It’s that time of year. Should we send a traditional holiday card? Or an electronic card? What type of gift should we give? Should we do a donation to our favorites charity and let our clients know we did it for “them”? From all accounts, clients hire lawyers, not law firms. Yeah, I know the big consultants selling branding and advertising campaigns are telling you different, but I have yet to hear a general counsel say they wouldn’t walk with their lawyer (I’m not inferring that clients do not interview law firms. They do. They just hire the lawyer). So, this post is to all the lawyers (and consultants) out there. I’m talking about YOUR clients: SIGN THE DAMN CARD. And, while you’re at it, PULL OUT YOUR CREDIT CARD AND SEND A GIFT. If the firm wants to make a donation, fine. But this is YOUR client. Recognize them. I know the economy sucks right now, but, let’s face it, most everyone reading this post is doing okay. Big-law partners will still make in the high 6-figures to over a million dollars this year. Please explain to me why you cannot afford to send a nice basket, iPod or other chotchkie to your best clients and referral sources who directed hundreds of thousands, if not MILLIONS, of dollars in revenue to your firm (and to your personal bottom line)? And what’s with not signing the card? Or having your secretary or the receptionist do it for you? I’m not sure which is worse. Come on, nothing says “I care” and “thank you” as much as a generic card with a random scribble on it. PERSONALIZE it. Take a couple hours and write a little note in each one. It can be the same note, card after card … unless they work together. Then you have to have a second message. Here’s my #1 suggestion during the holidays. Buy a case of really nice wine. Buy some really nice wine bags. Call your best clients and referral sources. Take each one out to a nice lunch. Give them the wine. Ask how their year was … and LISTEN. 80/20 here. Listen 80% of the time. Talk 20%. And, if you’re going to send a donation on behalf of your client, call your client and ask which charity they would like you to support. It is about them, after all, and not the tax deduction … right??