Office Staff

Christina Gagnier

Upon some initial success as a law firm, a key question that is faced is what is the appropriate trajectory for growth. This is simply the fancy way of saying, “Do we have enough money for new things?”

New things may include real office space, an administrative assistant, or your first associate. If it is really your first “expansion” conversation, it could include items like finally getting your RingCentral account for faxing or upgrading to a paid Dropbox account. Regardless of what stage you are at in terms of your growth, it is important to pause and make sure the particular amount of growth is right for you…

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‘Get on your knees and beg for that file!’

Has anyone seen that movie Secretary? It’s about a law firm love affair — woman gets released from mental hospital, gets a job as a legal secretary, and enters into a BDSM relationship with her boss. Pretty standard, really, because you’d have to have some sadomasochistic tendencies to willingly subject yourself to a partner’s whims on a daily basis.

As some of you know (admit it, you do), when these illicit law firm relationships occur, they’re usually only discussed in secret behind closed doors. But when one of the those allegedly involved is an unwilling participant, it’s just a hop, skip, and a jump away from allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace, and your darkest sexual proclivities will be revealed for all the world to see.

Despite the fact that many women wish they had a Christian Grey to dominate them, it’s a little less sexy when the man who’s allegedly at the center of this would-be torrid affair is just shy of his full retirement age. But hey, even old farts are allowed to dream.

Let’s find out who the players are in this failed office romance. Be sure to remember your safe word….

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I know that having people answer your phone or type documents for you is part of the past and a sure path to extinction, but for those that actually employ people and are looking for ways to better that relationship, read on.

Like many lawyers, I’ve been through receptionists and secretaries. Some left for school, or other jobs, and some left because they had a different concept of the truth, or the meaning of “9:00 a.m.”

I have three rules for office staff: never lie to me, never try to fix a problem without telling me about it, and be on time. When I hire a receptionist, I put a telephone on the conference table and say that “this is the most important thing in this office.”

The relationship between lawyers and staff has a built-in tension — they help you make money, but are usually paid a very small percentage of what you make. They know that. Yes, they aren’t as educated, they’re not licensed, and they shouldn’t expect to make what you make, but the premise remains. Your secretary or receptionist opens the mail and sees the checks, takes the credit card information, gives out the wire transfer information and gets the confirmations, and knows what kind of money is coming in. They are helping you run your practice so you can make money, and they need to be treated that way….

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