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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.”
And some actually do.