September 01, 2011

Sidebar: Screwing up

All lawyers, even the best, make mistakes. How to best avoid them? Preparation and attention to detail--there’s no substitute.

Kenneth P. Nolan

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I remember them all. The time I was too lazy to read 842 pages of the hospital record and, after the jury tossed me in the gutter, a smart-ass juror asked pointedly why I didn’t mention the nurse’s note hidden on page 496.

Or when I left my expert’s report on my desk and the judge, fat face filled with frustration, held out his hand for the document and, when I mumbled “I can’t find it,” quickly and viciously granted defendant’s summary judgment motion. Or when my neighbor Mrs. McMorrow called, sobbing that she was knocked down by this gigantic, vicious dog—he put his paws on my shoulders and now I have a broken hip and I have to get screws and plates. I started the lawsuit only to discover that the dog was one of those tiny Paris Hilton pets, weighing about the same as one of my chins.

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