We spend much time teaching our young lawyers how to avoid mistakes, and rightly so — prudence and precision are two hallmarks of a great attorney. But we must also teach how to handle the mistakes, big and small, that inevitably will occur over the course of a career.

My first mistake as a young associate was fairly minor. In submitting an amended complaint that added several new paragraphs, and thus altered the paragraph numbering, I forgot to adjust the language in several counts that incorporated prior text by reference (“paragraphs 12-15 are incorporated by reference herein”). I realized my mistake only after the partner in charge had filed the amended complaint. Mortified, I slunk into the partner’s office, eyes downcast, and explained the error.

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