All trainees, at least once.
Following last week’s confessions, more lawyers have admitted the terrible mistakes they feared could end their legal careers before they even qualified.
During the first face-to-face meeting with clients outside of court, an intern suddenly realized that they were receiving instructions from the other party’s clients, who had names similar to theirs. “Can I just stop you there?”, the lawyer recalled, “I need to go find your lawyer and have a quick chat.”
“Walking back up the stairs, I felt physically ill. I considered a career in burger service. I found their advice as well as ours. I explained what had happened and I handed over my brief notes. I stood back and waited for the firestorm that would eventually result in a mistrial, my dismissal and regulation beheading. What I got instead was a howl of Barristerial laughter, a comforting arm around his shoulder and an assurance that the world would still turn. Besides, our guy won. At least I think he was our guy.”
In another case of mistaken identity, “DJ Experience” went to an unopposed hearing at the old Manchester County Court. “I go downstairs to see a lady in a room, sitting casually, reading a book…I say hello to her, ask her how her day is going…With no answer, I try to chat and ask her the book she’s reading and ask her when I can see the judge upstairs in court.” Putting the book down, she replied, “Young man, I’m the judge, you see me here in my chambers”, and said to him, “Looks like you’ve forgotten how to address me in this informal setting…You can go back outside, remember that I am madam and let’s start again”.
‘Peach pear plum’ arrived at the RCJ for the first time with a large bag containing all the paperwork for the supervising solicitor and QC, and lunch. “At the station I managed to knock the bag down the stairs. No drama until I got to court and realized that my contribution of five fruits a day (a pear in this case ) had smeared all over QC’s bag. He wasn’t angry, just disappointed, and that’s what makes it so bad…the look of pity.”
Mixing business with pleasure can lead to stains worse than fruit. “Another intern (married) in my class had become very flirtatious with our client’s manager,” a lawyer said. “It progressed, after completion, to them getting a hotel room together. Only for her husband to call and manage to say where she was and what she was doing. beat the director, to the point that he needed hospital treatment. Unsurprisingly, the client was furious, the director was fired by his wife, and the intern was not kept.”
Others got away with their sloppy behavior. “As an intern, I wrote an email to a junior colleague calling an ac*** partner 10 times in a row, then accidentally sent it directly to said partner. I still don’t know how I didn’t not been fired,” a lawyer said. .
“CliveWarren” placed a comma in the wrong place on a Part 36 offer “which was immediately accepted” because it meant the offer was “about 5 times the value of the claim”. He told his supervisor “As soon as possible and wrote to the other side who backed off with minimal fuss. He still blocked at that time”.
Trainees getting ahead of themselves have led to some notable backfires. One individual sent a threatening letter to opposing attorneys without his partner’s approval, leading to his boss yelling at him, “Who the fuck do you think you are, Rambo?”, while another intern asked his lawyer to file an appeal with the Supreme Court on a case without instructions from the client: “Fortunately, the appeal was successful”.
“Frank O’Fohn” said, “As Big Law’s first intern, my firm worked for a bank and I was responsible for managing pre-requisite documents before a huge loan was granted to redevelop the city center of a major British city – that was no small thing”.
“As the closing date approached, it suddenly became clear that we were missing a crucial original document… The whole team was called into the office of the senior partner, who was fortunately a very well-mannered man. soft, but even he had reached his limit: ‘That’s bullshit, absolute bullshit!’ he shouted,” and although the deal was done, “the relationship between the company and one of its key customers has taken a hit.”
“A few months later, as I was changing seats, I was tidying up my desk and dismantling the CP box with the concertina dividers. There, at the bottom of the box, slipped through a gap, was the missing document, all signed and dated…I shredded the document hastily, moved on to my next seat, and made sure I’ve never had to work on a loan since.”
Unfortunately, the biggest mistake “Zero Gravitas” made as an intern was “Qualifying,” but some intern mistakes will go to the grave with the lawyer who made them. “Mine is so bad that I will never reveal it to anyone, although the details are anonymous, until I retire,” ‘ObstreperousDogey’ said. “It was so bad that I fear I’ll be fired now even though it was within the first month of my first job as a lawyer.”