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The kinds of mistakes that get you fired, and the mistakes that legal departments accept

According to Christine Baker, inside counsel with Realogy Corporation , “Mistakes will not get [a law firm] fired. But lying about your mistakes or trying to shift blame will. Either act will destroy the relationship—the first immediately, the second gradually.” (emphasis in original)

Writing in Law Practice Mgt., Vol. 35, Sept./Oct. 2009 at 37, Baker makes a good point. No one is perfect; to err is human. It is how you own up to mistakes and show that you learned from them that earns you respect. It is covering up or pointing the finger wrongly at others that earns you the label, “our former lawyer.”

And, I should note what should be obvious, honesty is a virtue on both sides of the law firm – law department divide. In-house lawyers who acknowledge their own misjudgments will survive longer than those who try to evade accountability with prevarication and blame.