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This is a humorous and sarcastic blog written by a paralegal in a mid-sized law firm in a mid-tier market. The goal is to share some of the pitfalls and foibles encountered in my own day-to-day experiences. Feel free to contact me at aparalegalslife@gmail.com with comments. Complaints, not so much :)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I am NOT a Glorified Secretary

It’s bad enough when the public calls us “glorified secretaries” but when those words come from a Lawyer, it’s downright insulting.  Secretaries don’t draft discovery responses, review production documents, research caselaw or prep witnesses. 

This is not to insult or degrade Secretaries, though.  They do many things I can’t begin to fathom.  I can muddle through Word, but any competent secretary is a ninja by comparison.  I have the telephone etiquette of an 11th century Viking raider with rage issues.  Data Entry makes my brain hurt.  Secretaries are equally valuable, but have an entirely different skill set. 

Anyhow, the “paralegal is just a glorified secretary” thing really bugs the hell out of me, especially when it's still seen that way in our own industry.  It’s insulting to both professions, although for different reasons. 

6 comments:

AA to JD said...

I just wrote about this since I had someone basically tell me that's my role at the office. My bosses sometimes call me a "secretary" even though they know better. The head of HR argues with me consistently that a secretary and paralegal do the same job, which certainly isn't the case. Then, the other women here that are in different departments (I'm the only person in my office that isn't an attorney) refer to me as my boss's "girl" or "secretary" because they don't understand the work that I do. They think I just sit here and control someone's calendar. I'd like to see them wade through hours of discovery work, review contracts, meet with OC, go to depositions, draft pleadings, etc. etc. Ugh!

Momalegal said...

I think those comments are made by attorneys who have never really practiced, or who haven't had the experience of actually working with a paralegal. They're entirely clueless about what a paralegal can, and should, do.

Also, it makes me wonder if the reason so many attorneys are douchebags is because so many of them were jackholes before law school.

Slave to ungrateful lawyers said...

Here in Canada, we are referred to as secretaries by those in the profession but it's understood that we are more than that. Our lawyers know their practices would not run without us. We do all the things you mentioned plus the secretarial work too. Hence the cartoon on my profile lol

Caryn said...

I am very fortunate that I work with attorneys that know the role of and very much value their paralegals. It might be because I am in insurance defense, and the insurance client know very well the cost-saving value of paralegals and insist on their use. I was a secretary for a year in between two paralegal jobs. It was hell. God bless them, I can't do their job.

Corporate Paralegal said...

I was told recently that I am considered the same as secretaries and other support staff because I don't "exercise independent judgment." Yep. I don't think. This was a decision handed down from some junior associate attorney in some big law firm 1000s of miles from my office and was based simply on my title.

Anonymous said...

Question to all of you: I am considering doing the paralegal studies cert. at an accredited school. I was a high school english teacher, got cancer, now trying for something less "stressful" for more pay.

My question is, do you think I should go for it? Or if you could go back, what would you do instead?

email me at peggiepeggie@sbcglobal.net

I really need insight from people who know! I don't want to make the sam mistake twice (getting into teaching was a HUGE mistake..BIG TIME). As a cancer survivor, I need something that I can do, go home and not worry about. Why does this call ay me? I don't know. Maybe bcs I got in to law school, but went to teacher school insyead...help...