New York City law firms have a well-earned reputation for superlative legal counsel and work product. Because work expectations at these firms run so high, the distinction between pursuing excellence and expecting perfection (i.e., zero mistakes) can get blurry. Blurring this distinction, however, can erode a firm’s morale and increase its exposure to liability. To illustrate, I share the following anecdote involving one of my former patients. For the sake of confidentiality, I refer to her as Emily.
Emily had worked at the same law firm since law school, and we started working together shortly after she made a drafting mistake. During her first couple of years at this firm, Emily had worked principally on due diligence projects but she had always wanted to work on joint venture capital deals—a transactional specialty in one of the firm’s practice groups. One day the phone rang; a junior partner from that practice group asked Emily to join him on a project. They went over the deal sheet and the applicable document templates, and the partner let Emily take a crack at conforming the templates to the deal terms. Emily was excited and put a lot of time and effort into this deal.
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