If you’re a new lawyer, you should know that this Christmas will be different from the ones you enjoyed before you started walking around with a bar card in your wallet. While partners at the firm are running off to vacation at some winter wonderland even though there is work to do, it’s not hard to figure out who will be left behind trying to meet those year-end deadlines. That will be you.
This scenario has created some of the most memorable tales of associate Christmases past. One commonly shared memory is the experience of having to work late, missing a flight and ending up spending Christmas Eve on a cold airport floor.
Another memorable seasonal story is one of the associate who tried to deliver documents to a partner’s vacation home during a blizzard. His car skidded off the road, and he spent at least a couple of the 12 days of Christmas trapped in a snowbank. Adding insult to injury, lawyers in these situations can usually only bill clients for the time they spend in the snowbank, as clients tend to balk at paying for time spent in a hospital being treated for frostbite.
Such experiences teach attorneys the true meaning of a law firm Christmas. They also make lawyers appreciate the relative comfort and safety of spending the holidays at the office. It’s better simply to make plans to be at the firm rather than make plans you will never be able to keep.
But don’t despair! Instead, do what you can to make the best of the situation. Here are some helpful holiday hints and thoughts to cheer you up:
- If you drive to work, traffic on Christmas morning is certain to be far lighter than usual. Give yourself a special holiday treat by sleeping an extra 10 minutes before going to the office.
- The firm computer is likely to have a faster Internet connection than your home computer. This will reduce the time it takes to send electronic Christmas cards to all the people who are so important to you.
- Buy yourself a present on the way to the office (7-Eleven is open 24 hours, even on Christmas) and unwrap it at your desk while waiting for documents to be proofread.
- Bring a cassette tape of Christmas carols and play them on your dictaphone.
- In lieu of going to church with loved ones, gather with other associates for services in the senior partner’s office.
- Come to the office dressed as your favorite biblical character.
- Use a fire extinguisher to make your office part of a white Christmas.
- Call home while the family is gathered around the fire opening presents, and listen to them on your speakerphone while you do your work.
- Don’t forget to think of the less fortunate on this special day. Specifically, remember that while you may not yet be a partner, there are those who rank even lower than you on the law firm totem pole. Take advantage of your senior position and keep from getting lonely by making a first-year associate and a paralegal or two come to the office and share in the firm festivities.
If these steps fail to make your holiday a joyous occasion, it’s probably because being at the firm has caused your post-Christmas depression to kick in early this year. The good news is that you might also get over it earlier than usual and actually feel like celebrating on New Year’s Eve.
That is, of course, assuming you don’t have to work that night.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Fiscal Year!
This article originally appeared in the ABA Journal. ©2002. American Bar Association. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any or portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association.