Christmas Cards

Who says lawyers and law firms are humor-impaired? A Canadian litigation firm, Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein LLP, has been winning publicity and props for its clever holiday card based on the troubles of Rob Ford, the Toronto mayor who has admitted to smoking crack.

This reminded us: it’s time for Above the Law’s fifth annual holiday card contest! This favorite feature is fun for the whole family, and it’s perfectly legal too.

We are a legal website, so of course there are rules. Read carefully; failure to follow them to the letter will result in disqualification. Here they are:

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The season of law firm holiday parties, for starters. And, better yet, bonuses. This year, Santa Cravath stuffed stockings with a goodly amount of cash.

But the parties and paychecks pale in comparison to what’s about to get underway: Above the Law’s fourth annual holiday card contest!

Last year, Haynes and Boone, a frequent finalist in the contest, took home top honors. Will they repeat in 2012, will a prior winner reemerge, or will a totally fresh face grab the Christmas card crown?

Read on — and read carefully, counselors — for the official contest rules….

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For those that have clients and spend their days surrounded by real people, I have some advice about year-end planning. I don’t care if you do or do not do any of this stuff, I can only tell you that it’s what I do and have done for years. Obviously, if you are part of the (“man, I hope all these idiot consultants are right”) future of law, much of it won’t apply to you.

If you’ve made some money this year, meet with your accountant.

One of my recent posts here was about my relationship with my accountant. I hope you have one, and I hope you set a lunch or meeting in your office or coffee shop in the next two weeks to discuss year-end tax planning. Next spring is a bad time to learn that you could have done some things to save yourself having to pay Uncle Sam more money. (By the way, for those of you getting a refund, you have bigger problems.)

If you’re not desperate for cash and you have clients that owe you money, consider telling them to pay in January.

What lawyer does this? You Biglaw folks have to try and collect before year’s end, so that leaves us small guys to give early Christmas gifts to our clients by telling them, yes, you will have money for that flat-screen you can’t afford, just pay your bill by January 15. Trying to get money out of clients during the holidays (read: after Thanksgiving) just makes you the one that is crushing the client’s mellow. Plus, relevant to point one here, you’ll be able to decrease your income for 2012….

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Many law firms send out rather lame holiday cards, cards that marketing guru Ross Fishman would describe as “boring pieces of crap.” Thankfully that wasn’t the case for the eleven finalists in our third annual law firm holiday card contest.

Some of these cards were clever, some were beautiful, and some were funny. All of them were excellent, deserving of recognition and praise for the thoughtfulness and creativity that went into them.

Okay, enough with the sentimental and sappy stuff — you’re lawyers, and you’re competitive. You want to know who won….

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The field of contenders for our third annual law firm holiday card contest was more impressive than ever. We received numerous nominations, and we thank everyone who participated. It took many hours to review the plethora of submissions.

We could complain about how some of you failed to follow contest rule #3, limiting the contest to “cards that are unusually clever, funny, or cool…. cards with some attitude, with that extra je ne sais quoi.” But we won’t; the holiday spirit has us in a good mood. You are all wonderful!

But some of you are more wonderful than others. Let’s look at this year’s finalists….

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We are pleased and proud to announce Above the Law’s third annual law firm holiday card contest. This happy, heartwarming feature is a Christmastime favorite, as beloved as figgy pudding. It’s the perfect cure for the bonus season blues.

For the past two years, Biglaw and small firms have duked it out for the distinction of having the best Christmas card. Last year’s honors went to a small firm: Proctor Heyman, the Delaware corporate litigation and counseling boutique. In the inaugural holiday card contest, a large firm prevailed: Akin Gump (which recently announced its bonuses, at least in New York).

We’ve already received several emails asking about when this year’s contest would start. The answer is: it starts today!

Read on — and read carefully — for the official contest rules….

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If you’re a newly departed Biglaw lawyer, that silence you hear is the absence of the email from the firm’s office manager asking you how many Christmas, sorry, “holiday” cards you need to send out this year. And if you’re in the first year or so of your own practice, I bet you can’t wait for the prize — your first shipment of gold embossed “HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM THE LAW OFFICES OF LOOK AT ME I HAVE MY OWN CARDS” holiday cards.

Christmas down here in solo and small firm land is much different. There are fewer meticulously planned escapes from the firm’s boring holiday “party,” and there’s no more relying on “the firm” to spend the bucks on gifts for its clients and referral sources. Now they’re your clients and referral sources, so make a list, and check it twice….

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Above the Law’s second annual holiday card contest was a great success. Thanks to everyone who responded to our call for nominations, thanks to the finalists who created such great holiday cards, and thanks to all the voters.

The campaigning was vigorous. And the final winner actually wasn’t one of the two firms that was leading early in the voting. There was an eleventh-hour surge over the weekend from one of the contenders.

Let’s find out who won this thing….

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Our law firm holiday card contest is still underway, but we’re in the home stretch. Voting closes tomorrow, January 9, at 11:59 p.m. (Eastern time). If you haven’t done so already, review the finalists and vote over here.

In the our earlier post, we promised a post in which we’d (1) give shout-outs to some holiday cards that were strong but narrowly missed our cut and (2) poke fun at some of the Christmas cards we found especially disappointing. Here is the promised post.

Let’s look at some of these honorable and dishonorable mentions. Perhaps your law firm’s card is among them?

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The holidays may be behind us (sigh), but Above the Law’s second annual holiday card contest remains in full swing. Thanks to everyone who responded to our call for submissions. The response was overwhelming.

Perhaps too overwhelming: we received dozens and dozens of nominations. I have literally spent several hours reviewing them all — hours of my life that I can never recover. While a few firms’ holiday e-cards impressed, charmed and even delighted me, the project as a whole made me nostalgic for document review. (It wasn’t nearly as fun as reviewing the entries for our law revue video contest.)

Readers, many of you did not follow contest rule #3: “Please limit submissions to holiday / Christmas cards that you view as worthy contenders. We’re looking for cards that are unusually clever, funny, or cool; we aren’t really interested in cards that are safe.”

Alas, we received many cards that were safe. And boring. In a future post, I’ll poke fun at some of the worst ones. I’ll also give shout-outs to a few cards that were nice, but not nice enough to make the final cut. (That will be the “Honorable and Dishonorable Mentions” post.)

For now, though, let’s view — and vote on — our seven worthy finalists….

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