Addressing issues facing an increasingly global practice

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.

International Law Committees

  • Foreign Lawyers Committee
    This committee was developed through the BBA International Law Section to provide professional development opportunities to foreign lawyers in the Boston area. Its goal is to facilitate interaction, professional development and mentoring among its members. Membership in the FLC is open to attorneys who are trained and/or licensed to practice in other countries, living and practicing in Greater Boston and/or attending a graduate law program in the area. The FLC is also open to lawyers who have an interest in topics of international law discussed at its meetings. The FLC holds regular meetings to discuss current topics in international law and foreign law, with presentations by attorneys who are licensed to practice in other countries or have first-hand knowledge of the laws of other countries because of work experience.
  • International Environmental Law Committee
    This committee is for members interested in international environmental issues and the laws of foreign countries.

    Contact Information

    Stuart L. Canton

    (781) 652-0135

    Cicely Ott Parseghian

    Foley Hoag LLP

    (617) 832-3038

  • 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

    (617) 535-7543

  • International Public Law, Policy and Human Rights
    This committee addresses public international law and human rights, with a particular focus on parts of the world that have witnessed long-standing conflict.
  • International Tax Committee
    This committee covers international taxation issues. Treasury and IRS officials periodically are invited to address the committee.

    Contact Information

    Michael Charles Fondo

    Audax Management Company, LLC

    (617) 859-1519

    Laura M. Thompson


    (617) 988-1000

  • International Transactions Committee
    This committee deals with issues related to both international commercial business transactions and international financial transactions.
  • Steering Committee
    The leadership committee of the Section organizes programs and discusses policy. To inquire about opportunities, please contact the Section Co-Chairs.