Boutique Law Firms, Fabulosity, Perks / Fringe Benefits, Small Law Firms

Size Matters: How Are Small Law Firms Like Oscars After-Parties?

Ed. note: This is the latest installment of Size Matters, one of Above the Law’s new columns for small-firm lawyers.

I am getting tired of hearing about all these large law firms and their unnecessary spring bonuses. This weekend I went on a trip with friends who all work in Biglaw, and the topic came up (and, in turn, everyone shared how he or she was going to spend that extra money).

One of my friends is planning on going on vacation to South America (sometime in 2019, when he has the time). Another told us that she is going to get “the Bentley of couches,” for the guest room in her giant condo. I did not have a similar Biglaw big-money story to share, so I instead shared my ideas for the top ten free activities I had planned for the spring. (In case you’re wondering, they are: 1. Breathe Air. 2. Walk. 3. Eat Free Samples At Whole Foods.)

I had to admit that I was a little jealous of my friends and their surprise bonuses. But then I heard a story that touched me right where it counts — in the wallet. I have learned that some small firms give their employees big perks….

Take, for example, the Law Offices of William C. Ruggiero. Every year, Bill Ruggiero takes everyone in his office (currently an associate and eight staffers) on an all-expenses paid vacation. And these are luxury vacations, not weekend getaways to the Ho Jo in Nowheresville, USA. Per the Daily Business Review:

The group has visited Vail, Breckenridge, Cancun, New York, Aruba, Las Vegas and London, among other vacation spots. This year, they’re going on a cruise to Alaska and next year, they’re returning to London for the Olympics, for which Ruggiero will spring for tickets.

Or check out Robertson & Williams. While Robertson is not taking his staff on Oprah-style office vacays, for the past twenty years, Robertson has done little things to make working for him better: baseball outings, office parties, potlucks, and early closings (um, priceless).

And,who could forget Childress Duffy? As mentioned previously in these pages, this small firm in Chicago treats its people to massages and the chance to work on the office roof-deck.

Furthermore, many of the people I know in small firms are treated to a weekly free lunch, during which time the attorneys get to bond. Similarly, many small-firm lawyers tell me that their firms offer regular firm happy hours.

So, the next time you’re talking to someone in Biglaw about spring bonuses, feel free to tell him or her about the way in which small firms are like Oscar after-parties: they give their people some good SWAG.

If you are a small firm with big perks, or at least fun or interesting ones, please email me — and we can launch Small Firms Perk Watch. Take that, Springtime Bonus Watch!

Valerie Katz (not her real name) works at a small law firm in Chicago. You can reach her by email at and follow her on Twitter at @ValerieLKatz.

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