I recently came across a law blogger who wrote about the importance of locking one’s computer before leaving it unattended. Among his reasons for computer-locking, he noted he did not want his secretary reading his e-mail, knowing if he had been playing computer games or monitoring his progress on a brief. I found these non sequiturs troubling. They illustrate a larger problem: the near-crippling lack of communication between lawyers and their assistants.
Most secretaries have no interest in waiting for their bosses to leave their desks so they can snoop through e-mails and Web browsing histories. The baffling proposition embedded in that fear is that a secretary has no right to know the status of a brief on deadline. This would be the case only if the lawyer expects no help whatsoever from his secretary with the preparation, filing and service of said brief, which is extremely unlikely. It is reasonable for a legal assistant to expect warning that she is likely to be toiling over a table of authorities when she should be making her children’s dinner.