I published my first Holiday Gift Guide for Lawyers in 2005 because the marketplace seemed to think the only gift worth giving a lawyer had to be adorned with the scales of justice, a gavel or an abstract of a Corinthian column. There are just so many ties, scarves or mugs so emblazoned that a lawyer can accept with a smile! Adding to the shopper’s dilemma, lawyers can be among the most difficult people to please. So what could be more appreciated by lawyers, their family and friends than a helpful guide to provide a few healthy hints? When the good people at Attorney at Work asked if Dan Pinnington and I could provide a special expanded edition of the gift guide, we gladly accepted. —Reid Trautz
Clever, Tasteful and Fun
One company that does a good job of avoiding the junk and appealing to lawyers is The Billable Hour Company, with a range of gift items that fit the profession. While not every gift will fit your lawyer-recipient, the company offers a nice variety of items, from games to desk accessories to watches that keep time in 10ths of an hour.
The Irresistible Tablet
2011 is the year of the tablet—any tablet. Well, almost any tablet. Although the iPad is the tablet atop most wish lists, there are some other very good tablets out there that deliver terrific bang for the buck. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 heads the list among the many Android-based full-size tablets, starting at $500 at many retailers. But in addition, not getting enough attention is the new Android-based Lenovo Thinkpad, a business-class device that comes with a digital stylus that turns handwriting into text. This tablet delivers some unique features and starts at $500. Amazon’s tablet/e-reader lineup is also very good, with the Kindle Fire leading the way. The Fire is a 7-inch color tablet that is primarily an e-reader but it uses Android apps, has a unique Web browser and supports webmail, too. The Fire is $199, while other Kindle models start at under $100.
No More Jack Frost Nipping at Their Digits
If your favorite lawyer must always take that urgent call, even in arctic temperatures, consider presenting a pair of touch-screen gloves. Wearing these specially designed gloves means you can operate a touch screen without freezing your bare fingertips. Even if you are standing on a cold and windy commuter train platform, they will keep your fingers toasty warm as you read the New York Times on your iPad or take a call on your trusty iPhone. Mashable has pictures and descriptions of different types of these gloves. A very practical gift, reasonably priced between $18 and $40.
More Tech-Inspired Treats
Jim Calloway and Sharon Nelson, co-hosts of the Digital Edge podcast, include several dozen gift ideas in their most recent edition, Tech Toys for the Holidays 2011. From a handy 9-foot charging cable for iPads to a $4 million diamond-encrusted iPhone, their list has plenty of interesting options for the tech-loving lawyer.
Something for the Traditionalist
Practical, historic Heirloom Pens are handcrafted from legacy wood from historic sites around the U.S., including Mulberry wood from the home of two signers of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. Rare woods and unique stories are behind each handmade pen, with prices ranging from $50 to over $200 per pen.
Here’s a great gift idea from our friend, South Carolina Bar practice management advisor Courtney Kennaday. She loves the Indoor Wifi Network camera from Sharx Security. Courtney has the Sharx Security VIPcella SCNC2606 Wifi Wireless 802.11g Security Network Camera ($222.13 on Amazon). It is easy to set it up so you can watch your pets or the nanny, or just make sure your house is safe. You can check it from the Internet or your phone, as well as back up the video recording to a microSD card or a network or even online. No monthly charges.
How About a Good Book?
And not one on anything legal! Here are two self-improvement books that many lawyers will find helpful:
- Mojo: How to Get It, How to Keep It, How to Get It Back If You Lose It. We could all use a bit of help with our mojo and a good place to start is Marshall Goldsmith’s practical and engaging best-seller. The central lesson is that each of us controls our own mojo. Goldsmith shows how to look inside yourself for motivation to get things done and make personal improvements, despite what’s happening around you. (Euro-crisis? What Euro-crisis?)
- Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose. Written by Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, it’s one of the top-selling business books of 2011. Beyond finding personal passion and purpose, this book emphasizes the importance of building an employee-centric culture. When employees are happy, they will in turn exceed clients’ expectations, which is always good for the bottom line.
Another item that appears in Reid My Blog’s 2011 gift guide is a great gift for lawyers who enjoy single-malt scotch: Whiskey Stones. Just freeze these small stone cubes, then add two or three to a dram of your favorite scotch whiskey. They will lower the drinking temperature without diluting the golden nectar! Milled in Vermont by the oldest soapstone workshop in the U.S., a set of nine stones costs under $20; opt for a set that comes with shot glass. (Dan would like to find these under the tree.)
Keeping Spirits Very, Very Bright
Some people ask “why”—others “why not?” If you’re in the latter category, you are sure to enjoy the novelty gas-powered blender at your next firm BBQ. Just fire up the 43cc, two-stroke gas engine, grab the handlebars and open up the throttle for some truly high-revving blended beverages. Yours for a steal at less than $400!
Why Not Brighten Up the Office, Too?
Lawyer-artist Debbi Cohen creates some of the most colorful and practical ceramics and office-brightening paintings you’ll find. Any of her creations would be a welcome addition to a lawyer’s office (and proceeds go to charity).
Wrap Up with a Little Mood Music
Finally, adding to the holiday ambiance, we have LawTunes, the brainchild of litigator Lawrence Savell, who cleverly writes, performs and produces humorous songs about the legal profession and the lawyers who inhabit it. Larry’s catalog of lawyer-focused CDs now includes his fourth holiday album, “Season’s Briefings from the LawTunes.” His online webstore conveniently provides clips of all his songs so you can pick the CD that will best tickle the funny bone of your favorite lawyer!
Dan Pinnington and Reid Trautz are co-authors of the ABA’s The Busy Lawyer’s Guide to Success: Essential Tips to Power Your Practice. Reid Trautz is Director of the Practice and Professionalism Center at American Immigration Lawyers Association. He is the Chair of ABA TECHSHOW 2012, serves on the ABA LPM Section governing council and is a Fellow in the College of Law Practice Management. He blogs on innovation in management, governance and ethics for lawyers at Reid My Blog! Dan Pinnington is Director of PracticePRO. In his work as a practice management advisor with Lawyer’s Professional Indemnity Company (LAWPRO) in Toronto, Dan helps lawyers avoid malpractice claims. He isa College of Law Practice Management Fellow, former Editor-in-Chief of ABA Law Practice magazine, and a past ABA TECHSHOW chair. Dan blogs at practicePRO’s Avoid a Claim and Lawyer Success Tips.