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“Things should only move for a good reason.” 

I received a electronic holiday card recently, emailed from a full-service law firm. Illustrated by a generic wintery graphic, it had a simple 10-word headline:

“Season’s Greetings and Best Wishes
for a Happy New Year!”

Fine. Bland, generic, and immediately forgettable, but not offensive. Fortunately, it only took me 2 seconds to skim the brief headline and not care about the email. Rather than being grateful that they wished me well, it created the impression that the firm’s a pretty dull place. I look at is as a missed opportunity to do something unique, memorable, and in support of their brand–but that’s their choice. [Read more about that here.]

“Happy New Year. [That’s not legal advice.]” 

I’ll admit that I smiled when I noticed the entirely serious 150-word disclaimer (!) below the photo, which warned readers that wishing me well this holiday season’s greeting did not constitute legal advice and didn’t make them my lawyer:

The information provided here is not legal advice and it is not intended for use as legal advice or as a substitute for professional counsel. [Firm] has assembled this material for informational purposes only [etc.]….

Apparently wishing me a “Happy New Year” is not legal advice.  It is “for informational purposes only.”

That was close. Without the clarification I might have used their good wishes as a “substitute for professional counsel.”  But that’s not the point of this blog post.

Clicking on the photo launched a 45-second musical video.  It slowwwwly, graaaaadually, eventually swirled out four snowy words: “Health, Prosperity, Success, Hope,” and then repeated “Season’s Greetings [LOGO]” again.

I always find those types of cards annoying. 

It took 45 long, slow seconds to display just 7 simple words. Words I could have read in a quick glance like a photo or a postcard.

The animation wasn’t clever or unique; there’s no pay off at the end. Flying the words onto the screen individually like a 1995 PowerPoint slide don’t make them more fun or festive.  Animating the letters doesn’t cause me to like the firm more, and now I’m annoyed that I wasted that time waiting for something worthwhile to happen.

Worse, poor execution makes me want to unsubscribe to their future mailings.

And that’s the larger point―sending something to your entire mailing list is always a risk. If you screw up, everyone you know―every client, friend, and prospect―receives a copy of it. So, make sure it’s great.

If it’s just average, or if it doesn’t add value to their day or enhance their lives, consider whether it’s better to simply send nothing. No one’s going to notice its absence. But they will resent those who waste their time.

It felt like they phoned it in. 

That’s understandable; 2021 was a tough year, both intensely stressful and extraordinarily busy for most lawyers.  So, perhaps they just didn’t have the bandwidth. I’d still have advised them to find a way to do it a bit better, or not do it at all. Take a year off. It’s OK.  

It’s possible to do good holiday cards.

I previously wrote about some great, fun, or nutty ones here, here, here, here, here,  here, here, here, and here, for example. My annual favorites are often from Wolf Greenfield, Fish & Richardson, Knobbe, Proctor Heyman, the former Springer & Roberts, Borden Ladner, and Engelman Berger.

Read my previous holiday card rant here.  And some Holiday Card Do’s and Don’ts.

[Here’s the e-cards entire and excessive 150-word disclaimer:]

“The information provided here is not legal advice and it is not intended for use as legal advice or as a substitute for professional counsel. [Firm] has assembled this material for informational purposes only. Online viewers should not act on information appearing on this site in any matter affecting their interests without obtaining legal counsel.

Neither viewing this information, nor using it to send any communication to [INITIALS] or its attorneys, shall create an attorney-client relationship between the user and [INITIALS]. While we would very much like to hear from you, we cannot represent you until we have determined that no conflict of interest would arise from accepting such an engagement. No attorney-client relationship will arise before a [INITIALS] attorney has specifically advised you that the firm is accepting an engagement on your behalf, after appropriate conflicts checks and inquiries have been concluded.”


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