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Biglaw, Holland & Knight, Perks / Fringe Benefits, Technology

Holland & Knight Has Common Courtesy to Give Associates Reach-Arounds iPads

What in the hell is this used for?

When does the gift of a hot gadget feel like an insult? Apparently when you are an associate at Holland & Knight. This bonus season, the firm gave all of its associates free iPads. And…

Well, associates are still waiting to see if there will be anything other than iPads as a bonus present from the firm.

Can somebody explain to me how the iPad turned into a giant pacifier for white-collar employees? Has any kind of consumer protection agency checked to make sure “placation” is an approved use for the product? I mean, I don’t have an iPad, so maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about. But you can’t have sex with it, right? It doesn’t like cure AIDS or grow into a beanstalk or anything?

Maybe the iPad is the most wonderful gadget since the brassiere (the O.G. of gadgets), but at least some of the associates at Holland & Knight were hoping for something a little bit more. And the staff at Holland & Knight, well, I suppose they’re just happy they could help out with getting the associates the iPads…

All hope is not lost for HK associates getting a more conventional bonus. From the Daily Business Review (via South Florida Lawyers):

The popular tech tools that retail for $499 were hand-delivered to every associate at the firm Dec. 17 with a memo from firm managing partner Steven Sonberg. On behalf of the partners, he thanked the associates for their “hard work and dedication” in 2010.

“In recognition of your contributions, please accept this iPad as a gift from the firm,” Sonberg said, quickly adding, “The iPad is not in lieu of 2010 performance-based bonuses, which will be determined in due course in the first quarter of 2011.”

Really, Holland & Knight, you’re just waiting to see where this bonus thing is going?

Alright, if you say so, but the associates aren’t optimistic. According to one tipster:

The note said “discretionary bonuses will still be awarded in the first quarter as usual”, but the thing is, “as usual” for this firm means ZERO. And the tone of the whole thing… leads me to believe the iPads are in fact our bonuses.

Things aren’t much better for Holland & Knight staff. The same day the iPads went out, the staff received their bonuses. Our sources report the bonuses were 25% less than they were last year.

Hmm… anybody else wondering if that 25% went directly into the iPad purchases?

It seems like the intended morale bump from the iPads is turning into a clusterf**k. You’ve got staffers seething as lawyers prance around with their shiny new toys. Only the lawyers are only prancing to keep up appearances because secretly they’d much rather have the cash. Any cash:

i know i should probably be happy that i got an iPad out of the blue (even though i’ve never really wanted one), but it feels incredibly insulting that the firm management apparently thinks we’re simple-minded enough to be placated by a toy. i would have rather had $500 if this was going to be my only bonus. as i sit here working 14 hours a day all through the holiday season, knowing it’s all for nothing, it just doesn’t make me feel any better that i have an iPad sitting at home that i don’t have time to turn on.

Well, it’s not just your firm. There are lots of firms that are trying to capitalize on iPad-mania. Some are giving them out as pure perks, some are using them to incentivize behavior, and some are using them to distract people from the fact that they’re being screwed with their pants on.

In short, firms are using iPads as a replacement for money. Yeah, money, cash — you firm managers remember that, don’t you? I think a long time ago, back during the Reagan Administration or something, society came up with these paper documents that could be exchanged for goods and services. It was an awesome time. If they did a good job, people — people like associates at law firms — were given these extremely portable notes, and then they could go around and choose what they wanted to have. Some of them would buy gadgets, others would buy nice things for their families, you could even give this “money” to hookers and dealers and have a party. Not the most durable uses of this tender, to be sure, but the memories would last a lifetime.

So look, give everybody iPads, don’t give everybody iPads, whatever floats your boat. But don’t forget that what people really want is the freedom to choose their own adventure and buy whatever it is that makes sense to them.

Holland & Knight gives 350 associates iPads [Daily Business Review]
H&K Associates Get Obsolete Mini Computer Designed to Make Them Work More! [South Florida Lawyers]

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