© 2016 Grover E. Cleveland, reproduced with permission from Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks: The Essential Guide to Thriving as a New Lawyer (2 Ed., 2016); swimminglessonsforbabysharks.com; with thanks for Milana Hogan and Katherine Larkin-Wong for their invaluable insights.
Q: I am new at the firm, and I have a legal assistant who has already saved me several times. She is invaluable, and I wanted to show my appreciation, so I invited her to lunch. At first, she eagerly accepted, but as the date was approaching she declined, saying she thought it was better if she did not go to lunch. How can I show my appreciation without having things get awkward?
A: Yes. I realize the reference to “the date,” was not intended as a pun, but that may be part of the issue. Your legal assistant may be concerned about office gossip. Or she may not be certain about your intentions. There are also other dynamics in play. At law firms, lawyers usually have far more power than legal assistants. Your assistant might not want her peers to think she is trying to curry favor with an attorney.