Davis Polk’s selfie sticks or Cooley’s flashing balls: what’s the best law fair freebie of 2015?

What were the best gifts given out on campus this year – and which were the misses?

It’s that time of year again. The law firms have been out on campus trying to woo students and part of that is handing out the usual collection of mugs, pens and sweets. But who’s giving out the most interesting swag this year? Here’s a run-down of the winners and the losers…

Cooley

Cooley’s shiny balls

It’s a bouncy ball that flashes. That might not sound cool and also suggests that Cooley thinks students have the attention span of a kitten. But at Lawyer 2B we DO have the attention span of a kitten, so we really like this. It’s a bit different, and we respect the fact that there’s absolutely no deeper meaning behind the gift. We asked the person on duty at Cooley’s stand how a flashing ball tied in to the firm’s brand. “Because… we want students… to bring their light to Cooley?” she suggested gamely. Full marks for effort.

Travers Smith

Travers Smith’s speakers

We heard students talking about the speakers being given out by Travers Smith before we saw them and were prepared to sneer that the firm clearly had far too much money to burn. In fact, the speakers actually look respectably modest rather than overly ostentatious, and the sound quality is decent. A grudging thumbs-up.

Mayer Brown’s Mayer Brownies

We love a pun, and Mayer Brown’s brownies themselves are high-quality – certainly a cut about the sweets most other firms had to offer. Mayer Brown also did themselves no harm whatsoever by sending out sample brownies to every legal journalist in London. We are easily bribed.

Mayer Brownies

DLA Piper’s multi-purpose adaptor and portable phone charger

Last year Simmons & Simmons’ iPhone speakers won our approval for the best all-round gift and there are plenty of phone accessories on offer this time around too. For example, DLA Piper is giving out an multi-purpose adaptor that can be used to plug in lots of different types of phone – useful for when you’ve got an Android and your housemate’s got an iPhone.

When we picked it up from the stand, the DLA staffer on duty bullishly stated that we wouldn’t find a more unique freebie. It seemed cruel alerting her to the fact we’d picked up exactly the same product with DWF branding a few weeks earlier. But we did anyway.

However, we later learnt that DLA Piper, along with a few other firms such as Norton Rose Fulbright, was also giving out battery packs – a useful, generous freebie and one that went down well on campus.

DWF

Debevoise’s big mug

You’ll find are mugs aplenty at law fairs, but this year US firm Debevoise & Plimpton’s stood out for size alone. This picture below does not do justice to its awe-inspiring magnitude. It’s one big mug.

Debevoise big mug

TLT’s 3D viewer

Phone adapters, while useful, pale in comparison to TLT’s 3D viewer thingy (if it has a better name we don’t know it). TLT has a long history of giving out weird stuff (past years have seen students walk around with astronaut food and potted daffodils) and the firm continues the trend here.

Now, this gift looks crap at first, being essentially just a cardboard box. However, when you stick your smartphone in the viewer and look through the goggles, then (with the right apps downloaded) you are transported to a 3D Google Street view and can (among other things) explore Paris, Venice or the Great Barrier Reef. It’s very cool.

TLT’s slogan is ‘A refreshing perspective on legal careers’ so the 3D thingy ties in with the message cleverly – even if when the ‘kaleidoscope’ function is enabled your refreshing perspective may resemble an LSD trip.

TLT

Osborne Clarke’s sunglasses

We assume these shades are meant to highlight OC’s self-image as the ‘world’s least stuffy law firm’. We get the idea, but it’s a bit too try-hard for us. Plus, the fact that law fairs come in November means that these shades aren’t likely be needed for months – plenty of time for them to get discarded in the detritus of student digs. It is at least unusual, but there are more interesting freebies out there this year.

Osborne Clarke

Burges Salmon’s unrealistic salmon

If you’ve got a name like Burges Salmon, you have two choices – try and ignore all the fish puns that come your way or embrace your piscine status. So fair play to the Bristol firm this year for just going for it with a salmon-shaped stress toy. Strong branding, hard to forget. The next firm in this round-up should take note…

Burges Salmon

Bird & Bird

If TwoBirds was smart it’d have followed Burges Salmon’s lead and invested in a couple of avian cuddly toys. They would be called Irene the Ibis and Peter the Peacock and would have highlighted the firm’s famous strength in IP.

Instead, they’re giving out the three most generic freebies ever: notepads, pens and memory sticks. RUBBISH! 

(We still stole some, though)

Twobirds

CMS’s notepads and long pencils

Notepads are a fairly common offering, so they stand or fall on quality. CMS’s look the part: bright, bold, sturdy. They’ll get used. The extra-long pencils don’t do it for us personally, but we can see them being popular. 

CMS

Davis Polk’s selfie sticks

The selfie stick is a bit cheesy but Davis Polk redeems itself somewhat by also giving out card-holders that attach to the back of your iPhone. 

Davis Polk

Morgan Lewis’s clocks and post-it box

The desktop clocks given out by Morgan Lewis look initially interesting but are in fact a bit crap – who needs one nowadays anyway? – and not even particularly original, as we’ve seen them given out by ther firms in prior years. However, like Davis Polk, the US firm redeems itself with its second freebie, a box which folds out in a pleasing fashion to reveal desk-tidy with a series of post-its, plus a place to keep your pens. Nice. 

Morgan Lewis

Barbri’s Statue of Liberty headpiece

‘Qualify as a US attorney’, advises this headpiece from Barbri, as modeled by our good friend Matt from LawCareers.net. Liberty has never looked so good.

However, on seeing this photo, Lawyer 2B reporter Becky asked, ‘Why is he dressed as a sea creature?’ so maybe this freebie isn’t as good an idea as it seemed when Barbri were picking it out of the brochure. 

Barbri

Trowers & Hamlins’ Rubik’s Cube

’If you can solve this puzzle, you could be a Trowers & Hamlins lawyer’, this gift seems to say.

Suffice it to say that no-one at Lawyer 2B will ever be a Trowers & Hamlins lawyer. Thus, the firm gets plus-points for originality, but minus-points for making us feel stupid.

Trowers Rubik's Cube

The winner!

Our personal award for top gift this year goes to TLT – we like the originality. But from a student swag perspective, we reckon the portable phone chargers that have appeared this year are hard to beat.

Previously…