Marie contacted me earlier this week to tell me how last week’s blog reminded her of one of the most embarrassing moment in her professional life and how that experience became the catalyst for her to adopt The Habit of Always Being Current.
Marie is a lawyer who has been in practice “longer than I care to remember” and for many of those years has operated her own general law practice doing “a bit of this and a little of that.”
As a sole practitioner, she did most of her own research and took great pride in always being current until that fateful day, when she wasn’t.
Her client, the Board of Directors of a small, 25-unit condominium complex, had asked her to review and make recommendations to update their existing By-laws.
While this particular assignment was not entirely foreign to her, Marie’s knowledge of the Provincial Condominium Act was a little scanty.
Marie did as she had been trained to do. She carefully reviewed the existing bylaws documents and reviewed the Condominium Act from a copy she had retrieved from the bookshelf in her personal law library.
Her analysis of the Act revealed several weaknesses in her client’s existing By-laws and she dutifully made note of these, along with the recommended changes, in preparing a blackline copy for her client’s review and approval.
What Marie did not know at the time was that a revised and amended copy of the Act had gone into effect the previous month and one of the key changes she was recommending had been amended and was no longer applicable.
It is no mean feat for a condo board to change its By-laws; seventy-five percent of the owners must approve the changes, in writing, in order for the new By-laws to come into effect and to be registered.
For many condo boards acquiring the signatures represents a great deal of work and is not a project to be undertaken lightly.
The client reviewed her recommendations and agreed to proceed to collect the requisite number of signatures.
To Marie’s great fortune, the very next day she was having lunch with a colleague from a major law firm and happened to mention the recommendations she had made for this particular client of hers.
As she tells the story, “I dropped my fork onto the floor and my mouth hung open in horror as my friend pointed out to me the magnitude of the error I had made.”
She rushed out of the restaurant to call her client and to her great relief discovered he was still in possession of the packages containing the new By-laws and the Consent Sheets she had prepared for distribution to all the owners.
Marie was so mortified by possible calamitous consequences of her error that she waived all fees for this project and, obviously, rectified her mistake.
And she learned a lesson that has stood her in good stead in the many years since. The Habit of Always Being Current, naturally, has never left her side since then.
The Habit of Always Being Current is all that prevents each of us from experiencing embarrassment similar to Marie’s. It means paying attention to detail and preventing complacency from undermining our professionalism.
Perhaps, most importantly, it boosts confidence in a way that can only come from the feelings of absolute certainly that accompany the unshakeable belief of knowing that you know.
The Habit of Always Being Current: it costs little to acquire and pays enormous dividends.
Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.