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Are Office Christmas Parties for Clients a Good Idea?

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By William Peacock, Esq. on December 03, 2014 3:51 PM

It's an interesting question: Should you throw a Christmas party for your clients? Booze-filled egg nog, mistletoe, ugly Christmas sweaters, clients mingling with staff -- what could go wrong?

It's a chance to build relationships, to celebrate the season, and to connect with your clients on a less formal level than you ordinarily would. It also means booze and the celebration of one religious holiday to the exclusion of others.

Should you throw one? Let's talk this through, shall we?

Party On, Dude

Business can be boring, and if you have clients that come back again and again -- like serial killers who need prenups and/or criminal defense, or small businesses that need everything from contract review to nasty litigation -- you might want to build your relationship outside of the usual suits-and-paperwork rigmarole. Some people take their clients to dinner, or share a scotch and cigar. Why not throw a party?

Seriously. We're always worried about being formal enough, about appearances, whatever. Have a little fun, show your clients that you are a human, and build your relationships.

Are You Nuts?

Booze. The awkward moment where your client hits on your paralegal and grabs his buttocks. Or when a judge gropes his own court staff. The offended clients who don't celebrate Christmas. The offended employees who don't celebrate Christmas. DUIs. More booze.

What can go wrong when you mix booze and business, especially in a party environment where there would presumably be an open bar? The possibilities are limitless.

Middle Ground

How about a non-committal, non-specific "Happy Holidays" party? Maybe one with limited booze. Or a catered meal with no booze whatsoever, set a few weeks off from any major holidays.

Really, there is no answer here. It's one of those thought experiments. You can choose the safe route, and keep business as boring as possible. Or, let loose, drop the charade of dignified lawyer, and be yourself.

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