Exploring legal issues facing businesses and individuals in IP-intensive fields

What are Mistakes that Lawyers Make?

Monday, December 17, 2012

On a cold December night more than 100 lawyers -- many of whom had only earlier this month been admitted to the bar -- turned out for the Boston Bar Association’s annual “Mistakes New Lawyers Make.” There a panel of six lawyers of different backgrounds shared professional advice useful to attorneys of all experience levels -- including legal tips, networking and how to keep clients happy.

Panelists included Moderator David E. Wilson (Corwin & Corwin LLP),Marie E Giraud (Morrison Mahoney LLP), Von Bryant (Foley Hoag LLP), Jessica A. Massey (Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General), Gabriel Cheong (Infinity Law Group LLC), and Adrienne Penta ( Brown Brothers Harriman & Co.)

We will be running all of the tips in a four part series in BBA Week. Our first week will focus on Professional Pitfalls:

• Don’t guess when someone asks you a question. Saying something along the lines of, “I don’t know the answer, but I will get back to you,” is much better than giving the wrong answer.

• Seek out a mentor early on. Have a person of whom you can ask questions. Get out of your office and get your questions answered.

• Never press “send” after 1:00AM. If there is no need to send something late, then don’t. It is better to wake up early and reread a piece of work. The extra polish and shine on a person’s work is important to his or her personal brand.

• Don’t feel the need to be more combative or aggressive than necessary. You can always get more aggressive. It is not as easy to “unannoy” someone on the other side of a deal.

• The BBO has a hotline you can call to tell them about a mistake you made and they will inform you of the possible consequences of your mistakes.

• Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers deals with alcohol abuse among lawyers. Don’t let the stress associated with work overwhelm you.

• Learn to say “no,” in a tactful way. In order to please multiple bosses, you must get work done in a timely manner and manage bosses’ expectations about time management.

• Don’t commit to something and then not get it done. Be realistic. Be honest.

• When you make a mistake, be honest with yourself that you made a mistake. Accept it. Own it. Decide how bad is the mistake is. Try to come up with a solution to propose when bringing a mistake to the attention of a supervisor.

• Don’t try to fix your mistakes too quickly. Acting to quickly can lead to another mistake.

• Be candid with those you are working with. Don’t try to gloss over your mistake. If someone finds out down the line, the situation will be much worse than if you had told them in the beginning. Own up to your mistake.

• Take steps to make sure the mistake doesn’t happen again. Employers don’t like to see the same mistake twice.

Intellectual Property Law Committees

  • Arts, Entertainment and Sports Law Committee
    This committee provides resources for lawyers who represent clients in the arts, in entertainment and in associated industries, including visual artists, writers, publishers, film and TV producers, songwriters, music producers and publishers, performing artists and those involved in other creative pursuits.

    Contact Information

    Brooke Penrose

    Burns & Levinson LLP

    (617) 345-3287

    Stacey C. Friends

    Ruberto, Israel & Weiner, P.C.

    (617) 570-3578

  • Computer and Internet Law Committee
    This committee covers areas including federal and state regulation, intellectual property, contracts, employment, civil and criminal litigation, corporate and business law, taxation, export control, finance, libel, privacy and publicity rights, obscenity, defamation, antitrust and international law, as well as technical standards and commercial protocols.
  • Intellectual Property Law Committee
    This committee brings together lawyers from diverse IP law fields, including patent, copyright, trademark, trade secret and transfer of technology, know-how and publicity rights law.

    Contact Information

    Daniel A. Lev

    Pierce Atwood LLP

    (617) 488.8112

    Meenakshy Chakravorty

    Philips Intellectual Property & Standards

    (781) 418-9211

  • Intellectual Property Litigation Committee
    This is a joint committee between the Intellectual Property and Litigation Sections. This committee provides education concerning the enforcement of patent, trademark, copyright and trade secrets rights as well as the defense of those accused of infringing on such rights, in federal and state courts and before the International Trade Commission.

    Contact Information

    Kelli Powell

    Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP

    (617) 526-6819

    Dalila Wendlandt

    Ropes & Gray LLP

    (617) 951-7884

    Christina M Licursi

    Wolf Greenfield

    (617) 646-8384

  • International Intellectual Property Law Committee
    This committee brings together practitioners and others concerned with the state of IP in multiple countries and pursuant to multinational accords. Areas covered include perfection and protection of IP rights, defenses against IP abuses, technology transfer and other licensing and venture transactions, as well as collateral affecting IP development and exploitation.

    Contact Information

    Asya Calixto

    Prince Lobel Tye LLP

    (617) 456-8110

    Hsuanyeh Chang

    Burns & Levinson LLP

    (617) 345-3218

  • Life Sciences Committee
    This committee addresses the business and patent issues that arise in biotechnology, health care services, laboratory services, medical devices and pharmaceuticals.

    Contact Information

    Lawrence Cogswell

    Hamilton, Brook, Smith & Reynolds, PC

    Lesley Chuang

    Campbell Campbell Edwards & Conroy, PC

    (617) 902-0501

  • Privacy Law Committee
    This committee covers the full range of issues involved with the collection, use, sharing and securing of personal information, as relevant to Massachusetts-based entities. Areas covered include website and online privacy; information management practices; physical and system monitoring; healthcare, financial and other sector-specific privacy rules; international data collection and transfers; RFID and other tracking technologies; workplace privacy concerns; and new developments in privacy and compliance law and practice.

    Contact Information

    Seth Carlton Harrington

    Ropes & Gray LLP

    (618) 951-7226

    Kent David Ballaty Sinclair

    Stroz Friedberg, LLC

    (617) 848-5650

  • Steering Committee
    The leadership committee of the Section organizes programs and discusses policy. To inquire about opportunities, please contact the Section Co-Chairs.