Holidays and Seasons, Shopping, Shopping For Others

Gradenfreude: Some Holiday Gifts for the Unemployed or Underemployed Law School Graduate

The holiday season is supposed to be full of cheer and happiness, but as an adult, it’s usually full of one thing, and one thing only: stress. Making matters worse is the fact that shopping for those you love can be a bit of a challenge. It’s always hard to tell what someone really needs or will have the opportunity to fully enjoy.

So, I have decided to dedicate this week’s column to giving a few gift ideas for the unemployed or severely underemployed law school graduate in your life. These individuals are likely depressed and highly anxious, so the right gift could act as a sedative — and actually back some of them off the ledge.

The following is by no means a comprehensive list, but it’s a good start….

The first gift idea is bartending lessons. The best part of this gift is the fact that the law school grad in your life is now more likely to find employment that will allow him to put his valuable education and training to use — which is very unlike a law degree these days. Also, since your loved one will still be underemployed and likely depressed, their new employment will allow them ample opportunities to drink until they’re happy again.

Gift idea number two is more about fun, and less about practicality. Most law school graduates have soul-crushing amounts of debt and need something to make them feel alive, so why not give them sky diving lessons? Everyone I know that’s tried it says that the free fall is the biggest and best rush that they’ve ever experienced. And the best part of this gift idea: you don’t need to have any fear of it going horribly wrong. That’s because even if there were a tragic accident, at least your loved one would no longer have to worry about all of that soul-crushing debt.

The next idea is good for most anyone, but especially for those that don’t have very much money in their bank accounts. Gift certificates are perfect when you don’t have the time or desire to think about what someone would really like to receive. Gift certificates require minimal thought, but will almost always guarantee that your loved one will get something that they actually want. All you need to know is what type of store to go to. For the out-of-work law graduate, I’d suggest going to a nice clothing store. There are multiple reasons for this. First, it can really boost a person’s ego to simply get a nice mini-makeover. Also, it can help them keep hope alive for a job in the future, or in the alternative, it’ll allow them to get a couple of ties to hang themselves with.

Now, for the slacker law graduate in your life, especially if you’re the passive aggressive type, I suggest buying the most expensive résumé paper you can find. It’s a fine way to say, “good luck,” and “get your ass in gear,” all at the same time, without necessarily getting on the recipient’s bad side.

And finally, I suggest the one gift that all law graduates will enjoy. That, of course, is alcohol. After deciding on boozing up your loved one, you have one last important decision to make: what type of alcohol to buy. You can go high end, which will be a treat for them since they’re probably accustomed to Aristocrat and Gordon’s. But then you run the risk of making them remember the fact that they’re poor and can’t afford to buy such quality liquor for themselves. If you don’t go for quality, go for quantity — then they can drink more troubles away without the risk of running out.

Happy holidays, everyone!

When not writing about life after law school for Above the Law, Tristan Taylor Thomas (not his real name) works at a retail job stocking shelves — which he admits is slightly better than being a shoeshiner. You can reach him by email at

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