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Ask Sue
A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem

Boss Won't Hire More Help

Dear Sue: I am a legal assistant and sole employee of the attorney I work for. When he and his wife purchased the office building we are in, they merged their offices and I was told I would be doing work for his wifeís business in addition to the work I was already doing.

I told the attorney that I thought it was too much for me, and Iíve tried to convince them to hire another employee, but they will not. I honestly feel I am doing the work of three people; I answer the phones, do the bookkeeping, schedule appointments and greet clients for both businesses, in addition to all of the legal assistant research and preparation work I do.

I am paid well by the attorney, but have never received any money from his wife. Both businesses are very busy, and I can't keep this up any more. Iíve told this to the attorney, but he insists I will be fine.

Iíve spent over nine years working with this attorney, and I feel I am being taken advantage of. I don't know what I should say or do. Please help.

- Angie

Sue Says: You need to sit down with the attorney and his wife and tell them exactly what you have told me. Although youíve told the attorney you canít keep up and you tried to convince him to hire additional help, youíve continued to prove yourself wrong. Youíve pushed yourself to do the work of three people, and been able to manage the needs of two businesses very nicely. No wonder the attorney insists youíll be fine; from his perspective you are--both he and his wife are getting their needs met.

You should feel good about your ability to manage such a heavy workload, and need not apologize for choosing not to continue at this pace. Your comments and suggestions will have little impact unless you stop doing the work of three people and clearly state new boundaries. You need to define exactly what you are willing and not willing to do, and for what amount of money. They may try to push you to do more for less, but this time, donít back down. While Iím not suggesting you be unwilling to compromise, be careful not to shortchange yourself.

You already have taken on more than you can handle. If you want to offer to help hire someone it is up to you, but it isnít a job you must take on. You donít need anything else added to your already overloaded workload. Relinquish that task into the hands of the attorney and his wife, where it belongs.

Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She is author of the newly released 101 Tips for Graduates and How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at or visit her web site at

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