My Holiday Gift Guide for Lawyers is back for the third consecutive year, with an expanded array of noteworthy recommendations for the lawyers in your life. Not a tie, gavel, or kitschy brass scales on this list, just gifts that any self-respecting, hard-working, red-blooded American lawyer wouldn’t love to have–if they had the time to find it themselves and tell you about it!
Once again, I’ve compiled this list as a public service for my learned professional colleagues and their time-sensitive, gift idea-starved family, friends, partners, associates and, dare I say, appreciative clients? Yep, that means that once again I make no money on this guide. No Google Ad Words, referral fees, nor sponsorships. Consider it pro bono publico! The gift ideas are in no particular order (except I’m hoping my wife notices I put the iPhone first), and range in price from under ten dollars to several hundred. Enjoy!
Apple iPhone: Sorry to say I don’t own one, but it’s on my Christmas list! I’ve played with several, read the blogs, and talked with numerous owners. The verdict? It’s not perfect, but more than worthy of the Apple name. Buries the needle on the way-cool meter. Ditto the functionality. A must-have if you already are on the AT&T network; for all others compare your carrier’s coverage map before you switch. $399 from AT&T and Apple.
Sonic Alarm Grenade: Although this would make a great office practical joke, the REAL purpose of this gadget is to wake your teenager after sleeping half the day away. Just pull the pin, lob it in their room and close the door. The only way to stop the shrieking is to put the pin back in. Makes a wonderful gift for your favorite lawyer with a typical teenager! About $13 at Thinkgeek.com
Dough-Nu-Matic: OK, maybe not the healthiest gift, but just imagine the hot sugary doughnuts to go with that Starbucks Grande. This counter-top device automatically forms, fries, and drains mini-doughnuts in under 60 seconds. A hit with staff for early morning or a late-night office snack attack. Available through SkyMall.
Lap Track: Swimming laps is great low-impact, stress-relieving exercise for any lawyer, especially those if us who are looking at our prime athletic years in the rearview mirror. This portable underwater device helps count laps and makes it more fun to boot. Kinda makes up for the doughnuts.
WildCharge: Wouldn’t we all just like to toss our cell phone or iPod down on our desk and have it chare automatically? No cords or adapters? Well, WildCharge is the first wire-free charging system for handheld portable electronics. Just add the small adapter to your cell phone, PDA or similar device, then toss it on the WildCharger pad (about 6 inches square) to recharge it. The pad holds up to 5 devices at a time, but adapters are only currently available for Razr phones and the iPod Nano. Just named one of Time magazine’s Best Inventions of 2007. Sounds like this soon may be required equipment. Available from the manufacturer for $90 plus shipping.
Buddha Board: While they keep adding more and more clever gifts at The Billable Hour Company, I think the Buddha Board is truly unique. As the name implies, just a few moments of "painting" on this reusable board will put any Type-A lawyer in a peaceful zen state of mind. The paint is really just water that appears black on this special white board. It disappears as it dries, ready to use again the next time your favorite lawyer needs a few minutes of calm.
Hilarious Personalized Lawyer Figurines: I normally won’t accept unsolicited gift ideas, but when artist Hunter Vaughan emailed me earlier this year I knew I would make an exception. Hunter has been creating clever customized lawyer statues/vignettes/sculptures for 30 years and it shows. A perfect for your law partner, spouse or parent! Starting about $150 from MagicMud.
SoundView Executive Book Summaries: With the stack of unread magazines and books on my desk, I recently decided to take this shortcut. Soundview produces 8-page summaries and audio-recordings of important business books–books that can help many lawyers learn and adopt better business practices for their law firms. About $150 for an annual subscription from SoundView.
"Alive" Elvis–The Animatronic Singing Robot: When seeing this, many lawyers will say "Why"? This is clearly for the rest of us who say "Why not?" About $300 from Sharper Image.
The Mega Caffeine Candy Sampler, v7.0: For those friends at large firms who are burning the candle at both ends. Whether they are billing 2200 hours, just putting in extra face time, and/or partying until sunrise, this anti-somnambulist packet will come in handy to keep them awake and perky. From ThinkGeek for $20.
Garmin GPS: GPS road navigation devices are bad for family lawyers, but great for everyone else. This marriage-saving device obviates the need for spouses to argue whether to stop and ask for directions. I received my GPS device as a gift from friends, and it has opened my eyes to a new way of driving–-not to mention made family driving an even more pleasant event! Many versions retail for around $300-350, so find the one that best fits your needs and pocketbook.
Personalized Coffee Mugs: I am so tired of visiting offices and being served coffee in styrofoam cups or ceramic mugs advertising legal research or court reporting services. C’mon, let's show some individuality. Make a statement. Have some fun. Whether it’s Wonder Woman, motivational quotes, or your law firm name and logo, just dump the junky mugs. Buy a dozen. Give yourself and your firm a present. Merry Christmas!
Stash Card–A secret drawer for your laptop! Just pull out plug in the unused PC slot on your laptop and replace it with this mini-storage drawer. Undetectable to others, so only you know the treasure it holds. Big enough for several SD cards, stamps, office key, some emergency cash, or similar items. Under $10 from Circuit City, Radio Shack, or on-line at Wireless Garden.
Office Pillows with a Message: I’m surprised to only find these funny gems across The Pond in England, but they are perfect for any US lawyer too. With a variety of messages including "Friday-–only two more working days until Monday", "The Best Lawyers Have Messy Offices", and "Partner–and don’t you forget it!" OK, so at $55 each, they are not bargains with today’s currency exchange rate, but it is very, very unique.
Electronic Digital Photo Frame: Desktop photos of family and friends is a welcome touch in any lawyer office, but thanks to technology we can now have dozens of photos in the space of just one. These new digital picture frames can hold dozens of photos that are timed to change every few minutes, so your favorite lawyer can always sneak a peak at the people and things that really count! From under $100 at retailers nationwide.
When All Else Fails? Grab a gift card. Just about every retailer sells gift cards, but which ones do busy lawyers want? Starbucks, Caribou, Seattle’s Best, or the nearest coffee drive-thru between home and office. Nuff said.