Gift Guide for Law Grads and the Bar Exam Takers
Graduating from law school and taking the bar exam can be one of the most stressful and exciting times in an attorney's career. The bar exam is the culmination of years of school, personal sacrifice of time and money, and rigorous study. What better way to express pride in the accomplishments of the grad in your life than with a thoughtful gift?
Whether it is for graduating law school, finishing the bar exam, or passing the bar exam and getting licensed, there are lots of reasons to celebrate.
Some people like classic gifts like watches and bottles of scotch, but there are some other creative alternatives as well. Passing the bar is a huge accomplishment. Show your new attorney how proud you are of them with a special and thoughtful gift!
- Avoid lawyer jokes. They might be funny the first time, but by the time someone is graduating from law school, they have heard them all many, many times. Also, if the person is stressed because of the bar and looking for a new job, it might not go over well. Unless you know the person is particularly fond of lawyer jokes, you'd do well to avoid this.
- Show how proud you are. The bar exam can destroy the confidence of anyone, and most people are at least half-convinced they failed it until they get results back. Anything that shows you have faith in them and are proud of them is sending the right message.
- The gift doesn't have to be lawyer-themed. Just because a gift is celebrating someone graduating from law school or taking the bar does not mean that it has to have lady liberty or the scales of justice emblazoned on it. After three years of school and studying for the bar, sometimes it's nice to have something to take your mind off of the law.
- Don't give any bar exam study materials. Some things are best left to the professionals. Most people will be enrolled in either BarBri or Kaplan to review for the bar, and those companies have the whole system down to a science. Other books, flashcards, study guides, or tapes on the subject will probably not be helpful.
- Business Card Case: Whenever they hand out their business cards, they will think of your thoughtful gift. Business card cases are available in a lot of different styles and at different price points. If it is someone you are particularly close to, you can get a personal message engraved on the back.
- Custom Diploma Frames: By the time someone becomes a licensed attorney, they normally have a diploma from their undergraduate school, law school, and the actual law license, which is normally the size of a large poster. These diplomas are often the only tangible evidence that reflect the seven years they spent in school. Depending on the new employer, law grads may be expected to display these diplomas on the wall in their office.
- Interview Portfolio: A nice leather interview portfolio is a considerate gift for a law grad who is still looking for their first job. Often available in black or brown leather, a nice portfolio will help them interview with confidence and style.
- Art: A small piece of art that reflects a shared experience or the city in which the grad attended law school is a nice idea. A bright picture can help lighten up a drab office. If the young lawyer is having a difficult or stressful day at work, they can look at the piece of art and be reminded that there are people outside of their office that love and care for them.
- Desk Organizer: A nice desk organizer will help your loved one get to work on the right foot. Other desk accessories such as a nice pencil cup or paperweight are also useful.
- Leather-Bound Book: A classic law book with nice leather binding is a traditional gift for an attorney. Try something such as Black's Law Dictionary, which they can proudly display in their office.
Law School Stress-Buster Kit
One of the main reasons people cite for failing the bar exam is not the difficulty of the test or lack of preparation, but nerves. Spending two months putting in long hours studying for one exam is brutal. Your loved one would probably appreciate a stress-busting kit. Any of the smaller items would also make a thoughtful present from a younger relative with a smaller budget.
Fancy Drinks: A Classic Gift for Lawyers
- Wine: A bottle of wine is a standard gift and allows a lot of flexibility for the price. Get a year with special significance, or the current year to commemorate the year of graduation.
- Scotch: A slightly more masculine gift than the bottle of wine.
- Rocks glasses: A nice set of rocks glasses or similar serving set.
- Wine stopper: A nice wine stopper is a good gift for both men and women.
Personal Gifts for Attorneys
- Watch: A nice watch is a classic gift for a young attorney. It often marks the transition between a student wardrobe and a professional wardrobe. Additionally, because attorneys bill their time, it will get a lot of use.
- Briefcase or Work Purse: A new work bag is a necessity for a young attorney. Many graduates only have the backpack that they used through school, and they need a new bag for going on interviews, going to the office, and going to court. You should also consider how the bag will match nicely with a suit, fit a small laptop or hold a full notepad or papers. For men, consider getting a messenger bag style laptop case that could easily be taken on the airplane rather than a traditional briefcase.
- New Suit: If you know their size and fashion tastes, take the new grad out to get fitted for a new suit. A good quality suit will improve confidence during interviews and in the office or court, and help a younger attorney gain credibility.
- Dress Shoes: Apparently sneakers aren't welcome in court.
- Spa or Hairdresser: After the bar exam, people often look and feel like trolls. A massage will help remove months of pent-up stress, and a good quality haircut will help with the transition from student to attorney.
- Jewelry: For men get cufflinks and for women, a simple strand of pearls. They don't have to be particularly fancy or expensive, but a small item will help make a new suit look complete.
Gift Certificate Suggestions for Law Students
After spending the summer not working and paying for BarBri, young lawyers often find themselves strapped for cash after the bar exam. Many attorneys do not have a new job lined up and need to put together a new work wardrobe and interview suits. With that in mind, consider these kinds of gifts instead:
- Cash: Maybe not a gift card, but always welcome. Useful for paying electric bills, rent, and buying groceries. It will always be appreciated. Cash is a traditional gift, and will not be considered tacky. There are no set guidelines about how much money is appropriate to give a law school graduate, so choose an amount that you feel comfortable with based on your budget and relationship with the recipient.
- Gift cards for clothing stores: Think of places like Macy's, Banana Republic, or Ann Taylor that offer a wide selection of work clothes. Or for men, consider places like Joseph A. Banks or Men's Warehouse. Brooks Brothers is a classic option, and they sell nice dress shirts to go under a suit jacket for both men and women, but they can be quite expensive.
- Gift cards for restaurants: They can use it to meet up with their friends for dinner when they get off of work, or to go out to eat on their lunch break.
- Target gift card: Probably the default selection for gift cards because of the wide variety of items in the store. They also sell ties and basic work clothes, making it a good choice.
- Visa gift card: If you are uncomfortable just giving cash, put the money on a prepaid card such as a Visa. Make sure you understand the terms of whichever card you select to avoid unnecessary fees.
Do You Have More Ideas?
What gifts would you give to the graduate in your life? What gifts have you received that you thought were especially thoughtful or useful? Please share in the comments below.
Doinglaw on May 26, 2017:
I think a quality leather briefcase is a good idea. Some brand suggestions are Saddleback and Von Baer.
tbuzby on November 20, 2015:
how much money is an appropriate amount for a niece who just passed the bar?
anonymous on May 20, 2013:
I saw a legal themed chess set that was really cool
CoolFool83 on December 02, 2012:
Love these gift ideas!
Avi Wolfson from Massachusetts on December 02, 2012:
Great ideas here!
Noveliaa on November 30, 2012:
Great lens- I enjoyed reading it very much.
DesignSpace on August 21, 2012:
As a second year law student I an definitely vouch for the leather book idea - I'd love that as a gift, especially since my uni has a service where they have the university seal marked inside of it, which is cool. Great lens!
Diva2Mom on August 06, 2012:
Awesome gift ideas! Nice lens! God bless!