Perhaps it’s a sign of the times. We received a whopping four (4) entries in our inaugural law firm swag contest. Is law firm swag, like subsidized soda or staff attorney programs, another casualty of the recession?
But if we cancel the contest, then the terrorists win. So, onward!
We realize, of course, that not everyone approves of swag. See, e.g., this comment:
This is fairly disgusting…. I find this article particularly untimely, given that most law students are struggling to find good jobs, and many practicing attorneys are struggling just to keep the jobs they have.
Jeez, commenter 58 — lighten up! Considering that we cover law firm layoffs in excruciating detail, to the point where many accuse us of doomsaying and fearmongering, we are aware of the tough job market. But, even in the Great Recession, some people are still getting offers — along with a little swag to sweeten the pot. So what’s wrong with some fun to balance out the gloom?
In defense of law firm schwag, here’s a trend worth noting: “going green.” Firms are trying to be environmentally conscious in their swag selections, as well as more socially responsible in general. This may make schwag less “disgusting” to its critics.
A second theme of swag this year: customization. In this age of individualism and/or narcissism, firms are letting swag recipients have a say in what gets given away. Just as firms are moving away from lockstep in terms of pay and promotion, so too are they allowing for greater tailoring in terms of swag.
Check out the finalists, and vote for the best law firm swag, after the jump.
Although a number of items were mentioned in the comments to our earlier post, we made very clear in the rules that entries had to be submitted BY EMAIL, with pictures attached. In general, email is our preferred method of communication, because we can ask follow-up questions, verify identity (where necessary), etc. We can’t do that with anonymous comments.
Here are the four finalists (in alphabetical order by firm). Pictures of each item appear in the slideshow at the end of this post.
1. ENGRAVED iPODS
Firm: Dobrowski LLP, which our tipster describes as “a small firm that does complex commercial litigation (a.k.a. ‘big-firm’ work),” in Houston.
The Swag: Summer associates at the firm got iPods — need we say more? “Pretty sweet,” says our source. The custom engraving reflects the trend of individualization.
Pictures: See slides #1 and #2 below.
2. CHANGE YOUR WORLD
Firm: K&L Gates
The Swag: To paraphrase The Matrix, “There is no
spoon swag.” Explains our correspondent:
K&L Gates has been swagless for the past two years. Rather than spend money on chocolates and other marketing devices that realistically don’t sway a law student one way or the other, the firm directed last year’s and this year’s swag funds to be paid to charities in need. While it is certainly not as sexy or as fun as a bonsai tree, the firm believes that its donations are an excellent alternative use of funds that would normally go swag.
The firm confirmed our tipster’s account, through a spokesperson:
We would be interested in sharing some details of a unique recruiting program at K&L Gates entitled Change Your World, which is now in its second year. In short, the firm has decided to donate $20,000 to charity — money that was previously allocated for recruiting materials. Furthermore, rather than distributing abundant printed material and promotional items to law students, we are instead using an innovative micro Web site, Change Your World, to deliver information about the firm. The site contains an online trivia game where students can compete with each other to determine which charity will receive the $20,000 donation.
It’s a snazzy website; we like the design of the 15 monitors devoted to different topics (run your cursor over each). You can play the trivia game even if you’re not a law student or K&L Gates recruit. Check out the website here.
Not generating box loads of recruiting materials is environmentally friendly. Donating the money to charity is socially conscious. And having students decide which charity gets the money is a nice example of a user-generated experience — very Web 2.0.
Pictures: See slide #3 below.
3. CUSTOMIZED NIKE RUNNING SHOES
Firm: Mayer Brown (New York)
The Swag: The firm took the summer associates to the midtown Niketown for an event, where they enjoyed appetizers, an open bar, and the chance to design their own shoes. “It was a cool event,” reports our source. “There wasn’t a limit on what shoes you could get.”
Pictures: “I’d give you a picture of my shoes, but they have my name on the side,” our tipster tells us. “You could do name or initials, depending on the shoe model you picked. Also, everybody would recognize them since it was well-established that my shoes were the best. Imagine the shoes in the picture below [slide #4], but way better-looking.”
4. A TREE, PLANTED IN YOUR HONOR
Firm: Perkins Coie
The Swag: If you got a callback, the firm arranged to have a tree planted in your name. Says our tipster:
They really upped the ante when it comes to planting the seed of disappointment. In the future, when I visit that majestic national park with my wife and children, I can show them the enduring symbol of a summer job I was never offered.
Still, it’s a nice gesture, and yet another example of the “going green” trend.
Picture: We didn’t know what kind of tree, but since Perkins Coie has a strong Pacific Northwest presence, we went with a redwood. See slide #5.
(Correction: According to this commenter, it shouldn’t be a redwood. Sorry about that!)
Okay, you’ve seen the contestants. Time to vote! Polls close tomorrow, Thursday, October 15, at 11:59 PM (Eastern time).