Receptionists at small offices- why are they so surly, rude and passive agressive

I had to pick some docs up for my parents at a small provincial firm, and as you enter reception, they always look like you ought not to be there, and you are disturbing their reading of hello magazine or country and horse.

Receptionist : " yessssss can I help you" as she promptly closes the desk draw

Me: I have an appointment to see John 

Receptionist" Is he expecting you"

Me: Yes

Receptionist" Folow meeee and take a seat and I will see if he is available

They are always the same at any type of small office. Grrr

Hoolie, don't get me started on GP receptionists the worst of the worst, they actually think they are Drs and nurses. I changed mine , from the one I had  from birth, and the new ones are refreshingly helpful, a rarity I know.

THAT IS UNBELIEVABLE! I am absolutely disgusted. 




probably because they’re paid like shit and, at some firms, treated like it, though the latter is not universal - I don’t really think law firms are worse places to work than other types of organisation on average (though maybe there’s more variation around the mean than there is with corporates).

nothing says PROVINCIAL to me like an unattended reception desk on the front of which the firm’s logo is displayed on a white cardboard placard

If I ran a provincial high street firm we would maintain the highest standards of avant grade interior design, and recruit our receptionists via the Elite model agency.

It is not always the receptionists. Quite often it is the lawyers who are the turds and the support staff who are the gems.

I had an amusing moment in a City firm a few years ago on this subject.  After my father died, my brother and I were executors of his will and we spent quite a bit of time in the offices of the law firm who acted for us on family matters. I am also on a board of trustees that this firm is the legal adviser to, so I come and go a fair bit and spend some time with the private client team. 

One day I had to deliver an executed copy of a document. I did that on my way back home from work, on my motorbike. I was in their glassy lifts with a package and my leathers, helmet in one hand and on my way up. The lift stopped at a certain floor and the corpulent Senior Partner got in and looked at me like I was covered in dog shit.  He said "Couriers deliver to the loading bay, not to our client facing areas, thank you!" in a lift quite full of junior lawyers/trainees.   I was about to say something but then decided not to speak. I undid my Gericke jacket and there was a shirt and tie underneath and i saw him twitch an eyebrow in doubt.  Then the lift opened on the Private Client floor and there was the partner I was coming to meet who said "Hello [   ]" very warmly and gave me a kiss.  And the glass lift door slid closed. Fatman disappeared looking sheepish.

I told her what he'd said and her PA was there and burst out laughing.  She then arranged a lunch later in the month and the PA suggested that the senior partner should join the meal. He seemed to have grown smaller and less assertive in the intervening few weeks.  

But they are often the same in some chambers, architechts and surveyors.

With every pound spent on such things being one that came directly out of the owners pocket I am sure that you would be enormously popular with your fellow partners as a result.

I imagine most of them are bored to death trying to find a way to fill time between acting as switchboard and dealing with the odd puffed up visitor who thinks his matter is the most important matter ever.

Laz, I dont think they are treated like shit, they seem to me told they have immense power for one reason or another, especially if you have to call reception and ask to be put through, cue a marathon interregation .

I immediately thought when looking at her, and how surly she was that she had been their for decades. She was well into her very late 60s at least.

Goodness me, the last thing I’d want is fellow partners. They’d probably want to cut back on the Conranesque haute design so as to buy another nearly-new Jag or something.

I’m not really motivated by money in the conventional sense. If I ran a law firm the reason I’d want it to be successful would be so as many people as possible could hear of this firm with my name on it, and we could have amazing offices with hawtie receptionists (of all genders) so I look like a massive high rolling player. We’d have a skyline logo atop our HQ showing the firm’s name in lights, and the firm’s name would of course be [my name] LLP.

Sadly this is all a bit remote and probably a pipe dream, therefore proved insufficiently motivating to keep me actually turning up to work as a lawyer, which I basically loathe.

ebitda seems to be almost as shit at dealing with human females as DD King. 


In NY, Proskauer Rose have their name in lights atop the skyscraper they’re based in, next to Times Square. Now, by NY standards, Proskauer are a pretty middling law firm, equivalent in status to one or two of the London ones Strutter’s been shucked out of. But they’re the ones I’d want to work for because AFAIK they're the only ones with skyline branding. Clifford Chance were offered this at Canary Wharf btw but they turned it down, they actually fucking turned it down.

you want the dude's office from the Secretary film. .

I know I do 


Because the only thing cheaper than a law firm equity partner is a provincial law firm equity partner. As a rule, they treat support staff terribly, so morale is low.

You missed a trick here.

"I have an appointment to see John."

"Is he expecting you?"

"I assume so, since I have an appointment."

not at all wibble, so you have never experienced surly rude receptionists, when you are the paying client.

Much nicer in every respect at biger firms of any description.KPMG, said when I last had a meeting" Welcome to KPMG, and who is your host" all said with a smile, no reading hello mag or country and horse there.

"They are always the same at any type of small office. "

That's the only time they feel important. Sad really. There are so many other things worth doing while in the provinces. 

Yeah, exactly.

I love James Spader. Nobody has done more to make being a sweaty perv cool - not even Robin Thicke.

“I have an appointment with John”

”Is he expecting you?”

”If you’ve done your job, he is”

Sounds like a question you’d ask the Alien just before it melted you with its acid blood

That said have you noticed at big firms of any type as soon as you arrive , you are immediatley ushered into a meeting room in seconds. Begs the question why they have such gargantuan palatial spaces, occupied  by no one

To show how much money they have, but in a deniable way ie they can always pretend it’s for necessity, not show.

Bankers and PE dudes like to show off how rich they are - it’s a sign of being good at their jobs - watch high on the wrist, always fly first class etc. Whereas lawyers for some reason don’t want to show off their success. If I were hiring a lawyer I’d want to know they were validated by the market.

To be fair, I can see arbiter’s point here.

Me: *makes statement*

Internet random: in your opinion, you mean

Me: well yes, in who else’s fucking opinion would it have been.

I know the type very well. Mid to late middle aged, coiffured hair and go all silly girly when the senior partner comes into reception ( invariably a good natured old buffer).

Laz, say that again. Law firms have the most palatial luxurious offices out there, the waste is enormous, and uneccesary .

IBanks are nice, functional but not excessive. PE firms, have nice understated comfortable functional offices. 

“nice understated”

er u wot

Law firms SHOULD have palatial offices. So if they do - good!

I absolutely judge a firm by its offices. Always

Yes but why spend all that cash on an empty space. Deloittes ones are small and functional, CC's are bloody huge, ditto EY

what a load of shite  being dribble all over this this thread

apparently having your name in neon atop the skyscraper puts insurance premia up as it increases risk of a 9/11 style attack

"Clifford Chance were offered this at Canary Wharf btw but they turned it down, they actually fucking turned it down."


erm yes.  CC moved to the Wharf in 2002. At the time the view was that there was terrorist risk for the large stickey outy buildings and all it would take would be a rib coming alongside the building packed with explosive (I think the attack on the US ship Cole in Aden demonstrated this) or a plane out of City Airport.  Tenants in a number of CW buildings were advised to remove their identifying features.  Also at the time law firms were getting a lot of grief for representing companies with connections to animal research, vivisection etc. Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty started to set fire to cars, send threatening letters to judges and spouses, children etc and CC acted for one of the banks in connection with an investment that SHAC didn't like.  So all round a good idea to scrub the Clifford Chance logo idea.

yeah whatever

don't come at me with your sensible corporate reasons, you scamp

APNHB LLP does flash. It doesn’t do risk assessment.

also heh @ defeating the terrorists with the cunning ruse of not having skyline signage. “They’ll never work out where we are!”

You have to look bloody hard to find Goldmans branding on their new offices. 

and McKinsey - their Beijing building has skyline branding (or did a few years ago) but I think that’s because the landlord said we want a skyline brand, and if you guys don’t take it one of the other tenants will - and the other tenants included a competitor.

Top thread, mates. At my first shop, I had to suggest that we not put Pat on reception when, walking past one lunch time, I heard her answer the phone not with 'good afternoon. Shotgun, Dibble and Bastard LLP. How can I direct your call?' but instead a gruff and brummie " 'allo? "