‘Tis the Season

Happy Holidays to you and yours from Tina & Natalie!

With the official season of good will closing in, many lawyers and firms will be thinking about appropriate gifts to give clients, other firms, courthouse personnel, and other professional contacts.  While this is a genuine expression of your appreciation and also effective marketing, we have just a couple of words of caution.

When giving gifts to those who regularly refer clients to you, be mindful of Rule 7.3(c) of the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct:  A lawyer shall not compensate or give anything of value to a person or organization to recommend or secure the lawyer’s employment by a client, or as a reward for having made a recommendation resulting in the lawyer’s employment by a client.  So, for example, if you want to give a gift to the real estate broker who refers closing business, or a medical provider who refers personal injury clients, a therapist who refers family law matters, or another lawyer who refers cases outside her area of practice, it is best to keep the gift modest.  It should be a general token of appreciation that does not carry the appearance or reality of compensation for any particular referrals.  The value of the gift should not reflect that you have had a particularly good year from the referrals from the recipient.

So, what are some good gift ideas for lawyers?  Despite bottles of wine, game tickets,  fruit and gift baskets still being popular choices, some traditional gifts are now being supplanted by donations to charities in the recipient lawyer’s or firm’s name.   You can select charities on sites like Charity Navigator, www.charitynavigator.com.  Also, the number of online sources for gift ideas for lawyers has burgeoned.   Check out some of the long-running gift suggestion providers like Reid Trautz’s Holiday Gift Guide on his blog, Reid My Blog! at http://reidtrautz.typepad.com/ or the shopping site, Café Press, with their  lawyer gift ideas at http://www.cafepress.com/+lawyer+gifts.  Want to see what else there is out there, try Amazon’s Gifts for Lawyers at http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1000998291 or even the American Bar Association’s Great Gifts for Lawyers page under their Special Collections at http://www.americanbar.org/content/ebus/collections.html.

Finding ideas for thanking those who have referred business or just celebrating by extending Seasons’ Greetings is relatively easy, but don’t forget that you should always be mindful of the gift you are giving to ensure it reaches its purpose without going beyond the limits of your ethical duties.

Tina & Natalie

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