Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

What do you expect from your secretary?

My secretary that was pretty good recently got a new job and shikes02/28/17
To the OP... I don't think you're unrealistic. Certainly qdllc03/01/17
Are you at a firm? I've struggled with crappy secretaries t therover03/02/17
I spent 8 years with a solo who closed his practice when he qdllc03/02/17
You aren't wrong, but yes you did have a really good former agentdalecooper02/28/17
I've just been assigned my first dedicated secretary. I've h trickydick02/28/17
How has this worked out for you in the past? 3lol02/28/17
Point taken. I stand by my statement. As our esteemed col trickydick03/01/17
He is esteemed, it's true. 3lol03/01/17
Trickydick you get zero points for originality on that reply themapmaster02/28/17
too easy. sjlawyer03/01/17
I used to share a secretary with 2 other attorneys and all I isthisit02/28/17
For lawyers in 2017, needing a secretary to push your paper anothernjlawyer02/28/17
I have never had a superstar Secretary before. They could on cocolawyer03/01/17
I work in government and haven't had a secretary for about 4 downwardslope03/01/17
talk to the other attorneys with whom you share the secretar dingbat03/01/17
Wow....Just...wow. I'm working as a legal assistant (esse qdllc03/01/17
i let go my secretary about a year ago and haven't looked ba tttsolo03/01/17
We hired a young paralegal and she's kicking so much butt th attorneyinct03/01/17
That is typical. Older hag legal secretaries and paralegals cocolawyer03/02/17
im suprised you didn't quit when they gave you a verbal warn attorneyinct03/03/17
I got paid well. Good pay remedies a lot of ills. My work en cocolawyer03/03/17
Perfection. A good attitude. Motivation and drive. A strong retard03/04/17

shikes (Feb 28, 2017 - 9:54 pm)

My secretary that was pretty good recently got a new job and they put me with another one who, basically, sucks. She just doesn't do stuff when I ask her, plays on her phone all day, covers up with desperate "I left a voicemail but never heard back" and "I didn't know you wanted that" stories when questioned on why something hasn't been done, etc.. She is very buddy buddy with all the partners so basically if I say anything no one will care. She isn't getting fired or anything. I asked her why she hasn't drafted something and sent it out that I asked for 3 DAYS ago and she said its because she is really overworked (she has 2 other attorneys), but she isnt, she plays on her phone and shops online all day. She thinks that pdf-ing a report and sending it means she needs an hour break. She also basically tells me she can't do half the stuff my old secretary did (draft basic form letters, discovery requests, etc.) cause she doesn't know how and feels overwhelmed (she has like 15 years of experience and I'm asking for BASIC stuff, she is just lazy).

Am I expecting too much? Did I just get spoiled by my old secretary that would do everything within 24 hours of me asking, actually complete all tasks, and was willing to draft basic stuff for me? Seriously this new secretary just doesn't do stuff I asked her to do, which makes me have to go through my emails to her every few days to confirm something was done, to which she responds that she "was busy and will get on it". Seriously, when I email her something, I expect that it will be done without me having to check in. I forget about it. I shouldn't have to babysit. Am I in the wrong here?

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qdllc (Mar 1, 2017 - 3:17 pm)

To the OP...

I don't think you're unrealistic. Certainly you can't expect your next secretary to be as good or fast as your last one, but your issues really deal with her NOT doing her job and wasting productive time on the company dime. This is an issue to address.

Anything assigned should be turned around within 24-48 hours depending on how much needs to get done in a given day. If she works just for you, anything longer is inexcusable. I manage for THREE attorneys and get most stuff turned around within 24 hours.

Was she hired for you or assigned to you? If the latter, ask for a different secretary. Tell the partners that if you have to do your own secretarial work to ensure it gets done, they don't need to be paying her salary. It might make you sound like a Richard, but your productivity is too important to the firm to waste it on workers who won't carry their weight in the office.

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therover (Mar 2, 2017 - 9:52 am)

Are you at a firm? I've struggled with crappy secretaries that do half their required tasks. Complaining did nothing because those above me had no interest in managing and solving the problem.

What was effective is what others described - demonstrating that without her help to do the mundane tasks my billables and costs went up. No client should be paying atty rates for me to draft cover letters and print envelopes.

I also painstakingly went through each task she said she couldn't do. Redlining and showing her exactly how to do it. Eventually I wore her down and she got on board.

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qdllc (Mar 2, 2017 - 12:18 pm)

I spent 8 years with a solo who closed his practice when he was made a judge. His new office was fully staffed, so he couldn't bring me along. He has three staffers he'd like to get rid of, but being a state job, HR has to make the call to terminate. All he can do is give poor performance reviews to make his case. When he gets an opening, he says he's hiring me as he does control hiring choices.

I'm now at a firm that covers 3 states. The lady we just got rid of probably was hung on to for a year longer than we should have, but we wanted to give her every chance to get her act together. I have no doubt that I outperform probably any other "secretary" in the firm. I know our paralegal has a higher annual billable hour requirement (for our SMALL branch) than any other paralegal in the firm...including those with more available work to do at the main office.

I'm sure our "managing attorney" has more hire/fire power than an ordinary attorney at home office (over 150 people there). Our small office means issues can't go unnoticed for very long. Once he made the call to terminate, there were no issues with HR at the home office.

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agentdalecooper (Feb 28, 2017 - 9:56 pm)

You aren't wrong, but yes you did have a really good former secretary. If you can't rely on the current one to do the work, and cannot fire her, then you start billing all the work and doing it yourself. The partners will have a talk with her when they have to crazy billables for menial work.

If the partners still stand behind her then work elsewhere. You don't want to have such individuals running the business that supports your wellbeing.

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trickydick (Feb 28, 2017 - 10:19 pm)

I've just been assigned my first dedicated secretary. I've had to share secretaries with other associates before. The main thing I expect from her is sexual favors. Beyond that, I only expect her to serve my documents properly and keep my calendar in order.

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3lol (Feb 28, 2017 - 11:27 pm)

How has this worked out for you in the past?

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trickydick (Mar 1, 2017 - 12:11 am)

Point taken. I stand by my statement.

As our esteemed colleague is fond of saying, YOLO.

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3lol (Mar 1, 2017 - 12:55 am)

He is esteemed, it's true.

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themapmaster (Feb 28, 2017 - 11:20 pm)

Trickydick you get zero points for originality on that reply.

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sjlawyer (Mar 1, 2017 - 1:08 pm)

too easy.

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isthisit (Feb 28, 2017 - 11:22 pm)

I used to share a secretary with 2 other attorneys and all I expected her to do was scan, copy, fax, mail, get coffee, and pull files for me. I never asked her to draft anything outside of a cover letter for a fax or mail packet.

I agree with trickydick if she's a QT 3.14.

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anothernjlawyer (Feb 28, 2017 - 11:33 pm)

For lawyers in 2017, needing a secretary to push your paper is like needing a chauffeur to drive your car: it's nice, but you can live without it.

What's more time consuming, cut and pasting the discovery requests yourself, or stressing over her not doing the work / screwing it up / listening to her dumb excuses? Don't internalize it: she's a sh!tty employee and you can't fire her. It happens.

Office politics are tough. An enemy secretary will throw you under the bus every chance she gets, and if a case gets messed up the partners won't blame her. If you have the juice, let them know you're dissatisfied with the help she's giving you. If you don't, do everything that you can on your own, and create an email record of the things you give her to do, so that if there's a later confrontation you have evidence to demonstrate her ineptitude.

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cocolawyer (Mar 1, 2017 - 12:42 am)

I have never had a superstar Secretary before. They could only answer my calls and work on the file. Outside of thata fairly worthless. My last Secretary at least had the benefit of being smoking hot with large jugs. She wore way too revealing cloths, which made her being hot so much worse.

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downwardslope (Mar 1, 2017 - 6:30 am)

I work in government and haven't had a secretary for about 4 years. I agree with the above poster that the billing method is the way to go. No one wants to pay attorney wages for menial work. I don't bill very much, but I recently got assigned a task alongside a paralegal who either wants it done her way (which is no one else's way) or the highway. If I don't do it her way, then she refuses to assist me at all. She is in a different billing category and has done most of the tasks already, so I am basically billing to do tasks she's already done. The budget division has already expressed their discontent with the amount of time I'm spending on these tasks, so I figure it will get resolved soon enough.

My conversations with her are usually as follows:

Her- "Have you gotten access to system X?"

"I don't think management wants me to have access to that system. I have asked but haven't gotten a response."

"You need access to system X. I am not going to give you that information anymore. You will need to find it on your own."

The reason they won't give me access to system X is because getting that information is work that she already has to do as part of her job, so why would they need to give it to me? If she has already retrieved it and put it in the file (it is unreadable in the scans), then it shouldn't be that hard for her to provide it to me.

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dingbat (Mar 1, 2017 - 9:19 am)

talk to the other attorneys with whom you share the secretary. If they all agree that she sucks (and not the good kind) then bring it to the partner in charge as a united front. As buddy-buddy as she may be, having all three of you state that she's useless and that you all want another secretary will usually get her fired.

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qdllc (Mar 1, 2017 - 1:05 pm)

Wow....Just...wow.

I'm working as a legal assistant (essentially a secretary). Just keeping up with the dictation, filing, incoming and outgoing mail, and the odd local IT troubleshooting keeps me busy almost every minute of the day, and I only take the state-required 30 minute lunch most days. The paralegals do the more "mundane" legal drafting tasks.

We fired the old file clerk because she just wasn't doing the job and certainly was not worth making full-time.

The senior paralegal asked me to never quit or take another position. It appears that I work harder and get more done in less time than any "secretary" she's worked with in her time with the firm.

We just hired back a former secretary to be a secretary/paralegal for two of the attornies. So far, IMHO, she's NOT pulling her weight in the office. I'm holding my piece until anyone dares to say I'm not keeping up as I'm compensating for what she's not getting done.

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tttsolo (Mar 1, 2017 - 2:43 pm)

i let go my secretary about a year ago and haven't looked back. with technology a secretary for me is an unnecessary luxury. wish i would have done it sooner.

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attorneyinct (Mar 1, 2017 - 6:12 pm)

We hired a young paralegal and she's kicking so much butt than the old paralegals all banded up together and reported her to HR about being "selfish" with work. The young paralegal eventually moved to a different firm. I miss her, she was the best paralegal. I would trade all of the old paralegals in my firm for her.

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cocolawyer (Mar 2, 2017 - 3:04 pm)

That is typical. Older hag legal secretaries and paralegals are the worse. They are lazy, complacent, and are generally worthless.

They always complain that they get the lion share of the work. Of course that doesn't stop them from three hours a day worth of candy crush. I confronted one particuarly stupid paralegal once about her being Lazy. She was insulted and reported me to HR. When I spoke to HR with her present I simply just pulled her facbook page. She had made 44 posts in a 4 hour period. This of course made her more insulted, which I was then given a verbal warning on.

I am starting with the department on Monday. Lets just say I am THRILLED with getting away from that.

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attorneyinct (Mar 3, 2017 - 1:36 pm)

im suprised you didn't quit when they gave you a verbal warning. I would have lost my mind.

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cocolawyer (Mar 3, 2017 - 4:07 pm)

I got paid well. Good pay remedies a lot of ills. My work environment outside that particular individual (she got fired for doing the same shenanigans with a rain maker)was as pleasant as a mid-sized firm can be.

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retard (Mar 4, 2017 - 11:27 am)

Perfection. A good attitude. Motivation and drive. A strong work ethic.

I hold them to the same standard I hold myself. I am consistently disappointed.

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