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Fortunately, the holidays come around but once a year. I say fortunately because that means associates at The Firm have but one firm holiday party to dread all year, but one holiday gift to purchase for the secretary and key members of the staff, but one time of the year to miss getting together with friends and family because they are too busy putting in the billable hours. Well, there’s probably a lot more than one time a year that associates will miss family and friends, but it seems to sting the most at the end of the year. An associate Christmas is quite different from the others you enjoyed prior to the years you walked around with a bar card in your wallet. While partners in The Firm are running off to vacation at some winter wonderland and there is work to do, it’s not hard to figure out who will be left behind at The Firm trying to meet those year-end deadlines. That will be you. This scenario has created some of the most memorable tales of associate Christmases past. One holiday memory shared by many lawyers, for instance, is the experience of having to work late, missing a flight or two and ending up spending Christmas Eve on a cold airport floor. This is so common, in fact, that it’s a firm holiday tradition. Other memorable seasonal stories include trying to deliver documents to a partner’s vacation home during a blizzard, having the car skid off the road and spending at least a couple of the 12 days of Christmas trapped in a snow bank. Adding insult to injury, lawyers in these situations can usually only bill clients for the time they spend in the snow bank. The days spent in the hospital being treated for frostbite usually have to be written off. Such experiences teach attorneys the true meaning of an associate Christmas. They also make lawyers appreciate the relative comfort and safety of spending the holidays at the office. It’s better to simply make plans to be at the office on the holiest of all holy days instead of making plans you’ll never be able to keep. TIPS TO MAKE YOU MERRY Don’t despair when you find yourself stuck at The Firm when Christmas rolls around. Instead, you should do what you can to make the best of the situation. Some helpful holiday hints and thoughts to cheer you up are described below. 1. If you drive to work, traffic on Christmas morning is certain to be far lighter than usual. Give yourself a special holiday treat by sleeping an extra 10 minutes before going to the office. 2. The Firm computer is likely to have a faster Internet connection than your home computer. This will reduce the time it takes to send electronic Christmas cards to all the people who are so important to you. 3. Buy yourself a present on the way to the office — 7-Eleven is open 24 hours even on Christmas — and unwrap it at your desk while waiting for documents to be typed. 4. Bring a cassette tape of Christmas carols and play them on your dictaphone. 5. In lieu of going to church with loved ones, gather with other associates for services in the senior partner’s office. 6. Come to the office dressed as your favorite biblical character. 7. Use one of the fire extinguishers to make your office part of a white Christmas. 8. Call home while the family is gathered around the fire opening presents and listen to them on your speakerphone while you do your work. It’s almost like being there. 9. Remember that, at the end of the day, most other people of the world will only have merriment to show for it. You’ll have the usual 12 hours on your timesheet. 10. Don’t forget to think of the less fortunate on this special day. Specifically, remember that while you may not yet be a partner, there are those who rank even lower than you do on the firm totem poll. Take advantage of your senior position and keep from getting lonely by making a first-year associate and a paralegal or two come to the office and share in The Firm festivities. If these steps fail to make your holiday a joyous occasion, it’s probably because being at The Firm has caused your post-Christmas depression to kick in early this year. The good news is that you also might get over it earlier than usual and actually feel like celebrating on New Year’s Eve. That is, of course, assuming you don’t have to work that night. Merry Christmas and happy new fiscal year! The Rodent is a syndicated columnist whose columns are distributed by American Lawyer Media, and author of “Explaining the Inexplicable: The Rodent’s Guide to Lawyers.”

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