Holidays and Seasons, Shopping, Shopping For Others, Small Law Firms

The Practice: The Ultimate Small Law Gift Guide (Even If You’re Cheap)

For those of you that have clients, and in turn, those that have referred them to you, other than an expensively created fake online presence (half, no, two-thirds of my readers just clicked off) you may be wondering how to say thank you to them this holiday season.

Not to worry, as always, I am here to help. No, no, no need to thank me, it’s my pleasure. The following is based on years of receiving crappy and awesome gifts during the holidays and provided in an effort to make you look like at one time before you became a lawyer, someone taught you good manners.

First, I know you like your name or your firm’s name or logo. No one else does. I’ve thrown out more leather binders with law firm logos, coffee mugs, pens, Godforsaken calendars, and things I’m supposed to carry around on in my golf bag that have a law firm name or logo than you’ve received.

Holidays are not a time to blatantly market your firm, they’re a time to say, “Thank you, you did something important for me.” The marketing aspect comes from making an impression without thinking that your logo in the hands of your referral source or client is something special. I know you got all excited when you opened up the box of firm logo trinkets (“Oh, awesome, this is my name on something.”), but please, throw them away….

Second, if you know what the recipient likes, focus on that. I know, you want to buy 30 of the same thing and just send them out. That’s okay, but what’s the point of your holiday gift? Is it just to send “something,” or to have the recipient know you put some thought in to it? Trust me, they won’t be talking about the five similar gift baskets they received with food they’ll never eat and cheap wine, they’ll be talking about how you sent them a book on the wine chateaus of France knowing that they are going there next year, or something that recognizes you heard all 54 stories about their college football team this year.

Third, if your recipient is local, use a courier. Things arrive in boxes all the time. Rarely does a person hand you a gift and say, “Joe Lawyer wanted me to give this to you.”

Fourth, if you are sending something out of state, try and use a well-known local company in yours or the recipient’s community, or at least send something that is unique to your community. You live in Maine (do any lawyers actually live in Maine — it seems like too nice a place for lawyer), send one of those live lobster packages. (Those are awesome by the way. The lobster arrives in a pot, claws taped, ready for boil. You can order a bunch of sides. Is this part getting annoying yet?) Anyway, cool gift. Amazon is easy, but it’s more meaningful when your recipient receives something that shows thought beyond just sending “something.”

Fifth, be different in whatever you send. By the end of the holiday season, certain lawyers (ahem) will have a collection of bottles of wine (let me know if you need my address). They’ll be sitting on a table — next to the magnum (double the size, for you jug wine drinkers) of wine sent by you. The recipient and (warning: subtle marketing tip) anyone seeing it will ask, “Who sent you that bottle?”

Sixth (see, I can count to six), your goal is to impressively say “thank you.” The blatant marketing of your law firm name may not be there, but by sending a gift, you are marketing. You will be remembered as a thoughtful, generous lawyer, or you won’t be remembered, or worse, you’ll be the office joke.

And let me end with saying that the cost is irrelevant. For those that I’ve simply given some quick advice, or put a few bucks in their pocket, a handwritten thank you card is quite meaningful — mainly because no one sends them anymore. I am also a big fan of books on topics of interest to the recipient. For example, someone gave me a book of insults. It was one of those little books and probably cost $6. There was nothing new in there I haven’t used, but I appreciated the thought.

Obviously if the recipient put thousands of dollars in your pocket, a gift that recognizes that is required. Someone put ten grand in your pocket, it’s time to think about something in the range of hundred(s).

Remember that in giving a gift, even if it’s just your thoughts in words, you are not only saying “thank you,” but ensuring that the recipient remembers you positively, throughout next year. In that light, don’t hesitate to write on the card, “I’ll be in touch to set up lunch early next year.” You all still do have lunch with people, yes?

So happy shopping. You can find my address on Google, Bing, LinkedIn, Twitter, Klout, and Instagram — just not Pinterest, yet.

Brian Tannebaum will never “get on board” at the advice of failed lawyers who were never a part of the past but claim to know “the future of law.” He represents clients, every day, in criminal and lawyer discipline cases without the assistance of an Apple device, and usually gets to work (in an office, not a coffee shop) by 9 a.m. No client has ever asked if he’s on Twitter. He can be reached at

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