Feeling Out of Place

by admin 12. November 2014 14:37

Dear Jane,

I just started working at a big law firm after having been in the firm’s summer program.  Within my first three months at the firm, I have been mistaken for a secretary twice.


          Feeling Like I’m in the Wrong Place


Dear Feeling Like I’m in the Wrong Place,

         I truly do not mean to indicate that the presumption made about your status is acceptable, but let’s focus on what you can do, as that is the only part of the scenario which you control.  What was your response?  You have the ability to make sure that the person making the presumption will not do so again.  My suggestion is that you immediately introduce yourself with a firm handshake and say “Hello, I’m [fill in your first and last name] and I’m a new associate in the [fill in the blank] practice area.”  I guarantee that your direct and appropriate response will make you positively memorable.  The person making the mistake will be grateful for the correction and for you not making an embarrassing moment even more so.


Jane DiRenzo Pigott is the managing director of R3 Group LLC, specializing in working with professional service organizations on leadership and change in connection with diversity and inclusion. Before founding R3 Group, she practiced law for more than two decades at large law firms where she chaired a practice group, served on the executive management and compensation committees, and founded and ran diversity initiatives and affinity groups.


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