I Want to Switch Secretaries


My secretary is a disaster. One of my supervising partners has an awesome secretary.  She has an opening on her desk, and I’m thinking of trying to get her.  Is it a bonus or a burden to share a secretary with my boss?

Burden.  Don’t do it.  First off, the secretary will totally blow off your work for your boss’s work.  She’ll answer your phones, but that’s about it.  Second, you’ll never be able to sneak out of the office to play hooky or go on interviews because your secretary will feel awkward about lying to her other, more senior boss.  The best part of a secretary is having said secretary cover your ass when the boss is looking for you.  If she is also your boss’s secretary, she won’t be able to play dumb (or won’t want to play dumb) when her other boss—i.e., her real boss—is hunting you down.  Your goal should be to share a secretary with the most junior person possible—and someone who has little or nothing to do with your career.

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Ex-Bitter is a former big firm lawyer who now doles out advice to anyone who asks. Got a question? Email it to advice@bitterlawyer.com. Or read more Advice from an Ex-Bitter.

7 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    October 20, 2008 at 4:07 am

    Agreed.  You should know that the number of good secretaries are very few.  Most women with brains opted years ago to go the career route, with the only ones remaining in the secretarial game were the dumber high school grad types w/o a lot of ambition.  What makes it worse is that the few good ones that are out there are scooped up by the partners, relegating the associates to the bottom of the barrel.  The final straw, if there even needed to be one, is that some of the dumbest ones in the law firms are there looking for a “relationship leading to marriage”, so be careful not to hump your secretary.  Not only won’t she do anything after you two start rolling in the hay, but she also could slap you with a lawsuit (if not also a paternity suit).  Best to be very careful around the hired help.

  2. Ex-BigLaw

    October 20, 2008 at 7:10 am

    I actually had a great last secretary until leaving my firm recently – she was an older woman, and an immigrant.  She covered my rear consistently, was never difficult, and went out of her way to be helpful, informative, and kind.  If you can avoid self-entitled American b–ches, maybe you’ll do ok.

  3. Al Dickman

    October 20, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    Then the answer is simple.  Get an old immigrant as a secretary and you’ll be fine.  If you get a young secretary, expect nothing, and you wont be disappointed.

  4. Anonymous

    October 21, 2008 at 3:28 am

    Young (less than 23) secretaries are generally good for 1 thing.  “Dick-tation. “ Once you figure this out, you can go with the flo, man.  You should be “livin’ the dream” with one of these babes.

  5. Anonymous

    October 21, 2008 at 11:28 am

    Younger secretaries might be more tech savvy and are probably less bitter about being asked to run errands for kids half their age making 3-5x their salary.
    Also, a younger secretary is probably just there temporarily until she moves on to another job.  Use the potential for a letter of rec. to your advantage.

  6. Anonymous

    October 21, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    When I worked in NYC, I had a “NewYorRican” secretary that tawked just like Rosie Perez.  She was not interested in working very hard for me, and after I told the managing partner, they got rid of her.  So speak up if your secretary rots.  It’s bad enough when they don’t work–the last thing you need is one with “attidudes, man”.  WTF!

  7. Just a secretary

    November 23, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    Interesting read.  I work for a partner and three associates, including two first-years.  An experienced secretary will catch your mistakes before the partners ever see them and never say a word to anyone.

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