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….
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!
Yesterday we mentioned, as our Quote of the Day, a quip by NPR legal affairs commentator Nina Totenberg that some conservative bloggers interpreted as being anti-Christmas.
As it turns out, La Totenberg loves Christmas — and her innocent remark was badly misinterpreted. She explained everything to Roxanne Roberts and Amy Argetsinger, of the Washington Post’s Reliable Source….
In fairness, Mariah Carey does fill out a Santa suit better than I do.
Last night, we gave you a little recap of the ATL holiday party — if you will forgive the expression — that PLC and ELR Search sponsored. Wow. Some of you commenters are really mean, especially after Kash takes out a restraining order against you. Your clever use of ouchy words really did a number on us here at ATL. I had to use my orbital ass to block out the moon last night to keep Ami from turning into a werewolf. I thought everybody would be over it by morning, but when I came in Marin was using a size 4 sweater as a full sleeping bag and our CEO was selling off Breaking Media equipment on Ebay while screaming “No, not again, I’ll not be ruined the internet bubble a second time!”
Just kidding — we know you say these things out of love, the love the rest of polite society denies you because of your various deformities. Pitiful commenters of darkness, what kind of life have you now? God give me courage to show you, You are not alone.
In fairness, there was only one comment last night that really pissed me off. It was the first one: “If you attended this you are a LOSER and need to GET A LIFE.” Really buddy? Coming out for free drinks and free food on a random Wednesday, if you read a blog — a blog you yourself read so intently that you are FIRST to comment on it — makes you a “LOSER.” Really?
Whatever. Winners, a class of people I think “Guest” knows nothing about, should be able to come and hang out at the humble holiday party thrown by a blog they read if they want to.
And then they should also be able be wined and dined at a proper holiday party, thrown by their employers. And employer-sponsored holiday parties, especially when the employers are large law firms, should be so extravagant that “Guest” gets paid time-and-a-half to serve drinks while successfully breathing through his nose instead of his mouth.
Were they? Or was this yet another year of recession-affected law firm holiday parties?
(The clever 2010 holiday card of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips — which the WSJ Law Blog just named as its favorite card for this year — has a punchline that’s reminiscent of last year’s Akin Gump card. But the Manatt card opens with a funny fictionalized firm meeting to discuss the holiday card, which the Akin card did not have.)
We recently received lovely holiday e-cards from two well-regarded firms: Gordon & Rees, a California-based Am Law 200 and NLJ 250 firm, and Much Shelist, a Chicago-based business law firm. You can check out their cards — they both contain music, so you might want to turn your computer’s sound off or use headphones if you’re not alone — by clicking on the images (above right, for Gordon & Rees, and after the jump, for Much Shelist).
These cards reminded us: ’tis the season — for a holiday card contest!
If you’re interested in submitting a law firm holiday card for consideration, please read on for the submission guidelines….
‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the Internetz,
Not many creatures were clicking, not even Biglaw cadets;
The BlackBerrys were silenced and set aside with care,
Because RIM crashed again and no emails were there.
Corporate lawyers were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of billable hours danced in their heads…
We expect next week to be a quiet one. Your Above the Law editors will still be around, checking tips and looking back at the big stories of 2009, but we’ll be publishing fewer posts per day.
If you want a legal fix over the holidays, think about entering the Do I Have A Right? ATL Challenge. The tournament runs through January 8. Hint: If your score is below 10,000, you might want to play again. And parents, think about partnering with your child to enter the contest as it’s aimed at middle schoolers. You can find out now whether you need to start a law school tuition fund for them.
Professor Joel P. Trachtman has developed a unique, practical guide to help lawyers analyze, argue, and write effectively.
The Tools of Argument: How the Best Lawyers Think, Argue, and Win is a highly readable 200-page book, available for about $10 in paperback or e-book. Chapters focus on foundational principles in legal argument: procedure, interpretation of contracts and statutes, use of evidence, and more. The material covered is taught only implicitly in law school. Yet, when up-and-coming attorneys master these straightforward tools, they will think and argue like the best lawyers.
For most attorneys, time spent managing the books is a necessary evil at best. Yet it is undeniably a crucial aspect of running a successful practice. With that in mind, we invite you to view or download a free webinar by Above the Law and our friends at Clio to learn how to better manage your finances.
Take this opportunity to learn what it takes to streamline your accounting and get the most out of your time. The webinar agenda:
● The basics of accounting for lawyers.
● How legal accounting differs from regular accounting.
● Report and reconciliation issues surrounding trust accounts.
● How to pick and integrate the best accounting tools for your practice.
● Steps to prepare your tax return for your firm’s income.
Do not miss this crucial chance to optimize your accounting practices. Save time and get back to billing!
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 seven years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney are still in Hong Kong and will stay FOR THE REMAINDER OF THIS WEEK. We still have a handful of available slots for meetings with our Asia Chronicles fans. If we have not been in touch lately, reach out and let us know when we could meet! There is no need for an agenda at all. Most of our in-person meetings on these trips are with folks who understand that improving a legal practice through lateral hiring is an information-driven process that takes time to handle correctly.
Regarding trends in lateral US associate hiring in Hong Kong, we of course keep much of what we know off of this blog. Based on placement revenue, though, Kinney is having one of our most successful years ever in Asia. We are helping a number of our law firm clients with M&A, fund formation, cap markets, project finance, FCPA and disputes openings. These are very specific needs in many cases, so a conversation with us before jumping in may be helpful. As always, we like to be sure to get the maximum number of interviews per submission, using a well-informed, highly targeted, and selective approach, taking into account short, medium and long-term career aims.
Making a well informed decision during a job search is easier said than done – the information we provide comes from 10 years of being the market leader in US attorney placements at the top tier firms in Asia. There is no substitute for having known a hiring partner since he/she was an associate or for having helped a partner grow his or her practice from zip to zooming, and this is happily where we stand today – with years of background information on just about every relevant person in all the markets we serve, and most especially in Hong Kong/China/Greater Asia. So get in touch and get a download from us this week if we can fit it in, or soon in any case!