Shopping For Others

'Who needs cash? We have these nifty red hats!'

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….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Holiday Gifts for Your Secretary / Administrative Staff: Open Thread”

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* Are Asian American lawyers too nerdy to climb the Biglaw or corporate ladder — or is this just an outdated stereotype?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]

* How will SCOTUS vote on Obamacare? Two political science professors, Michael Bailey and Forrest Maltzman, offer predictions. [The Monkey Cage via How Appealing]

Ted Frank

* Congratulations to Ted Frank and CCAF on a big win in the Ninth Circuit. [Center for Class Action Fairness]

* Following in the footsteps of its former employee, Gregory Berry, Kasowitz Benson seeks to conquer Silicon Valley. [Am Law Daily]

* 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]

If you took the bar exam in July, don’t you think you deserve a present? Some of you were dealing with test site disasters, of both the meteorological and technological variety, while others were busy passing out or popping out babies during the test.

Above the Law wants to reward you for all of your hard work and determination.

So, for all of the people who may soon approach the bench as newly minted attorneys, we’re going to give away a very special — and valuable — prize….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Looking for a Post-Bar Exam Present? Enter Our ‘Approach the Bench’ Giveaway!”

Father’s Day is coming up. This holiday is never as big as the other fake holiday known as Mother’s Day. That’s because fathers, in general, just want the kids to get out of the house long enough for them to have sex and an uninterrupted nap.

But, if you have a good Dad who only beats you when you deserve it, you should certainly get the old man a present. If you are in the market, Above the Law has a deal for you. We are bringing back our Blank Label deal for men’s shirts that you design yourself.

Under the offer, $50 gets you $100 towards a custom-designed men’s dress shirt. But the deal expires soon, so don’t delay. Click on the link below to access it — and take on the fun role of fashion designer. Happy shopping!

Blank Label: Design Your Own Custom Men’s Dress Shirt [Buy With Me]

Here are some instructions.

Valentine’s Day is coming up. Married men are looking forward to their annual opportunity to have oral sex (don’t act like I’m the only one). Single guys are wondering what kind of depressed and ovulating women will show up at their local bar, alone. And ladies are just hoping for something that will turn all of their girlfriends into jealous bitches. As always, the day promises to be a massacre.

But regardless of your Valentine’s Day motives, please note that there are some intimate gifts that are inappropriate in all situations: gifts like vibrators. Not as a Valentine’s Day present, not as a Christmas present, not as a birthday present. Women can’t show it off to their friends, and it works against you as a sexually suggestive gift. Vibrators should only be given to women you’ve already had sex with, preferably right before the first Thursday of the NCAA tournament so they have something to do with themselves.

Sadly, a New York man was not familiar with this rule, and he bought one of his co-workers a vibrator for her birthday. He was her boss. Now, he’s getting sued — because that’s what happens when you are the idiot who buys a vibrator for a woman you work with…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Protip: Do Not Buy A Vibrator For Any Lady At Your Office”

We’re only a few weeks into 2011. If your new year’s resolution is to dress better, there’s still time to act.

Valentine’s Day is also not far off. Make your dinner reservations now, if you haven’t done so already — and make sure you look good for your night out on the town. This year, wear something that she (or he) will want to take off.

Above the Law is here to help. We’ve arranged a special deal for ATL readers with Blank Label — an online tailor buzzed about in The New York Times, Forbes, and Time Out New York, among other outlets — that lets you design your own shirt.

That’s the fun part. You (or your secretary) can design your own shirt. So hop in, design and purchase. And then send ATL a picture of you in your custom designed attire, by email (subject line: “Shirt Design”). Love and accolades are sure to follow!

Under the offer, $50 gets you $100 towards a custom-designed men’s dress shirt. But the deal expires soon, so don’t delay. Click on the link below to access it — and take on the fun role of fashion designer. Happy shopping!

Blank Label: Design Your Own Custom Men’s Dress Shirt [Buy With Me]

Thus far we’ve looked at holiday gifts from the perspective of the giver. What (or how much) did you give to your secretary this year? Is it appropriate to get a present for your boss (and if so, what)? How about some holiday gift ideas for other lawyers in your life?

But it’s not really better to give than to receive, is it? As we know from our coverage of lawyer compensation and bonuses, our readers are greedy SOBs like getting as much as giving. So here’s an open thread for discussion of your favorite gifts from this holiday season. (I’m wearing one of mine right now — a toasty fleece that my cousin got me from Uniqlo.)

When it comes to Christmas / holiday gifts from professional contacts, folks at firms do fine. When I was at a firm, I’d get small gifts — a bottle of wine, a Tiffany money clip — from vendors hired by the firm for various projects.

But in-house readers probably make out the best in this season, since they get gifts from law firms with big budgets. In fact, the idea for this post came from an in-house reader: “[W]hy not have a holiday schwag column to show what in-house counsel are getting from firms this season? It may be an interesting contrast to the bonus (or lack thereof) news you’ve been reporting on.”

This reader got the ball rolling with the story of a pretty sweet gift he got from a law firm he gives work to….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Holiday Gift Open Thread: Did You Get Anything Good?”

Ed. note: Have a question for next week? Send it in to [email protected]

Dear ATL,

Since the holiday season is getting well underway, I was wondering… What is the expected gift-giving at the office?

Presumably every associate out there will give a nice sum in the form of cash, check or gift card to his assistant and paralegal(s) as appropriate.  But what about those farther up the food chain?  Is it appropriate or expected to give gifts to those who give you work?

– Cleveland Rocks

Dear Cleveland Rocks,

At firms, the s**t rolls downhill, as does gift giving. You’re expected to give your secretaries and admins gifts (pro tip: secretaries LOVE Precious Moments angel figurines), because they help you dodge phone calls and make less than you. And if you don’t give individual gifts, people will come around the office begging for alms “asking” you to donate to the gift fund for back office staff. Yet for reasons that defy logic, partners with whom you work closely are miraculously excused from giving their direct underlings – the associates – gifts during the holiday season, as if the “gift” of continued employment were more than enough. That’s like when my parents used to buy me socks and underwear, hide them in the closet until December and then call them Hannukah presents. It’s not a gift if they owe it to you….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Pls Hndle Thx: The Gift That Keeps On Giving”

The Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center.

Or, if you’ll forgive the expression, a merry Christmas (to those of you who celebrate it). The entire team here at Above the Law sends you the warmest wishes of the season (subject to Manatt’s lawyerly disclaimers).

If you need some extra inspiration to get into the holiday spirit, check out the lovely Christmas poem that the lovely Kashmir Hill composed last year. Or view some clever law firm holiday cards. Or read about the holiday plans of various people within the legal profession — including NYU law professor Arthur Miller, prominent trial lawyer Mark Lanier, Elliott Portnoy of SNR Denton, Robert Morse of U.S. News, Dean William Treanor of Georgetown Law, and yours truly (karaoke, anyone?) — in this fun article, by Leigh Jones of the National Law Journal.

If you need some last-minute gift ideas, check out our list of the 12 Books of Christmas — some bookstores are still open (the Barnes & Noble at Union Square closes at 6 p.m. today; I just called). Or if you’re too lazy to leave your home or office, just go to Amazon and order a slew of print-at-home gift cards (one of my strategies this year).

Although Christmas Day isn’t until tomorrow, it’s generally being observed today. So here at ATL we’re following the lead of the federal government — thanks, 5 U.S.C. § 6103! — and taking off until Monday, December 27 (subject to the caveat that if some truly huge news breaks — e.g., God forbid, a Supreme Court justice fatally overdoses on egg nog — we will be on it).

So we’ll see you next week — when we will be around and publishing posts, although at a somewhat reduced level. Until then, be merry!

No humbugs here [National Law Journal]

Earlier: The Twelve Books of Christmas (2010)
Some Law Firm Holiday Cards
Quote of the Day: Baby Jesus Forgives You, Nina
Happy Holidays from Above the Law – 2009

Now that you’ve figured out what to give your secretary this holiday season, what about the lawyers in your life? Many of you have friends or family members who are lawyers or law students, and if you haven’t done so already, you need to get them — forgive the expression — Christmas presents (or holiday gifts, if you prefer).

Lawyerly types can be tough to shop for. As we’ve previously discussed, lawyers aren’t great about giving gratitude, and they’re often very critical — so your gifts might not be warmly received. Also, many lawyers earn good incomes, meaning that when they actually need or want something, they often just go out and buy it themselves (or let their firm to buy it for them — e.g., the iPad).

So what should you get for the lawyers in your life this holiday season? We have some suggestions….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Twelve Books of Christmas (2010)”

Page 3 of 41234