Ed. note: This is the second installment in a new series of monthly posts, brought to you by Corporette’s Kat Griffin, which will deal with topical business and lifestyle issues that present themselves in the world of Biglaw. Send your ideas for future columns to us by clicking here.
Feeling like Santa Claus yet? If not, it’s time to dust off your best red velvet suit and get in the mood — because it’s time to give gifts to the people you work with. Hooray, said no one ever. Relax, it isn’t that hard….
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….
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….
For most luxury shoppers, a trip to Neiman Marcus is the stuff that dreams are made of. After all, bags overflowing with designer merchandise can usually put a smile on any face, no matter the cost. But for others, such a shopping excursion just serves as a reminder of all the sex, lies, and betrayal that go hand-in-hand with a bitter divorce.
Because apparently when your husband stops in to buy hundreds of thousands of dollars in merchandise year after year, it’s essential for your former personal shopper to allegedly swipe his “credit card” — over, and over, and over again….
At least that’s what one divorcée in Texas is alleging. She filed suit against Neiman Marcus after the luxury retailer refused to take back $1.4 million worth of gifts that she attempted to return after discovering her ex-husband’s alleged affair….
It’s fitting that we recently devoted space in these pages to a paralegal’s lament. This week, the last week in April, is Administrative Professionals Week. It’s a secular holiday devoted to recognizing the work of secretaries, legal assistants, receptionists, paralegals, and other administrative support personnel.
And today is the culmination of the week: Administrative Professionals’ Day. As Elie wrote a few years ago, today is “the official day on which you need to make a financial display of appreciation… but people are supposed to be nice to their secretaries for the entire year week.”
Lawyers, it’s not too late to get your assistant a card or a gift. If you’re on the West Coast, stop at a gift shop on your way into the office. If you’re on the East Coast, step out during your lunch break.
Let’s take this opportunity to reflect on the contributions of administrative professionals….
‘Tis the season to puzzle over holiday gift etiquette at the office. Every year, a few questions come up about this topic — what’s appropriate, how much, whether they really have to, etc. No really, one year, a colleague complained, “Well, I’m not getting much of a bonus this year, so why should I give a gift to my secretary?” What you’d call a true, selfless, holiday spirit.
Obviously, this was back during law firm days, when bonus announcements are made early, unlike at companies, where the grand reveal isn’t usually for another couple of months after wilting trees have been cleared from the driveways. Not gifting your admin wasn’t exactly unheard of at a law firm, though, and I think it evidences a difference between the impact of gift-giving at a large law firm versus in-house.
At a law firm, you could give gifts to every employee at the office (or not) and, while your colleagues would be appreciative (or not), this act (or lack thereof) really wouldn’t make much of a difference in your career. Do you still have zero clients? Okay, still not making partner. Still have boatloads of clients? Continue with deity status.
At a company, on the other hand, you need to find out the unwritten rules for gifting….
After stealing all the Whoville toys, the Grinch planned to re-gift them to his army of lawyers.
I’m much more likely to throw away a gift or give it to charity than to regift something I already have or don’t want. I think I’d live in fear of the original gift-giver meeting up with the regift recipient and talking about how I was a bad friend for orchestrating the whole mess. I’d rather those two people meet up and say, “Did Elie get you anything? No? Too bad. I was hoping he did and you could tell him it sucked. That’s what he told me when he opened my present.” There’s something intangibly sneaky and dishonest about regifting. It’s just not classy.
Of course, people do it all the time. And not because they lack class so much as they lack money. Even if it’s tacky, regifting usually comes from a good place: you want to give presents to more people than you can afford to shop for.
But there’s nothing laudable (or forgivable) about how one small law firm in California goes about re-gifting. They want to send gifts to their clients — so they commandeer the gifts sent to their secretaries and staff, and regift them.
I think this firm missed the “spirit” part of this holiday season….
Over the weekend, I had dinner with a friend of mine who used to work as a paralegal at a small law firm. She told me about how one year, for the holidays, all the lawyers chipped in to get her a gift certificate to a spa, so she could get herself a massage.
I said it sounded like a nice gesture. This was not the reaction my friend was going for in telling the story; she viewed the gift as an insult. Her view: Christmastime is the time to show me the money.
I can understand that perspective for secretaries or administrative assistants. As we’ve discussed before, if you’re an attorney you should give your secretary a holiday gift that’s either cash or a cash equivalent (like an AmEx or Visa gift card). As a legal secretary once told us, “if you decide on giving gift certificates [to specific stores], I sincerely hope your next bonus will be paid in the same currency.”
But paralegals, at least at large firms — my friend who got the massage certificate worked at a small firm — are a trickier proposition. Over the course of a year in Biglaw, a lawyer might work with many different paralegals, on a wide range of matters. Are you expected to give gifts to all of them?
So what should a lawyer do with respect to holiday gifts for paralegals? And, of course, what’s the “going rate” for holiday gifts for secretaries in 2011?
Let’s conduct some reader polls, and open up the comments for discussion….
Can a Westlaw or Lexis print-out hide your booze stash? I didn't think so.
* Are Asian American lawyers too nerdy to climb the Biglaw or corporate ladder — or is this just an outdated stereotype? [The Careerist]
* Does having your law school sob story featured on national television count as “employed upon graduation”? (Or, more seriously, here’s an opportunity for an unemployed law school grad.) [Inside the Law School Scam]
* A Notre Dame law professor, Mark McKenna, offers some courageous and deeply personal commentary on the Penn State scandal. [Slate]
* In the age of Lexis and Westlaw, hardbound law books still serve a valuable purpose. [Kickstarter]
* It’s a briefcase branded with your favorite team insignia. But real subtle-like, so other people won’t immediately know you are an alpha jock fan boy. But you will. You’ll always know. [The Fandom Review]
The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We currently have a very exciting and rare type of in-house opening in China at one of the world’s leading internet and social media companies. Our client is looking for an IP Transactional / TMT / Licensing attorney with 2 to 6 years experience. The new hire will be based in Shenzhen or Shanghai. Mandarin is not required (deal documentation will be in English) but is preferred. A solid reason to be in China and a commitment to that market is required of course. This new hire will likely be US qualified (but could also be qualified in UK or other jurisdictions) and with experience and training at a top law firm’s IP transactional / TMT practice and could be currently at a law firm or in-house. Qualified candidates currently Asia based, Europe based or US based will be considered. The new hire’s supervisors in this technology transactions in-house team are very well regarded US trained IP transactional lawyers, with substantial experience at Silicon Valley firms. The culture and atmosphere in this in-house group and the company in general is entrepreneurial, team oriented, and the work is cutting edge, even for a cutting edge industry. The upside of being in an important strategic in-house position in this fast growing and world leading internet company is of the “sky is the limit” variety. Its a very exciting place to be in China for a rising IP transactional lawyer in our opinion, for many reasons beyond the basic info we can share here in this ad / post. This is a special A+ opportunity.
If your firm is in ‘go’ mode when it comes to recruiting lateral partners with loyal clients, then take this quiz to see how well you measure up. Keep track of your ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses.
1. Does your firm have a clearly defined strategy of practice groups that are priorities of growth for your office? Nothing gets done by random chance, but with a clear vision for the future. Identify the top practice areas for which you wish to add lateral partners. Seek input from practice group leaders and get specifics on needs, outcomes, and ideal target profiles.
2. In addition to clarifying your firm’s growth strategy, are you still open to the hire of a partner outside of your plan? I’ve made several placements that fit this category. The partner’s practice was not within the strategic growth plan of my client, but once the two parties started talking with each other, we all saw how it could indeed be a seamless fit. Be open to “Opportunistic Hires.” You never know where your next producing partner might come from, so you have to be open to it. I will be the first to admit that there is a quirky element of randomness in recruiting.
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