The field of contenders for our third annual law firm holiday card contest was more impressive than ever. We received numerous nominations, and we thank everyone who participated. It took many hours to review the plethora of submissions.

We could complain about how some of you failed to follow contest rule #3, limiting the contest to “cards that are unusually clever, funny, or cool…. cards with some attitude, with that extra je ne sais quoi.” But we won’t; the holiday spirit has us in a good mood. You are all wonderful!

But some of you are more wonderful than others. Let’s look at this year’s finalists….

This year, because we had so many cards to review, we construed our submission rules very strictly. We did not consider cards from non-law-firms. We did not consider cards that were not formally submitted to us by email, with the correct subject heading. If we encountered technical problems when trying to view a card, we did not go to great lengths to try and fix them. And we did not consider any submissions made after our deadline. You’re lawyers, so you understand the importance of filing your submissions properly and promptly.

Last year we had seven finalists. This year, because of the high number and quality of the submissions, we’ve upped the number to eleven.

Here they are, in alphabetical order, accompanied by short blurbs. Please note that most of these cards have SOUND, so you might want to turn your speakers off or down, or use headphones (depending on where you are; we decided to run this post after normal business hours so that more of you will be able to enjoy the music, either because you’re at home or because most of your colleagues have left the office already).

1. Akin Gump: This is the third consecutive year in which Akin makes the final round of our card contest. This year’s card, in the words of the Akin nominator, “is witty, playing on the legal profession and poking a bit of fun at ourselves, but it is also unique in that it was created using video (not flash) to allow folks to view it from most handheld devices. So many of our clients are mobile that we went the extra mile to send an ecard on a platform that works most easily for them.”

In gently mocking lawyerly nerdiness, it’s reminiscent of Akin’s winning card from 2009. Also, it features a penguin (and we’re suckers for penguins here at ATL). View their card here.

2. Crowell & Moring: The tipster who sent in the Crowell card explains its appeal quite well: “Not too shabby. The whole ‘ugly sweater’ theme and music is pretty funny, the card is interactive, and it’s all for a good cause.” Says a second source: “Kind of a clichéd concept, but pretty fun for a law firm.” Check it out — and vote for your sweater of choice — here.

3. Fenwick & West: Last year, Fenwick made the honorable mention list; this year, they’re in the finals. From Fenwick: “We are receiving very positive feedback, for the style, the balance of humor and traditional sentiment, and the fact that we included the entire firm.”

The card is classy and fun, featuring the work of a very talented illustrator and heartwarming holiday ideas from Fenwick folks. Law firm marketing guru Ross Fishman admires it as well. See what the buzz is about over here.

4. Haynes & Boone: HayBoo actually provided the inspiration for our first-ever holiday card contest (in which they took second place). Fishman describes the appeal of their current card:

Another perennial holiday-card favorite, Haynes & Boone, did it right again this year. Wow. This is the third straight year they played off of their business cards, which can be risky if it looks commercial rather than magical. Yet again, it’s beautifully done and actually worth watching.

You can examine their impressive card — which, as the nominator explains, “was filmed using stop motion animation to physically manipulate each object, frame by frame, and bring our characters to life” — over here.

5. Manatt, Phelps & Phillips: Last year’s third-place finisher, Manatt is back with another highly entertaining offering. This card made me laugh out loud, quite literally, rescuing me from the drudgery of reviewing less colorful cards. A tipster raves: “Clever, funny, wholly entertaining. I loved it.” A Manatt source adds: “Using core elements of Manatt’s brand, we believe that we created a clever, memorable and legal-specific holiday card. Client feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.”

And justifiably so. You can enjoy Manatt’s 2011 holiday card here.

Keep reading — this post is on the long side, so we wanted to break it up visually — for the remaining finalists, and the chance to vote….

(Note that we didn’t break this story up into eleven slides, one for each entrant, which would have been annoying. Consider this a Christmas present from us to you. You’re welcome!)


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