It’s the most wonderful time of the year… for a legal secretary / administrative assistant. Law firm partners are getting their end-of-year distributions, associates are getting their bonuses, and some of this bounty will be shared with their secretaries, in the form of Christmas — er, holiday — gifts.
What should you get your secretary as a holiday present? It’s a familiar question that comes up every year. Here’s an open thread where you can discuss and compare notes with your peers. We’ve also included a reader poll at the end of the post.
Let’s start the conversation with some preliminary observations….
Think back, if you can, to August 30, 2006. It was a very different time: George W. Bush was still president, the economy was still booming (even if some of that prosperity was illusory), and the starting salary for most associates in large New York law firms stood at $145,000.
Today we are delighted to be celebrating ATL’s fourth birthday (or “blogiversary,” as some in the blogosphere like to say; but the word “blogiversary” is even uglier than the word “blogosphere”). We’d like to thank all of you — our readers, our tipsters, our sponsors, and our friends — for your support over the years.
To celebrate and to thank you, we’ve decided to extend the special Gilt Groupe menswear sale for Above the Law readers (previously mentioned here). It was supposed to have ended yesterday, but due to popular demand — hundreds of items have been purchased, such as this Thomas Pink necktie that Lat bought, and many selections are sold out — we’re extending the sale through Thursday, September 2, at midnight. To browse the store, click here.
Once again, dear readers, thank you. This site would not be possible without your visits, your tips, and your generous patronage and support.
P.S. Several of our women readers have asked us when ATL will have a women’s wear sale. Fear not; we’re working on special deals for the ladies as well. Keep an eye out for them in the future.
Looking to spruce up your wardrobe for fall recruiting season? Whether you’re a law student interviewing for jobs, a partner in pursuit of a top recruit, or unemployed and waiting for the Rapture, it’s important to look your best.
Working together with Gilt Groupe, which hosts invitation-only sales of luxury brands at prices up to 70% off retail, we’ve put together a special sale just for Above the Law readers. Here’s your chance to snap up sharp and sophisticated clothing, footwear and accessories, from some of the most trusted names in menswear. See, e.g., Thomas Pink; Cole Haan; A. Testoni; Calvin Klein.
Your Above the Law editors are excited about the deals. Lat’s been on a juice fast and needs skinny slacks. Elie… does not, but his wife likes it when Elie rocks the Elie (Tahari — whose shirts will be on sale).
Check out the wares here. The sale starts today at noon and is for a limited time only — so act now, or your purchase may be time-barred. Happy shopping!
Earlier today, on the Senate floor, debate took place on whether to confirm Solicitor General Elena Kagan as the nation’s 112th Supreme Court justice. The Kagan nomination is not very controversial, due to the nominee’s impeccable credentials and the Democrats’ 59 votes in the Senate.
In the legal blogosphere, a far more divisive debate is raging, over a subject just as important as confirming the fourth woman ever to the Supreme Court: Are peep-toe shoes appropriate professional footwear? Can female attorneys wear them to the office? What about to court?
The debate was ignited over at The Careerist, by Vivia Chen (no style slouch herself — not many legal journalists own floor-length mink coats). Chen recounted this anecdote:
Waiting in line in the ladies room at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel recently, I heard this discussion: “In my day, I always wore pumps to court,” said in a woman in her fifties. “Can you believe this associate went to court with open-toe shoes?” Her companion shook her head, then asked: “How did she do?” The first woman replied, “Her work was good, but her shoes weren’t right.”
Chen then surveyed a number of lawyers, from around the country, and they could not reach a consensus on the appropriateness of peep-toe shoes. The debate continued over at the ABA Journal, where a post by Debra Cassens Weiss generated a flurry of comments.
Given that so many law firms are business casual nowadays, it is probably safe to wear peep-toe shoes to the office. The fashion guidelines issued by the New York office of Weil Gotshal, for example, officially bless “open toe or open heel shoes.” (Still unacceptable: “Athletic shoes, clogs, beach shoes, flip flops, beach shoes.”)
But what about wearing peep-toe shoes to court? On this subject, we decided to turn to the experts: namely, a panel of fabulous female federal judges….
Administrative Professionals Week is upon us — ignore it at your peril. While senior partners might be able to pass the week off with a slap on the bum for a job well done, the associates among you would be wise to throw some cash at those who make your office run.
The official day on which you need to make a financial display of appreciation is Wednesday, but people are supposed to be nice to their secretaries for the entire year week.
Given the recession and general market uncertainty, some lawyers might be tempted to cheap out on administrative professional recognition. But surely even the most hardened associate understands that the recession has been much tougher on administrative personnel than it has been on practicing attorneys. Right?
As we previously reported, a sizable portion of the art collection of defunct law firm Heller Ehrman was sold at auction yesterday. The auction took place at Bonhams in San Francisco, before a standing-room-only crowd.
We submitted absentee bids on the following:
lot 1, Pale Orange Begonia (we bid $500; it sold for $1,159);
lot 2, Glass of Water (we bid $500; it sold for $671);
lot 99, Lover of Time (we bid $800; it sold for $1,830);
lot 210, Bonsai and Bicycle (we bid $1,000; it sold for $4,575); and
lot 290, Return of the Rice Cooker (we bid $2,000; it sold for $5,185).
All of the items we bid on went for well above their high estimates — bad news for us, but good news for Heller creditors. How much dinero did the auction generate in total?
I moved offices in the middle of this year, and as a consequence I lost my lovely and very helpful administrative assistant to a Partner who was staying where she was. Since August, I have had a new, and also quite helpful, administrative assistant. I am very demanding of my assistant’s time. I am not an inconsiderate jerk, but I am very busy and thus need to delegate small tasks like copies, scheduling rooms, making binders and creating indices quite often. Both have been quite helpful in the past year.
Should I be splitting my customary holiday gift between the two of them? Right now I am thinking 60% for my original assistant and 40% for my new assistant. What are your thoughts? And how much should I pay out? $200? $150?
– King Solomon Emeritus
Dear King Solomon Emeritus,
The holidays are a time for family, friends and quiet self-reflection. And if you’re a secretary, they’re also a time for judging and bragging. Within hours of receiving your gift, the entire secretarial staff is aware that you purchased a $96 Omaha Steaks gift card for your admin, and has swiftly judged you for the 20% decrease in desirability and price from last year’s $120 Dead Sea mud wrap gift certificate.
This system obviously rules out splitting your $200 gift 60/40 between your old and new secretaries, respectively, unless you feel like booking your own conference rooms in the future. And even if you didn’t have your 2 secretaries/1 wallet problem, cash only is never a good idea anyway because the thing with money is that people can sometimes figure out how much you spent.
On Wednesday’s open thread, several commenters stated that they were giving their secretaries some cash amount and a “small gift.” Your d*ck in a box won’t cut it, but after the jump there is a list of presents that will.
It’s that time of the year again, says one ATL reader:
now would be a good time for the old “how much are you giving your secretaries for the holidays?” story
It’s customary for associates at large law firms to give a cash gift to their administrative assistants, often along with a card or small gift. Not everyone opts for cold, hard cash — some do AmEx or Visa gift cards.
This year has been a tough one. Some associates have had their salaries frozen and have gotten “baby bonuses” in comparison with years past. Are you planning to let the economic pain trickle down?
Some discussion and advice from last year, after the jump.
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In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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