You forgot to insert a vital clause. Don’t beat yourself up too long

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This week’s nightmare won’t hit – really – until you’re partner. This is the one where you wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night realising that you have failed to put THIS clause in the contract or file THAT pleading before the statute of limitation runs out, and so on.

Whichever area of law you’re practising, and however good your precedents are, there will be something, at some point, that you will forget to do.

Believe it or not, kittlings, this is perfectly natural, no matter how the horrible magnifying effect of 3am might make you feel about it. Happily for you, the worst that should happen is that you get badly torn up by an irritated associate or partner.

This might feel like the worst thing that can happen, but I can tell you that it pales into insignificance compared to what the partner is feeling when he or she does it. And they do, oh yes, far, far more often than they’d like anyone to think.

Chills, spills and bellyache

You have of course joined the profession of the terminally, pathologically insecure. And frankly, it’s a good thing too; they say the day an actor isn’t nervous before going onstage is the day they should quit. Equally, the day the lawyer doesn’t feel a tiny bit insecure about this contract or that letter or nervous about the negotiation, that’s the day before they are going to make the worst mistake of their lives.

People sometimes criticise partners or bellyache about the amount of money they get paid, and yes, they are well-paid for what they do. But then so are you, compared to people in the real world. And the big difference is that your backside is not, ultimately, on the line.

If you make a boo-boo and the associate leading your case/deal fails to notice it and the partner fails to notice it, they might grind you, but they know where the real responsibility lives.

That’s no reason to shrug off your feelings of horror. But turn that 3am cold shiver into a learning point. Nod sagely when you’re torn off a strip and just realise that it’s the partner’s insecurity talking, not a reason to chuck yourself off Waterloo Bridge carrying a boxful of copies of The White Book.

Stay frosty. TS

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