time of the injunction hearing the H had indeed spent most of it", said Marshall. He escaped adverse consequences when the judge ruling that the PI compensation would not have been available to the wife anyway. "I think he was being kind though..."
A relaxed demeanour at his Magic Circle firm almost did for 'Wang', of whom a partner wrote for his second seat appraisal: "Far too casual in his approach. When given a task by me, saying 'Ok, cool I'll get it done' is not an appropriate response to a senior equity partner".
"It's not appropriate to take your trainee to Goldfingers where you snort lines of marching powder off a dancer's naked boobs either", said Wang, years later and safely out of the partner's grasp, "but I didn't put that in your 3 fooking 60".
Tell ROF the errors that made you soil yourself as a trainee in the comments.
Any of these trainees on £157k?
As a trainee I shredded all the originals we'd just got signed for a completion. Folks not impressed...
"'Ok, cool I'll get it done' is not an appropriate response to a senior equity partner" - honestly, some people would have you think it's the Army...
Muh Russia! Muh Mueller! Muh Impeachment! Muh Collusion! Muh insurrecshun!
Muh Nuclear Documuuuuuuuunts!!!
Seems like Wang’s supervising partner knew how to keep morale up!
I once incorrectly diarised a hearing by a day (very minor unopposed application that I was entrusted to cut my teeth on). I diligently gathered all my papers the day before and began to prep my submission (i.e. this is all agreed can I please have the order sir/madam).
Upon review of the papers, to my horror I realised my diarising error and that I was by this point half an hour late for the hearing. I popped my head (by this point my face had turned a shade of light green) over the divide and asked for a private word with my supervising partner (the head of litigation and big wins - gulp). We go into a room and confess my error and apologise (a good 5 - 8 times). I am practically ready to hand in my notice.
He asks me what I am still doing in the office? Reassures me that "we may now be struck out but we can make an application". Tells me to run around to Court and explain that "there's been a traffic issue" (I don't query what traffic issue might have hypothetically become me on the 5 minute walk...). I arrive at Court and explain again my traffic woes, the Usher is not amused, raises his eyebrows at me, he says he will tell the Judge. The (un)helpful usher returns to tell me that DDJ Great Justice will see me at the end of the list (another gulp). Two hours later (which I have spent wondering what I will do having ruined my desired legal career), (un)helpful usher returns, DDJ Great Justice was minded to strike me out for my tardy timekeeping. However, DDJ Great Justice has shown great mercy upon me and only adjourned the hearing. I return to the office, certain of my dismissal and end of career....
Head of lit and big wins barely notices I have been gone. I am certain HR will swoop and I am out the door. My dreams of being a litigator in tatters. I pop my head over again and explain what has happened. Head of lit and big wins is surprisingly pleased and commends a "great result". We explain issues with court resource to the client.
1 year later, head of big wins gave me a job. 6/7 years later I get the trainee to diarise all hearings but I then double check them!!!!
Somewhere, in Jersey there's a set of board minutes that in the middle of them have a gobbledegook dfgdfgxcf (or similar) where I thought my keyboard etc/ had frozen it was just typing in the middle of the doc. I didn't realise until after completion had taken place - so just remember kiddos - when that sh**y supervisor is giving you a hard time over the board minutes not being perfect that nobody, not even the Jersey directors who sign them, actually read board minutes - even when its for a ludicrously important transaction! (Oh and just to be clear, these were minutes to buy a business that we were immediately flipping, so not only were they reviewed by my supervisor, sellers lawyers, but also the onward buyers lawyers.... NOBODY READS BOARD MINUTES!)
""It's not appropriate to take your trainee to Goldfingers where you snort lines of marching powder off a dancer's naked boobs either", said Wang"
I think that we need to be alive to the strong possibility that the dancer in question, or perhaps this 'Wang' character, planted the marching powder there themselves and then lied to the relevant partner about the presence of a small object near to the powder that the partner would need to lean close to if he wanted to see, in order to put that partner into a position whereby it appeared as if he was in fact snorting powder into his nostrils rather than merely leaning in closely to view a tiny object of interest.
How can we be certain that this 'Wang' person didn't arrange the whole visit himself because he was jealous of the partner and wanted to ruin his career?
Asked to create a certified copy of some security documents so we could submit an MR01 to Companies House. To do this the signatures and personal details need to be redacted in the certified copy as all documents at Companies House are public. I of course redacted the signatures as requested not realising I was redacting the signatures in the originals….
I’m delighted to have made a meaningful contribution to the RoF community. Cheers Jamie!
Not me but a trainee instructed Counsel to file a Supreme Court appeal on a case, without client instructions. Fortunately, the appeal was successful.
I tried to work drunk one evening and locked myself out. In a fit of generosity, the managing partner let me log on as him just to get the advice sent out. Unfortunately when opened up his browser, it autofilled with his rather racy and oddly specific search history...
Went to an unopposed PAD application hearing thinking I was fully prepared. I get told by an usher to go downstairs at the old Manchester County Court. I proceed downstairs to see a lady in a room, casually sat, reading a book. Not realising she's the DJ (she wasn't robed), nor realising the tape is on, and, being thrown by seeing a Judge in chambers and not in a formal setting for the first time, I sit down in the mistaken belief that I am sitting opposite someone who just happens to work at the Court downstairs. I say hello, I ask her how her day is going, I tell her that someone has just told me to come to her room about this hearing. With no response, I try to make small talk and enquire as to the book that she's reading and ask her when I'll be able to see the Judge upstairs in Court.
She puts the book down after a bit. She stops the tape and says "young man, I am the Judge, you're seeing me in my chambers here, it looks like you've forgotten how to address me in this informal setting but that is fine. My day has gone very well thank you and I'm very well thank you for asking, I'm reading a book by Tolkien but I'll put a stop to that now. You can go back outside, remember I'm ma'am and let's start this again with the tape on".
I'm happy to say the hearing went well and she was a normal person. She's since retired but that was certainly an experience I'll never forget. Recanted the entire experience to my supervising partner back in the office who thankfully saw the positives.
Wang’s senior partner sounds like a Grade A bellend.
An article where Managing Partners confess their mistakes would also make very interesting reading.
Mind you it’d probably also be very short because, as we all know, Managing Partners never make mistakes.
If you ask them to talk about their successes though, the article would probably be a bit longer.
DJ Experience, that it absolute gold. Brilliant stuff. My greatest moment of calamity came in the same court. 184/186. I wasn't a trainee, but I was quite junior. I turned up for work on a Monday morning to be told by the boss that a colleague had called in sick. She had a trial that day, and could I take the bundle, read it on the tram (this is long pre GDPR) and then go and sit behind counsel. I had a very short tram journey. I gleaned that we were for the first Claimant, who was the driver of a car involved in a collision. The counterclaiming Defendant was the driver of the other car. Both cars had a passenger, both passengers also pursued claims, each supporting the cause of their driver. However, all four had very similar names. You can see where this is going.
I arrive at court. I mill about at the door and two men walk up. 'Hello' I say, 'Are you Mr X and Mr Y? [the names of my client and his passenger]' They say yes but look confused. I explain that m'colleague is ill and I'm stepping in. I explain that I know very little about the case, but not to worry, because counsel is presenting it and will be along shortly. In the meantime, I've found us the rare luxury of a conference room, and can we perhaps have a chat? We go downstairs, I get a pad out and we start a con, still waiting for counsel. A good 5 minutes into it, after grappling with some language issues, we do manage to traverse detail relevant to the events being litigated.
It is at this point that I realise I am taking instructions from my client's opponent. 'Can I just stop you there?' I ask. 'I need to go and find your barrister and have a quick chat.' As I headed back upstairs, I felt physically sick. I contemplated a career serving burgers. I found their counsel (someone I had worked with before) as well as ours. I explained what had happened, and handed over my brief notes. I stood back and waited for the firestorm that would eventually lead to a mistrial, my dismissal and regulatory decapitation. What I got instead was a howl of barristerial laughter, a comforting arm around the shoulder and a reassurance that the world would still turn.
Also, our guy won. At least, I think it was our guy.
No doubt all this mistakes were disclosed to the respective Risk teams ….. mmmm
When working as a paralegal in the north east I received a notice that a trial had been moved, if memory serves, from Ipswich County Court to Colchester County Court (or something like that). Fine, I thought (it was of little consequence as I wouldn't be attending given how far away it was).
Fast forward to the day of the trial and I get a call from counsel letting me know that he was at Ipswich but the trial had been moved to Colchester. "Yes", I replied, "didn't you get the notice from the court?". It turns out that the court only corresponds with the solicitors on record and not counsel. Thankfully, counsel managed to hot foot it to Colchester and attend the trial before it had started.
I often look back and chastise myself for being so stupid. In reality however, I was about as green as it gets and if I was being properly supervised then the mistake wouldn't have happened. I'm now five years qualified - the world keeps turning.
Biggest error I made on my TC was concentrating on trying to secure a job in an area which I could feasibly see myself enjoying for the rest of my career. Instead I should have been focussing on finding my future soul mate from my trainee intake like the rest of my trainee colleagues. Now I’m qualified in a team I love but I’m the only single one as all my trainee intake either coupled up or have married the firm…and guess what all of them also qualified where they wanted….
now I’ve got to come to terms with the fact that I’ll be single for the rest of my life - unless one of my intake uncouples with another member of my intake and sees me as an option. It’s a slow process but I’m currently trying to make my somewhat abusive relationship with CompareDocs work….
Lesson - take your chances as second chances may not come around!
Misfiled a pile of original documents for a banking deal in another client's folder around Christmas holidays. Thankfully I found them before said folder went to its intended client, or else they'd have been gifted a lot of interesting financials and due diligence reports from a competitor.
Defending a PI matter circa 2010. Delegated authority from insurer client. Had instructed my own expert but due to the nature of the injury wasn't expecting anything much different than the Claimant's expert so fire off a Part 36 at a slight discount to the claim to get some costs protection.
Expert's report comes back absolutely demolishing the Claimant. My part 36 expires 4 days after I have to serve this report. Make frantic application for permission to withdraw Part 36 based on changed circumstances. Get quoted a case back at me (I forget the name now) exactly on all fours with my situation that says (paraphrasing) if you're dumb enough to make offers with evidence outstanding, you're screwed if the evidence then shows you made a bad call. Quickly withdraw application. Claimant nice enough to agree NOATC.
Cat's out of the bag now so disclose report. Claimant bites my hand off to take the offer. Confess all to insurer client who laughs and calls me a tit. Never heard about it again.
I once tried to sue a bread shop as a Trainee. Wrong move.
Never trust a Baker.
Ever! May take 20 years but you’ll be done over.
A Baker will say they sell 300 loaves a week but it’ll be 30. Or 3. Warranty (or not). In Yorkshire that’s a a big deal!!
Not me, another (married) trainee in my intake, had been getting very flirty with the director of our client. This progressed, post completion to them getting a hotel room together. Only for her husband to call and manage to twig where she was and what she was doing. Husband turned up and beat up the director, to the point he needed hospital treatment. Unsurprisingly the client was furious, the director was kicked out by his wife, and the trainee was not kept on. Surprisingly, she remained married to her husband. Go figure.
I remember going to the RCJ (first time) and had a big bag with all of the papers in for the supervising lawyer and QC. Thought I should put my lunch in the case.
at the station managed to drop the bag down the stairs. No drama until I got to the court and realised my five a day fruit contribution (pear in this case) had smeared all over the QC’s pack.
He wasn’t angry just disappointed and that’s what makes it so bad…. The pity look
@10.20 - good questions, glad you're learning to ask them instead of blindly believing allegations. We'll make an objective individual out of you yet?
Now, name three questions you forgot to ask?
12th @ 21.40 - female trainees aren't always the naive victims they're usually portrayed as. Not surprised in the slightest that she stayed with her husband.
where the hell is/was Golfinger's?
As a trainee I wrote an email to a junior colleague calling a partner a c*** 10 times in a row, and then accidentally sent it straight to said partner. Still no idea how I didn’t get fired.
A trainee sent out a threatening letter to rhe opposing lawyers without partner approval. His boss yelled st him - "Who do you think you are, f+×÷=ing Rambo?"
After a successful money claim at Milton Keynes Court, DJ Mostyn asked me if I had the up to date interest figure. I replied "No sir" and when he looked at me quizically I added "I didn't expect to win". Luckily, he laughed and handed me his caculator.
I was working on something to meet an urgent deadline and obviously needed approval from my supervising partner, so I dashed into the partner’s office within seconds after I sent the draft so that we could go through the draft together. I saw a minimised internet explorer app on the tool bar named “pxrnhub”…
A paralegal at DWF who had secured a training contract, sent a threatening letter to sister’s landlord signing himself off as a solicitor. He nearly lost his tc on the back of it.
A girl I went to law school with got bounced out of her tc (small regional shop) for having an affair with a married partner who had three young children. She ended up in a very prominent position in junior lawyers and has bounced around some top firms.
As a trainee I was instructed to take to a solicitor's office a bank draft and original docs for an urgent personal completion .When I arrived the office was closed ,so I posted the envelope through the letter box.Unfortunately I then realised that I'd got the address wrong and had posted everything to an empty building.
These are all great and I'm going to show them to trainees in future, so they know where the big errors come from, but also that they're not the end of the world (and so they shouldn't bury the problem from view and try to ride it out).
I like these.
As a first seat trainee in Big Law, my firm was working for a bank and I was responsible for looking after Conditions Precedent documents prior to an enormous loan being granted (to redevelop the city centre of a major UK city - it wasn't small stuff).
I understood nothing of what I was doing, but anyway filed away unthinkingly the papers that various associates (the team kept changing as jumping ship was a regular occurrence) would give me into a box with a sort of concertina divider system resting in it so that they could be easily pulled out one at a time when the day of closing came.
As the closing date neared, it suddenly became clear that we were missing a crucial original document (I forget what, but it was a CP condition for the loan to be given and apparently something important). This was 20 years ago - the original signed paper document was essential, not pdfs etc. There was no longer time to get it, I don't really know why and I'm not sure I ever did - this all passed way over my head, I did little more than wonder how my life choices had led to me putting incomprehensible loan documents in a concertina box as a career. So the firm was put in the difficult situation of having to recommend to the client bank to either go ahead without an essential document (which we should have obtained some time ago...) or cancel the whole extremely high profile deal. The entire team was summoned into the senior partner's office, who was fortunately a very mild mannered man, but even he had reached his limit: "This is a cock-up, an absolute cock-up!" he shouted, in his clipped South African accent: the moment became legendary across the department for years afterwards. He raged that we were in the process of creating a precedent across the market that weakened the position of banks, our main clients.
I wasn't blamed - it wasn't really my responsibility to get hold of the documents, I was just a first seat trainee. This is something that should have been picked up and dealt with by the ever-changing body of associates and those whose job it was to oversee them. Ultimately the deal went ahead, with the loan documents adapted to account for the missing one-pager, but the relationship between the firm and one of its major clients took a hit. I have no idea if a precedent was created as the partner had said, for all I know it may have impacted the entire loan market.
A few months later when I was changing seat, I was packing up my office and took apart the CP box with the concertina dividers. There in the bottom of the box, having slipped through a gap, was the missing document, all signed and dated and in good and due order. Some associate must have given it to me after all, and then they'd probably left the firm and I hadn't noticed that it had fallen through the gap and was sitting in my office the whole time...
I hastily shredded the document, moved on to my next seat and I've made sure that I never had to work on a loan since.
@Question Man @ 12th - the 3 questions you meant to ask were 1) what do you mean the trainee was 'taken' - is Wang accusing the partner of dragging them there? 2) did the trainee snort lines of 'marching powder? 3) did the trainee complain about the experience? Some pointers for next time.
‘He raged that we were in the process of creating a precedent across the market that weakened the position of banks, our main clients.’
He may have slightly over-egging the market impact of waiving a single CP there.