Romance in the Law Office

We’ve all heard tales of office Christmas parties that ran amuck. Coworkers get caught making out in the copy room or a storage closet. Reports of after-hours office frolicking run like wildfire through the halls and floors of businesses. These shenanigans occur in all types of companies.Office romance isn’t only the tipsy pawing of revelers. Coworkers date. They even marry.Does office romance negatively affect office atmosphere and the service provided? I’d like to share a work story, and you can tell me if you think office romance is detrimental.One time, at band camp…no, not really, but it definitely left me feeling LIKE I was at bamp camp…For a time, I worked for a satellite office of a large law firm. I was the legal secretary for a husband and wife team. Being assigned to two attorneys married to each other was…interesting, to say the least. The entire staff could tell in the first two minutes on Monday mornings how their weekends went. If it had been a bad weekend, I was offered condolences.The thermostat which controlled both of their offices was located in husband-attorney’s office. My desk was conveniently across from their doors. One particular “bad weekend” Monday morning, Mrs. Attorney came out to my station and said, “Would you tell HIM to turn up the heat, I’m cold,” and returned immediately to her office, shutting the door firmly behind her.I stopped typing, fully aware that our close proximity created the strong likelihood that Mr. Attorney had already heard what she said. I was also aware that the secretary behind me had stopped typing as well. The day’s antics had begun.I stood up, smoothed my blouse, and ventured into Mr. Attorney’s office. He was typing and didn’t immediately acknowledge my presence. Finally, he said, “…yes?” I dutifully delivered the message. Silence reigned. Well, silence reigned in those four walls. I heard shuffling and whispers as staff began clustering near my station.Mr. Attorney swiveled his chair to face me, peering at me over his glasses. “Do tell, if you will, my lovely wife that if she had dressed appropriately for the weather, she wouldn’t now be complaining that she is cold.”Silence reigned everywhere.I walked out of his office. Exchanging glances with my coworkers who were poised to scatter but too curious to immediately beat a retreat, I veered right and knocked on Mrs. Attorney’s door. I gained entrance, and dutifully delivered the quoted reply. Silence reigned again. Coworker shuffling had ceased at that point. All ears were at attention.Mrs. Attorney said, in a voice an octave higher, “Will you please inform him that my state of dress is none of his business and that if he ignores a reasonable request it will not bode well this evening.”I returned to Mr. Attorney’s doorway, repeating Mrs. Attorney’s words. His response was, “All reasonable requests are considered. It is the unreasonable requests that are denied, in toto.”I updated Mrs. Attorney and announced that I was going back to my desk, to work (while wondering if emphasis on “work” filtered through).My fingers typed senseless words on the screen as the thermostat dance began. She walked in his office, flipped the control and went back into her office. The sound of the heat kicking in muted the return of coworker shuffling. They backed away but remained a rapt audience.His chair squeaked as he got up, turned the heat off, and sat down with more squeaking.Heels clicked (which was pretty amazing since the floors were carpeted) as she made another control-flipping appearance.I chose to take my morning break earlier than usual that morning.Yes, I believe office romance definitely affects office atmosphere. Based on my personal observation, it affects client service as well.

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