and that was the good news yesterday!
This new gig as a lead secretary has a bigger learning curve than I originally anticipated. I was already doing almost everything the lead does without the title. Then slap a title on me and watch me screw the pooch.
We had a meeting yesterday among the secretaries in my group. Mainly it’s a place we check in with each other, evaluate our workloads, talk about upcoming vacation and coverage needs. This time we touched on the new clerical model the Poobahs are trying out in our office. The new model trial consists of one secretary covering all our first year associates. First years are those newly graduated law students who are trying to find their place in the legal world. Do they really want to claw their way to the top in a major law firm? Perhaps they’d be better off working in the public sector? Or possibly they might decide to go into a solo practice.
Because they’re fresh from law school they are usually very self-sufficient but they still need help navigating the rapids that exist in a major law firm. In the past we’ve discussed how best to teach them what they can delegate to an assistant in order to free up their time for billable work. Such is the life of a mega-global associate. If you don’t bring in or bill the bucks you may not be around long. The new model though has the secretary showing these newbies how to handle their own administrative tasks rather than delegate them. That means they’re being taught how to copy, scan and submit their own expense reimbursements among other clerical duties usually performed by a secretary or assistant.
As you might imagine, this doesn’t sit well with experienced secretaries, some of whom view it as the beginning of the end. If new attorneys have no need of an assistant that means the firm can cut down on the number of secretaries needed, which in turn can lead to lay offs. However, as I mentioned, this is still a trial balloon. Nothing has been decided one way or another. In any case, try floating this kind of thing to veteran attorneys who are accustomed to relying on their assistant for clerical as well as more complex support services including in some cases research, drafting of pleadings, etc. Not. Going. To. Happen.
Enter one secretary in my department who, while speaking with one of her attorneys after our meeting, proceeded to explain that the new model was a done deal and soon he would have to do his own copying, scanning, etc. Or at least that’s what he took away from the conversation. And at his first free moment he called HR. Who then called me wanting to know just what we talked about in our meeting. Yay.
And, as I said in the beginning this was the good news. Last night around 8:30 I learned my best friend here in Washington had been hospitalized Saturday and was in ICU. She lives alone and I understand the hospital would call her daughter (back in the Midwest somewhere) and not us. We’re not blood after all; only sisters from different mothers. So it fell to her daughter M to text us last night to fill us in. Which begs the question, why didn’t I hear from her sooner? You’d think since she is so far away that she’d want someone local to be in the know so her mom wouldn’t be alone in the hospital. You would think. Wouldn’t you?