Thursday, December 21, 2006

My stocking's not filled entirely with coal this Christmas: I just set up a free holiday e-card over at the Anonymous Law Firm site. A perfect gift for people who deserve nothing more than a free holiday e-card.

Unfortunately, it's holiday gift time. I've hated this practice ever since I started here. I didn't give my secretary anything my first year as an associate. I didn't know we were supposed to. She quit the day after Christmas. So then I knew. Since becoming a member of the senior leadership team, I've put together a memo every December listing all of the support staff people and some characteristics people can use to identify them, since it's not like we can be expected to remember their names. I happen to be good at names, but most of my associates are instead good at other things, like wasting my time and the firm's money. So I put together this "Mandatory Holiday Wealth Transfer Program" memo and send it around so everyone gets what's coming to them and all of us who are fortunate enough to be smart enough to be important in life can give a little back to the sad folks who answer our phones and type our documents. I thought it might be helpful for any readers at firms that don't distribute a document like this to take a look at mine for guidance this holiday season, so I've cut and pasted it below.


To: Attorneys

Once again, we're all forced by social custom to help the less fortunate among us afford food and shelter for the holiday season. Below are some guidelines for holiday tipping. Just as we do regarding your bonuses, feel free to adjust based on your subjective evaluation of people's performance, whether or not it bears any resemblance to reality.

As previously explained in the memo titled SALARY SHARE CALCULATION FOR HOLIDAY BONUS PURPOSES (12/18/06), one "share" as listed below is equivalent to 0.01% of your salary plus bonus, before taxes. Thus, if your salary+bonus is $200K, one "share" for purposes of these guidelines would be $20.

Your personal secretary: 10 shares

Each secretary (up to 4) in your local secretary pool: 2-3 shares

Secretary coordinator (the woman with the funny looking hats): 3-5 shares, if you have changed secretaries multiple times this calendar year and required her assistance.

Any paralegals you work closely with: 10 shares

Document pool workers you can identify by sight: 5 shares

The pastry guy with the narrow eyes: 1 share

The hirsute woman who cleans the offices: 2 shares or some leftover food

The copy machine repairman with the bad breath: 1 share if he has been of service to you in the past year, otherwise you are better served avoiding him

Creepy security guard: 3 shares

Hiring partner: 10 shares, or a nice bottle of wine

You should try and refrain from handing your gifts out before Christmas Day, since we want to encourage attendance at work by you and also by the people in line to receive the gifts. If they stay home, they deserve whatever gift penalties they end up receiving. In addition, please give them checks instead of cash -- most of them do not have the self-control to save their cash until they get home and will spend it on drugs and beer instead. We want to try and avoid a repeat of last year's Secretary Rave on the 38th floor conference room.

Best wishes for a billable holiday season.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

[I just discovered my book is on the Rocky Mountain News "favorite books of 2006" list (link here). I'm quite flattered. Perhaps Colorado's not a second-tier state after all.]

Friday, December 15, 2006

Just got back upstairs after a fire drill. The guy in the office next to me weighs about 300 pounds, from a life of junk food and never getting up from his chair. When he started at the firm 7 years ago he weighed about 160 pounds, played basketball every weekend, and wouldn't even touch the free cookies in the attorney lounge. But he's put on about 20 pounds every year since and now he's a monster. Hasn't really bought any new clothing either, so everything's unbearably tight on him. It's embarrassing to even look at him, so we try to make sure his door stays closed, and we've certainly stopped letting him meet with clients or recruits. The cleaning staff got upset when we made them go into his office and sweep up the crumbs so we've left him to fend for himself in that department too. He hasn't done a very good job, because he really can't reach the floor anymore. In sum, he's a disaster. Why his story is relevant to today's fire drill: clearly he can't get down the stairs, and even more important, he knows it. We send out e-mails in advance of the fire drills, so people know not to schedule conference calls or associate time-outs in the janitor's closet during that time. The drill was supposed to be at 11AM. At 10:50, I see Fat Man leaving his office, for the first time since '03 or so. He told me he'd see me downstairs. And then I watched him get into the elevator. We got downstairs and there he was, an ice cream sandwich in each hand. I don't even know where you get an ice cream sandwich in the building at 11AM. I think he might have taken them with him from his office, in case he got winded riding the elevator. In a real fire, he's obviously not going to make it. I'm not sure that's a terrible thing.

Someone e-mailed me about the new same-sex marriage law in New Jersey, allowing civil unions. My e-mailer wanted my thoughts. I think she assumes I have some opinion about this. I don't know why I would. I don't care who gets married. Same gender, opposite gender, it doesn't matter, no one's ever home anyway. Marriage is meaningless. No one here sees his or her spouse for more than a couple of hours a week anyway, so why should it matter who or what they're married to. Even if I had a problem with the idea of same-sex marriage, and I don't know why I would, it certainly wouldn't matter in practice. Let them ban all marriage, let them force arranged marriage, let them change the whole marriage regime, it simply doesn't matter for anyone I know or work with. Marriage is a fiction designed to enable someone to stop dating. There are people here who got married in 1993 and still haven't taken a honeymoon.

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