Have you ever had a male secretary?


I had a male secretary once. He was excellent, but he just did temp assignments.

I have had a wide range of secretaries. It can be a difficult balance between being friendly and being their boss.

But a good secretary is worth her weight in gold.


Yes, sometimes lawyers can be difficult too, when you are the secretary. I never had one that was too bad, but funny things would happen sometimes...

Associate: I know you're not a lawyer, and don't play one on TV, but what would you do?


Summer Associate: What order should I put the check, the postcard, and all the other filings in before I mail them to the Patent and Trademark Office?

Me: It doesn't matter.

SA: Really? Are you sure?

Me: Yeah, I'm sure.

SA: (Goes off to ask a partner).


When a partner was trying to strong-arm me into hiring his buddy to do drawings for my attorney, even though we have an in-house draftsperson...

Partner: You got the email, about how you should hire X if you get the chance?

Me: Yes.

Partner: So why haven't you been sending work X's way?

Me: Well, I thought it was firm policy to use our inside draftsperson first.

Partner: Firm policy? Do you have a memo you can point to?

Me: Uh, no.

Me: So, is it firm policy to go to an outside draftsperson first when Y at the firm is available to do work?

Partner: Uh, no.

Me: Actually, today is my last day.

Partner: Oh, I guess it's a mute point.

Me (in head): Moot, you idiot, moot!

The Happy Feminist

Oh, those are classic, Ismone. Although I can kind of relate to the scared summer associate.

Sydney, I have never had a male secretary. There is one male secretary at this firm. Everyone always assumes he must be an attorney! I have also worked at two firms that had male receptionists. One was very good. The other, at a firm in London where I worked as a secretary after college, got fired after he told a client that the senior partner couldn't take his call "because he was in the Gents and he's been there for hours."


My mother is a currently legal secretary at a major law firm. When I was a kid, she worked for a single lawyer in a small town. She has almost 30 years experience as a legal secretary.

It took her years to realize that between her experience, her skills, and her work ethic-- she was a damn good legal secretary.

What finally allowed to her come to this realization?

The lawyer she was working for who decided to get her attention while she was on the phone by throwing a pencil at her from the desk in his office. I kid you not.

She was mortified. She was insulted. She was speechless.
She came home in tears. My father, bless him, said, "Quit. Quit tommorrow. You deserve better and we can survive without the money if we have to."

She went in the next day and gave her notice to her supervising secretary.
The supervisor's eyes got really big and she asked why?
My mom explained why and the supervisors eyes got even wider.
She took my mom and walked into a senior partner's office and had her tell her story.
The senior partner got up from his desk, apologised to my mother, and then asked her which lawyer she wanted to work for.

The next day, my mom's former boss came to her new desk and formerly apologized.
The firm "let him go" the next month.

I think he got off easy.

Over the years, my mother has actually been fought over by various lawyers.
She now works three days a week--
and she still does more work than most other people in the pool do in five days.

The Happy Feminist

Wow, it sounds like your mother's firm made the right decision. That guy is lucky he didn't get charged with assault.

When she was in her 50s, my mother worked as a secretary at an enormous major law firm in Washington D.C. Every morning in the elevator, one of the partners who didn't really know her would make small talk with her. One day, he asked her how long she had been practicing law and she told him she was a secretary. From then on, he completely ignored her.

Patent Assistant

For what it's worth, my patent law firm does have an official opinion on how documents couriered to the PTO should be ordered. (Postcard on top, then ordered in the same order as they are listed on the postcard.)

So if Summer Associate had worked in another firm that did have a certain way they liked that done, his skepticism that your firm didn't have a preference is sort of understandable.


I worked as a secretary for a few months, as a favor to significant other. I had helped set up the office and was the only computer literate one of the four of us. Significant other was of the persuasion that the least important thing he was working on was more important than the most important thing anyone else was working on. Naturally he thought he was great to work with. Needless to say he was the only one who thought so. I hired a new secretary for them and put both significant other and the idea of ever being a secretary again behind me.


At my first job in news, I was a production assistant at a TV news bureau in Tokyo, responsible for helping 3 producers and 2 correspondents as needed. I was pulled in five different directions every day, and it taught me a lot about how to manage people to motivate them to get the most work done. (I also got very good at sticking up for myself and covering my own ass.)

Once, years later, I had a "No-Show" boss: he would "work" from home a lot, but be off-line much of the time, while the 30 people he managed muddled through without him.


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