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"If You Become His Second Wife, You Are a Fool": Shifting Paradigms of the Roles, Perceptions, and Working Conditions of Legal Secretaries in Large Law Firms
Studies in Law, Politics and Society (2010)
  • Felice J Batlan, Chicago-Kent College of Law
Abstract
The academic literature that addresses the creation and transformation of large law firms seldom mentions the presence of legal secretaries. The absence of legal secretaries, the vast majority of whom are women, reproduces law firm hierarchies in which attorneys are important in understanding the legal profession and law firm dynamics while secretaries remain invisible. Given the lack of secondary literature on legal secretaries, much of this chapter is based upon legal secretaries' responses to a nationwide survey, which I conducted in Spring 2009. Using such data, along with other primary sources, the chapter examines how legal secretaries' roles and work have changed during the past 50 years, how legal secretaries view themselves and their roles in law large law firms, and the material conditions under which legal secretaries work. Moreover, the most significant scholarship on secretaries has depicted the secretary/boss relationship as one of personal and domestic nature – what we might call the “second-wife syndrome.” The chapter explores whether such a description remains accurate and the complicated gender dynamics that exist between legal secretaries and attorneys.

"If You Become His Second Wife, You Are a Fool": Shifting Paradigms of the Roles, Perceptions, and Working Conditions of Legal Secretaries in Large Law Firms, 52 Studies in Law, Politics and Society 169 (2010).
Publication Date
2010
Citation Information
"If You Become His Second Wife, You Are a Fool": Shifting Paradigms of the Roles, Perceptions, and Working Conditions of Legal Secretaries in Large Law Firms, 52 Studies in Law, Politics and Society 169 (2010).