How to Move On From Mistakes Forum

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How to Move On From Mistakes

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Aug 05, 2022 10:42 am

Hi all, I am about 4 months into a clerkship with a pretty intense Judge and feel like I'm constantly making tiny mistakes in memos that I send internally to the Judge--typos, etc. My judge will note them (e.g., cross them out) when he hands back memos to me. Was wondering how often people made mistakes like this in a clerkship and how they coped, given that many of us are generally pretty detail-oriented, anal-retentive people.

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Re: How to Move On From Mistakes

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Aug 05, 2022 10:51 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Aug 05, 2022 10:42 am
Hi all, I am about 4 months into a clerkship with a pretty intense Judge and feel like I'm constantly making tiny mistakes in memos that I send internally to the Judge--typos, etc. My judge will note them (e.g., cross them out) when he hands back memos to me. Was wondering how often people made mistakes like this in a clerkship and how they coped, given that many of us are generally pretty detail-oriented, anal-retentive people.
If these are just cosmetic mistakes like typos, that's really not so bad at all. Imagine if you messed up some substantive legal issue like fundamentally mischaracterizing precedent or something like that. So you could maintain perspective about that.

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Re: How to Move On From Mistakes

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Aug 05, 2022 10:57 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Aug 05, 2022 10:51 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Aug 05, 2022 10:42 am
Hi all, I am about 4 months into a clerkship with a pretty intense Judge and feel like I'm constantly making tiny mistakes in memos that I send internally to the Judge--typos, etc. My judge will note them (e.g., cross them out) when he hands back memos to me. Was wondering how often people made mistakes like this in a clerkship and how they coped, given that many of us are generally pretty detail-oriented, anal-retentive people.
If these are just cosmetic mistakes like typos, that's really not so bad at all. Imagine if you messed up some substantive legal issue like fundamentally mischaracterizing precedent or something like that. So you could maintain perspective about that.
Is that true even if he notes them when he hands them back to me? He hasn't brought them up in feedback, but I don't get much feedback at all, in any event. Perhaps the correct route would also be to just ask him if he thinks I'm doing a decent job?

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Re: How to Move On From Mistakes

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Aug 05, 2022 12:41 pm

Unless you are repeatedly making the same mistakes and not learning from feedback, these aren't mistakes. It's just turning comments.

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Re: How to Move On From Mistakes

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Aug 05, 2022 1:19 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Aug 05, 2022 10:42 am
Hi all, I am about 4 months into a clerkship with a pretty intense Judge and feel like I'm constantly making tiny mistakes in memos that I send internally to the Judge--typos, etc. My judge will note them (e.g., cross them out) when he hands back memos to me. Was wondering how often people made mistakes like this in a clerkship and how they coped, given that many of us are generally pretty detail-oriented, anal-retentive people.
I am in month 11 and am still doing this. You're doing great! Just try your best.

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Re: How to Move On From Mistakes

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Aug 05, 2022 1:35 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Aug 05, 2022 10:42 am
Hi all, I am about 4 months into a clerkship with a pretty intense Judge and feel like I'm constantly making tiny mistakes in memos that I send internally to the Judge--typos, etc. My judge will note them (e.g., cross them out) when he hands back memos to me. Was wondering how often people made mistakes like this in a clerkship and how they coped, given that many of us are generally pretty detail-oriented, anal-retentive people.
I guess it may feel weird to get comments back on memos, but I’m presuming it’s material that might end in an order/opinion, right? So it’s just edits, not a commentary on you as a person.

If you want to avoid those mistakes (or at least as many as you can), see if someone else can review it for you for typos, or leave it for a couple of hours and look at it again with fresh eyes, or go line by line backwards, or read it out loud to yourself.

But it’s entirely human to make typos and other tiny errors. You just have to develop systems for catching them, not assume you won’t make them to start with.

I wouldn’t ask him if he thinks you’re doing a decent job, small cosmetic errors aren’t a big deal. Does the memo otherwise accomplish what was intended? Then you’re good. And some people can’t refrain from marking stuff up even if the material isn’t going anywhere.

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Re: How to Move On From Mistakes

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Aug 05, 2022 2:01 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Aug 05, 2022 1:35 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Aug 05, 2022 10:42 am
Hi all, I am about 4 months into a clerkship with a pretty intense Judge and feel like I'm constantly making tiny mistakes in memos that I send internally to the Judge--typos, etc. My judge will note them (e.g., cross them out) when he hands back memos to me. Was wondering how often people made mistakes like this in a clerkship and how they coped, given that many of us are generally pretty detail-oriented, anal-retentive people.
I guess it may feel weird to get comments back on memos, but I’m presuming it’s material that might end in an order/opinion, right? So it’s just edits, not a commentary on you as a person.

If you want to avoid those mistakes (or at least as many as you can), see if someone else can review it for you for typos, or leave it for a couple of hours and look at it again with fresh eyes, or go line by line backwards, or read it out loud to yourself.

But it’s entirely human to make typos and other tiny errors. You just have to develop systems for catching them, not assume you won’t make them to start with.

I wouldn’t ask him if he thinks you’re doing a decent job, small cosmetic errors aren’t a big deal. Does the memo otherwise accomplish what was intended? Then you’re good. And some people can’t refrain from marking stuff up even if the material isn’t going anywhere.
Thanks, ya'll. This makes me feel a lot better. Its a bit complicated; he'll hand the memo back to me before we discuss, but doesn't expect me to actually make the edits, etc.

I think the memos do accomplish what he wants; he has agreed with most if not all of my recommendations, and doesn't ask huge questions after reading it. But can't help but feeling, when you get no feedback at all, that I'm not being up to snuff!

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Re: How to Move On From Mistakes

Post by Antetrust » Sat Aug 06, 2022 10:31 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Aug 05, 2022 2:01 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Aug 05, 2022 1:35 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Aug 05, 2022 10:42 am
Hi all, I am about 4 months into a clerkship with a pretty intense Judge and feel like I'm constantly making tiny mistakes in memos that I send internally to the Judge--typos, etc. My judge will note them (e.g., cross them out) when he hands back memos to me. Was wondering how often people made mistakes like this in a clerkship and how they coped, given that many of us are generally pretty detail-oriented, anal-retentive people.
I guess it may feel weird to get comments back on memos, but I’m presuming it’s material that might end in an order/opinion, right? So it’s just edits, not a commentary on you as a person.

If you want to avoid those mistakes (or at least as many as you can), see if someone else can review it for you for typos, or leave it for a couple of hours and look at it again with fresh eyes, or go line by line backwards, or read it out loud to yourself.

But it’s entirely human to make typos and other tiny errors. You just have to develop systems for catching them, not assume you won’t make them to start with.

I wouldn’t ask him if he thinks you’re doing a decent job, small cosmetic errors aren’t a big deal. Does the memo otherwise accomplish what was intended? Then you’re good. And some people can’t refrain from marking stuff up even if the material isn’t going anywhere.
Thanks, ya'll. This makes me feel a lot better. Its a bit complicated; he'll hand the memo back to me before we discuss, but doesn't expect me to actually make the edits, etc.

I think the memos do accomplish what he wants; he has agreed with most if not all of my recommendations, and doesn't ask huge questions after reading it. But can't help but feeling, when you get no feedback at all, that I'm not being up to snuff!
Sounds like you're probably doing well and overthinking things because you are self-conscious about your mistakes. That's natural, especially in the type-A environment that is the practice of law.

Simple fix: print out everything you write before you turn it in. Read it slowly and deliberately. You might be astounded to find typos jumping out at you that you previously skimmed over while editing it on a computer, as well as stylistic and other changes. If possible, put some time between when you write it and when you edit it; maybe an overnight or overlunch gap.

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Prudent_Jurist

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Re: How to Move On From Mistakes

Post by Prudent_Jurist » Sat Aug 06, 2022 11:37 am

I never have the patience or self-control or time management to do this, but print whatever it is out and read it backwards word by word or line by line.

Because you wrote it, your brain knows what you wrote and will fill in typos/grammatical errors as you read normally. Reading backwards means your brain won’t do that, so you can more effectively identify errors.

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Re: How to Move On From Mistakes

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Aug 06, 2022 10:08 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Aug 05, 2022 2:01 pm
Thanks, ya'll. This makes me feel a lot better. Its a bit complicated; he'll hand the memo back to me before we discuss, but doesn't expect me to actually make the edits, etc.

I think the memos do accomplish what he wants; he has agreed with most if not all of my recommendations, and doesn't ask huge questions after reading it. But can't help but feeling, when you get no feedback at all, that I'm not being up to snuff!
I've been in this situation (in a different profession, but same thing of giving someone written work and not getting feedback), and it does feel surprisingly shitty - without any confirmation that what you're doing is okay, it's hard not to feel like you must be doing something wrong. (I so often wished this supervisor would at least say something like "overall, this is fine," as well as just point out the errors.) But what I learned is that some people just don't feel the need to praise or affirm the stuff that you're doing right - their only concern is with fixing the stuff that needs it. So you may just have to assume that your judge is like that, and that if he had bigger problems with your work he'd doubtless tell you. Because from what you've said, the errors that you've made are the inevitable errors from being human, not a sign that you're doing bad work.

Something else to consider - are these changes really all typos/errors, or are they stylistic choices/preferences? Or general writing principles? I clerked for a judge who was REALLY into "use as few words as possible" and so made a lot of small changes to things that weren't strictly wrong, but that they didn't like (typical example is they hated saying "prior to" instead of "before," or "in order to" instead of "to"). I do (now) think that this judge was right about what makes good/better writing, but I also can't tell you how many published cases I've seen use both "prior to" and "in order to," so obviously some of this is subjective. So to the extent the changes are stylistic, either think about the reasons behind the changes, or even just ask the judge if he's willing to go over his reasons for changing your language. Of course, if it is all just standard typos, then never mind this.

(Also, before the commentariat gets into this: I'm not saying that every supervisor getting written work from a subordinate needs to cater to an employee's insecurities by reassuring them all the time or anything, but never getting any feedback other than things to change can nonetheless be demoralizing, especially in something like a clerkship where there's expected to be a mentoring component.)

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Re: How to Move On From Mistakes

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Aug 07, 2022 5:33 pm

Prudent_Jurist wrote:
Sat Aug 06, 2022 11:37 am
I never have the patience or self-control or time management to do this, but print whatever it is out and read it backwards word by word or line by line.

Because you wrote it, your brain knows what you wrote and will fill in typos/grammatical errors as you read normally. Reading backwards means your brain won’t do that, so you can more effectively identify errors.
Alternatively, have Word read it aloud and LISTEN to the order without reading the document. I do that for every order I write before submitting it. And you can change the reading speed so it doesn't take as long as you'd think. Also, and almost more importantly, it catches language that's technically right but confusing to interpret.

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Re: How to Move On From Mistakes

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Aug 07, 2022 9:39 pm

A related question; how do you gauge what your Judge really cares about when he gives you no feedback? It sounds like a word or two misplaced in a memorandum doesn't make much of a difference (right?)

I also can't tell if I'm doing a good enough job.

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Re: How to Move On From Mistakes

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Aug 08, 2022 9:00 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Aug 07, 2022 9:39 pm
A related question; how do you gauge what your Judge really cares about when he gives you no feedback? It sounds like a word or two misplaced in a memorandum doesn't make much of a difference (right?)

I also can't tell if I'm doing a good enough job.
First, although people usually forget about this, you can just ask your judge what he's hoping for when he receives one of your memos. You can ask if he has any pet peeves. But generally, for an internal memo, they're expecting good analysis with non-distracting typos. If it's public-facing (even to the rest of a panel), they will want both content and formatting to be spectacular because it reflects on them.

And you generally won't ever be able to tell if your judge thinks you're doing really well. Very few judges employ explicit praise. But many more judges will be direct if you're doing poorly. So no news is generally good news.

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