Coffee and Secretary

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Coffee and Secretary

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Aug 27, 2017 8:43 pm

Should an associate ever ask his or her secretary to fetch him or her some coffee? I was busy with some work at the firm and just absentmindedly asked my secretary for coffee while also asking him to collate some documents for me. I didn't even think about it before it was out of my mouth. He gave me a strange look but did get it for me. Should I apologize? Is this ever appropriate?
Last edited by Anonymous User on Sun Aug 27, 2017 8:54 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Coffee and Secretary

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Aug 27, 2017 8:47 pm

My first day at my current firm, my assistant greeted me with a list of things with which she would help me--which concluded with, "But you'll have to get your own coffee." It's definitely disfavored--the only assistant coffee-fetching trip I've ever seen at my firm was when a senior partner requested his assistant to head across the street to get a cup of coffee that *a client* requested in the middle of a meeting.

I wish it wasn't, though. In the course of a year, each firm probably loses so much billable time on attorneys getting their own coffee that it'd be very efficient for them to tell assistants it's within the scope of their job responsibilities.

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A. Nony Mouse

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Re: Coffee and Secretary

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sun Aug 27, 2017 8:48 pm

Anonymous User wrote:In the course of a year, each firm probably loses so much billable time on attorneys getting their own coffee that it'd be very efficient for them to tell assistants it's within the scope of their job responsibilities.

wow

eastcoast_iub

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Re: Coffee and Secretary

Postby eastcoast_iub » Sun Aug 27, 2017 8:51 pm

Totally agree assistants should fetch coffee -- isn't their job to save you time however they can? Don't see why it's a problem as long as you're respectful.

Senior partner near me had his old assistant get him coffee every day, although he always paid for his and hers.

My old secretary would get it for me if I asked although I only did once or twice (she was exceptional though).

Admittedly would feel weirder asking if my secretary was a dude. Although in general I'd feel weirder asking anything if my secretary was a dude.

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okaygo

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Re: Coffee and Secretary

Postby okaygo » Sun Aug 27, 2017 9:19 pm

eastcoast_iub wrote:Totally agree assistants should fetch coffee -- isn't their job to save you time however they can? Don't see why it's a problem as long as you're respectful.

Senior partner near me had his old assistant get him coffee every day, although he always paid for his and hers.

My old secretary would get it for me if I asked although I only did once or twice (she was exceptional though).

Admittedly would feel weirder asking if my secretary was a dude. Although in general I'd feel weirder asking anything if my secretary was a dude.


Why is it weirder if your secretary is a dude? Is this a homophobia issue or just general every day sexism?

And people on these forums always wonder why people of color/members of marginalized groups jump to discrimination as a possible explanation of behavior in this field.

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Re: Coffee and Secretary

Postby litigator17 » Sun Aug 27, 2017 9:28 pm

okaygo wrote:
eastcoast_iub wrote:Totally agree assistants should fetch coffee -- isn't their job to save you time however they can? Don't see why it's a problem as long as you're respectful.

Senior partner near me had his old assistant get him coffee every day, although he always paid for his and hers.

My old secretary would get it for me if I asked although I only did once or twice (she was exceptional though).

Admittedly would feel weirder asking if my secretary was a dude. Although in general I'd feel weirder asking anything if my secretary was a dude.


Why is it weirder if your secretary is a dude? Is this a homophobia issue or just general every day sexism?

And people on these forums always wonder why people of color/members of marginalized groups jump to discrimination as a possible explanation of behavior in this field.


Second this question. And even accounting for homophobia/sexism/implicit bias, eastcoast_iub's comment is bizarre. Would he (assuming "he" given the sexism in the remark) have a problem ordering coffee from a male waiter? Or Starbucks worker? Would he feel weird asking junior male attorneys to do work for him? What a disappointing comment.

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Re: Coffee and Secretary

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Aug 27, 2017 9:36 pm

Anonymous User wrote:My first day at my current firm, my assistant greeted me with a list of things with which she would help me--which concluded with, "But you'll have to get your own coffee."


Actually, mind elaborating on this list of things with which your assistant will help? I've never made much use of my assistant beyond having him/her (have had assistants of both genders) process expense reimbursements. I gather some older partners have their assistants manage their email, but the thought of having my (error-prone) assistant manage my email... scares me.

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Re: Coffee and Secretary

Postby Bach-City » Sun Aug 27, 2017 9:40 pm

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Last edited by Bach-City on Mon Aug 28, 2017 1:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Coffee and Secretary

Postby QContinuum » Sun Aug 27, 2017 9:45 pm

I don't think the other posters ITT are throwing a "fit," more like expressing incredulity at the blatant sexism permeating this discomfort. I know I myself had never considered that anyone in "our generation" in 2017 would feel uncomfortable having a secretary who happens to be male. Do these folks also feel uncomfortable reporting to a senior associate/partner who happens to be female?

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Re: Coffee and Secretary

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Aug 27, 2017 9:50 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:My first day at my current firm, my assistant greeted me with a list of things with which she would help me--which concluded with, "But you'll have to get your own coffee."


Actually, mind elaborating on this list of things with which your assistant will help? I've never made much use of my assistant beyond having him/her (have had assistants of both genders) process expense reimbursements. I gather some older partners have their assistants manage their email, but the thought of having my (error-prone) assistant manage my email... scares me.


Sure:
Expense reimbursements
Case calendaring
Court filings + courtesy copies
Creating document shells for briefs, pleadings, etc.
Ordering transcripts
Obtaining hearing reservations for courts where that's required
Maintaining electronic and hard copy case files
Scanning and circulating hard copy documents
Registering me for most events and calendaring them
Travel reservations
Conference room bookings
Interfacing with document processing, IT, etc. when the ask is more involved than I have time for
Certain types of review of local court rules for procedural requirements (you have to doublecheck their work, but they can certainly go find the rule about font and spacing and point you to it in the first instance - much cheaper than having a junior do it)

ETA:
Screening phone calls from unknown numbers
Managing spam folder
Creating binders for mediations, depositions, court hearings, etc.
Noticing and scheduling depositions
Booking court reporters
Running interference when I'm OOO

And more important than any of those items: knowing how the office and its personalities work. This has a ton of tangible and intangible benefits.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Mon Aug 28, 2017 4:11 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Coffee and Secretary

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Aug 27, 2017 9:51 pm

eastcoast_iub wrote: Admittedly would feel weirder asking if my secretary was a dude. Although in general I'd feel weirder asking anything if my secretary was a dude.


Wow. Just wow. There is still so much progress to be made in the legal field.

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Re: Coffee and Secretary

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Aug 27, 2017 10:02 pm

Bach-City wrote:Since a couple people are throwing a fit about your comment, I'll just say I'd also feel weird about asking a guy to get me coffee, although maybe not if he was noticeably younger. I'm sure it's just how we're conditioned by society, but yeah, I'd feel the same.



Just to be clear, a "fit" is coded language that men often use to discredit what a woman is saying. My comment was not a "fit." It was a coherent and well reasoned statement. Secondly, your acceptance of your sexist conditioning, and subsequent bolstering of your colleagues', is exactly why sexism remains pervasive in this field and in general.

My apologies to OP for the derailing. Accidental anon, this was okaygo.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Sun Aug 27, 2017 10:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Coffee and Secretary

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Aug 27, 2017 10:06 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Bach-City wrote:Since a couple people are throwing a fit about your comment, I'll just say I'd also feel weird about asking a guy to get me coffee, although maybe not if he was noticeably younger. I'm sure it's just how we're conditioned by society, but yeah, I'd feel the same.



Just to be clear, a "fit" is coded language that men often use to discredit what a woman is saying. My comment was not a "fit." It was a coherent and well reasoned statement. Secondly, your acceptance of your sexist conditioning, and subsequent bolstering of your colleagues', is exactly why sexism remains pervasive in this field and in general.

My apologies to OP for the derailing.


As another female poster who took offense, I strongly second this remark. Your need to chime in and assure the first poster that his sexist comments were A-OK despite the "fits" that those offended were throwing was bad enough, but your additional input (might be okay to ask a male subordinate for coffee "if he was noticeably younger," whereas, apparently, it is okay to direct the request to female subordinates of any age) added an even more offensive element to the original comment. These misogynistic attitudes have no place in our profession.

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Re: Coffee and Secretary

Postby LaLiLuLeLo » Sun Aug 27, 2017 10:31 pm

No. Getting coffee is not their duty. Maybe it depends on the firm, but here they are not assistants. They are secretaries. They will help with secretarial tasks. Grabbing your fat ass coffee isn't one of them and asking is demeaning.

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Re: Coffee and Secretary

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Aug 27, 2017 10:33 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Sure:
Expense reimbursements
Case calendaring
Court filings + courtesy copies
Creating document shells for briefs, pleadings, etc.
Ordering transcripts
Obtaining hearing reservations for courts where that's required
Maintaining electronic and hard copy case files
Scanning and circulating hard copy documents
Registering me for most events and calendaring them
Travel reservations
Conference room bookings
Interfacing with document processing, IT, etc. when the ask is more involved than I have time for
Certain types of review of local court rules for procedural requirements (you have to doublecheck their work, but they can certainly go find the rule about font and spacing and point you to it in the first instance - much cheaper than having a junior do it)

And more important than any of those items: knowing how the office and its personalities work. This has a ton of tangible and intangible benefits.


Thanks! Not a litigator so I suppose that's why I've never run into the stuff to do with case management. Good point about the document shells, although I have my paralegal do that work (again, my secretary is quite unreliable).

I can also see how "the office and its personalities" would be very valuable from a competent secretary.

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Re: Coffee and Secretary

Postby radio1nowhere » Sun Aug 27, 2017 10:35 pm

This is the worst thread I've ever read on TLS

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Re: Coffee and Secretary

Postby QContinuum » Sun Aug 27, 2017 10:37 pm

LaLiLuLeLo wrote:No. Getting coffee is not their duty. Maybe it depends on the firm, but here they are not assistants. They are secretaries. They will help with secretarial tasks. Grabbing your fat ass coffee isn't one of them and asking is demeaning.


Not quite on-topic perhaps, but to me, one of the main attractions of "getting coffee" is the opportunity to stretch my legs and get some fresh air (however briefly). I think it's well worth my time. Alternately, if I really just need the caffeine and not the break, then instead of running out, I "get coffee" from the nearest Keurig machine in the office, which actually takes less effort than asking someone to do it for me.

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Re: Coffee and Secretary

Postby Nebby » Sun Aug 27, 2017 10:52 pm

Asking anyone to fetch you coffee makes you an irrevocable asshole.

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Re: Coffee and Secretary

Postby ernie » Sun Aug 27, 2017 10:54 pm

Not surprised by the sexism in this thread. Common attitude in many workplaces, just not explicit like it is here. I'm sure i've had similar thoughts in the past. A grown adult would recognize the issue and correct, not say 'welp i guess that's how we were 'conditioned by society' so deal with my misogyny'

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Re: Coffee and Secretary

Postby Nebby » Sun Aug 27, 2017 10:55 pm

Bach-City wrote:
eastcoast_iub wrote:Totally agree assistants should fetch coffee -- isn't their job to save you time however they can? Don't see why it's a problem as long as you're respectful.

Senior partner near me had his old assistant get him coffee every day, although he always paid for his and hers.

My old secretary would get it for me if I asked although I only did once or twice (she was exceptional though).

Admittedly would feel weirder asking if my secretary was a dude. Although in general I'd feel weirder asking anything if my secretary was a dude.


Since a couple people are throwing a fit about your comment, I'll just say I'd also feel weird about asking a guy to get me coffee, although maybe not if he was noticeably younger. I'm sure it's just how we're conditioned by society, but yeah, I'd feel the same.

So long as you both accept it's sexist then there's nothing else to say really, other than you should try to be less of a wet fart

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Re: Coffee and Secretary

Postby Bach-City » Sun Aug 27, 2017 11:01 pm

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Last edited by Bach-City on Mon Aug 28, 2017 1:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Coffee and Secretary

Postby Nebby » Sun Aug 27, 2017 11:04 pm

Well in that case my follow up is scooped by Ernie

ernie wrote:A grown adult would recognize the issue and correct, not say 'welp i guess that's how we were 'conditioned by society' so deal with my misogyny'

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Re: Coffee and Secretary

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Aug 27, 2017 11:10 pm

LaLiLuLeLo wrote:No. Getting coffee is not their duty. Maybe it depends on the firm, but here they are not assistants. They are secretaries. They will help with secretarial tasks. Grabbing your fat ass coffee isn't one of them and asking is demeaning.



OP here. I'm not fat. But thanks for answering the question. I'll apologize tomorrow.

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Re: Coffee and Secretary

Postby Bach-City » Sun Aug 27, 2017 11:18 pm

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Last edited by Bach-City on Mon Aug 28, 2017 1:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Coffee and Secretary

Postby sanzgo » Mon Aug 28, 2017 12:42 am

oh man this thread is the worst.

guys, asking someone to get you coffee is demeaning, no matter the pay, position, or sex of the requestee (assuming he/she is not in a role where doing so would be unequivocally within the job requirements). it doesn't take being a male secretary to figure that out (although i was a male secretary at one point in time).

you're probably disappointed b/c you thought you'd sound reasonable after saying it'd be weird to ask a male secretary for coffee by acknowledging and disapproving your own social conditioning. but you're missing the forest for the trees here. at its very core, this isn't even a patriarchal issue although it's certainly proven to be effective in drawing out the ugly head of sexism within people here.



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