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Gift for principal at the end of articling?

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I will be called shortly and would like to get a gift for my principal. She and I have a good relationship, my firm is small, and I'm staying on. I thought I would check in to see if LS folks have good ideas of gifts (from the articling or principal experience) or thoughts on appropriate price ranges.

Thanks in advance. 

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Bourbon - tastier, AND better value. You can get them a way cooler bottle of bourbon than you could scotch. Unless you are fine spending lots of money. Also, and maybe this common sense, I wouldn't buy them any booze unless you know they like drinking at least something in the same category (spirits vs. wine)

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For clarity to others reading the forum, it is certainly not necessary to get your principal a gift. OP wants to get a gift because their relationship makes it appropriate in the circumstances and that's perfectly fine.

You don't need to break the bank, in fact it can be awkward if you do. The best gifts are those that show gratitude and that you paid attention to their interests and needs during your articling year. That might mean a mug and a high end bag of coffee beans from a country they recently traveled to, a Ted Baker fountain pen because their signature has John Hancock level notoriety around the office, or a collapsible leather glasses case from Hook & Albert because they are always losing their reading glasses. Whatever you choose, pair it with a thoughtful card. Your message will mean more to them than any fancy gift when they find it in a box 20 years from now. 

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I'll go against the grain and suggest that you should not get your principal a gift.

Reasons vary: they prob. have lots of money and you prob. don't, so don't spend money on them; as good as your relationship might be, it's still based on a professional obligation, and you might be reading too much into your relationship; they have an obligation to judge you objectively, both as a student and now likely as an associate, and generally giving gifts to ppl in those positions is generally awkward; it's not the traditional thing to do, and usually the firm gifts something to the student for successfully completing articles and staying on as an associate; etc.

If you really feel strongly about this, then give them a card and write a nice note.

Also, don't give ppl alcohol unless you know they drink.

 

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I'm with Conge, it's not necessary - a nice card is all your really need. 

Now, if you there's a special gift that'll mean something to both of you - one student of mine once gave me an autographed picture of Andrea Bargnani, celebrating our shared love of the raptors and  our mutual contempt for the tallest, limpest, piece of walking pasta ever to roam the earth - that's different. Maybe you worked on a deal together, maybe you did a trial together, maybe there's some sort of inside joke, and the gift is a reminder of that.  But beyond that....

 

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I got my principal a signed framed Canadians picture for the office.  The principal had other Habs stuff and other pictures around the office.  It was like $150 or something like that.  I did it because of I was thankful for all the help and being a principal is tough.  It felt right and its still in the office.  He was pretty shocked so if I hadnt bought anything then things wouldnt have been any different.

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Not OP's situation, but somewhat recently thinking about the propriety of giving a gift to someone in a professional relationship with, and wasn't sure if they would think it appropriate to get them a gift, I asked if they drank Scotch, they asked why I was asking and I said I'd like to get them a small gift, they said please don't. Not recommending this approach, I was just getting at, sometimes people don't want gifts they think it's awkward or inappropriate or whatever. Is there someone else at the (small) office one can ask the opinion of, another lawyer, the principal's assistant, etc.?

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The thing with getting gifts for principals is that you as the student have such a significantly smaller income than them and they may have expensive/specific tastes. My husband loves whisky, but the price of his bottles is crazy and it would be awkward if a student spent that on him. You could get him a cheaper kind and he'd be gracious and find a use for it, but it really wouldn't have much meaning that a student gave him some inexpensive bourbon. Wine can be very specific - people like certain kinds of wine and don't necessarily want a $15 bottle of whatever. They would hopefully be gracious and take it in the spirit that it's offered, but if your intention is to have an impact, that isn't really the way to go. I think that something intentionally cheap as a gag gift is fine - like if the boss is a Habs fan and you're a Leafs fan it might be funny to give them some cheap Leafs paraphernalia - a mug or something for $5 or $10. Or if you make things that could work  - a piece of art you drew for their office or something like that. A photo in an inexpensive frame, if you were close enough that that's appropriate. But I wouldn't spend more than $10-ish. I think a heartfelt handwritten note/card is always appreciated and treasured for years. I clerked for judges who still had and referred to cards they had received from previous clerks. 

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38 minutes ago, providence said:

The thing with getting gifts for principals is that you as the student have such a significantly smaller income than them and they may have expensive/specific tastes. My husband loves whisky, but the price of his bottles is crazy and it would be awkward if a student spent that on him. You could get him a cheaper kind and he'd be gracious and find a use for it, but it really wouldn't have much meaning that a student gave him some inexpensive bourbon. Wine can be very specific - people like certain kinds of wine and don't necessarily want a $15 bottle of whatever. They would hopefully be gracious and take it in the spirit that it's offered, but if your intention is to have an impact, that isn't really the way to go. I think that something intentionally cheap as a gag gift is fine - like if the boss is a Habs fan and you're a Leafs fan it might be funny to give them some cheap Leafs paraphernalia - a mug or something for $5 or $10. Or if you make things that could work  - a piece of art you drew for their office or something like that. A photo in an inexpensive frame, if you were close enough that that's appropriate. But I wouldn't spend more than $10-ish. I think a heartfelt handwritten note/card is always appreciated and treasured for years. I clerked for judges who still had and referred to cards they had received from previous clerks. 

I agree with you generally, including about notes or cards (not e-cards!) but since you brought up wine and alcohol generally, I must nitpick somewhat.

It is possible, for someone who knows a lot about wine or another alcohol, to possibly find an inexpensive gift that will still appeal to the afficionado. I'm not saying you don't know a lot! :drinkers:

Like, albeit not recently, I've found a set of 5 miniatures of vintage Armagnac from the 1960s and 1970s (found in the 2000s) for under $10 at an Ottawa LCBO that an Armagnac or Cognac fan would appreciate (funnily enough I never gave any away...), unusual (but good) dessert wines for under $15 (available occasionally, as recently as this year) that even as someone who likes the occasional (very occasional!) bottle of Chateau d'Yquem I think is good and complex, Sherries for around $20 (again this year) that reputable publications like Wine Spectator ranked 96-98 and that I and others thought was the most unusual (and excellent) sherry we'd ever had, etc.

But, if one has over or underestimated the person's interest and knowledge this may seem weird, e.g. I'd be happy to get even a miniature of a vintage-dated Armagnac because unusual, but many people would be thinking WTF, they can't even give me a full-size bottle or even half-bottle of something? Or sherry?!

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1 hour ago, epeeist said:

I agree with you generally, including about notes or cards (not e-cards!) but since you brought up wine and alcohol generally, I must nitpick somewhat.

It is possible, for someone who knows a lot about wine or another alcohol, to possibly find an inexpensive gift that will still appeal to the afficionado. I'm not saying you don't know a lot! :drinkers:

Like, albeit not recently, I've found a set of 5 miniatures of vintage Armagnac from the 1960s and 1970s (found in the 2000s) for under $10 at an Ottawa LCBO that an Armagnac or Cognac fan would appreciate (funnily enough I never gave any away...), unusual (but good) dessert wines for under $15 (available occasionally, as recently as this year) that even as someone who likes the occasional (very occasional!) bottle of Chateau d'Yquem I think is good and complex, Sherries for around $20 (again this year) that reputable publications like Wine Spectator ranked 96-98 and that I and others thought was the most unusual (and excellent) sherry we'd ever had, etc.

But, if one has over or underestimated the person's interest and knowledge this may seem weird, e.g. I'd be happy to get even a miniature of a vintage-dated Armagnac because unusual, but many people would be thinking WTF, they can't even give me a full-size bottle or even half-bottle of something? Or sherry?!

Back on the alcohol topic, I think it should generally be avoided, unless you know for sure the person enjoys alcohol - you don't know who is a alcoholic or who may have had family issues with alcoholism in the past. I know a lot of ppl will think this is ridiculous, but it's a real thing, even if for a vast minority of ppl; for certain ppl I know, getting a nice bottle of whiskey from someone they like/respect could actually be a disaster - you'd be crazy not to enjoy a little bit, right? Then you're down a path that it could take a long time to recover from.

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11 minutes ago, conge said:

Back on the alcohol topic, I think it should generally be avoided, unless you know for sure the person enjoys alcohol - you don't know who is a alcoholic or who may have had family issues with alcoholism in the past. I know a lot of ppl will think this is ridiculous, but it's a real thing, even if for a vast minority of ppl; for certain ppl I know, getting a nice bottle of whiskey from someone they like/respect could actually be a disaster - you'd be crazy not to enjoy a little bit, right? Then you're down a path that it could take a long time to recover from.

I do agree that one shouldn't be giving gifts of alcohol to a specific person without knowing first whether or not the person drinks alcohol (I'm sure I could think of exceptions, so let's say it's a general rule...). Or similarly other things, giving legal marijuana to someone wouldn't be a good idea either (and I assume, though I haven't checked, that there may be legal issues with giving pot as a gift?).

I note that a few years ago the LCBO ran an ad campaign suggesting giving teachers LCBO gift cards...

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Just now, epeeist said:

I do agree that one shouldn't be giving gifts of alcohol to a specific person without knowing first whether or not the person drinks alcohol (I'm sure I could think of exceptions, so let's say it's a general rule...). Or similarly other things, giving legal marijuana to someone wouldn't be a good idea either (and I assume, though I haven't checked, that there may be legal issues with giving pot as a gift?).

I note that a few years ago the LCBO ran an ad campaign suggesting giving teachers LCBO gift cards...

OMG I would hire back a student who gave me legal cannabis!

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Posted (edited)

I dunno alcohol doesn't have to be super expensive to be enjoyable.  I've never said no to a a six pack of beer or a 20 dollar bottle of wine.

 

But I am a man of the people.

Edited by kurrika
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Posted (edited)

Maybe I'm the odd man out with my situation.  But when I finished articles, a while back, I was taken out to dinner by the entire office crew and they presented me with a gift.  And it was several hundred bucks worth of gift.  And it wasn't just me, this is what they did with all their articling students.   It never crossed my mind until seeing this thread for me to have bought a gift.  I just sent a nice email to everyone.  Anyone else experience it the other way around like I did?

Edited by Captain Courageous
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16 hours ago, Captain Courageous said:

Maybe I'm the odd man out with my situation.  But when I finished articles, a while back, I was taken out to dinner by the entire office crew and they presented me with a gift.  And it was several hundred bucks worth of gift.  And it wasn't just me, this is what they did with all their articling students.   It never crossed my mind until seeing this thread for me to have bought a gift.  I just sent a nice email to everyone.  Anyone else experience it the other way around like I did?

This was exactly how it was for me. At my firm none of the students gave principles (or mentors - official or unofficial) gifts. 

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