Ed. note: Have a question for next week? Send it in to

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”

Check it out below — and guess where it’s from….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Politically Correct Holiday Cake”

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

Do not confuse Nina Totenberg with The Grinch.

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….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nina Totenberg Wishes You A Very Merry Christmas!”

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?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Holiday Party Open Thread: What Did (or Will) Your Firm Do This Holiday Season?”

And I was at — forgive the expression — a Christmas party at the Department of Justice, and people actually [were] really worried about this [budget issue].

— NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg, in a recent on-air discussion. Totenberg’s apology for using the “C” word has generated controversy in conservative circles.

UPDATE: Totenberg intended no disrespect to Christmas. See here.

Happy Holidays, from Gordon & Rees (click on the image to see the card - note that there's music).

Last year we held our first annual contest for law firm holiday cards. It was a fun feature, as well as a big hit with Above the Law readers.

The winner, in a landslide, was Akin Gump. Check out their delightful card, which is still online, over here.

(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….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Above the Law’s Second Annual Holiday Card Contest”

Elie Mystal Kashmir Hill David Lat ATL editors Above the Law editors.jpgTwas 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.

Happy holidays!

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