Law Practice

Santa Baby, Maybe: Favored Clients Get Better BigLaw Swag

‘Tis the season for major law firms to send gifts to clients in an annual ritual that separates the big bill-payers from the perennially behind and can pose pitfalls for uninitiated lawyers.

Favored clients in the $1 million-plus annual billings range have graduated from gift baskets, and can expect their counsel to take some care in selecting personalized presents for them from the firm catalog. For example, the executive who has just purchased a vacation home featured in Architectural Digest might get a grilling set featuring Williams-Sonoma teak-handled tools and a monogrammed steak brand, explains the Snark in a Daily Report article reprinted by New York Lawyer (reg. req.). At this level, the monogram actually features the executive’s initials rather than the firm’s, the Snark notes.

One potential problem: Clients at this level often have multiple individuals who get gifts from the firm. “You must include the assistants, vice presidents and the entire legal department. But be very careful,” the Snark advises. “They will compare gifts, and the whole gift-giving thing could backfire: ‘Outside counsel gave you a year’s subscription to the Beer of the Month club? But I am the microbrew connoisseur. You like Coors Light!’ ”

Among the lower echelons, gift-giving is a less complex process. Typical law firm tokens of appreciation to clients include gift baskets of mediocre wine and a corkscrew featuring the firm’s initials or gourmet coffee beans and a firm-branded mug, the Snark says. Clients who pay less than $100,000 in legal bills annually or have outstanding balances can expect a tasteful holiday card.

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