How Hard Does It Suck Being a Legal Secretary Now?
How does that old saying go? “Those who can’t do, teach.”
Add to that, “Those who can’t make it as lawyers become politicians.”
As of March 24th, 2020, Ohio is under a “stay in place” order except for those businesses and individuals who have been deemed “essential”.
Guess who’s been deemed essential? That’s right — me, a legal secretary.
I’ve been talking to my sister legal secretaries and honestly, we’re flattered. No one before this has ever bothered to acknowledge that we’re the ones actually doing all the work that keeps the nation’s legal system going.
So, even though I’m 52 years old and care for my 90-year-old mother, I’m going to work.
Because legal secretaries don’t get benefits. In my 30 years of doing this, I have never had a pension, employer-sponsored health insurance or paid time off. I don’t even get sick days.
Nada. Niente. Zip.
This despite the fact that, like physician assistants, we do everything a lawyer does short of actually appearing in the courtroom.
Legal services have been deemed “essential” because most politicians are failed business people and attorneys. Ipso facto, when their lawyer buddies in the Ohio State Bar Association lobbied the Ohio legislature to let them stay open during the end of the world, they said, “Sure, why not?”
Lawyering is hard. You have to be at least somewhat intelligent, driven, and savvy about marketing. When it turns out you’re none of those things, but you just wasted seven years of your life and a few hundred thousand dollars getting your law degree, what do you do?
You run for public office.
As a politician, you don’t have to have any particular training or skills, the paychecks arrive on a regular schedule and no one expects you to show up at the office at any particular time because you’re still the boss of you. But without all of that boring research and brief writing and, you know, working.
And even during a global pandemic, if you leave the door of your business open, people will come.
Because people are by nature narcissistic. Yes, they may be involved in a divorce that is going to drag on for the next two years and nothing is scheduled to happen in court for the next three months, but they have a screenshot of a text from their soon-to-be ex that they printed on their laserjet at home and no, they don’t know how to email it but it’s REALLY, REALLY IMPORTANT so they’re going to drop it off at my office and make sure they hand it DIRECTLY TO ME since we’re open and it’s business as usual and the coronavirus can’t be that big of a deal because my lawyer’s office is open, right?
To make Armageddon even more enjoyable, the attorneys where I work are actively annoyed that we secretaries are juggling our hours so that we can still show up and get the job done, but minimize our exposure to, you know, death.
I’m working remotely for a few hours a day, so I get treated to emails from my boss that are typed IN ALL CAPS WITH RANDOM WORDS BOLDED AND UNDERLINED WITH NO PARAGRAPH BREAKS.
There’s also the standard garden-variety sexual harassment that we’re subjected to by our bosses every day. My own personal experiences are so commonplace that when we talk about them, we just laugh and shrug. “What can you do?”
Look, I’m happy to have a job and to know that my paychecks will keep coming, at least for the foreseeable future (which is about two weeks). But it’s time to treat those of us who are essential to the economy (secretaries, assistants, food workers, delivery drivers) as if we were essential all of the time.
Because we are.