As you may recall, this blog has already covered the decorations you should have in your law office. That includes items that command respect, like your degree, or imply that you're an approachable person, like your family photos.
There's a lot of leeway when it comes to decorating advice, but under no circumstances should a self-respecting lawyer ever have these five things in his or her office or cubicle:
1. Bar Admission Anniversary Plaques (or Any Other Silly Certificates).
Did you know this was a thing? Apparently so. Above the Law reported last year that a particular company sells a plaque celebrating the anniversary of your admission to the bar that you can display ... right next to your bar admission certificate. Having a lot of junky certificates on the wall is the physical-world equivalent of padding your resume. Just like you didn't list that you were Employee of the Month at the Best Buy in Albuquerque in 1996, don't put that bar anniversary plaque up there -- or your certificate for coming in fourth place in moot court.
2. High-School Team Photos.
Listen, it's really great that you once scored four touchdowns in a single game back in high school, but you're, what, at least 35 now? High school is over -- long over -- and you're not impressing anyone with 20-year-old pictures of a time before you became jaded and cynical.
3. Photos of You With Famous Judges*.
What a strong personal relationship you must have with Justice Sandra Day O'Connor -- you and the other 150 people who paid $100 a plate to listen to her speak at a fundraiser for her nonprofit organization, or at that bar association event, or anywhere else. Photos of you with famous judges make it seem as though you're struggling for notoriety and passively name-dropping.
* Note that this does not apply if you actually have a strong personal relationship with a famous judge.
4. Gag Gifts.
Listen, if you're going to Spencer Gifts to fill your desk with props, save yourself a trip to the mall and just don't. (Or if you do go to the mall, skip Spencer Gifts and just mail me one of those Stromboli pizzas from Sbarro. FindLaw has my address.) Cutesy gags like "butt/face" soap, anything describing how "over the hill" you are, or a "Farting Champion of the World" trophy are tacky at best, and offensive at worst.
5. Anything Polemical.
Think the 2000 election was "stolen"? Don't believe in global warming? Are you an unabashed atheist? Well good for you -- but please just keep it to yourself. Unless you work at a nonprofit where you're paid to wear your politics or your religion on your sleeve, no one particularly cares what you think outside of your legal opinion. You may even be alienating potential clients who take one look at your "9/11 was an inside job" bumper stickers and run screaming out of the office.
Want to spend more time practicing, and less time advertising? Leave the marketing to the experts.
- 8 Tasteless Items to Remove From Your Desk (U.S. News & World Report)
- 3 Ways to Optimize Your Law Office Space for Health, Success (FindLaw's Strategist)
- Clean Desk or Messy Desk? Depends on What Your Goals Are (FindLaw's Strategist)
- How to Share a Workspace ... With People (FindLaw's Strategist)