WHAT THEY DON’T TEACH YOU AT LAW SCHOOL X: THE BEST OF THE REST
This series started as a series of tweets from a (cold) train station early last Friday morning. It is fitting I finish it on a Friday evening. Much ground has been covered and we have gathered advice from around the world. There has been tremendous support and advice from practitioners on Twitter. Here I want to take a (highly personal) selection of the 10 key points that arise from the previous posts.
1 “TURNING THE OTHER CHEEK”
There is a tremendous amount of useful information in the links in the first post. However my key point here is “attitude matters”.
Andrea Lee Negroni gives 26 useful points in the Washington Lawyer. All of them need reading and every point is a good one. My favourite quote is:-
“Attitude Is Everything. In every firm, there are people others want to be around and people they avoid. It is all about attitude. You can choose to be positive or negative at work; people recognize the difference. They say one can hear a smile through a phone line, and I believe that is true.”
2. YOU’LL BECOME WHAT YOU THINK YOU’LL BECOME
The question of attitude is central to the second post with the review of an article by Susan Carter Liebel my key point is attitude related again.
Be proactive. Not reactive
” While you’re reacting to what you now have that you never wanted you will miss theopportunities you could have reached for that you did want. And that happens to the majority of people. Be in the minority.”
3. GUIDANCE FROM DOWN UNDER
The third post referred to the excellent publication from New South Wales. There is enough good material there for weeks of reading.
“If you make a mistake, own up to it immediately so that the appropriate action can be taken by your supervisor. Ideally, research a way in which the mistake can be rectified, so that you can approach your supervisor with the mistake and the remedy. Far better to own up early, advise the client that there has been a problem, make an apology and explain what you are doing to remedy that problem rather than deal with a formal complaint to the Office of the Legal Services Commissioner. However embarrassing the short-lived humiliation, it is better than a permanent mark on your record and perhaps a civil suit for negligence.
“The public, more often than not, will forgive mistakes, but it will not forgive trying to wriggle and weasel out of one.”
4. OWNING A FIXING YOUR MISTAKES
The fourth post contains a similar theme, only with the aim of attempting to identify mistakes in advance.
- There are few errors that are truly unfixable.
- Time and experience are the only real teachers.
- Try to discuss matters with a colleague.
“Look for any opportunity to talk a tricky situation through. Through this process you will hopefully be able to identify and head off future problems before they erupt, or at least contain the fallout.”
5. WEAR SUNSCREEN
The fifth post came from guidance given to the Bar in Kuala Lumpur
by Brendan Navin Siva
“… do not blindly accept everything you are told by someone more senior and supposedly better than you. We are not better than you. We have just been here a little bit longer than you. Challenge the logic of what we say. If it does not make sense to you, don’t accept it
6. NEVER WRITE ANYTHING DOWN YOU DON’T WANT READ IN OPEN COURT
The sixth post contains a number of examples of lawyers that have hit problems. I stress that emails are problematic and assume that anyone (and everyone) may read them.
Lady (Legal) Writer reported on embarrassing e-mails in Indiana
“…a Nebraska lawyer accidentally copied a Nebraska Supreme Court justice on an email about a case that had just been heard by that court. The lawyer (who was not involved in the case) sent the email to two attorneys involved in the case to congratulate them on their oral arguments in the case and the way they “dealt with some ill-conceived and uninformed questions.” Unfortunately for the lawyer, he accidentally copied twenty-four other people on the email, including the chief justice.”
7. FLAT SHOES AND DOUBLE STUFFED OREOS
The seventh post is the first that brings together the numerous suggestions (practical, humorous and otherwise) that came from Twitter. The contribution from Paul Nicholls is telling
“I always take time to have or at least offer coffee after a lengthy hearing with my oppo. It is ‘civil’ litigation after all.”
8. BUNDLES, COURTESY AND MINTS (OH, AND THE DANGERS OF MAKING ASSUMPTIONS)
The eighth post continued with the contributions from Twitter. Advice ranged from back up equipment to the need for a good wheelie case. The dangers of making assumptions are set out by Alexander Chandler.
@CivilLitTweet Don’t assume the other man in court is the usher & make “I want water” gestures. (He was a senior judge appraising the DDJ)
9. IF YOU ARE TOLD IT WILL BE “GOOD EXPERIENCE FOR YOU” – WATCH OUT
By the ninth post I had mastered the skill of garnering the information from Twitter (aided by guidance from Twitter users). There are numerous gems of information there (not all totally serious, but one thing you are only going to learn by experience.
@CivilLitTweet if you receive a stupid letter/email, draft your reply, print it, wait 24 hours & then re-read & edit it before sending.
10. FINALLY IT MAY ALL BE WORTH IT
I’ll leave the final word to Michael Reed. People grumble but it is a great profession as long as you know what you are getting into (which has been the purpose of this series).
@CivilLitTweet Which is not to say it’s not a great profession. All worth it, for the right people. But know what you’re getting into.