Coffee and Secretary

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Desert Fox

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Re: Coffee and Secretary

Postby Desert Fox » Mon Aug 28, 2017 1:24 pm

Secretaries should get coffee and cleaners and lunch. But for some reason it's rude. So don't ask.

But seriously they should. it costs a firm 100 bucks if you go take a 10 minute break to get Starbucks when busy.

They should have coffee/tea boys or something.
Last edited by Desert Fox on Sat Jan 27, 2018 12:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

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landshoes

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Re: Coffee and Secretary

Postby landshoes » Mon Aug 28, 2017 1:24 pm

QContinuum wrote:
kykiske wrote:It has never once crossed my mind to ask that my assistant get me coffee. That's just silly.

Though, on the other hand, I have always offered to grab my assistant coffee if I am out at Starbucks. Just part of building trust.

She further does not work for me, she works for the firm.

I think it's just unacceptable for anyone, much less a junior associate, to make such demands. Get your down damn coffee.


While I agree with the gist of the above, I disagree with the part about your assigned secretary not working for you but for the firm. Try telling your supervising partner you don't work for her, you work for the firm. See how well it goes over.


LOL dude it's a completely different situation. The partners are functionally business owners. You are an employee, just like the secretary. You both work for the partners. Your secretary does not work for you in the same way you work for a partner.

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A. Nony Mouse

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Re: Coffee and Secretary

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Mon Aug 28, 2017 1:29 pm

Nah, I agree with that statement (though also not in a firm). My legal assistant definitely has to do work for me (so I agree with pollito's points), but I don't supervise my legal assistant and don't have the power to discipline her or the like. I definitely have the power to make her miserable and probably fuck things up for her, but frankly there are some assistants, if I tried to get their supervisor to take some adverse action, I'd be in way worse stead than the assistant would.

Edit: I agree with landshoes, I mean.

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Re: Coffee and Secretary

Postby QContinuum » Mon Aug 28, 2017 1:53 pm

landshoes wrote:
QContinuum wrote:
kykiske wrote:It has never once crossed my mind to ask that my assistant get me coffee. That's just silly.

Though, on the other hand, I have always offered to grab my assistant coffee if I am out at Starbucks. Just part of building trust.

She further does not work for me, she works for the firm.

I think it's just unacceptable for anyone, much less a junior associate, to make such demands. Get your down damn coffee.


While I agree with the gist of the above, I disagree with the part about your assigned secretary not working for you but for the firm. Try telling your supervising partner you don't work for her, you work for the firm. See how well it goes over.


LOL dude it's a completely different situation. The partners are functionally business owners. You are an employee, just like the secretary. You both work for the partners. Your secretary does not work for you in the same way you work for a partner.


OK, so you're only proposing a distinction for equity partners. Got it. Next time I have to take orders from a counsel or senior associate, I'll tell him he isn't my boss. I don't work for him - I work for the firm. And if it's a partner, I'll first pause to check whether she's an equity partner. :roll:

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A. Nony Mouse

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Re: Coffee and Secretary

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Mon Aug 28, 2017 1:56 pm

I don't get why this distinction is hard to understand. And I also don't think you'd love having a senior associate or partner tell you to get them coffee.

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grand inquisitor

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Re: Coffee and Secretary

Postby grand inquisitor » Mon Aug 28, 2017 1:58 pm

i wish i could make my secretary go to the gym for me. but she's a woman so that would be awk af.

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Re: Coffee and Secretary

Postby kykiske » Mon Aug 28, 2017 2:01 pm

QContinuum wrote:
landshoes wrote:
QContinuum wrote:
kykiske wrote:It has never once crossed my mind to ask that my assistant get me coffee. That's just silly.

Though, on the other hand, I have always offered to grab my assistant coffee if I am out at Starbucks. Just part of building trust.

She further does not work for me, she works for the firm.

I think it's just unacceptable for anyone, much less a junior associate, to make such demands. Get your down damn coffee.


While I agree with the gist of the above, I disagree with the part about your assigned secretary not working for you but for the firm. Try telling your supervising partner you don't work for her, you work for the firm. See how well it goes over.


LOL dude it's a completely different situation. The partners are functionally business owners. You are an employee, just like the secretary. You both work for the partners. Your secretary does not work for you in the same way you work for a partner.


OK, so you're only proposing a distinction for equity partners. Got it. Next time I have to take orders from a counsel or senior associate, I'll tell him he isn't my boss. I don't work for him - I work for the firm. And if it's a partner, I'll first pause to check whether she's an equity partner. :roll:


Let me clarify, as I believe there's been some misunderstanding and snide comments.

When I wrote "she works for the firm," I should have written, "she works for the firm's owners and management." I presumed that people would understand "firm" to mean the firm's owners and management, and not the ethereal corporate sense. I was wrong.

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Re: Coffee and Secretary

Postby QContinuum » Mon Aug 28, 2017 2:12 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:I don't get why this distinction is hard to understand. And I also don't think you'd love having a senior associate or partner tell you to get them coffee.


It's because there's no substantive distinction. I work for my firm, and I do so by working at the direction of my firm-assigned supervisor, also known as my boss. The old saw about working for your company, not your boss, is a prime example of elevating form over substance.

What I will admit not getting is this hoopla about getting coffee being some kind of affront to personal dignity*. Is being a waiter or barista demeaning? We're not talking about someone asking their secretary to kiss their shoes. Now, I've never asked anyone to fetch coffee for me, as I've noted above, so I have no dog in this fight. It just seems weird.

*Of course, as noted earlier ITT, if only female secretaries are asked to get coffee while their male colleagues are not, then that is an affront to personal dignity - the affront being the sexist treatment, not the coffee fetching per se.

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A. Nony Mouse

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Re: Coffee and Secretary

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Mon Aug 28, 2017 2:32 pm

Getting coffee isn't part of the assistant's job, though, in part because drinking it isn't part of mine. The assistant is there to help me do my job, not attend to my personal comfort.

And I really don't supervise my legal assistant. I'm not her boss the way that my boss is my boss. My boss is also actually her boss; her duties including doing things for me, so to that extent I tell her what to do, but I don't have any of the power over her that my boss has over her (or over me).

To be consistent, I should make clear that that wouldn't make it okay for my boss to tell me to get him coffee, but I'm also not even really my assistant's boss, so coffee-fetching is even further removed from how I should treat her.

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landshoes

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Re: Coffee and Secretary

Postby landshoes » Mon Aug 28, 2017 2:39 pm

QContinuum wrote:
landshoes wrote:
QContinuum wrote:
kykiske wrote:It has never once crossed my mind to ask that my assistant get me coffee. That's just silly.

Though, on the other hand, I have always offered to grab my assistant coffee if I am out at Starbucks. Just part of building trust.

She further does not work for me, she works for the firm.

I think it's just unacceptable for anyone, much less a junior associate, to make such demands. Get your down damn coffee.


While I agree with the gist of the above, I disagree with the part about your assigned secretary not working for you but for the firm. Try telling your supervising partner you don't work for her, you work for the firm. See how well it goes over.


LOL dude it's a completely different situation. The partners are functionally business owners. You are an employee, just like the secretary. You both work for the partners. Your secretary does not work for you in the same way you work for a partner.


OK, so you're only proposing a distinction for equity partners. Got it. Next time I have to take orders from a counsel or senior associate, I'll tell him he isn't my boss. I don't work for him - I work for the firm. And if it's a partner, I'll first pause to check whether she's an equity partner. :roll:


No, I'm not proposing jack shit. I'm critiquing your stupid and pedantic comment.

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landshoes

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Re: Coffee and Secretary

Postby landshoes » Mon Aug 28, 2017 2:40 pm

QContinuum wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:I don't get why this distinction is hard to understand. And I also don't think you'd love having a senior associate or partner tell you to get them coffee.


It's because there's no substantive distinction. I work for my firm, and I do so by working at the direction of my firm-assigned supervisor, also known as my boss. The old saw about working for your company, not your boss, is a prime example of elevating form over substance.

What I will admit not getting is this hoopla about getting coffee being some kind of affront to personal dignity*. Is being a waiter or barista demeaning? We're not talking about someone asking their secretary to kiss their shoes. Now, I've never asked anyone to fetch coffee for me, as I've noted above, so I have no dog in this fight. It just seems weird.

*Of course, as noted earlier ITT, if only female secretaries are asked to get coffee while their male colleagues are not, then that is an affront to personal dignity - the affront being the sexist treatment, not the coffee fetching per se.


They were saying that at their firm the secretaries are supervised by the firm not by junior associates. Happy now? Jesus.
Last edited by landshoes on Mon Aug 28, 2017 2:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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grand inquisitor

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Re: Coffee and Secretary

Postby grand inquisitor » Mon Aug 28, 2017 2:40 pm

the real money savings for firms would occur if they fitted us with colostomy bags and catheters to cut out bathroom breaks. the question would be, who empties them?

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Kali the Annihilator

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Re: Coffee and Secretary

Postby Kali the Annihilator » Mon Aug 28, 2017 2:42 pm

grand inquisitor wrote:the real money savings for firms would occur if they fitted us with colostomy bags and catheters to cut out bathroom breaks. the question would be, who empties them?

Johann

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radio1nowhere

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Re: Coffee and Secretary

Postby radio1nowhere » Mon Aug 28, 2017 2:55 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:Getting coffee isn't part of the assistant's job, though, in part because drinking it isn't part of mine.

Nony to the rescue — this seems like the best explanation ITT of why it's rude. If your employer doesn't pay you to drink coffee, then asking your secretary to get you coffee is essentially asking him or her to do you favors in your private life.

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Re: Coffee and Secretary

Postby emkay625 » Mon Aug 28, 2017 3:13 pm

rahulg91 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote: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?


I look forward to going to get my own coffee since it's a way to get off one's lazy ass and move around; I suggest you do it. People in my office also tend to ask their assistant if they wants a cup, b/c being nice and not a prick is typically a valuable trait.


Brave anon use. I guess I'm confused what's considered acceptable to ask a secretary (as opposed to a paralegal) for. It seems like most of the tasks listed can be more efficiently done by yourself anyways. Isn't the position largely superfluous?


I certainly don't think secretaries are superfluous. I don't know how I'd function without my assistant, she's fantastic. Expense reports, creating shell documents, getting things filed, organizing exhibits, etc.

Additionally, there are some things a client would much rather pay a secretary's hourly rate for than your hourly rate. Example: partner asks for three copies of every case we've cited in our briefing to be printed and organized for a hearing. We've cited 45 cases. You could go into Westlaw and print and staple and organize this. It would take about an hour. Or your secretary could do it. Whose rate do you think the client would rather pay for that task?

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Re: Coffee and Secretary

Postby QContinuum » Mon Aug 28, 2017 3:32 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:Getting coffee isn't part of the assistant's job, though, in part because drinking it isn't part of mine. The assistant is there to help me do my job, not attend to my personal comfort.

And I really don't supervise my legal assistant. I'm not her boss the way that my boss is my boss. My boss is also actually her boss; her duties including doing things for me, so to that extent I tell her what to do, but I don't have any of the power over her that my boss has over her (or over me).

To be consistent, I should make clear that that wouldn't make it okay for my boss to tell me to get him coffee, but I'm also not even really my assistant's boss, so coffee-fetching is even further removed from how I should treat her.


Reasonable points (esp in light of your consistency). I guess my firm operates a bit differently, structure-wise, in that none of my actual bosses are my "official" bosses, while my "official" boss doesn't actually supervise me at all, but makes pay/bonus decisions based on evals from my actual bosses. This is pretty much exactly how our secretaries are managed: None of the attorneys (whether partners or associates) they support are their "official" bosses, but their "official" boss makes pay/bonus decisions based on the attorneys' evals. So some of my previous statements were perhaps colored by my experience with this management structure.

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Re: Coffee and Secretary

Postby QContinuum » Mon Aug 28, 2017 3:53 pm

landshoes wrote:
QContinuum wrote:
landshoes wrote:
QContinuum wrote:
kykiske wrote:It has never once crossed my mind to ask that my assistant get me coffee. That's just silly.

Though, on the other hand, I have always offered to grab my assistant coffee if I am out at Starbucks. Just part of building trust.

She further does not work for me, she works for the firm.

I think it's just unacceptable for anyone, much less a junior associate, to make such demands. Get your down damn coffee.


While I agree with the gist of the above, I disagree with the part about your assigned secretary not working for you but for the firm. Try telling your supervising partner you don't work for her, you work for the firm. See how well it goes over.


LOL dude it's a completely different situation. The partners are functionally business owners. You are an employee, just like the secretary. You both work for the partners. Your secretary does not work for you in the same way you work for a partner.


OK, so you're only proposing a distinction for equity partners. Got it. Next time I have to take orders from a counsel or senior associate, I'll tell him he isn't my boss. I don't work for him - I work for the firm. And if it's a partner, I'll first pause to check whether she's an equity partner. :roll:


No, I'm not proposing jack shit. I'm critiquing your stupid and pedantic comment.


My original comment was to express general agreement with kykiske, with the caveat that I disagreed about whether a secretary "works for" the attorney he supports. Perhaps the caveat was minor, but if so, your line about partners being "functionally business owners" was at least equally pedantic. There's no need to resort to intemperate language or ad hominem attacks.

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Re: Coffee and Secretary

Postby rpupkin » Mon Aug 28, 2017 4:02 pm

radio1nowhere wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:Getting coffee isn't part of the assistant's job, though, in part because drinking it isn't part of mine.

Nony to the rescue — this seems like the best explanation ITT of why it's rude. If your employer doesn't pay you to drink coffee, then asking your secretary to get you coffee is essentially asking him or her to do you favors in your private life.

Actually, the best explanation for why it's rude is that it's no longer normal for a lawyer to ask a secretary or assistant to get coffee. This isn't about logical rules; it's about professional norms. There is a business logic to the practice of administrative assistants helping out with personal tasks (which DF makes the case for above), but it's just not an acceptable thing in 2017.

By the way, my secretary occasionally offers to do favors for me when I'm extra busy (including stuff like getting coffee once in awhile), but that's something that's evolved in our relationship over a period of years. I never assumed she would do stuff like that.

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radio1nowhere

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Re: Coffee and Secretary

Postby radio1nowhere » Mon Aug 28, 2017 4:15 pm

rpupkin wrote:
radio1nowhere wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:Getting coffee isn't part of the assistant's job, though, in part because drinking it isn't part of mine.

Nony to the rescue — this seems like the best explanation ITT of why it's rude. If your employer doesn't pay you to drink coffee, then asking your secretary to get you coffee is essentially asking him or her to do you favors in your private life.

Actually, the best explanation for why it's rude is that it's no longer normal for a lawyer to ask a secretary or assistant to get coffee. This isn't about logical rules; it's about professional norms. There is a business logic to the practice of administrative assistants helping out with personal tasks (which DF makes the case for above), but it's just not an acceptable thing in 2017.

By the way, my secretary occasionally offers to do favors for me when I'm extra busy (including stuff like getting coffee once in awhile), but that's something that's evolved in our relationship over a period of years. I never assumed she would do stuff like that.

Hm, I disagree to the extent this seems to imply that professional norms evolve without any relation to logic.

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los blancos

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Re: Coffee and Secretary

Postby los blancos » Mon Aug 28, 2017 4:48 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:Getting coffee isn't part of the assistant's job, though, in part because drinking it isn't part of mine. The assistant is there to help me do my job, not attend to my personal comfort.


Why the fuck is this so apparently difficult to understand?

E: one thread asking about the "etiquette" of showing off SA offer and another about making assistants get coffee. Nice.

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Re: Coffee and Secretary

Postby Thesaurus » Mon Aug 28, 2017 5:08 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:Getting coffee isn't part of the assistant's job, though, in part because drinking it isn't part of mine. The assistant is there to help me do my job, not attend to my personal comfort.

And I really don't supervise my legal assistant. I'm not her boss the way that my boss is my boss. My boss is also actually her boss; her duties including doing things for me, so to that extent I tell her what to do, but I don't have any of the power over her that my boss has over her (or over me).

To be consistent, I should make clear that that wouldn't make it okay for my boss to tell me to get him coffee, but I'm also not even really my assistant's boss, so coffee-fetching is even further removed from how I should treat her.

The coffee is also there to help you do your job

Does the dynamic change at all in a one-off, all-hands-on-deck situation, where people are pulling a late night trying to meet an urgent deadline?

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Re: Coffee and Secretary

Postby Thesaurus » Mon Aug 28, 2017 5:09 pm

landshoes wrote:Secretary
Legal assistant
Paralegal

At my firm these are three distinct jobs, is this not the case at others' firms?

What is the difference between a paralegal and a legal assistant at your firm?

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landshoes

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Re: Coffee and Secretary

Postby landshoes » Mon Aug 28, 2017 5:12 pm

Thesaurus wrote:
landshoes wrote:Secretary
Legal assistant
Paralegal

At my firm these are three distinct jobs, is this not the case at others' firms?

What is the difference between a paralegal and a legal assistant at your firm?


I have no clue. They might be the same thing and I might be an idiot. But they're definitely not secretaries.

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Re: Coffee and Secretary

Postby silenttimer » Mon Aug 28, 2017 5:15 pm

Don't ask your secretary to get coffee for you. He/she is not a maid and is there to help with work-related items.

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A. Nony Mouse

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Re: Coffee and Secretary

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Mon Aug 28, 2017 5:17 pm

Thesaurus wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:Getting coffee isn't part of the assistant's job, though, in part because drinking it isn't part of mine. The assistant is there to help me do my job, not attend to my personal comfort.

And I really don't supervise my legal assistant. I'm not her boss the way that my boss is my boss. My boss is also actually her boss; her duties including doing things for me, so to that extent I tell her what to do, but I don't have any of the power over her that my boss has over her (or over me).

To be consistent, I should make clear that that wouldn't make it okay for my boss to tell me to get him coffee, but I'm also not even really my assistant's boss, so coffee-fetching is even further removed from how I should treat her.

The coffee is also there to help you do your job

Does the dynamic change at all in a one-off, all-hands-on-deck situation, where people are pulling a late night trying to meet an urgent deadline?

No, barring all the caveats already mentioned (the assistant volunteers, you have already developed a relationship with the assistant such that you know they won't mind you asking under certain circumstances). If the assistant is there it's because they're working too, and at least in my context they get paid a lot less than I do (and I don't think they get overtime); I'd be more inclined to get them coffee.

And a legal assistant isn't coffee. I do not understand your analogy here. You choose to drink coffee. You can get it yourself.



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