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Possible professional error

"I think I messed up."

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Ways to deal with a possible professional error

We all make mistakes. But there is a major difference between real errors (negligence) and judgments one makes on tactical issues in giving advice or in court (where what may seem like an error is not properly classified as such but was just judgment call). Barristers, as ruminators and perfectionists, are masters at replaying events and wishing they had done something else.

So the first step is ask yourself: was this really an error or a judgment call which went wrong?


  • If it was really what you think is an error, the first step is to share. There is nothing worse (for magnifying the scale of the problem) than internalising.
  • Ask a colleague in chambers or another barrister friend for their view of the issue, including why you advised/acted as you did.

“I now accept that as a human being first and foremost, one makes mistakes, however as long as we learn from them then that’s ok.  It’s a much more forgiving and a humane perspective on not just work, but life in general”.

Barrister, 5+ years’ Call

Where can I find out more?

Contact Bar Council’s Ethical Enquiries Service

Tel: 020 7611 1307 (Monday – Friday 09:15 – 17:15)


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It can be difficult to make a living from law and it can be pressurised and demanding. Competition and an adversarial approach to everything can make collegiate relationships difficult. This website aims to provide you with the knowledge to manage these stressors, make emotionally informed, wise professional decisions and thrive in your chosen profession.

A simple expression that sums up wellbeing is ‘travelling well’

2 in 3 barristers feel that showing signs of stress equals weakness