It’s the Practice of Law, not the Science of Law

In law there’s usually more than 1 way to do something.  Some of these ways are better than others (at least some of the time).  Sometimes you make mistakes.  Lawyers are human.  But there are lots of ways to fix mistakes too.  Let’s discuss some common mistakes and some of the different ways to fix them.  One common theme (quoted anonymously from a friend “We all make mistakes.  It’s how we choose to fix them that is the real yardstick of our integrity.”

The lawyer put something in court papers which turns out not to be true.  (Not a lie, just mistaken.)  Oops!  How to fix the problem depends on where you are in the process.

First, admit the mistake. This is the critical step.  If you don’t do this, you lose all credibility for this case and every other one.

Second, correct the error.  There are many different ways to do this:  withdrawing the Motion, Amending the Motion, Strike the Pleading, Dismiss the lawsuit.  It may be necessary to ask permission from the court, but I’ve never heard of a Judge refusing to let a lawyer correct an admitted mistake.

One caveat: be sure not to violate a new rule when correcting the old one.  So don’t withdraw the Motion (or whatever) if you were under a deadline.  File a corrected (Amended) one.  If necessary, ask the Court for permission to amend on the grounds that a mistake of fact was inadvertently pled.  And be sure to tell the other side what you are doing and why.  Every jurisdiction I know of demands that lawyers confer about stuff like this.

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