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Gift Guide for lawyers: The Gifts to Buy and the Mistakes to Avoid

Giving and receiving gifts is one of the most pleasurable pursuits connected with any special occasion. The best gifts make an impression, while the worst can be an everlasting embarrassment. It is essential to understand business etiquette and most of all, understand the culture, customs, and the norms of the industry.

By definition, the foundation of gift giving is to affirm and enhance a relationship between the giver and the recipient. But with that said, it is essential to understand the art of gift giving and how not to sabotage your future relationship.

Establish an Overall Budget

The No. 1 mistake is not planning. Without a shopping plan, you are in danger of overpaying and overbuying; you might spend too much. As a gift-giver, make a plan, especially when you have to buy several gifts at once.

Consider the following before making any purchases: 

  • What is your overall budget for customers, consultants, service providers, and employees

  • How many lucky individuals will be receiving gifts this year

  • And last but not least, who is on your list

If you can’t find an appropriate gift in your budget, consider giving a gift certificate or gift card in the exact amount you can afford.

The Etiquette of Gift Giving

If you’re giving gifts in a group setting, make sure to include everyone who is attending. Make a list of who will be present and have a few extra on hand, just in case you have an unexpected guest. Even if the effort to include everyone reduces what you can spend on each gift, everyone will appreciate your thoughtfulness in remembering them.

It’s always nice, whenever possible, to personalize each gift to each recipient. Your clients and colleagues want to know that you appreciate them, so giving an item that is precisely aligned with their interests can mean more than a generic token or promotional item from your company.

The most important thing you can do when giving gifts is to make sure you remember everyone. Don’t offer gifts to only specific recipients, in doing so, it can appear as favoritism, or worse, a bribe.

To avoid overlooking anyone, keep a running list of clients and employees and check it carefully before sending out gifts or cards. And think about any other people who you should send gifts to, this might include particular service providers or consultants. Even a small item or a card can make people feel important to your firm.

Some examples of appropriate gifts include:

Scarf or tie
Tickets to a performance or a sporting event
Gift cards to their favorite restaurants

Shopping and negative emotions, guilt, panic or a mob mentality make an expensive combination. Many lawyers budget more “out of guilt.” Money doesn’t equal love or affection. An expensive gift should not mean the recipient is expected to reciprocate. The joy of giving should be in making others happy, not in “keeping score” or trying to best someone else. If you keep in mind that you are supposed to be giving gifts because you want to, not because you are obligated to, your clients or co-worker will receive them in the same spirits.

For a gift exchange, if you are not familiar with the person’s interests or hobbies, a gift card is fine; but do take time to get one you know the person will use.

The Ethics of Gift Giving

Please refer to your firms or companies policy in the restrictions placed on what a gift can be valued at. Also, be cautious that the potential recipients’ company may have limits to what a gift can cost. But if there are no restrictions, be careful not to sabotage a relationship.

Do not get anything too personal such as perfume, cologne, or clothing. These kinds of gifts are inappropriate gifts for your clients or co-workers. Do not spend so much on someone’s gift that you embarrass the person. Although there is no competition on the value of gifts, as a lawyer if your client or co-worker is struggling financially and you spend a lot of money on an extravagant gift for him or her, you could make your client or co-worker feel uncomfortable rather than appreciative.

Gifts are not a tit-for-tat exchange. Just because someone spent a certain amount on a present for you doesn’t mean you have to pay the same on theirs.


With all of this said, remember that your client and colleague’s satisfaction doesn’t rest on the gift given; they will remember you much more by how you treated them than by your gift. But you are using a gift to build your reputation showing thoughtfulness and using it as another opportunity to connect with your clients on a deeper level.

© Copyright 2018 PracticePanther


About this Author

Jaliz Maldonado, Practice Panther Miami Legal Marketing and Law Office Management author

Jaliz Maldonado is an executive administrative assistant and Marketing Assistant for PracticePanther Law Practice Management Software.

Jaliz is a University of Central Florida grad, earning a degree in Psychology and an eight-year Army Veteran.  During her enlistment, she earned the rank of Staff Sergeant before being honorably discharged from the military. One of her personal highest achievements while in the Army was becoming one of the first female mountaineer instructors at the Northern Warfare Training Center, located in Black Rapids, Alaska.