It’s time again for thoughts of holiday cheer interrupt the lives of busy lawyers. Ok, let me rephrase that: It’s time to put down the Blackberry, slow down the pace of work, and enjoy the Christmas and holiday seasons. And regardless of whether you are giving loved ones hints for yourself or are looking for gift ideas for your favorite lawyer spouse, partner or friend, my annual gift guide can help! I will do my best to prevent yet another “Scales of Justice” tie from being under the tree this year! Enjoy!
iPad: This game-changing new technology has gone from toy to tool faster than any device in the history of American legal jurisprudence. Lawyers are flocking to the iPad with good reason: It does what lawyers need to do especially when out of the office. Many of these lawyers once eschewed the virtual keyboard on the iPhone are liking the larger virtual keyboard on the iPad. That means more work gets done when on the road or out of the office. Not a complete replacement for a laptop, but it’s close. $500-$750.
If your lawyer already has an iPad, there are tons of great accessories including sleek, innovative cases, skins, and stands to hold the tablet, not to mention optional keyboards. Most are around $30.
Give the gift of Life. It’s been a tough year for many lawyers who are scrambling to log their billable hours. Many lawyers may have missed the Discovery Channel’s epic series, Life, featuring 8 hours of the most compelling images of life on Earth ever captured on film. This series is a great diversion from office life, and will both fascinate and intrigue your favorite lawyer. Available on DVD or Blu-Ray. $50-$70.
Bottle Armor: Due to airport security, you can no longer carry-on a favorite bottle of wine or scotch, and must trust the contents to your suitcase where an uncertain fate awaits. Now you can protect any bottle of your favorite spirits when traveling with Bottle Armor, the leakproof padded nylon bag from Amazon or Magellan's. Under $20.
Slingbox Media Player and SlingPlayer Mobile: Whether you are stuck in the office or at a family command performance, now you don't have to miss that big game or final reality show episode! When connected to WiFi or 3G, this iPhone app or Android app allows you to watch and control your home TV or DVR wherever you—provided you have the Slingbox SOLO or Pro-HD media player. $30 for the app; $180 and up for the player. (Not cheap, but cheaper than a TV subscription for your phone!)
Hands-free control of your smart phone not only makes good sense, it is the law in more and more states. Try the Jabra Cruiser in-car speakerphone to call and talk without your hands leaving the wheel. Great for the billable hour, but let's be careful out there! About $80.
Far too many lawyers grab a sandwich for lunch and eat at their desks in front of a computer. Great for billable hours, but what a mess on the keyboard! Enter CyberClean, a “Play-doh-like" substance that you press into the keyboard and pull off to remove dirt, crumbs, and bacteria. I can tell you from personal experience, this does the trick. Works for any device with a keyboard and makes a great stocking stuffer for about $8!
Trading Spaces may have started it, but t-shirts and mugs, sporting the logo of a favorite “educational” TV show is all the rage! From The Colbert Report to Dirty Jobs; from Diners, Drive-ins & Dives to the collegial joys of Shark Week, lawyers can make a fun statement about their favorite non-legal diversion. Starting around $20.
Vu-Point Magic Wand Portable Scanner: Thanks to fellow lawyer and blogger, Jim Calloway, for pointing me to this inexpensive battery-operated portable full-page scanner that weighs less than 8 ounces. Need to copy a document at the court house or client’s office? Whip out this handy scanner from your briefcase and the job is done. Unbelievable for $80!
Now from the practical to the sublime-The Wizard’s Wand Universal Remote. This “magic” wand uses accelerometer technology (as found in Wii controllers) to allow 13 different movements to be programmed into the wand to control your TV. From volume control to changing DVD tracks or TV channels, this promises to make you the Merlin of your Man Cave! About $80
Speaking of Wii, Sony and Microsoft have launched their own movement-based video games. Joining the Wii craze is the PS3 Move and Xbox Kinect which attach to the PS3 and Xbox game systems, respectively. If your favorite lawyer is turning into a couch-potato, this will get them on their feet and having fun! From $99
OK, this item scores real high on the “geek meter” but may be a Godsend to a lawyer pulling an all-nighter. Instead of yet another cup of coffee, pop a couple Stay Puft Caffeinated Marshmallows to keep that edge while finishing up late. $20
For the lawyer who has everything, except holiday spirit, get her a festive knit reindeer sweater complete with flashing miniature Christmas lights, powered by an ultra-miniature battery pack. Sweater purveyor, Skedouche also has some interesting other designs that are definitely naughty yet nice. Starting around $60.
Beats by Dr. Dre audio headphones and earbuds are flying off the shelves these days for good reason: The sound quality is awesome. I have the iBeats for iPhone and the quality is definitely a step up from the V-Moda earbuds in my 2008 gift guide. The earbud line-up includes PowerBeats and Tour, as well as traditional headphones that are getting rave reviews too. Starting around $99.
Books always make great gifts, so might I be so bold to suggest one I co-authored? The Busy Lawyer’s Guide to Success is chocked full of practical advice and profitable ideas--it’s the gift that keeps on giving all year! Paper or Kindle, about $50. Check out some of the other legal-specific business books from the American Bar Association.
Another fine book is the recently published The E-Myth Attorney. It is the attorney-focused version of the best-selling E-Myth Revisited—a book every small business owner must read. It makes a great companion to The Busy Lawyer’s Guide to Success. Also available as a podcast from iTunes. Around $25
The Flipshare Mino HD video camera made the guide this year, not because it is such good camera, but because editing the videos into a cohesive story is so easy. Shoot video, upload to your computer via the retractable USB plug, then let the included software guide you into making a coherent video complete with optional background music. A must for any lawyer with a busy family. Around $150
As the business of law gets more competitive, lawyers have to be more innovative. The Think Outside the Box statue on the desktop may be just the subtle reminder your favorite lawyer wants to keep ahead of the pack. $80
And now for something way out of the box! Whoogles is both a blog and new book that showcases often bizarre and offbeat searches asked of Google, such as "How drunk am I?" or "Can I catch herpes from my cat?" And yes, it gets way more bizarre from there . . .
Using accelerometer technology that seems so popular this year, the pocket-sized, wearable Fitbit device tracks your calories burned, steps taken, distance traveled and sleep quality on a daily basis. Syncs with Macs and PCs through Fitbit’s website so you can chart your results. $99
While the game Monopoly isn’t much fun for real estate lawyers, it is a great family diversion for most others. Today there are hundreds of themed versions from cities and colleges to The Beatles and U.S. Navy; from the NY Yankees to the Family Guy TV show. Sorry, no Lawyer Edition, but they do have my favorite--the John Wayne Edition. Around $25
Doesn’t it seem that almost the second a photo is snapped, people want to see it? Group viewing on the small screen on most cameras just doesn’t cut it, and loading the picture to a nearby computer is a hassle (if you have one nearby). Enter the Nikon Coolpix S1100pj that is both a camera and a projector. Now, you can immediately beam your pictures to a wall or screen so they can be shared with the whole family or firm! About $350