Spreading Holiday Cheer

I had a professor in law school who also practiced law. (Those of you who haven't gone to law school are probably thinking this goes without saying, but in the weird world of law school, it's quite unusual, and in fact, some law professors have never even attempted to practice law.)

Anyway, I remember him going off on a tangent one day about rainmaking, networking, and ways of keeping in touch with clients to encourage them to think of you the next time that they, or someone that they know, need a lawyer.

One suggestion he made was sending Christmas cards to all of your former clients.

I remember just smirking, and thinking to myself, "Yet another way that so much of what they teach in law school doesn't apply to the public defender practice."

Although, as I wrote out my own Christmas cards tonight, I was thinking that maybe it would be nice to send Christmas cards to my clients that are in jail. I couldn't send cards to all of my clients, but considering I only have a handful that are in jail, and they probably need the Christmas cheer the most, it might be feasible.

Not for the purposes of rainmaking, of course. Just to be nice.

But, I don't know. I don't know if I could expect the cash-strapped public defender's office to pay the postage. And they wouldn't be in public defender envelopes, they'd be red Christmas card envelopes. And then I think we reach a weird line where I'm communicating with my clients outside of regular legal mail, in red envelopes no less, and it's only a slippery slope to the point where I'm marrying my clients. (Yes, I hear it has happened. But not to me, of course. I say no to all of the proposals.)

And then, finally, there's the rainmaking effect which is unwanted in public defender land. The clients, who had otherwise forgotten about me as an outlet for their looneyness and lonelyness, would suddenly remember me, and probably figure I have too much time on my hands since I have time to send Christmas cards, and then they'll start calling me to ask me things like how their "motion to squash" is coming along...

So, I think this year I'm going to have to skip the Christmas cards. To my clients, at least.


  1. Last year I sent Christmas cards to my jail clients. I received back a hand-drawn Christmas card from one girl, that was absolutely a work of art, done on paper that they gave her at the jail. That alone made it worthwhile.

    Some of them did not receive cards from family or anyone else.

  2. Funny post, but the part that really made me laugh was the "motion to squash."

  3. I had a law professor who practiced law as well. She provided legal services to inmates. Rumor had it she wound up marrying a man she met this way. Rumor also had it she subsequently divorced the guy when he went back to his burglarizing ways.

    I do not know if her personal communications with this man began with a Christmas card.

    (On a serious note, I like to send Christmas cards to my jailed clients when I can. It's never resulted in any weird line-blurring; they usually say it just lets them know somebody values them as people.)

  4. i think you should go ahead and send the cards. if it makes you feel better maybe you could use your own postage.

    in relation to the "motion to squash" thing...not long ago a guy was before the Judge and she asked if he was employed and he started off on a long explanation, then stopped and said, "I hustle."

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  6. Is this a place I can find a good looking blond woman lawyer?

  7. This is my first Christmas as a public defender, and I like the idea of sending xmas cards to my clients in jail - but what should I write in them? Just stick to "happy holidays", or try to personalize it with something like "sorry you're still in jail, maybe I can get you out by Valentine's day?"

  8. Anonymous - I know what you mean. And is there something kind of cold about writing "Happy Holidays" when you know this holiday may be one of their least happy (especially if they haven't spent much time in jail before)? "Wishing you better holidays in the future?" I have no idea, obviously.

  9. I'm also a public defender but I have been for more than 8 years and have a lot of clients in jail / prison. I must be doing something wrong ...

  10. I like to send holiday cards through Amnesty International's Holiday Card Action program, and some of the recipients are prisoners. I always just write something like, "Thinking of you this holiday season and wishing you and your family peace, health, and happiness in the coming new year."

    I think a card to your client is a nice gesture, maybe you can find cards that come with white envelopes...

    Motion to squash... LOL.