Making mistakes as a lawyer - CEO, Stephenson Law

Making mistakes as a lawyer - CEO, Stephenson Law


Making mistakes when you’re a lawyer can be catastrophic. As junior lawyers we hear horror stories of multi-million pound professional negligence claims and lawyers being struck off because they put a comma in the wrong place in a contract.


The result – we are all terrified of making mistakes!


Making mistakes is an inevitable part of being human, but reconciling this with the attitude so prevalent in the industry that mistakes are not acceptable creates a real conflict and source of discontent.

Lawyers are a risk-averse breed, trying at every opportunity to minimise the likelihood of a mistake, and therefore potential claim, arising. Fence-sitting is a popular past-time, and you can’t work in private practice without encountering your fair share of “arse-covering” emails. The result is that law firm cultures are built on the premise that mistakes are something that should be avoided. 

As a trainee you become accustomed to the barrier that exists between you and clients, there to shield your firm from the risk of you doing or saying anything negligent. Every sentence you write is checked at least once, and then usually re-written. Whilst a degree of comfort can be taken from the safety blanket wrapped around you, often the consequent effect on confidence and self-esteem is overlooked. The result is that the mental health of junior lawyers is being put under considerable strain.

One would hope that our regulator, the SRA, would understand the basic principle that ‘mistakes happen’ and adopt a holistic approa

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About the author:

Alice founded Stephenson Law in 2017 to create a law firm that does things differently. Tackling each stereotype head-on, she is on a mission to build a forward-thinking, innovative law firm which puts people at the heart of everything it does.

Alice is responsible for the overall strategic direction and success of the business. Her legal expertise lies in working with early-stage, fast-growth technology companies, acting as an external general counsel and Board advisor. She provides pragmatic, strategic support on all aspects of running the business whilst mitigating legal risk.

Alice’s goal is to inspire young women to challenge the perceived barriers to success and see that anything is possible.