How Much Should Associates Gift Support Staff?

bonus money gift ribbon presentGift giving is one of those inexorable stressors of the holiday season. Whether you’re trying to figure out what to get your mom this year, how much to tip your door person, or what to give your child care worker — finding the perfect way to express your appreciation for the people that make your life easier takes a lot of thought.

It’s generally a tradition for lawyers at Biglaw firms to give gifts — usually cash — to the support staff that make their job smoother. And how much you should give to that essential paralegal is not always clear. Our network of tipsters has reported a wide spectrum of support staff gifts, from a measly $20 on the cheap end to an impressive $1,000 on the generous side. Previous iterations of Above the Law polling — assuming you’re a midlevel associate (and that amounts would scale up slightly as a senior or down as someone pretty junior), revealed $300+ was the most popular answer. But with the strange nature of the legal industry in 2022 — layoffs and bonuses in the same day! — we wanted to check in and see if that’s still the industry standard.

We also know there are a variety of norms at different firms. For example, some places pool attorney cash contributions that scale based on seniority and hand those out to the whole support team while others have a laissez-faire attitude towards attorney generosity and associates are left without a benchmark for what they should give. And we want to know what’s going on at firms.

For the purpose of this first question, assume you’re a midlevel associate (and that amounts would scale up slightly as a senior or down as someone pretty junior). So how much are you giving to a support staffer that is absolutely essential to your ability to get your job done?

Kathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, host of The Jabot podcast, and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter (@Kathryn1).

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