Advice column: a new PA doesn't like me, but does things for everyone else

Dear Ash,

Our manager has recently appointed a new PA after his longserving and much loved PA retired. However, the new PA seems to have taken an instant dislike to me, and despite being sweetness and light towards my boss and other male colleagues, she seems to go out of her way to make my life difficult. For example, I recently asked her very politely to set up a really important client meeting, but she went on leave for a couple of days and never bothered to issue the invitation; my manager felt it was my fault as the PA is new and still learning. However, I’m sure it was done deliberately as it’s not the first time that she has decided not to assist me.

I recently asked her to help me with my travel expenses. She claimed she was too busy, but just minutes later spent half an hour assisting another colleague with their expenses! Also when I’ve asked for time with my manager, she claimed he was too busy but then went out of her way to find a slot for a colleague. I’m feeling increasingly isolated as the others in the department don’t get similar treatment to me and they believe she is perfect!

Ash replies:

I do sympathise, because a good PA can be key in supporting a person to do well and progress, but equally a disruptive PA can cause a person to look incompetent.

It seems evident that you are not currently going to get any effective support from the PA, and she seems to be good at being overtly helpful to others, therefore you will probably be seen as being the difficult one if you do raise issues at this stage.

I suggest therefore that you try to work independently for now and try, where possible, to do things yourself. Most offices are increasingly now looking for staff to work independently of administrative support in any case. By working effectively but independently of the PA you should then be in a position, at a later stage, not only to demonstrate your abilities, but more importantly to then highlight how you have managed this despite the attitude of the PA.

It will just be a matter of time before her true colours will be evident to others too, therefore remain patient for now and let things take their course. 

Send your queries to Ash

“Ash” is a solicitor who is willing to answer work-related queries from solicitors and other legal professionals, which can be put to her via the editor:, or mail to Suite 6b, 1 Carmichael Place, Edinburgh EH6 5PH. Confidence will be respected and any advice published will be anonymised.

Please note that letters to Ash are not received at the Law Society of Scotland. The Society offers a support service for trainees through its Education, Training & Qualifications team. For one-to-one advice contact Katie Wood, head of admissions on 0131 476 8162, or by email:

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