My assistant gets visibly overwhelmed by basic tasks like printing or filing. She gets upset when we ask her to help with scheduling or answer phones during meetings. She will respond that simple assignments are “too hard.” At this point, I’m not sure what she thinks her job is. She is assigned to me and a partner, but it’s the same for both of us. She has worked with the partner since he was a first year so he has accepted it. Is there anything that I can do as an associate?

like
Posting as :
works at
You are currently posting as works at
Highlighted IconHIGHLIGHTED

There is a big change coming on the support staff front. What you described has generally been my experience throughout my 16 years of practice.

We are moving to a centralized task assignment system, and are culling unproductive assistants

like

Omg I’ve been having similar problems with my assistant! She’ll respond to requests like “please calendar” with “I’ll see what I can do.” Like... okay, I don’t think it gets easier than calendaring.

I reported my issues to HR hoping to get some good feedback on how to handle it myself. That backfired! Our HR director is the female version of Toby (not Holly) and I think might be missing a heart. I’d ask the partner how they would address it. He or she would likely have more leverage to get anything done

likefunny

Oh wow! Yeah, it’s like no one wants to deal with firing and hiring. It’s so frustrating though because the attorneys with good assistants have such a better setup for success

like
Recent IconRecent

You’ve described half of our support staff. It’s miserable.

likesmart

This is exactly how I’ve been feeling! It’s ridiculous and frustrating and I end up doing administrative tasks as a result.

like

Although I agree that those things are billable, the problem becomes whether you have too much on your plate. You should be able to trust your secretary and paralegal enough that things like cover letters are not even in your periphery. Sure, if you need work, take the time and do it. But I work in a practice where every minute I spend on something trivial like a cover letter or communicating with someone to ask for documents, are precious moments spent away from something that will actually yield a settlement. I don’t have time to draft a brief cover letter, format the letter, search for and type in an address, etc. If OP had a secretary who cannot even meet him halfway, that individual is harming the productivity of the attorney.

like

We have a secretary like this. It’s so bad that she has, in the past, snuck down to my office and put docs that I just handed her back on my chair with no explanation... when I buzzed her to be like why is this back on my chair? She hummed around that she just wasn’t sure what I wanted, so I should just do it and then bring it back to her 🤯. Recently, she failed to file a motion and 2 weeks later informed me that I must not have filed it. WTF... and then proceeded to direct me to look up the new hearing date and get the exhibits together for her so she could file it 😂 I had finally had it with her and called out her bs. She went crying to HR, and because the parter loves her, while everyone else can’t stand her, I low key “got in trouble” and now the partner doesn’t want to work with me. Don’t do what I did. Mind you, the partner thinks he loves her because the associates do almost all of the secretarial work on his cases. He doesn’t know or care how it gets done....

likesmartfunny

🤯🤯

like

I am so glad I am not the only associate dealing with a assistant who does not want to do her job. Rather she prefer to cry to get her way and make my job ten times more difficult.

like

That's unfortunately why assistants are slowly disappearing...

like

You mean underserved associates quietly are snuffing them out?

like

This is over the top of true. Lot of weak assistants out there but this is inexcusable behavior simply refusing to do the job. Step 1: paper her up, emails only and get responses. When you get to 10 tasks failed print out your emails and go to the partner. Step 2: discuss the failures with the partner, ask if they want to have a meeting or if they want to do it through HR. Step 3: paper up the inevitable failures following the meeting. A person like this almost certainly won’t change. When you get to 10 go back to the partner/HR. Ask for a different assistant or for a new one to be hired. If the partner wants to carry on with the one then he/she is paying for it but you should request something better.

Ineffective assistants like this cost double their salary. They are not income generators for the firm and every moment you spend doing their job is a moment you aren’t billing which means you aren’t paying for your salary or hers. It can sink a practice group

like

I had a decent EA for a while but her actual work for me was something on the order of 20 hours a year. She was good when I needed it, though. Would figure things out, be helpful, etc. Current EA is like the OP describes. There is huge variance in quality and capabilities.

like

I’m convinced they all have dirt on partners or something and that’s how they get to stick around despite seemingly resenting the very fact that they have to do stuff at work.

like

The firm is terrified of discrimination claims? Who needs the claim asserted against himself or herself? And, for what? The betterment of the secretarial staff?

Could you ask for another assistant? I know it’s super awkward, but unless you want to go through with that, you may just have to suck it up. As an associate, I’m in a similar position and have just accepted that there isn’t much I can do about it.

like

Does your office have an effective no lawyer office manager - someone who deals well with the staff and has the trust of the partners?

like

That’s exactly my point. Of course that’s what she is supposed to be there for but I can’t control that she doesn’t approach it that way. It’s bringing up the possibility that it may not go as planned or expected, as unfortunate as that is, because the manager may view it as a person attack.

OP, how big is your firm and how many assistants work there?

I’m at a smaller office of a large firm. My group has two assistants, but the rest of the group has already transferred to the other assistant.

likehelpful

Make the partners aware. She needs to find a job that she’s good At. This isn’t it

Let it go. No one cares.

You have to pick your battles. I don’t choose to fight over an incompetent secretary. You can’t win anyway, they know how to beat the system. If you start trying to make a record to fire the secretary, the secretary I,media rely will realize what is happening. I’ve watched two people try this over the years. One was victimized by the secretary lodging a bogus sex harassment complaint. The other was victimized by a more bogus discrimination claim. Each situation marred the complaining attorney’s record. Better to get the secretary transferred, engineer an office move to get a new secretarial assignment or something else. The admin folks do not care.

like

Related Posts

Tuck ($) vs. Booth if the ultimate goal is to end up in a Boston consulting office?

like

*evil laughs*
Others: 🤬💢
Person who did this: 🍿😈

Post Photo
likefunny

Scenario: A creative sent you a cold e-mail and you're actually going to respond to it—

What did they say that piqued your interest?

Anyone willing to share their base salary / bonus in a product control finance team with over 10 years experience?

like

Random: what percentage of loss is typically assigned to a tib/fib fracture when applying in Ohio for a partial permanent disability Worker’s Comp settlement?

like

What's the most number of any points you have?

like

Where’s the best place to get a parka on spring sale? Moving to Chicago later but trying to prepare 😅

like

After 4 years as a software developer, I'm bored out of my mind. I want a more managerial role, but my office is small and doesn't have any positions. Should I switch companies?

like

So, any Deloitte 🎣 that got laid off headed to Harvard?

likefunnyhelpful

Hi. I am 8 weeks in and bleeding dark brown. Light bleeding. I have already checked last week through an ultrasound that it is not an ectopic pregnancy. There was normal heart beat. I know miscarriage is an option, but any other reason that I could be bleeding without miscarriage?
I have my appointment tomorrow but can’t seem to rest till then.

like

Anyone have an idea of a pair of ear muffs or equivalent exist that look decent/“professional”? My hair is decently tall and hats flatten it which looks terrible. Thanks y’all!

Talking with clients/stakeholders intimidates me. Any advice on how to overcome this and develop confidence?

like

For those that use NPS scores from their users, do you segment their users based on cohort, eg all users X months post sign up vs all users on a certain date?

like

Does anyone have experience with / knowledge about some of the major PE funds in CA that invest in tech (e.g. Thoma Bravo, Francisco Partners, Vista, etc.)?

like

Pwc AC Do you have any opportunities in life insurance QA I am open to relocate anywhere

like

What are manager salaries like at IQVIA? What should be an expectation going in?

like

Have my closing interview with Accenture next week. So far the Director and MD I have met with have both liked me and the recruiter has said that they have both given me a thumbs up and that the upcoming closing interview with the MD is just a conversation. From my research I’ve also read that it’s just a sanity check to make sure I’m not a nutcase. Of course anything can happen, but I’m expecting an offer. (Cont)

like

Hi folks,

I am having 11 years of experience in SAP IS-Utilities and earning 31 LPA, I have been offered between $9500-10500 Singapore dollars per month from a Singapore company in SAP BRIM Technology.

Is it a good competitive pay in Singapore?

like

Anyone looking to hire an analytics director with a strong tech background ?

Thoughts on getting an iPad Pro 13"?

Planning on getting one mainly for reading books & sheet music + facetiming folks. Although might be overkill and too expensive for that purpose but I don't know of many other options that are 13 inch and have great resolution. My next choice is the Surface Pro 13, since it has pretty similar specs but at a cheaper price and lets me run Windows. Yoga Tab 13 is a far 3rd choice.

Any folks that have any of these - do you love them or hate them?

like

Additional Posts in Big Law

If a major big law firm lowered their annual billable target significantly (like maybe to 1750), would other firms follow? Would it be the most popular firm recruiting-wise?

like

What do you do if you’re told not to bill over a certain amount of hours but there’s no way you can finish the task in that time frame?

like

My local Desktop gets really crowded. So then I lump everything into one file folder and name it “Desktop as of [Date]” and then put it into my Documents folder. Then a couple months later I do the same thing. So now my Documents folder has a bunch of folders with my Desktop files as of various dates for the last few years. But at least my Desktop is clear?

Am I the only one who does this? Haven’t found a better way TBH…

likefunny

I averaged 250+ billables for Q1. Took a vacation in April and since being back, work has been pretty chill (~35/week) and I havent taken any new work. However, I am finding myself not very productive and the smallest things are taking me way longer than they should. Cant get myself to do these things but then that makes me anxious. Feeling stuck. Has anyone else experienced a similar situation and what did you do? I’m a junior associate in corporate.

like

Foley Hoag matched.

like

What concrete things do star juniors do that "normal" juniors don't?

like

Man this Bowl is filled with some angry mid-levels. We get it, this job was hard for you, but it is for juniors now, too. Stop punching down.

I don’t think the juniors are entitled, they just want to share in their firms’ wealth. Surely any salary increases for the Classes of 2019, 2020, and 2021 would easily pay for themselves through billable hours.

like

Does anyone have any recommendations on how to conduct the post-clerkship job search if the goal is big law? I am coming from a state appellate clerkship in a major market.

like

Is it normal for a firm to require candidates to send them official transcripts instead of unofficial transcript?? I’m being asked to provide the official ones for the first time and it’s a pain the butt to get them from my school (4th year here)

like

Fellow associates, how do you ask partners for more work? Is there an art to trying to be more utizilable while also not broadcasting that you’re dead weight?

likefunny

I was a sealth layoff victim in early July courtesy of an AmLaw 150 firm. I have until mid September to find a new gig. I'm interviewing with AmLaw 100 firms. Do I tell them what happened? Or play it off? What if I run out of time during the interview/hiring process? Mid level M&A.

like

I’m wondering if a move from a V10 in NYC to another big law firm in a smaller market would actually mean less hours. Is there reallyyyy a difference?

like

Counsel: hey can you do me a favor and help me out on this discrete task (not something I've done before)
Me (2nd year) sure! Happy to help, lmk what I can do

Me: hey after looking at this I have a few questions, x y and z
Him: I delegated this to you so I didn't have to look at it. Now please HANDLE it.

😐

likefunny

Can someone explain to me why biglaw firms don’t “review up” and have junior/mid level associates evaluate senior associates? I understand partners have no interest in hearing the minions gripe, but wouldn’t it be valuable to know if your senior associates—seeking to enter your partnership are good managers and not complete a**holes? I’ve had so many projects mismanaged by clueless senior associates lately and it seems like juniors/mid levels bear the brunt of it, but there’s no recourse.

likesmarthelpful

I’m having a panic attack about bar exam results coming out at the end of the month. I have nightmares about failing a couple times a week and I start my job as a first year associate in a couple weeks. Any advice on how to deal with this??

If your industry is “law” on here, are there a bunch of other bowls that you don’t have access to? Or can anyone from any industry access every bowl?

like

As a new Summer Associate in a top 25 law firm based in New York but working remotely this summer, please any advise on how to succeed and make great impression in the firm will be greatly appreciated!

like

Any remote options out there for a commercial RE/lending Associate, in their 5th year? Coming from regional boutique firm from not in NY/TX/CA, but with a stack of RE experience. Seeking the sophistication of AmLaw 100/200 but not a requirement.

likesmart

What are your firm’s target realization rates for different associate levels?

like

I don't get the Williams & Connolly apologists. There is 0 reason they are under market and there is no benefit to being there you can't get at a firm that doesn't underpay you.

like

New to Fishbowl?

Download the Fishbowl app to
unlock all discussions on Fishbowl.
That was just a preview…
Sign Up to see all discussions
  • Discover what it’s like to work at companies from real professionals
  • Get candid advice from people in your field in a safe space
  • Chat and network with other professionals in your field
Sign up in seconds to unlock all discussions on Fishbowl.

Already a user?
Login here