Monday, July 12, 2010

Law Is A High Stakes Game

There are many things I do not miss about law school (ok, that's not entirely true- I kind of nerdly enjoyed law school). But there is at least one thing that makes life in lawschool preferable to life in practice.

See, in law school, the worst you could ever do was to get a bad grade. In my school, the worst grade you could get was a D, unless you were really REALLY trying to fail... And that's pretty much it. The most horrible thing that could happen to you was merely a lousy letter on your transcript. I do know, however, that at the time you are a law student, a lousy letter grade FEELS like the end of the world. But in reality, it's not. I've had my share of C's (no D's thankfully) and my life turned out ok. Despite the fact that each time I received a C in lawschool, I felt that a little piece of my earning power died and fell away forever and that I was sinking into a black hole of death, my life went on without a hitch. Now, I BARELY remember those feelings. So remember lawstudents, those feelings of hopelessness and misery are only temporary. But not the feeling of confusion, that pretty much sticks with you for life.

In contrast, things can get pretty ugly if you mess up in practice. We're not just talking about personal/career consequences either. In practice, if you mess up, it's really your clients' lives, futures, and bank accounts that suffer. I feel a little better representing corporations, but not much. Every time I turn around I feel like I discovery so many new ways to commit malpractice. It is SO important for a new lawyer to have good mentors that they can turn to. I don't know what I would do without the handful of lawyers in my firm that I can ALWAYWS turn to for a "quick question." These people are invaluable. And they just may prevent you from committing malpractice and causing your client to lose all his business assets.

In my firm, I hear stories all the time from the other attorneys about opposing counsel that have completely messed up their clients' cases just for not being vigilient about following Court Rules or for making really bone-headed moves. It scares me to think that one day I will mess up really badly and my opposing counsel will be telling stories about my goof up. I'm sure it's bound to happen, but hopefully not any time soon.

1 comment:

EH said...

When I was a baby lawyer, one of my mentors said, "You will screw up and then you'll fix it, and you'll screw up again..." and I thought, "this is the least useful thing anyone has ever told me." Later I realized he was right: we all screw up, and we fix it. It's good to be vigilant about it, but it'll happen, and when it does, you pick yourself up and move on. It's a hard business for perfectionists to be in.