Request for General Advice, Work product fuck ups and recovery

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BeachBear

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Request for General Advice, Work product fuck ups and recovery

Postby BeachBear » Thu Jun 01, 2017 11:42 pm

It's my third week at my 2L summer firm and I think I fucked up badly.

Some background information first. I am summering at a mid-sized (30-50 attorney) firm in a major market (LA/NY). I really enjoy working here because everyone in the firm is incredibly friendly and collegial. Furthermore, the work is interesting, the pay is really good, and the hours are fantastic. Obviously, I would want to be able to get an offer at the end of summer but I don't know if I will. Since I'm the only summer associate, it's hard for me to tell if I'm doing well. The partners are also incredibly helpful but all the work I have been turning in gets lots of red-marks and revisions. I would make the corrections, think about how else I can improve it, then double check the printed out version before turning it back in. Then I get a lot more revisions. Although the partners tell me I did a good job when I get back my work, it's hard to take the compliment at face value given how great the attorneys are.

Recently, I was assigned an internal memo that is supposed to inform all the attorneys in the firm about how a portion of the state code worked for certain business entities. I misread a portion of the code so that while my answer is technically correct, it is missing a few key exceptions. The worst part is, I found out that I am missing those exceptions because one of the senior partners came to my office to ask me to double check my answers.

My question for the wider internet community is, did any of you fuck up and still get an offer as a summer? If so, what if anything did you guys do? For those of you in mid-sized firms, what is the normal procedure when you turn in work product?

Also, any advice or experience about how to do well in a mid-sized firm would be greatly appreciated.

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stannis

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Re: Request for General Advice, Work product fuck ups and recovery

Postby stannis » Fri Jun 02, 2017 12:35 am

BeachBear wrote:It's my third week at my 2L summer firm and I think I fucked up badly.

Some background information first. I am summering at a mid-sized (30-50 attorney) firm in a major market (LA/NY). I really enjoy working here because everyone in the firm is incredibly friendly and collegial. Furthermore, the work is interesting, the pay is really good, and the hours are fantastic. Obviously, I would want to be able to get an offer at the end of summer but I don't know if I will. Since I'm the only summer associate, it's hard for me to tell if I'm doing well. The partners are also incredibly helpful but all the work I have been turning in gets lots of red-marks and revisions. I would make the corrections, think about how else I can improve it, then double check the printed out version before turning it back in. Then I get a lot more revisions. Although the partners tell me I did a good job when I get back my work, it's hard to take the compliment at face value given how great the attorneys are.

Recently, I was assigned an internal memo that is supposed to inform all the attorneys in the firm about how a portion of the state code worked for certain business entities. I misread a portion of the code so that while my answer is technically correct, it is missing a few key exceptions. The worst part is, I found out that I am missing those exceptions because one of the senior partners came to my office to ask me to double check my answers.

My question for the wider internet community is, did any of you fuck up and still get an offer as a summer? If so, what if anything did you guys do? For those of you in mid-sized firms, what is the normal procedure when you turn in work product?

Also, any advice or experience about how to do well in a mid-sized firm would be greatly appreciated.


I worked at a similarly sized firm my 2L summer and got an offer. It sounds like you're doing fine. Law school doesn't really teach you how to be an attorney, so if you're given meaningful assignments rather than busy-work like at many biglaw firms, you're probably going to make some mistakes. The attorneys aren't expecting perfection, they're expecting potential, improvement, a good work ethic, and a good attitude.

As far as my own fuck-ups, I misunderstood the issue on a time sensitive memo for an associate and wrote something useless. He was very straight-forward in telling me that I fucked up, but kept giving me assignments throughout the summer and gave me a very positive review at the end recommending my hire.

If you do fuck up, just own the mistake, and don't repeat it. The worst thing you can do is to try to make excuses for yourself or to deflect the blame.

As far as revisions, all attorneys have their own style, and since you haven't practiced yet, they're probably all better writers than you at this point. So it's natural that they'll change it around a little bit. That being said, you shouldn't be turning in work product with typos, grammatical mistakes, or bluebooking errors (the last one is probably group/firm specific to some degree).

Feel free to PM if you want to follow up about anything I wrote.

kykiske

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Re: Request for General Advice, Work product fuck ups and recovery

Postby kykiske » Fri Jun 02, 2017 9:30 am

To concur with stannis, I found that attorneys can forgive mistakes. I mean, even when you're an associate, you're going to make mistakes. Partners make mistakes too, believe it or not.

What many attorneys cannot forgive is if you try to deflect blame, or worse, lie about the mistake occurring.

Your best bet is to own the mistake. Acknowledge that you're still learning about the particular area of law, and that you appreciate the attorney's feedback. And that you'll do your absolute best not to make the same mistake.

As for succeeding in a mid-sized firm, since it's smaller, I think as an SA you should try to meet every attorney. Ideally, by the end of the summer, all the attorneys know your name.

As to work product, proof proof proof. It's very sloppy to turn in work with grammar and typos. If you're incomplete or inaccurate on the legal analysis, that stuff is teachable. If there are numerous typos and grammar issues, then you just look REALLY bad.

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FullRamboLSGrad

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Re: Request for General Advice, Work product fuck ups and recovery

Postby FullRamboLSGrad » Fri Jun 02, 2017 10:07 am

You're going to screw up a lot. Even partners do.

I'm in Lit and I constantly see typos and analysis errors even in dispositive motions or appellate briefs from my own firm and from opposing firms.

Don't beat yourself up, but don't rush your work product if you don't have to.

My firms namesake and senior partner misspells every other word in every email he sends to anybody yet here he is, bringing in enough work to run a decent sized firm and live in one of the wealthiest parts of town. I'm not advocating for this, just providing an example.

kykiske

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Re: Request for General Advice, Work product fuck ups and recovery

Postby kykiske » Fri Jun 02, 2017 10:15 am

FullRamboLSGrad wrote:You're going to screw up a lot. Even partners do.

I'm in Lit and I constantly see typos and analysis errors even in dispositive motions or appellate briefs from my own firm and from opposing firms.

Don't beat yourself up, but don't rush your work product if you don't have to.

My firms namesake and senior partner misspells every other word in every email he sends to anybody yet here he is, bringing in enough work to run a decent sized firm and live in one of the wealthiest parts of town. I'm not advocating for this, just providing an example.


Also, any attorney that represents that he/she produces "perfect" work product is either lying, or is so self-conceded he/she cannot admit to mistakes.

BeachBear

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Re: Request for General Advice, Work product fuck ups and recovery

Postby BeachBear » Fri Jun 02, 2017 11:02 pm

Thank you all for taking the time to respond to my question. I feel a lot better about my situation now.

Night_L

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Re: Request for General Advice, Work product fuck ups and recovery

Postby Night_L » Sat Jun 03, 2017 12:12 am

FullRamboLSGrad wrote:My firms namesake and senior partner misspells every other word in every email he sends to anybody yet here he is, bringing in enough work to run a decent sized firm and live in one of the wealthiest parts of town. I'm not advocating for this, just providing an example.


Not to distract from your broader point (which I agree with) but that's sort of different. I learned in some corporate training long ago that it is a maxim of communication theory that in general, emails get sloppier the higher up one goes in an organization's hierarchy. My own observations have certainly borne this out, having received countless messages from bosses and partners over the years that were largely devoid of caps and punctuation. Basically people don't give a shit about that stuff when they email underlings. So I can assure you that this name partner was NOT sending typo-ridden emails as an associate (assuming email existed at the time).

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Mickfromgm

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Re: Request for General Advice, Work product fuck ups and recovery

Postby Mickfromgm » Sat Jun 03, 2017 7:45 am

OP, let me give you some advice.

First, multiple rounds of extensive revisions are very common. Like, really common. In fact, sometimes you see a senior partner destroy another senior partner's work product with a red pen. It's very comical watching what ensues. When I was a junior associate, I remember working with a senior partner to craft a client memo on an amendment to an SEC rule. He had me revise the memo several times extensively, and I thought I was an idiot . . . until he gave me a superlative review (a shock) and kept asking me to work with him on his various projects. Some people like to just tinker and tinker and tinker. And that's okay. So, you just started, you don't know anything (like every other summer associate) - perfectly normal.

As for your mistake, why do you think there are multi-layer levels of review of work products at law firms, even for associates? To catch mistakes by younger attorneys, among other things. You are inexperienced; you are not supposed to know anything. I can assure you from my personal experience that summer associates fvck up all.the.time. . . and still easily get offers. You have a 95.3% chance of getting an offer, bud. Forgive yourself and vow to be more careful next time. Make sure you have a good attitude and try to learn and improve for the rest of the summer, and you'll do fine.

If I were you, I would go apologize in person to that lawyer. That's huge. Work with that guy again - redeem yourself. Remember, everyone wants you to succeed - use experienced attorneys as your resource; walk through your assignment with other lawyers you feel more comfortable with (mentors?) and bounce ideas with them. It makes all the difference.

Chill, give yourself some time.



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