Monday, August 29, 2016
First time this has happened in 16+ years of law teaching . . . .
Right, Scott. Of course, I will have to do it in such a way that I don't just look like I am justifying my error . . . . But I do think that can be done. I make similar comments in other circumstances in response to student comments and behaviors. It is good to remind them.
Posted by: joanheminway | Aug 29, 2016 10:00:50 AM
Perhaps another way is to address it as a professional responsibility issue. Lawyers make mistakes and one of the most important things is to own up to it as quickly as possible. First, it increases the likelihood of that the problem can be fixed. Second, and probably more importantly, it is the right thing to do.
When I was a senior associate, a junior associate whom I was supervising made a due diligence error. I had reviewed the work early-on, but reviewed it again several days before the closing. Why the re-review? I have no recollection. But I immediately saw that a bank consent was required. I was a senior associate and the partner in charge of the deal had gone to Disneyland with his kids. I had to track him down there and ruin his evening at 9 PM. I took full responsibility for the error, and I assumed that I had just ruined my chances for partnership. I was later told that the way I had handled the error was a point in my favor.
Posted by: Tina Stark | Aug 29, 2016 10:38:47 AM
I think you made the right choice to make use of your class time as best you could under the circumstances.
Posted by: Matthew Bruckner | Aug 29, 2016 11:45:41 AM
Nice, Tina. This is very good stuff. You and Scott have given me two new lessons that my students can get from this. Thanks so much.
And thanks for the endorsement, Matthew. It is hard to figure out, sometimes, how to best save a situation when one is under some pressure. It's also hard to self-evaluate, ex post, the quality of the decision. I appreciate the feedback.
Posted by: joanheminway | Aug 29, 2016 1:04:05 PM
Students to learn to think and reason when situations are new. I think you were right on point to proceed as you did. Kudos. I use to teach Business Associations and never let students off the hook even when they said they didn't understand something or read the wrong material. Grab those teaching moments whenever you can.
Posted by: Athornia Steele | Aug 29, 2016 4:44:23 PM
Thanks, Athornia. I know you're right, and I do plan to embrace it! These things happen for a reason.
Posted by: joanheminway | Aug 29, 2016 5:55:13 PM
Thank you for sharing that these situations happen, even to the most prepared and diligent among us. We all benefit from your reflection on this situation. The comments raise excellent suggestions.
Posted by: Anne Tucker | Aug 31, 2016 5:20:27 AM
Thanks for the gracious comment, Anne. I just came back from class, and I did follow up with the students on this (and tell them about this post). I shared professional responsibility comments on competence and diligence (including the importance of the "measure twice, cut once" mode of operating as a lawyer) and reflections on the just-in-time nature of IRL advice to a client seeking a lawyer's help. I got great wisdom, as you note, from comments made here and on my Facebook page, which carried a link to this post. I do appreciate everyone responding to help me to make this a super learning experience for all.
Posted by: joanheminway | Aug 31, 2016 6:36:50 AM
Be sure to remind the students that, after all, law practice doesn't come with a syllabus and clients rarely call about things that they've advised you to brush up on in advance.
Posted by: Scott Killingsworth | Aug 29, 2016 8:38:23 AM