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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….

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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….

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year… for a legal secretary / administrative assistant. Law firm partners are getting their end-of-year distributions, associates are getting their bonuses, and some of this bounty will be shared with their secretaries, in the form of Christmas — er, holiday — gifts.

What should you get your secretary as a holiday present? It’s a familiar question that comes up every year. Here’s an open thread where you can discuss and compare notes with your peers. We’ve also included a reader poll at the end of the post.

Let’s start the conversation with some preliminary observations….

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Check out the shoes, by Stuart Weitzman, below….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Facebook Status Update of the Day: But Were They Peep Toes?”

Think back, if you can, to August 30, 2006. It was a very different time: George W. Bush was still president, the economy was still booming (even if some of that prosperity was illusory), and the starting salary for most associates in large New York law firms stood at $145,000.

It was on this date that Above the Law first launched. Check out Lat’s letter from the editor, announcing ATL’s debut. Many of the features mentioned in that letter — Legal Eagle Wedding Watch, Lawyerly Lairs, The Eyes of the Law — are still staples of the site today. (Others have morphed a bit. For example, we no longer make fun of other people’s advice columns; we instead publish one of our own, Marin’s Pls Hndle Thx.)

Today we are delighted to be celebrating ATL’s fourth birthday (or “blogiversary,” as some in the blogosphere like to say; but the word “blogiversary” is even uglier than the word “blogosphere”). We’d like to thank all of you — our readers, our tipsters, our sponsors, and our friends — for your support over the years.

To celebrate and to thank you, we’ve decided to extend the special Gilt Groupe menswear sale for Above the Law readers (previously mentioned here). It was supposed to have ended yesterday, but due to popular demand — hundreds of items have been purchased, such as this Thomas Pink necktie that Lat bought, and many selections are sold out — we’re extending the sale through Thursday, September 2, at midnight. To browse the store, click here.

Once again, dear readers, thank you. This site would not be possible without your visits, your tips, and your generous patronage and support.

P.S. Several of our women readers have asked us when ATL will have a women’s wear sale. Fear not; we’re working on special deals for the ladies as well. Keep an eye out for them in the future.

For New Lawyers, the Going Rate Has Gone Up [New York Times]

Earlier: A Gilt Groupe Sale for Above the Law Readers
Happy Blogiversary to… Us! Above the Law Turns Three
Letter from the Editor: Welcome to Above the Law

Earlier today, on the Senate floor, debate took place on whether to confirm Solicitor General Elena Kagan as the nation’s 112th Supreme Court justice. The Kagan nomination is not very controversial, due to the nominee’s impeccable credentials and the Democrats’ 59 votes in the Senate.

In the legal blogosphere, a far more divisive debate is raging, over a subject just as important as confirming the fourth woman ever to the Supreme Court: Are peep-toe shoes appropriate professional footwear? Can female attorneys wear them to the office? What about to court?

The debate was ignited over at The Careerist, by Vivia Chen (no style slouch herself — not many legal journalists own floor-length mink coats). Chen recounted this anecdote:

Waiting in line in the ladies room at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel recently, I heard this discussion: “In my day, I always wore pumps to court,” said in a woman in her fifties. “Can you believe this associate went to court with open-toe shoes?” Her companion shook her head, then asked: “How did she do?” The first woman replied, “Her work was good, but her shoes weren’t right.”

Chen then surveyed a number of lawyers, from around the country, and they could not reach a consensus on the appropriateness of peep-toe shoes. The debate continued over at the ABA Journal, where a post by Debra Cassens Weiss generated a flurry of comments.

Given that so many law firms are business casual nowadays, it is probably safe to wear peep-toe shoes to the office. The fashion guidelines issued by the New York office of Weil Gotshal, for example, officially bless “open toe or open heel shoes.” (Still unacceptable: “Athletic shoes, clogs, beach shoes, flip flops, beach shoes.”)

But what about wearing peep-toe shoes to court? On this subject, we decided to turn to the experts: namely, a panel of fabulous female federal judges….

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Is the clothing mega-retailer following the Supreme Court nomination process?

Check out this photo of a store window here in New York….

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Administrative Professionals Week is upon us — ignore it at your peril. While senior partners might be able to pass the week off with a slap on the bum for a job well done, the associates among you would be wise to throw some cash at those who make your office run.

The official day on which you need to make a financial display of appreciation is Wednesday, but people are supposed to be nice to their secretaries for the entire year week.

Given the recession and general market uncertainty, some lawyers might be tempted to cheap out on administrative professional recognition. But surely even the most hardened associate understands that the recession has been much tougher on administrative personnel than it has been on practicing attorneys. Right?

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