It is if you break it down into a series of fairly specific questions. Yes, what Not a Lawyer said. Even if you can break it down to that level, you are talking about someone who presumably completed law school and passed the bar. The letter writer should not be teaching this person the skills they should have learned in elementary school, middle school and high school. These are skills a student should already be honing when entering college and should be well developed by the time they complete law school.
These are things that can be taught, but the letter writer is not a teacher and there is no way she can devote the time necessary to teach these skills and still do her own job, along with checking everything this person does. Not that it is impossible to teach someone those things, but that it is not feasible to teach those things to someone in a skilled position on the job. There are actually two issues here — a lack of attention to detail, and a lack of critical thinking skills. For the lack of attention to detail you could recommend checklists, peer reviews, detailed reviews of work by others etc.
Critical thinking skills can seem a more difficult issue to overcome, but they are taught to people every day. We have many tools that we use — for example the 5 whys why did this happen, then why did that cause that, then why did that happen to cause it … — to do root cause analysis. Things your colleague should do for every case that do not require you to help her : Make a detailed summary of every case I believe this would be similar to case briefs and outlines that she probably did in law school for test prep and review this information every time she works on the case.
Prove each one. The money was used to pay off the mortgage. What is the jurisdiction? The place where I would recommend helping her if you have time is in reviewing this thought process with her. To avoid placing a heavy burden on you, she could also repeat this with more than one person peer review, other senior attorney, mentor, professor etc. If she repeats this process a couple of times and does not improve then things are much more serious, and you should clearly inform her that not dealing with these performance issues will result in career problems.
I think it is important that you also ask whether your colleague has been tested for ADHD, because that can manifest itself as these symptoms lack of attention to detail, inability to concentrate on a topic or think through critical issues even when trying to focus. A lawyer should know all this already. The OP is the one writing in, not the junior colleague. Whether ADHD is involved is beside the point—she is making drastic errors in her job. However, these are the exact types of errors people with ADHD make.
ADHD is under-diagnosed in women. ADHD would be a best-case scenario, here. Medication for ADHD can only help me a certain amount, because some of those same symptoms are also caused by dyspraxia which NO treatment or medication works for entirely different neurological mechanisms. For reason s this person can not do the job, and has proven it over and over again. If they can transition her into another position with the firm, one that she could excel in, that would be great. However, if not … then the best thing to do is let her go.
The kind thing to do is to be crystal clear about the issues so that she knows why and has the information going forward in her job search es. I was dismayed. She fundamentally is unable to do the job correctly. Would they have to accommodate her by having someone else do her tasks? That strikes me as not at all reasonable. As a potential client of this or any law firm, I am not paying for Jessie to learn how to be a lawyer on the job. Presumably her time is billable. I work with people as a tutor who have processing disorders, and my husband also has what we suspect is one.
Someone can be very smart and still have issues processing. If this is what is happening with this person, then I would agree that this may not be the place for her. I am surprised that someone that needs this level of help made it through law school at all because it is specifically designed to weed through people who lack attention to detail and critical thinking skills. I also wonder if this firm uses paralegals at all because at least some of these mistakes would be caught by a good paralegal before it was ever reviewed by a senior attorney.
It seems like there are no paralegals at all if documents are getting filed with major typos and attorneys are doing all doc review. This firm could save a good amount of money if they replaced Jessie the Liability with a competent paralegal. I would feel bad but I would go elsewhere.
In my experience, this goes double if you work in the non-profit sector or for Legal Aid, etc. Having to micromanage their documents to make sure names are correct and paragraphs make sense, does not make sense. Perhaps she could fit in some other role but honestly an inability to pay attention to basic detail seems like a deal breaker in any area of law.
Think about your clients, and your obligation to them. Would you want this person working on a case for a family member? I think you should tell her this is not the right job and probably not the right field for her. That seems like an awful lot of handholding for the manager to need to do, particularly for a professional attorney. How did she manage law school? The junior attorney needs a wake-up call. The time she was supposed to have learned this was years ago.
Honestly the whole thing is making me hope this law office is far away from me so that I never accidentally end up hiring them. Show them, verbal warning…etc. Definitely agree. I think this kind of thinking is something that can be learned. The question is if it is worth it to the firm to take the time that will likely be necessary to teach it. Developing checklists of the types of things to look for is a great place to start.
I think she will start to learn if you do this…but it will most likely take a few months at least. As an employer I wold expect it to be something they already know, not something I had to teach. I worked with pilot checklists and they are very, very specific because they can be. Flip the X switch to ON position. As the client, I would be outraged if my fate was in the hands of someone who is making what sound like very basic but significant mistakes.
It sounds like a thinking, comprehension, problem not a paying attention to the checklist problem. Some of that is easy-checklist stuff grammar, spelling , medium checklist stuff essay structured well, paragraphs structured well, sentences structured well, and so on. But most college students can in fact learn how to do this reasonably competently, if they spend enough time and effort on it, and you can make a checklist out of a sequence of questions to test the evidence. I would think that someone who has a college degree and a law degree, and has passed a bar exam has the potential at least to be able to do this.
But it may take more time than the OP wants to allow to see if Jessie can get up to speed on it. But I also think that oh my god these are skills she already needs to have for this job and these skills already existing should absolutely be a prerequisite for her having any of these responsibilities. Checklists are good for tracking routine, stepwise tasks like starting a deorbit burn or not leaving your forceps inside Mrs. At some point, you do just have to be able to critically evaluate your own work and spot errors in your own analysis and reasoning, and some people are just blind to that.
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Checklist could be: Make a list of names and roles? IANAL , confirm that each name in the document correctly matches with role. Make a list of place names etc and check that each one in the document is spelled correctly. Run spell checker. Run grammar checker. Checklist could be: List client statements. Check accuracy of client statements. List all mismatches between client statements and fact. And so on. And it can develop the habits of attention you want Jessie to have and, hopefully, she gets faster and needs to write out less and less.
I wonder if these are things law students learn, or are these on-the-job skills? How long is it reasonable to take for a junior lawyer to get up to speed? This has lead to gradual improvement. And I guess my question is…. Yes, this, absolutely. I used to work in a role that was extremely detail-oriented. Now, almost all of the important details could be integrated into a process document or checklist of some kind, and we did have those available as customizeable tools there were no safety issues involved, so the checklists were optional. We found people in the first category would self-select out after a year or so because it was just too hard to try to think in a way that never came naturally.
Yes, exactly. This is the type of checklist that would be appropriate to a middle school language arts class in essay writing, not for a lawyer. Most of the time, lawyers bill hourly. Honestly, as a lawyer myself, Jessie is under-skilled to do this job. She would be transitioned out within 6 months for these types of mistakes at my last firm.
Lawyer workloads are generally too high to be spending such an inordinate amount of time to fix basic comprehension. Lawyers are expected to have most of these basic skills already pretty well set when they start their work. Those are things that paralegals know coming out of school. I only have experience in a handful of firms, but a jr associate or paralegal would be fired for those errors.
I think a checklist could possibly be helpful for proofreading. That is what I was thinking.
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I suspect Jessie is in the wrong area of practice. While attention to detail idealy applies to all areas of law, judging from the letter it sounds like OP and Jessie might be in an area of law that particularly requires attention to detail. Yes, this is what I was thinking. A checklist could certainly help—I use them myself in my practice.
You deal with it by firing her. In the field of law a person who is sloppy with the details will never succeed. Sounds like a bad fit. Put her on a PIP, then she will understand the seriousness of her mistakes. Does she have other qualities that bring direct value to your firm and clients? Would an inexperienced junior be difficult to replace? Lots of people are friendly. Make the good business decision. I am a Jessie, at least WRT typos and mistakes type and as I was reading the letter, I was thinking that OP has to consider letting her go because of the level of precision required for her job.
When I would take part in debates, I was good at arguing against my own positions and finding flaws, she has to know how to do this in her own work. And the stakes are a whole lot lower for my field than law. Same here, mistakes of this nature are very serious.
How to Learn From Your Mistakes - From ogunumevidub.ga
I would have been fired a long time ago if I mixed up client names. A high aptitude in proofreading and content checking is a must in the legal field at all levels, not just attorneys. How did this person get through law school without paying attention to detail? My professors were very demanding and did not tolerate ANY typos. I have only a limited idea of what goes on in law school, but reviewing and summarizing documents was certainly part of the curriculum when I got my paralegal certificate.
He just does the best he can and gives it to me for a final look over. For the most part, though, young lawyers cannot survive unless their attention to detail of this nature is strong. It was easier for older lawyers, whose work was typically typed up by their assistant, so some people like this still remain. I shudder to recall the firm where memos were issued stating that anyone using a font other than point Times New Roman would be fired.
On a fax. OP is being really really kind here. Just one of the mistakes mentioned would have easily gotten me fired. Oh, no. No no no. She cannot make those kinds of mistakes and succeed in the legal field. Not only is this going to cause your firm to lose credibility in the legal community and with judges, it could cost your clients their cases.
I struggle with attention to detail, but that means I sometimes make typos or I forget to put a legend under a chart that needs it. I also benefit from asking other people to proof my work and have learned to never, ever let something leave the building without two sets of eyes on it. THAT is a problem with detail. My husband has attention to detail issues sometimes…it means he rushes through things or forgets to double check time for things. This goes beyond that issue. Attention to detail is extremely important.
A misspelled name could have dire consequences, esp in medicine and law. As can a simple math error. Not to mention billing clients for inefficiently used time, depending on their billing arrangement. But I agree, this…. Understanding the evidence you have is at the core of a case. And if you cannot do it, you should not be in litigation. I participate in hearings with administrative law judges, which are far more informal than say federal or state court. Maintaining your professional reputation is important in all areas of the law.
They will notice that. They will attribute to sloppiness, incompetence, or lying. You do not want them thinking any of those things about you because they will not trust anything you tell them going forward. They would open a firm up to losing clients, though. OP, this is painful. But it sometimes happens that perfectly lovely people are just wrong for certain roles. I agree with Alison — have you made sure that she understands just how serious this is? From your description, it sounds as though her errors have already come back to bite you in court.
I suspect that in other law firms, this would be a career-killer. Maybe the best thing you can do for her is lead her to think seriously about her career goals. Law just may not be the right field for her. She must have some strengths. Could she be a good manager, motivator, visionary? Those are the things that are valuable and transferable. I had assumed that the partners had made it clear to her — but I have nothing to base that assumption on! I think I will need to make it explicit how damaging this is for her career. Especially after spending so much money to become an attorney.
I have worried about this with myself. That happens in nursing too.
Don’t Pay Attention, Just Be Attentive
A lot. Years ago when I was a baby librarian, I had the misfortune to end up working with a nursing student, who to put it kindly, should never ever have been allowed to be near patients. She was very motivated and desperately wanted to be an OR nurse, but she could not focus for more than a few seconds, not just when it came to research, but basically with anything.
She graduated, but if I ever saw her in a health-care setting I would run in the opposite direction. I feel this way about a lot of the people in the accounting graduate program I was in, though this profession is obviously much lower stakes than healthcare. Lots of extremely dedicated, determined and motivated people who were incredibly hard workers who just struggled like hell to think critically, understand the material, or apply concepts across subjects. Most graduated with me. So true! Not a doctor, just been one of the grumpy people often enough.
Our last year of high school, the entire class went on a field trip to a local hospital. We were told that those of us that wanted to, could go into the operating room and watch a surgery being done?? Out of the couple dozen kids that did go, one person fainted at the sight of blood. Guess who. She went on to become a foreign language teacher, iirc. Totally normal. This might be a know yourself kind of thing. I graduated with a totally different and much more solid idea of what I was going to do with my life than when I enrolled, thanks to their guidance.
At the same school, I knew a girl in the large and prestigious biomedical engineering program who dropped out halfway through her second year after, it turned out, having not gone to class for multiple months. No one had noticed. Another girl, a good friend of mine, dropped out of the engineering school one semester shy of degree completion, in part because after almost four years she still had no idea what kind of engineering she wanted to do or where she was going to go with her career. Jessie may not be a horrible fit for other legal employment.
Otherwise, in order to be successful she will need to find some tricks to help her cheat sheets on the cases defining the parties and checking them religiously? Those probably require an even higher attention to detail. At the very least a more constant attention to detail since those roles are drafting heavy. But being able to write accurately and concisely is a fundamental part of the job, and you need critical thinking skills and attention to detail in order to do that.
Maybe teaching 1Ls an introductory subject like torts? As someone who recently transitioned to law teaching, the number of folks suggesting that she teach law freaks me out. Someone making the kind of errors that Jessie is making should not be teaching law to anyone!
I completely agree. Oh I thought of one. QC is even built into the process. But now a lot of that work is done by programs with algorithms. I work in e-discovery, and the platforms we use only require a person to review a handful of documents before it is able to logically determine what documents are pertinent to the case. Even law-adjacent jobs — I do environmental regulatory compliance work, and shining details is so very not a thing in this role. Screwing up could cause thousands of dollars in fines, a lawsuit, or having to completely redo a plan or documentation.
The details are super important. And word really does get around. Very good point, and I am a transactional attorney. Did she just not check the math? Some people become attorneys because they cannot do math. She could become a law librarian, or a social worker, or a patient advocate — anything in an area where knowledge of the law is important or even required. The a misinterpretation of the way a clause in a contract is worded can land a client in legal jeopardy.
I remember a story a few months back about a lawsuit that hinged on the lack of using an oxford comma. So, yeah, I think this is where I fall too. Season 3, episode 1. There are literally Supreme Court cases that hinge on the placement of a comma or the ordering of a statute. Law is all about nuanced details, and unfortunately most law practice requires a level of meticulousness that Jessie does not appear to exhibit. I agree. I mentioned this elsewhere but I was a Law Librarian and attention to detail is important when doing research.
I would have been fired for mistakes like these. What do you call 1L and 2L summers, then? Just about everyone gets a job in a government law office or firm or whatever in that time frame. Jessie should be able to do doc review as a brand new baby attorney. Or she should have realized in her summer jobs that law is not the place for her. In many law schools these type of work placements during school or summer are required.
It is not the same as years on the job, obviously, but in my experience nearly every law student practice in some way outside of school. This is so true. But the college has let this student spend six figures getting a degree that seems highly likely to be a terrible fit.
I have a hard time with the concept of learning accommodations during college. Its not fair to anyone. I had this conversation with my best friend, who is now an emergency veterinarian, over a decade ago when he was in school. There are a ton of vets and doctors with ADHD. In fact, emergency situations are where ADHD gifts are best manifested. The comment you are replying to does not reference ADHD.
I need you to stop doing that here. I am an engineer and I needed extra time in uni tests. The difference is that workplaces are required to accommodate me with software and tools, whereas the uni tests were all on paper so the only accommodation was extra time. Maybe your school experience was closer to your work experience than mine, but, at least for me, there are a lot of skills that I needed in school, that I have never needed since- skills directly impacted by most learning disabilities.
Testing environments are hell for ADHD and other disorders, in a way that most working conditions in my experience are not. Work is not lectures, so work is fine. Certainly not every learning disability should disqualify you from every job, even if you need the extra time in college to get to the job. Particularly within engineering, there are a lot of paths you can take after college that may be less math-intensive and lower pressure. Agree so hard. I have a hard time keeping track of a lot of information in my head, the way you often have to do in college tests, and I have some maybe-dyscalculia difficulty with arithmetic.
Plenty of people with learning disabilities succeed at work. However, many accomodations are quite possible, or even valuable, at work. In high school I had a class mate that was allowed to write in a separate room on the computer, while the others students took the test together in a classroom by hand. Also…I mean, how many times after I got my undergrad degree have I sat for a test? Precisely none. My MA program did not have any and my career has not had any. I can think very fast on my feet and often come to solutions intuitively, but ask me to show my work and I am stymied.
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School debt, not succeeding in their chosen field, trying to break into another field. I got to the final semester of a marketing undergrad, and then a professor had us all take a little empathy test an online one to see where we stood. The class was on understanding customers. Everyone discussed their results the next day, and I learned I had scored about 60 points lower and was actually potentially on the spectrum. A year later, as I struggled day in and out in a marketing role, I realised I was a horrible fit for marketing, where empathy and people skills were necessary.
So many potential failures. The problem is that some people answer those the way they think they should answer because they really want it to come back and say they should be a lawyer, doctor, or whatever else they are hoping to do. It really only works the best if people answer authentically, even if the result is a different career than they have been dreaming of.
I got a lot of state and federal aid to attend college and never had any kind of vocational evaluation. I am trained as an architect and I work in the field. There is plenty this student could eventually do given extra time. That said, she might run into problems with deadlines and billable hours. But plenty of architects without a learning disability run into problems with those.
I have met few architects who are both gifted creatively AND good at business, estimating how long it will take to do something, etc. So this student will have plenty of company! The academic setting is often the only setting in which you have a tight time constraint around such a thing. Some of us just need a little extra time to figure out the best way to understand it, if our learning patterns are atypical. Once we get it, we get it as well as anyone else. A lot of people were conflicted when they quit, spending 3 years and tens of thousands of dollars just to leave is a hard decision.
After graduation people learn that practicing architecture is not nearly as glamorous as school makes it seem, and a lot of people who excel in school do terribly in a job. I work with a college of engineering in the U. Culturally, we need to be a lot better at understanding the abilities of people with disabilities. Except, I know doctors—middle-aged clinicians, with long successful careers—with all of those issues.
And on the autism spectrum. And physical disabilities, and chronic illnesses, and depression. Even intense careers have a degree of flexiblity, and school is not much like working. Your friend would indeed have been wrong to advise this student to leave the profession. That is profoundly unfair. Not to mention — college is often when mental health problems first manifest, and learning how to deal with that is ALSO a learning curve. I had numerous people doctors!
They based their assessment on how my health was when I was at my most sick, not based on where I could be once better. They also based it on their own assumption of what a doctor needs to be. So I have very little patience for gatekeeping. Good for you for sticking it out. I also have little patience for rigid gatekeeping- so often it has little to do with the reality of life and work after the program ends. When I was in college I had more than one pretty major distraction, including both of my parents nearly dying around two totally unrelated sudden and severe illnesses in the same school year.
That was also the year I was in a serious car accident in which I was injured and my car was totaled. Here is one of a good dozen examples I could give of stuff like this: The semester my dad got sick stage four cancer and needed my help during treatment, I asked for departmental permission to withdraw from a course and retake it in a different semester.
I had placed into the class, which was notoriously difficult, and the rule was that you only had one try to take it or you lost your placement— unless the department head gave special permission for extenuating circumstances. That was the word I think she used, compelling? My pleasure! Yes this. In the U. There are schools that will take anyone. I was wondering this, too. Unfortunately, that is not the case. The bar tests a very narrow set of skills, many of which are not actually helpful in practice.
THANK you for saying this. My alma mater turns out grads just as excellent and just as awful as every school — just with less debt. Except that recent studies have shown that IQ is tied to SES as well — that people who live in poverty have lower IQs on the statistically significant level. Except a number of very well regarded law schools no longer require the LSAT, and more are looking to make the switch to more general exams. One of my good friends is a former special-needs educator. I love her line about this: IQ tests only measure how well you do at taking IQ tests.
Thank you. I had a very good LSAT score. No idea what my IQ is, never tested that. But I went to a lower ranked school because of the scholarship they offered — I could graduate with no debt, versus taking on enormous debt at a top-ranked school. This was significant to me because I was a single mom struggling financially. People with high LSATs go to all sorts of schools.
I would encourage you to reexamine your assumptions about what signals competency or capacity in the legal profession. Having worked with lawyers from across the educational spectrum, I worked with better and smarter colleagues when they were the 1—10 graduates of Podunk School of Law than graduate from Harvard.
Thank you so much for this! It has literally no bearing on any other factor that makes someone a good law student or a good lawyer. Hell no. Does that necessarily mean I have a high IQ? She just spent a ton of time getting tutored for it and figuring out the ins and outs of the test. I am an excellent test taker. There are multiple reasons for this. I can speed read — a big advantage. I play games with the statistics on multiple choice questions, and I enjoy taking tests and challenging myself.
As I enjoy tests, I do better at them, which helps me enjoy them more, which…happy test taking feedback loop! I just…have a skill set that looks very good on paper. The work world included some harsh lessons I had to learn in order for me to become successful. Lessons people that may have been less skilled at taking tests learned earlier — and thus likely better. Focus on elite school education is definitely a SES marker.
It is very much a SES-cultural thing. I had no idea that my nationally ranked state university education was inadequate until I came into the field and got comment after comment about how I could have gone to a state school. I believe finance is similar. Graduate schools can be a luck of the draw thing too: I have a decent number of friends who went to the Fancy Ranked Undergraduate university and opted to go to state school for medical or law to avoid picking up too much debt. There are way more affordable ways to defray the cost of an undergraduate education than a graduate one: scholarships are easier to get for undergrad, grants are easier to get for undergrad, parents with the means are usually more willing to help out either with money or in-kind housing, cars for undergrad expenses.
I went to a highly regarded law school, did fairly well, passed the bar, and I was totally a Jessie. It still required attention to detail but in a different way, and there were fewer big impact judgment calls of the type OP describes. So there is definitely something out there for Jessie! A lot of them did very well on standardized tests which are written primarily by and for people like them. I wish. Most states require a to out of to pass. The exam is just a test. Unfortunately, the would-be lawyer was not the would-be politician. They were quite the joke for well over two decades here.
Her voice is unmistakable and it would be unfair of me to describe it. Is she still a thing up there?! I got into a T14 school and chose to go to a well respected local school instead because I received a full scholarship and would have been paying for school myself — yep, I saved a quarter of a million dollars and have close to no debt compared to my colleagues.
So just keep that in mind. Or they feel chained to jobs they hate because they have exorbitant loans. Those are all risks for aspiring attorneys to weigh. For me, I knew I would be more interested in public service. They were just really bad fits for accounting and had to work 10x as hard as others to achieve the same results. I think people in a business they suck at are actually marginal people at best given their ability to harm others!
True, but the upside is you can pivot. Maybe she thought she could relax outside of classwork? In law school the only time I had to fill out detailed paperwork correctly, with actual consequences, I had someone looking over my shoulder, supporting me and correcting mistakes, because it was a teaching setting. Then in real lawyer life the person who had to correct my mistakes was — surprise — not happy about it.
The schools that do give students this practice should be rated much more highly. One of my college friends is a neurosurgeon who wants to be quit and become a car salesman. He literally hates doing brain surgery. He then went through med school and has had a long career as a doctor. My heart really goes out to people in that situation.
The job market for lawyers now is tough enough even if it is a good fit. I think this is why I want to try to help her, before suggesting she move out of the legal field together. Oh, dear me. The critical part is this:. This is not attention to detail. This game is not at all true-to-life lawyering, but it sounds like she would struggle even with this. The typo and spelling errors are common issues for people, so it is something that she should be able to develop strategies to correct.
Spellcheck will pick up a lot of errors although not all and usually will highlight all names in a document. I know to double-check names because lawyers are often misspelling them. The errors in analyzing evidence is a more serious issue. I agree with Alison that it implies greater issues with reading comprehension and attention to detail. Getting through law school and passing the bar are not easy tasks. She must presumably have had decent references… from somewhere. I have seen people with great resumes who were disasters after they were hired.
Great law grades, good school, etc. It happens. This reminded me of that program that was advertised a lot a few years back? Dragon or something? Maybe this is a software you could get for her. Yes, but it could solve only a small part of the problem…. OP, maybe she should check if she does not have something lurking under these errors, attention deficit disorder?
Honestly, ADD was my thought. Agreed — this describes me as well. All it can really do is point out things that look odd to it, and you have to use discretion to determine whether you take one of its suggestions, ignore it, or reword things. That one! Does she seem overwhelmed? A lot of people seem baffled by the fact she could pass law school and the bar and be struggling like this, but hey — practicing law is way different and requires different applications of skills.
Is there a way that you can suggest for her to get a medical check up to make sure that there is no medical reason for these mistakes. I sometimes found I was making mistakes when my B12 or iron was down, and was fine once it was dealt with. That and not enough sleep makes it more difficult for me to pay attention to detail. That might be worth exploring as well. Medical issue is certainly something that should be looked into. Or some other attention deficit issue? I had to come up with a whole different way to cope with the working world vs.
I mean this as nicely as possible, but it does not matter. True, but until she does, she cannot be allowed to file anything for the firm or handle clients. I think you are probably right, but given that OP has expressed a desire to help her employee, suggesting a medical screening would certainly be a way to help. I went through a period of brain fog that ended up being related to my diet food intolerance. I feel much more on top of things these days. Everything OP describes could purely be due to medical issues. Some people need more treatment than expected and they often have to do a lot of the tests themselves before a doctor takes them seriously.
Good luck, I hope everything works out. No one but Jessie knows what is going on when she makes these pretty serious errors. Maybe there are ADHD-like symptoms. Maybe she works in an open office environment that would distract many people. Maybe she just really hates this type of work! It is really on individual adults to decide when something in their life is causing them serious problems, not responsive to their efforts to change it, and is something they actually want to fix, including possibly with medical attention.
And just some sympathy for the OP. It is really tough on a manager to have a talented employee you like, and who is clearly diligent and hard-working, and still lets too many mistakes slip through. So I know that sinking feeling. Yes, I really felt for the OP and their employee reading this letter. No one wants that to happen to someone else, and no one wants to have to tell someone that either! Maybe with coaching or a different environment or addressing a medical issue or whatever.
But lots of employees would find it inappropriate for their boss to suggest this, and the OP is not a medical professional. Sure, if she turns it around in a few days or a week, maybe. But many of the things that can cause this and can be addressed will take weeks-to-months to address. Yes, it could be any of these, all of these , or none of these.
How did she get this far, though? Those are far from easy. Because classes and tests are nowhere near as open-ended as the real world. None of that is true in the real world. Those kinds of metacognitive skill deficits are hard to spot in an educational setting. The junior atty might be an adult but if she is a young-ish adult she may not be aware that health issues could be causing a problem.
If OP is in a position to coach her or be an advisor, which seems to be the case, OP could mention it as a possibility. Agree with you, it was not until my early forties that I started getting myself checked for what turned to be my own conditions that were interfering with my work. We are not taught to do this. We are taught to work through anything that might be wrong, using nothing but the willpower and maybe positive thinking.
It literally never occurred to me for years to get myself checked out. The OP clearly has a good rapport with Jessie and cares about her a lot. If there is a personal or medical issue you think is causing them, I need to know that so I can try to help you. Any adults, especially women, who struggle with attention to detail, should go get checked out, regardless of what the cultural attitude towards ADHD was when they were a kid.
Treatment could very well resolve all sorts of problems like the ones in the OP. Well, if you read back up, my reference to ADHD was an example and Slow Gin Lizz suggested that this professional adult might have no idea that health issues in general could be causing her troubles at work. That is quite implausible regardless of your personal experience with ADHD awareness. I spent most of the early part of this year in a fog and barely scraped by. Still occasionally cleaning up back to my usual standard at work. I can vouch on the silent migraines, I get them as well.
I was making mistakes in my work, as well as getting comments from some of my managers about zoning out in meetings. Went and got myself checked for attention deficit disorders and was found to have ADD, and prescribed meds. Another thing that helped me that was also of medical nature, I used to get debilitating headaches that lasted several days, and found myself making pretty serious mistakes in my work on day 2 or 3 of a headache.
Went to a neurologist, got tested, was diagnosed with migraines and prescribed meds. Again, helped improve the quality of my work tremendously. I say this as someone with ADHD and has been fired for attention to detail mistakes. So maybe making a general recommendation that she investigate all these things might be helpful to her. Or maybe OP could stay in her lane. And B12 deficiency? Jessie can make her own health-related decisions herself, as she, a grown-ass adult, sees fit.
Not her mentor, guru, parent, conscience, Jiminy Cricket, Fairy Godmother, guardian angel, or personal savior. All OP can do is bring up the obvious work problems and make sure she either shapes up or ships out. At the end of the day, all that matters to OP and the employer is that Jessie gets competent at her job ASAP or she no longer has that job so someone else can step in and do it competently. Thank you! These are things Jessie may possibly want to look into herself, but no, OP, her boss, has no standing to suggest anything of the sort.
Freaking AMEN! This is such pointless speculation. And honestly, the kind of lack of critical thinking described cannot really be due to any kind of condition like ADHD, migraines, etc — this is macro-level stuff. Just an idea, my MIL retired english teacher works part time doing grammar and spelling checks. It may not be possible with her being a junior attorney but if she is a great potential attorney otherwise could you potentially pay her less and hire a paralegal or someone else to proof her work.
I know its not idea but if she is great otherwise but not at grammar then that may be something she can have hired out. It sounds like way more than grammar and spelling, though.
The issue with this is the time involved. From the letter, too, grammar and spelling are only part of the problem. This particular junior attorney is making serious mistakes in areas fundamental to the job. Someone who makes errors as bad as what is described in this is not a good attorney. Writing is a basic skill necessary for the law and evidence analysis is crucial. We throw out resumes and writing samples with a lot of typos for a reason.
That is a pretty non-standard arrangement— getting someone essentially a personal proofreader or an aide to do their job. Hiring someone for editing for things like typos is one thing. For the other errors? Totally not practical. Yes, this sounds like it would basically mean hiring somebody to do the lawyering for the lawyer.
So why not just have that person instead of Jessie? Also, in theory at least, a paralegal is supposed to be supervised by an attorney. You would have a paralegal doing the supervision here? Yikes, no. I am a paralegal, and most of my work involves drafting court documents which have to be reviewed by an attorney. Typos — not great but they happen. Is she using a template? Evidence — Nope nope nope. This is starting to inch over into malpractice territory, especially given the example you cited.
It sounds like that was more of a surprise than anything else, but it could have been much worse had there been advice given to a client based on that huge mistake. I agree, these issues are very different. Going through emotional upheaval? Overwhelmed by the work world? Another lawyer here and Delta Delta said it exactly right. I had the same reaction! I am not so sure about the typos either. Fellow attorney here — agree completely.
Yeah, I think the getting evidence wrong was really what motivated me to write to Alison — it crossed a line, and I had to do an affidavit explaining the error to the court. When I was doing my training I had a position in estate law which I was really bad at because I found it so boring I do divorce now.
I dealt with it by creating a checklist for common documents eg does the salutation match the signoff? Is the date the will was signed correct? That worked well. Minor errors may be amenable to this? On the big errors, I have yet to meet an attorney in any field who has not made at least one significant mistake at some point. Myself included. We are all human. Virtually all legal mistakes can ultimately be rectified, although it may affect your reputation, insurance coverage, etc. Repeated mistakes are a different matter. A junior attorney who makes repeated, significant mistakes will usually not progress because nobody will have confidence in her and will therefore not give her work to do.
If you are having to explain her mistakes to the court, she is costing you more in time, energy and reputational risk than she is contributing by her labor, I think. I agree it is time to establish clear consequences for any further errors. As someone who has tried to improve my attention to detail, there might not be much more you or she can do.
It is not a skill that comes naturally to me, and no matter what I do, I will never be a super detailed person. I was never happy in positions that required detailed work because it was a daily internal struggle. The best thing you can do for her is maybe brainstorm with her roles that would be a better fit for her natural skills. Learning from mistakes, and putting that learning into practice, involves change. Don't be afraid to ask colleagues or your manager for help if you're unsure which tactic or tool will be the most effective in preventing further mistakes.
Involving other people is a great way to make them feel invested — and it can be particularly important when mistakes are made at a team or organizational level. So, foster an environment where people feel comfortable about expressing their ideas. You may have to try out several ways to put your learning into practice before you find one that successfully prevents you from repeating past errors.
From there, monitor the efficacy of your chosen tactic by reviewing the number and nature of mistakes that do — or don't! To err is human, and we don't have to punish ourselves for the mistakes that we make. They can be great opportunities to learn, and to develop on a personal, as well as an organizational, level.
We just need to learn from them, and to put that learning into practice. This site teaches you the skills you need for a happy and successful career; and this is just one of many tools and resources that you'll find here at Mind Tools. Subscribe to our free newsletter , or join the Mind Tools Club and really supercharge your career! Expert Interviews Audio Forums Infographics. Quizzes Templates and Worksheets Videos. For Your Organization. By the Mind Tools Content Team. How to Learn From Your Mistakes Note: "Making a mistake" is not the same thing as "failing.
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