I passed a major mile-stone today. Less than two weeks on the job, and I just asked my secretary to type a letter for me. It's not that I can't type it, it's certainly not that I don't have time to type it, it is just that she has written these letters before, and can do it quickly.
The senior solicitors in my firm dictate almost all of their letters for the support staff to type. The secretary in my office is constantly bogged down by dictations from our other office. But the fact is, I just don't seem to need a secretary to type my letters!
I grew up with computers. I learned to type when I was six, and learned to touch-type while I was in uni. I can type at speaking-pace, if the lecturer isn't rushing. (I had one lecturer who..... spoke so...... slowly.... that I could type every word he said, and still hold a note-pad conversation with my neighbour...) So to my, typing my own letters takes the same amount of time as dictating them. Then, considering that the secretaries already have plenty of work... it isn't really a time saving device, even if I AM a bit slower.
Compare that to the senior lawyers, who might have learned to type on a type-writer (chikka chak) or not at all. Watching them type is almost painful, seeing them hunting for the 'k' key with one finger poised, ready to hen-peck. I recently showed one of my colleagues how to use his thumb on the space-bar. For people like this, it is a GREAT time-saver, and since their time is worth so much more (in a strict monetary sense..) than the secretaries, it makes a lot of sense.
Added to that, when typing a complex letter, I often go back and revise sentences, paragraphs, and often re-write the entire thing. I just can't do that on a dictaphone.
I wonder what my opinion will be in six months, when I am capable of thinking through the contents of an entire letter in one go. Will I get sucked into the efficacy and convenience of having a secretary? We may never know!