Lawyers Are Sharing Their “Now You Messed Up” Moments (15 Posts)

Law procedurals often focus on the most extreme or unusual cases—and the ways in which lawyers or their clients make major mistakes. Is reality much different? According to this thread on Reddit, not really. Here, lawyers, friends of lawyers, clients, and other legal professionals revealed some “oh no, I f***** up” moments that will make you cringe. 


“Years ago I worked in personal injury, and we had a woman come to us saying that she slipped and fell outside of a nail salon because they hadn’t swept up the wet leaves outside the door. So we take the case, and almost immediately we get a call from opposing counsel saying he’s going to courier us something important. We open it, pop the disc in the computer, and right there is security cam footage of our client picking up the wet leaves, putting them on the sidewalk, and sitting down on them before calling for help. I have never facepalm’ed so hard. Needless to say we dropped the case.” — EducatedOwlAthena


“I was tangentially involved in a custody dispute. Dad alleged mom was doing all sorts of things and he should have the kid. Dad’s attorney grilled mom for about 20 minutes on texts she had sent claiming to sell her prescriptions. She wouldn’t admit it. Dad’s attorney moved on and eventually ended with, ‘One more question. Where did you get the pills you were selling.’ Mom responds without thinking, ‘Oh my doctor prescribed them.'” — quelindolio


“My client was charged with aggravated assault (5 years possible) for kicking the shit out a guy while wearing cowboy boots with those fancy steel ornamental tips on the boots. He wore the boots to his jury trial.”  — RonSwansonsOldMan


“I was involved in a civil suit against an organization that allegedly allowed and attempted to cover up the sexual assault of an at-risk population. During a deposition of a victim the opposing counsel began asking an aggressive line of questions accusing the deposed of having been convicted of making false reports in the past, and convictions for forgery, and identity theft. After our client answered with a simple “no” to about a dozen of these questions opposing counsel became belligerent, eventually basically signaling that at trial he would be producing mugshots, as well as conviction records, as well as charges for perjury and right about at that point he becomes ghost white, pulls very close to his face what is clearly a photo he had in a folder, looks at it closely then shoves it back in and asks to conclude the deposition. He had pulled records on the wrong person, i later found this other person and while their names were the same, the ages were more than 15 years apart.” — k10bcImbiggerthnadog


“A law professor once told me about a case from decades ago when he was defending a young woman on drugs charges. In court, his line of defence was basically to tell the truth: this woman had turned to drugs due to trauma and instability in her life, but she was now in a steady loving relationship with another woman. For the first time, she had some peace and security in her life, was genuinely working on overcoming her demons, and was unlikely to re-offend again. It was a 50-50 proposition on how this would land with the judge….until the prosecutor stood up and started lambasting the two women (the accused and her lover) for lying because ‘lesbian relationships aren’t real’ and similar stuff. According to the prof, ‘everyone in the courtroom except the prosecutor could see that the judge was [gay],’ so this did NOT go down well. The judge tore strips off the prosecutor, gave a furious lecture on gay rights, and ended up giving the woman a slap on the wrist and wishing her well with her partner.” — MisterMarcus


“Not a lawyer, but my cousin is. He had a deposition via Zoom during this pandemic, and the Plaintiff’s counsel shared his screen to present an exhibit. My cousin notices a tab on the guys internet browser, showing that he was trying to look at my cousins Facebook profile (which is set to private). Deposition ends and he says, ‘So! Once last question. Do you like my profile picture?’ Plaintiff’s counsel immediately hung up the call.
Maybe not the biggest fuck up, but gotta be pretty embarrassing.” — BatFake


“Not a lawyer, but a law student. This was in a case that my professor showed us in class. Some guy was accused of something, I cannot remember what, but the judge spoke him free because there wasn’t enough evidence he had done it. Guy said ‘thank you judge, I’ll never do it again.’  DA appealed and got him convicted.” — Belgian_friet


“We had a client who was on the board of directors for a company, and was being sued for allegedly not telling the board something. His part of the case was really only a smaller part of a larger and more complicated case, so while there were a lot of other issues in the case overall, the entire case against him specifically essentially boiled down to whether or not he told the board about X. I and few other attorneys spent an entire week — 9 AM to 5 PM or later, Monday through Friday — prepping this client for his deposition by going over every document in the case with him and explaining why it was important. On several occasions we reiterated that no matter what else happened in the case, as long as we can show that he told the board about X, he was fine. The day of the deposition arrives. Opposing counsel sits down and starts questioning our client. In the first 5-10 minutes of the dep, opposing counsel straight-up asks our client what he told the board. Client responds, “I told them about Y, I told them about Z, I told them about A, B, and C” — and says NOTHING about X, literally the only issue in the case against him. In 20+ years of practice it was the closest I’ve ever come to rage-quitting on a client.” — abunchofsquirrels


“Had a bylaw officer harass me almost constantly for 8-months for violating a by-law: I had parked my motorcycle in my driveway. He ordered me to remove it, and tried to levy fines for the violation. He went after my landlord and tried to get me evicted. Eventually, I got a lawyer and filed a complaint. When asked to point to the bylaw I was breaking, he did and even read it out, which basically read: No parking or storing anything in a driveway other than an automobile. He seriously thought a motorcycle wasn’t an automobile because an automobile is a car. When I hired my lawyer, and showed him the case, he said “I’m not taking new clients right now, but I’ll make an exception because I’m personally offended that this is happening to you.”
Everything was thrown out, and I’m currently working on getting my legal fees and extra payments for all the harassment.” — devinple


“A primary care doctor who received a complex and technical test report from a genetics lab, and simply forwarded it to the patient (who didn’t really speak English and wasn’t medically educated). She testified that she ‘performed the minimum required diligence’ which is not what you should say and expect a good outcome.” — ThadisJones

Patricia Grisafi

Patricia Grisafi, PhD, is a freelance writer and educator. Her work has appeared in Salon, Vice, Bitch, Bustle, Broadly, The Establishment, and elsewhere. She is passionate about pit bull rescue, cursed objects, and designer sunglasses.