There is a discussion taking place today over on the LawMarketing Listserv (sorry, paid membership required, although you can sign up for a free trial) about ideas for a gift to give a client who was just made CEO. Suggestions included something from Tiffany and Co., an engraved pocket watch, or a Mont Blanc pen. And one suggested giving the client a “Be My Guest Dining Card” from American Express (actually the reintroduced version is good at any retail store that accepts AmEx).

The person suggesting the gift card also opined that the card should allow the CEO to take whomever he wished (but not the lawyer) out to dinner. Although this may not be a bad idea in this particular situation, it did bring to mind a problem that I encountered when I was an in-house marketer. Often times I battled with the attorneys over the practice of giving tickets to clients, rather than using the tickets to the theater, sports luxury boxes, etc. to spend personal time with the clients during these entertaining moments.

That’s not to say that, from a law firm marketing perspective, occasionally giving a client tickets so they can take their kids (spouse, friend, whomever) to a ballgame or the “Christmas Spectacular” at the Radio City Music Hall is a bad idea. Rather, the difficulty was in getting some lawyers to commit to the personal time necessary to develop and enhance client relationships. It was just too easy, too often to just throw the tickets at the client or referral source. In other words, it was easier to spend firm dollars than personal time interacting with clients and those who could send the firm more clients.