Shopping For Others

‘Tis the season to puzzle over holiday gift etiquette at the office. Every year, a few questions come up about this topic — what’s appropriate, how much, whether they really have to, etc. No really, one year, a colleague complained, “Well, I’m not getting much of a bonus this year, so why should I give a gift to my secretary?” What you’d call a true, selfless, holiday spirit.

Obviously, this was back during law firm days, when bonus announcements are made early, unlike at companies, where the grand reveal isn’t usually for another couple of months after wilting trees have been cleared from the driveways. Not gifting your admin wasn’t exactly unheard of at a law firm, though, and I think it evidences a difference between the impact of gift-giving at a large law firm versus in-house.

At a law firm, you could give gifts to every employee at the office (or not) and, while your colleagues would be appreciative (or not), this act (or lack thereof) really wouldn’t make much of a difference in your career. Do you still have zero clients? Okay, still not making partner. Still have boatloads of clients? Continue with deity status.

At a company, on the other hand, you need to find out the unwritten rules for gifting….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Moonlighting: Holiday Gifting at the Office (Hint: Ixnay on the Nose Hair Clippers)”

After stealing all the Whoville toys, the Grinch planned to re-gift them to his army of lawyers.

I’m much more likely to throw away a gift or give it to charity than to regift something I already have or don’t want. I think I’d live in fear of the original gift-giver meeting up with the regift recipient and talking about how I was a bad friend for orchestrating the whole mess. I’d rather those two people meet up and say, “Did Elie get you anything? No? Too bad. I was hoping he did and you could tell him it sucked. That’s what he told me when he opened my present.” There’s something intangibly sneaky and dishonest about regifting. It’s just not classy.

Of course, people do it all the time. And not because they lack class so much as they lack money. Even if it’s tacky, regifting usually comes from a good place: you want to give presents to more people than you can afford to shop for.

But there’s nothing laudable (or forgivable) about how one small law firm in California goes about re-gifting. They want to send gifts to their clients — so they commandeer the gifts sent to their secretaries and staff, and regift them.

I think this firm missed the “spirit” part of this holiday season….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “California Firm Puts the ‘Ghetto’ Into ‘Re-Gifting’”

'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”


* Seriously? We’re still deporting gay people who are married? Are there really people who are still in favor of this policy? [Stop the Deportations]

* On the upside, these shoppers can now literally say they got somebody a gift over that man’s dead body. [Huffington Post]

* When did Jed Rakoff become so godlike? [WSJ Law Blog]

* Christmas gifts that you’ll only like if you are a lawyer and already have an iPad. [Constitutional Daily]

* Is your job more interesting than soap for your hair? [Ross's Law Marketing Blog]

* I like the suggestion, by Professor Frank Pasquale, that firms are pushing the “useless first-year” meme to maximize their profits. If true, we should see a bunch of talented first years opening their own shops in 3…2…1… [Balkinization]

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?”

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