Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Open Thread: How Do You Handle Unequal Workloads between Co-Workers?

A question to The Modesto Bee's workplace coach in a column entitled, "Your Office Coach: Workload inequity isn't co-worker's fault," may remind you of situations you've experienced in the past - or may be experiencing now. You work in an extremely busy law firm or legal department and have a co-worker with the same job title (paralegal, legal secretary, administrative assistant) that makes the same salary as you but works for a different attorney. You personally like her, but you can't help noticing that she has a lot more free time during the work day than you do.

"Carly" comes in late every day and leaves right at quitting time. During work hours, she calls her family, texts her friends, shops online, surfs the Net, reads the paper and listens to ballgames on her computer. She also spends time chatting with people at her desk.

In the meantime, you're swamped, you eat lunch at your desk every day, your inbox is overflowing, and you frequently have to stay late to meet deadlines. You've tried to be professional, but you can't help feeling resentful, especially when she seems like a great gal - who has a cushy job and is oblivious to your crushing work load. You've even spoken to your office manager about the situation, without any redistribution of the load. What recourse do you have?

The workplace coach's answer accurately reflects the reality in many law firms, and you should read it in full to see her solution. Essentially, she says it's ultimately up to the powers that be, i.e. the attorneys, to fairly distribute the workload, if they are so inclined. Still, if no changes are made, where does this leave you, especially if you can't help but feel bitter (and abandoned) when "Carly" waltzes out the door every day at 5:00 p.m. (or earlier), while you're still at your desk assembling dozens of exhibits for an e-filing due in federal court that night. Can you learn to live with it?

How have you dealt - or how do you deal - with unequal distribution of work at your law firm or in your legal department, especially between co-workers of equal rank and pay? I'm hoping you'll share your thoughts and solutions here at this post (and please feel free to use the Anonymous comment option if you're more comfortable with it).

You might also be interested in checking out Dr. McIntyre's website, Your Office Coach at for more information about workplace concerns and her book, Secrets to Winning at Office Politics.

Source: The Modesto Bee


  1. I've been on both ends of the uneven workload. The lighter workload bit me in the butt when my old practice group was downsized. I was one of the first to get laid off in late 2008. Busier paralegals got to keep their jobs for about six months beyond the first wave of layoffs, and were better prepared for it than I was.

  2. A ~ You raise a very good point. Sometimes having what looks like the cushy job to your co-workers is really a bad sign that eventually the workload will no longer justify the salary. I've always worked for a super-busy litigation practice, but on the rare occasions I've been able to come up for air and have seen my co-workers buckling under deadlines, I've always offered to help. Sometimes I think the staff can play more of a role in evening out the workload than they think.


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