Monday, February 07, 2005

Think Little Mistakes Don’t Matter? Think Again

Plaintiff’s attorney in Devore v. City of Philadelphia, 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3635 (E.D. Penn. 2004) found out the hard way that even typographical errors can make a big difference. The court reduced plaintiff's attorney's fee request from $300 per hour to $150 per hour for time spent preparing written documents. In reaching its decision, the court described the attorney's written work as replete with typographical errors and "careless, to the point of disrespectful." In its decision the court set out some of its favorite typos – including several in plaintiff's counsel's reply to defense counsel's attacks on the quality of his work – and commented that "[i]f these mistakes were purposeful, they would be brilliant."

Don't let this happen to you. Use your spell checker, but don't rely on it. Many of the typos listed by the court were the type that get past a spell checker but would be caught by proof-reading.

Everybody makes mistakes, even lawyers. For advice on the best way to handle mistakes big and small, read Carolyn Elefant, When Lawyers Make Mistakes.

Thanks for TVC Alert for this link.

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