If its one thing I've learned in my short paralegal career, its that when you make a mistake, you can almost always fix it. That being said, I almost had a heart attack Monday morning when I learned the Reply Brief sent out Friday for filing with the MN Court of Appeals was filed a day late!
A day late. My rookie mistake. I could blame a lack of training or guidance, but I can't, I neglected to read the rule. Plain and simple, I made a big f'up.
Monday morning, I had a call from the Appellate Court clerk informing me the attorney needed to file a Motion to Accept Late Filing. Great. I tell him, I tell him not to be too mad at me, and draft a motion; this time reading the rules.
Needless to say, the extension was approved. I still feel bad, as the attorney called it his own "rookie mistake", taking the blame, and blemish on his reputation. However, I have learned my lesson, have someone who knows what the hell they're doing double check the docketing if I'm not sure.
With that being said, most mistakes in the legal world can be corrected. Often times, in Bankruptcy Court (which is where most of my work is), it is a simple e-mail to the Judge's clerk. The clerks have been there, and they are usually willing to work with you. Court clerks should be your best friend as a paralegal, they are almost always willing to help you do it right, because they don't want to fix every time you do it wrong. So, ask them if you are unsure of a filing, deadline, or document format. Remember, they can't give legal advice (just like a paralegal), but they can help procedurally.
Also, if you do make the big f'up, like I did, work your ass off to correct it. Remember, correcting your mistakes is not billable time, and the attorney's work on the project should be limited as much as possible. Of course, they still need to know what is going on and are responsible for the final product, but they're not going to be happy loosing revenue while fixing your mistake.
Finally, remember, the attorneys do carry malpractice insurance, but they still have large deductibles and a law license to worry about.
In summary, be aware of preventing mistakes, the effect of those mistakes, and that you will need to fix those mistakes. We are all human, and it will happen to everyone at some point (thanks to my co-workers for reminding me of that on Monday when I was a total wreck). Life goes on, so don't beat yourself up.