Get in Touch
Contact Us

The search for perfection. When is good enough, good enough?


Are you a Perfectionist Lawyer?

Are you a perfectionist lawyer, is it a good thing or can we go too far? Does it actually make us inefficient and less productive than we should be?

Do we spend too much time looking for typos and changing words even when this does not improve the message or advice?

 Is this the best use of our time?

Why do we check our work?

It can be a tricky balance, the advice needs to be easily understood, but there can be a temptation to go too far, to be a perfectionist lawyer.

You don’t always need the perfect word or phrase, just the one that clearly conveys the information.

The problem is that a client may not be able to spot an error with the legal advice, but they can spot a typo. The fear can be that if the client finds a mistake, they may criticise you and you may lose their trust.

So how do we find the balance between perfect, and good enough?

What is the optimal balance between time spent searching for perfection and completing the project?

Fear can often stop us from completing a task and sending it out. We can waste a lot of time repeatedly checking work, this is not the most effective use of time. It ultimately means you will be completing less work and earning less money.

There needs to be a balance between perfection and good enough.

Checking work and identifying typos


 Some firms use systems of checking work. It can involve several layers of fee earners at different grades reviewing the work. This will include checking the legal advice, but a lot of time is spent amending words or checking for typos.

I’d question whether this is the best use of time! There must be a better way! Isn’t this the perfect time to use technology, not people? Proofreading tools like Grammarly can provide excellent assistance.


So what is good enough? How do you stop being a perfectionist lawyer?

The important question is how do we define optimal, when is good enough, actually good enough. When can you stop being a perfectionist lawyer?

Define your standard in advance

It can help to define your standard early on. Define your baseline for presentation, clarity, and accuracy, and stick with it. It may help to limit the number of checks and rewrites. The amount your work improves reduces each time you check and review it.

Understand your client’s requirements

Is your advice good enough for its purpose?

What type of client are you working for and how much are they paying you?

These are two questions that will help to identify where the balance lies between good enough and perfect. The more times you revise a document, the less likely the amendments are to have a significant impact on the quality of the work. The important principle is to identify the stage when additional revisions stop having an impact on the substance and quality. That is the stage to consider the documents good enough.
What does your client need and expect? One aspect to consider is whether you are providing a gold-plated standard at a budget price and conversely whether you are looking at budget standard work for a high price.

The secret is to identify what point you reach good enough and to stop amending when you get there. Continuing to amend documents beyond this point will mean that unnecessary time is spent and this has an impact on productivity and profitability.