Our law firm holiday card contest is still underway, but we’re in the home stretch. Voting closes tomorrow, January 9, at 11:59 p.m. (Eastern time). If you haven’t done so already, review the finalists and vote over here.

In the our earlier post, we promised a post in which we’d (1) give shout-outs to some holiday cards that were strong but narrowly missed our cut and (2) poke fun at some of the Christmas cards we found especially disappointing. Here is the promised post.

Let’s look at some of these honorable and dishonorable mentions. Perhaps your law firm’s card is among them?

Before we mention the honorable and dishonorable mentions, here are some trends we noticed. (In the discussion below, just click on each law firm’s name to see its 2010 holiday card.)

1. The larger the firm, the lamer the card. Note how most of the finalists are firms on the smaller side (genuine small firms or modest-sized Biglaw firms). Some of the weak cards highlighted below come from some of the biggest Biglaw shops.

Perhaps large firms, with thousands of clients and employees, take a “do no harm” approach: they use flavorless holiday cards in order to avoid offending anyone. That’s fine, and it serves their purposes as gigantic national or international law firms, but it doesn’t help them for contests like ours — or make them stand out in the minds of clients.

2. Charitable gifts are in. We noticed many law firm holiday cards were issued in connection with some charitable giving or activity by the firm, or mentioned some charitable work performed during the year just ended. E.g., Bilzin Sumberg, Leason Ellis, Loeb & Loeb, Much Shelist, Torys, Tressler, Vinson & Elkins, Winstead. (Feel free to mention other such holiday cards in the comments, with links if possible.)

This is a nice trend, and we certainly encourage it. Even if some firms might be making these donations to charity or undertaking volunteer work in part for public-relations reasons, they are still helping worthwhile organizations at the end of the day. So “it’s a good thing,” as Martha Stewart might say.

3. A sense of visual play is in. It seems that law firm holiday cards are increasing in sophistication (which may be good news for companies that design these e-cards), and many cards nowadays have neat visual effects or cool graphics and animation. E.g., Knobbe Martens, Loeb & Loeb, Winstead.

Now, on to the honorable and dishonorable mentions. Click on each firm’s name to see their 2010 holiday card.

Honorable Mentions

Fenwick & West: Said the tipster who nominated it, “The graphics are beautiful, smooth and sophisticated. The visuals clearly say “happy holidays’ — all of them.” Law firm marketing expert Ross Fishman calls it “beautifully executed.”

Gordon & Rees: We mentioned this card in our original holiday card post. Said a tipster:

Neat, cool, funny, and snazzy are all worthwhile challenges for shaking up the traditionally unadventurous law firm e-card world. You gotta give this firm credit for a clever concept that is short, to the point, and draws you in (and literally shakes!) without going over the top. It’s not one of those high-tech cards that are impressive but say “we just spent lots of $$$ on a fancy card that any firm could have put its name on.” This one has a humble homemade feel to it.

(To similar effect: Jackson Walker. See Ross Fishman’s review of that card over here.)

Hanson Bridgett: This card has the aforementioned sense of visual play. One person who nominated it had this praise: “Definitely different and definitely stands out and definitely says we’re a family (although I think I now have ADD or petit mal seizures).”

Haynes & Boone: It might not be as clever as their card from last year, but it also has a nice visual sense. Ross Fishman called it the “crowd favorite” among his readership.

Mandel Bhandari: This three-lawyer litigation boutique in New York had a clever card that law-and-economics geeks might enjoy, entitled “The Deadweight Loss of Christmas and the Deadweight Law of Gift Cards.” Explains founding partner Rishi Bhandari:

It’s not a conventional holiday card but it conveys seasons greetings in a warm and fun way and also contains some very helpful economic and legal advice for the holidays. Definitely pass it on to your aunts, uncles, cousins, and colleagues if you don’t want to get another Christmas sweater.

A card that will help you avoid more gifts of socks? Now that’s a Christmas card that’s useful.

(I actually happened to need socks this Christmastime — so I’m grateful to my cousin Diana for the gift.)

Sedgwick: This card, like so many other law firm holiday cards, would have been better if it were shorter. But the gimmick makes up for it, in the words of the nominator: “Don’t worry, if you get frustrated at the length and repetitive parts of this card, at the very end you are actually able to ‘grab” the snowglobe and shake out your frustration!”

Williams Kastner: A very cute card, built around the notion of iPhone / smartphone apps, that highlights the firm’s work in different areas.

Dishonorable Mentions

Nothing personal against these firms — many of them are mega-firms, so we understand that they can’t afford to tick off their thousands of blue-chip clients. But still, perhaps they can look ahead to next year and think about whether there might be an approach they can take that would be a little more fun and yet not upsetting anyone.

O’Melveny & Myers: Said a source, “Is that all there is to this card from an AmLaw100 firm? Wow, times really are tough! (And it seems that the money they saved on not doing printed cards and using an elementary e-card didn’t even go to a charity [since none is mentioned].)”

Latham & Watkins: Do they use the same design firm as O’Melveny? The LW card is very similar to OMM’s.

Orrick: A surprisingly bland card coming from a firm that’s often an innovator. It’s pretty, but pretty blah.

Krishna & Saurastri: If you’re a critic of outsourcing, arguing that legal work done in India won’t be up to the standards of U.S. law firms and won’t reflect proper attention to detail, then you will like this story. Here is the Krishna & Saurastri card as it was emailed to their North American contacts:

Says our tipster: “Yes, this firm managed to misspell their own firm name — missing the ‘r’ in Krishna. (At least the online version has been fixed.)”

(And there might be another spelling error too — did you catch it?)

We hope you’ve enjoyed our overview of law firm holiday cards. And while there’s still time, don’t forget to cast your vote for the best holiday card of 2010. Thanks!

Best Law Firm Holiday Cards so far – Haynes/Boone, Sterne Kessler, Fenwick, Fish/Richardson, Manatt [Ross Fishman's Law Marketing Blog]

Earlier: ATL Holiday Card Contest: The Finalists!
Above the Law’s Second Annual Holiday Card Contest


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