Friday, October 27, 2006

The Season of Law Firm Giving Approaches

The season of giving approaches... the season of choosing is here. Every year law firms, just like every business out there, spends time considering what gifts or gestures the lawyers will put before clients and friends of the firm. It is an age old tradition that begs renewal every holiday season. It is also a tradition that begs for new ideas.

At my firm the attorneys are presented with a laundry list of gift options and depending on the importance of the client make an appropriate choice with regard to gift value. Other attorneys at my firm make cash donations to a charity on behalf of a client and notate that in their holiday card. Both practices are quite typical for all law firms, service providers, and companies et al. Last year in a moment of inspiration one of the attorneys at my firm handed out iPod's to his clients. Nice!

An annual ritual for letting individuals know they are important is a good thing. My "thing" is wanting that gift to mean something. The gift has to be something more than a basket that's relegated to the lunch room or gesture without relevance. Here are my ideas on the subject:
  • If your gift has to be a basket -- deliver in-person. It may wind up in the lunch room but the moment of delivery is really what counts. If the recipient is a air-flight away... so be it. Get on the plane and make the delivery.
  • If you make a donation make it to a charity that matters to the client. Not the one that matters most to you. Relevance matters.
  • Whenever possible select gifts that are personal to the individual. If your client is a fly fisherman than give a fly fishing related item. Your client is a new mom or dad? Give them something a parent can appreciate. If you know your client you'll know what to give.
  • Don't put your firm logo on any gift. TOTALLY tacky.
  • If a big client has a close relationship with a smaller client -- both get the same thing. People talk and feelings will be hurt if you do otherwise. You do know which of your clients know each other... don't you?
  • Know your clients well enough to know if gifts or gestures matter to them. Some might actually be offended by your generosity during this particular time of year.
One of the most successful attorneys I know doesn't give out gifts at all. He hosts an annual dinner gathering of his most important clients and their spouses at a great restaurant. He hires in music, picks a great menu and creates an special atmosphere making a special evening for all. His clients are cherished friends.

No matter what your firm and attorneys choose to do for the holiday gift giving season I implore you to think about helping them to do special things. It matters all year long.