Seven Things That Always Happen at Law Firms Around Christmas

If the past few years have proven anything, it’s that nothing is predictable at law firms anymore. Lockstep gave way to mass layoffs. The billable hour absconded to “alternative billing.” “Offer” was replaced by “defer” and “rescind.” And year-end bonuses—don’t get us started.

But there are still a few things that happen annually in BigLaw around this time of year that are extraneous to economic conditions. Irrespective of the financial climate, there are seven things that always seem to happen at law firms around Christmas.

1. Drunken Fool Partner Shags Secretary at Firm Holiday Party

The next day, the Managing Partner privately reprimands Drunken Fool Partner. Weeks later, Drunken Fool Partner takes temporary leave of absence for personal reasons. Secretary stays put—but despite her public commitment to sobriety and intra-firm abstinence, she shags another Drunken Fool Partner at the next holiday soiree.

2. Naive Midwestern Associate Says ‘Merry Christmas’ to Jewish Partners

The associate is fully unaware that his Yuletide greetings are being met with unspoken derision. Finally, a colleague tells Naïve Midwestern Associate that it’s better to say “Happy Holidays.” The dime drops for NMA, and he feels like an offensive, uber-Christian asshole. Truth is, until that moment in time, the cute kid from St. Louis never imagined that saying “Merry Christmas” could somehow be considered insensitive. Welcome to New York!

3. Hopeful Optimistic NY Associate En Route to His Family’s Idyllic, Snow-Covered House in New England is Given Emergency Assignment Minutes before Leaving

Associate uses the “I was planning to take a few days off for Christmas” excuse, but partner doesn’t bite. After some tense back and forth, Associate manages to negotiate a “Christmas Day only” vacation and endures the worst holiday season of his life.

4. Ambitious, Hard-Working, Pedigreed Associate Filled with Holiday Spirit and Unfettered Joy Has Self-Esteem Shattered at His Year-End Review

Not only is his bonus 50% lower than expected, he’s told that he’s no longer in the hunt for partnership. Associate immediately returns any and all Christmas gifts over $100 and quietly develops an eggnog addiction.

5. Wall Street Friend Announces Bonus, Making Banker-Wannabe Associate Hate His Life

To make matters worse, Banker-Wannabe Associate complains that his bonus is considerably lower than he deserved and expected. Banker-Wannabe Associate declares war with Wall Street Friend, vowing to never talk to him again—unless he needs a loan.

6. In a Vain Attempt to Become the Firm’s ‘Funny’ Associate, Some Schnook Gives Lingerie to a Female Associate for Her Secret Santa Gift

Nobody laughs. Especially the firm’s labor lawyers. Days later, the unfunny loser issues a formal apology to the female associate, but it’s pointless. For the rest of his mediocre legal career, he’s known as “the loser who gave someone lingerie as a Secret Santa gift.”

7. Scores of Disillusioned, Bitter Lawyers Pledge to Find a More Exciting, More Fulfilling Profession in the New Year

And some actually do.


Bitter Staff is a collection of current and former editors, contributors, and various other lawyers who have written for Bitter Lawyer over the years. Posts include interviews, contests, and other general lawyerly and bitter content.


  1. BL1Y

    December 17, 2009 at 5:02 am

    The saddest thing about firm holiday parties is that some associates will still be at their desk working during it, and some associates will go back to work after the party.  But, the best thing about these parties is that this year I don’t have to go.

  2. Anon

    December 17, 2009 at 7:10 am

    Christmas in BigLaw is hell.  You’re either too busy to enjoy it, or not busy enough to not worry about getting fired.  For the record, I missed 3 out of 4 holiday parties due to work.  So I don’t even get a chance to shag the drunk secretary.

  3. KateLaw

    December 17, 2009 at 7:29 am

    The last firm Christmas party I went to I stayed completely sober.  Best idea ever.  There’s nothing like watching Everyone make an ass of themselves and it’s a great idea to be of sound mind when doing the obligatory song and dance chit chat with the partners’ wives (who always *secretly* hate you).

  4. Ace in the Hole

    December 17, 2009 at 8:18 am

    Lord, this brings back memories… I remember canceled family trips, working on XMas day doing doc review… boy does BigLaw suck, this reminds me to be thankful for my in-house gig.

  5. Bitter Overseas

    December 17, 2009 at 8:58 am

    Wow you guys are bitter

  6. Aimee

    December 17, 2009 at 10:43 am

    so true. so true.

  7. Lady lawyer

    December 17, 2009 at 10:52 am

    I don’t always agree with Kate, but I surely do this time.  After the formal party go out with friends/associate and laugh about the party, but be careful who you can trust.

  8. BitterWest

    December 17, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    You shag the drunk secretary by inviting her to a bar after the party, then going to her/your place; or back to your office after hours just don’t get caught).

  9. Carl

    December 17, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    When I was a first year associate, I met up with a paralegal at the Christmas party, and after a few drinks, we wound up at her place.  But because she lived at home, we had to hang out in her den.  Unfortunately, we got frisky, and went at it loud enough to wake up her parents.  They came down and found us humping.  Needless to say, I scurried out with her dad yelling at me.  That was the last time I boned a chick at her parents place.

  10. Jethro

    December 17, 2009 at 8:06 pm

    At least you have a holiday party.

  11. BitterWest

    December 18, 2009 at 10:53 am

    Carl: but what happened at the firm after that?

  12. BL1Y

    December 18, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    Instead of Christmas parties, firms should give associates a small allowance ($100-200) and a guaranteed night off.  They can either organize and pool their money if they like each other, or go off and drink with their real friends.  Instead of a party, they should just have party credits.

  13. Carl

    December 19, 2009 at 5:31 am

    Nothing bad happened at the firm.  She was the only hot paralegal at the firm, so I kept doing her for over a year (but at at my place).  She then she left the firm to go to law school.  Once she left, I hardly ever heard from her and she must have found some other guy, because she never even called me after her first Thanksgiving.  I haven’t found another girl as good as her since.

  14. Guano Dubango

    December 20, 2009 at 8:29 am

    I would like to find a place where I would be able to have freedom to linger with the female associates, and have cosmic relations with all of them, and we can all be happy and then not have to worry or be self conscious when we return to the work environment.  Is there such a place where the females are happy and willing without cornering us males into marriage?  If so, please to tell me where such a place exists in the USA, as I will have to return to Accra, where this exists, but where the women all look like water buffalo.

  15. Alex

    December 21, 2009 at 8:46 am

    There are no Jews in the midwest? Really?


    December 21, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    And…if you’re a lawyer in Wilmington… the same 5 drunken partners sleep with the same five floozy bimbo secretaries.  Marry them 9 months later, after ditching last year’s mistake.

  17. Bitterwest

    December 26, 2009 at 10:09 am

    I have never seen any snotty jewish partners that take offense at “Merry Christmas,” any more than “Happy Hannakuh” upsets any non-jewish partners Really, even the jewish partners in my firm say Merry christmas.  Other people who are distictly not jewish say Happy Hannakuh and Merry christmas.  People are just trying to be nice. What a shame if a firm has people who cosider Merry Christmas or Happy Hannakuh to be “insensitive.”

  18. Mystery

    December 22, 2011 at 7:56 am

    Lawyers who talk about shagging secretaries come off as misogynist tools. Seriously! Play World of Warcraft or something, your attitudes are so offensive.
    I would never sleep with a man who talked about “doing” women.
    Witty article.

    • Guano Dubango

      December 22, 2011 at 11:17 am

      It looks like I commented on this 2 years ago, and have yet to “shag” a law female who is actually attractive enough to want to spend the next day, let alone morning with! That is why I usually go to “her place” so that I can bolt as soon as I want/need to, which is usually before the morning sun!

  19. Buddy

    December 22, 2011 at 8:53 am

    Coming from a Jewish Bitter, the whole political correctness or incorrectness of saying Merry Christmas instead of Happy Holidays is absurd. In particular when the person doesn’t know what religion you practice. It’s the thought that counts. People aren’t trying to offend you, get over it and just say “thank you, you too.” There’s more important things to worry about.

  20. NMW Solo Attorney

    December 28, 2011 at 9:11 am

    These postings confirm for me that it is darn good to be a solo – in the naive Midwest. When I worked at a small firm as an associate – our Holiday party was always at the local Comedy Club – preceded by dinner out at a nice restaurant. Since there were a total of 5 of us – 2 attorneys, 3 staff, we all brought spouses/sig os too. I have only fond memories of those gatherings. One year though, I was in trial on December 22 and 23 – for a termination of parental rights case. I missed the office party, because we were in court until 6:30 pm on the 23rd, and I still had shopping to do for my kids’ Christmas.

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