When I started as a new lawyer in Columbus in the 1980s, the turn of the calendar to December 1 marked the beginning of a very festive month of celebration.
In those days, it wasn’t uncommon to get a surprise present or a gift basket with some wine, cheese, and crackers from someone who wanted to get or keep your business; one year I received a porcelain cookie jar in the shape of a snowman’s head and another I got a candy-dispensing contraption. At night large parties hosted by consultants, clients, court reporters, and other law firms were the norm. During the weeks leading up to Christmas, lawyers could always find a post-work place to revel in the brotherhood of the bar and enjoy a free drink or two, some hors d’oeuvres, and often live music, too.
It was all a vestige of the Mad Men era where work and partying went hand in hand, and it soon ended. Court reporting firms and consultants became “service providers” who cut costs so they could compete more effectively on price, and lavish parties and gifts were the first line items on the chopping block. Legal organizations became a lot more sensitive to the problems of alcohol abuse in our profession, and people started to realize that large, liquor-infused parties probably weren’t good for the inebriated lawyers who were making fools of themselves on the dance floor or under the mistletoe, or their marriages.
These days, December has a different, more family-focused feel to it. It’s not a bad thing.