Do Lawyers Get Deal Toys?

April 3, 2024 by David Parry
Do Lawyers Get Deal Toys

Yes, lawyers do, in fact, get deal toys. That’s been the case since the practice of giving out deal toys first took root among investment bankers and dealmakers back in the 1970’s.

But that’s probably not the most relevant or illuminating question here.

The far more interesting questions might be how, and more importantly, why attorneys and law firms end up with those deal toys.

The answers to those particular questions have changed considerably over the years. And those answers also get to the very heart of why a custom like giving deal toys–one that might at first seem so frivolous and self-indulgent–actually has a sound business rationale.

And why it has endured for so long.

Attorneys and Deal Toys

Lawyers and deal toys go back many years. But for the most part, law firms historically weren’t the ones ordering them (and at The Corporate Presence, we have a 40-year history in the deal toy industry to draw on here).

Most often, lawyers on a transaction found themselves on the distribution list when an investment bank placed a deal toy order for that transaction. In some instances, the investment bank paid for the pieces and eventually sent them to attorneys (and sometimes accountants as well).

But more often, attorneys weren’t even on the initial distribution round. They had to contact the deal toy company themselves and make a separate, add-on order for the same deal toy.

Whatever the billing arrangement was with the investment bank, the point is that, for the most part, attorneys were rarely in on the deal toy ordering process at the outset.

That’s increasingly changed in recent years.

More law firms are now ordering deal toys to commemorate their own advisory role in a deal.

Televisa-Univision Legal Advisory Tombstone

Custom Lucite commmeorating the legal advisory work performed by Wachtell, Lipon in a $4.8 billion media merger.

But Why Would Lawyers Order Their Own Deal Toys?

If an attorney could simply piggyback off the deal toy orders of investment banks, and buy their own deal toys, why would they bother to place separate orders for their own?

The answer’s simple: deal toys serve a couple of functions.

Among law firms, deal toys had traditionally served just one of those functions. Whether they appear together in a reception area, conference room, or an individual attorney’s office, they provided a visual resume of the deals in which the firm or attorney had participated.

The impact of this kind of display on a prospective client (or hire) can be powerful, something that investment banks have known for many years.

But that’s still only one of the crucial benefits of deal toys, something that, again, investment banks have appreciated for decades.

The other purpose of deal toys, and arguably the more important one, involves marketing. That’s discussed below.

LIV Golf-PGA Legal Settlement Tombstone

Crystal design recognizing an agreement ending litigation between rival golf leagues LIV Golf and the PGA Tour.

The Lesson Law Firms Learned from Investment Bankers

For many years, as mentioned above, it was unusual for lawyers and law firms to order deal toys directly. They tended instead to request additional pieces from an order already handled and placed by an investment bank.

But attorneys have also increasingly come to appreciate the other, more subtle role of deal toys—namely providing desktop advertising for their advisory services.

Investment banks have long recognized that, because of their customization and cachet, deal toys tend not only to be kept by clients but also kept in a highly visible and prominent place.

That means that a deal toy can serve as a constant visual reminder to clients of the expert work done on their behalf by your bank, law firm, accounting firm, etc. That constant reminder, in turn, increases the likelihood that when that client again needs the services of an investment bank, law firm, accounting firm, that they reach out again to your firm.

Their effectiveness as a marketing technique has been the very reason deal toys have survived so long. (And this was the case despite endless predictions and pronouncements that they were “dead”.)

Lawyers have increasingly recognized the value of deal toys in fulfilling this same marketing function.

Lawyers Discover Non-Deal Uses for “Deal Toys”

Though we continue to receive a steadily growing number of inquiries from law firms, most of these “deal toy” requests have nothing to do with deals.

We regularly hear the word “deal toys” in inquiries from law firms, but many times the event being commemorated is not a successful transaction but a successful judgment or verdict.  These pieces, again, are for internal distribution at the law firm, but primarily they’re intended as commemoratives for their clients.

A great example is the design below.

Successful Verdict Commemorative Honeywell

Custom crystal piece commemorating a decision in favor of client Honeywell.


But there are any number of reasons law firms can (and regularly do) contact us for these kinds of non-deal “deal toys”. They include:

  • Successful Judgment/Verdict Commemoratives:  (As noted above)
  • Litigation Team Recognition Pieces: (Often including photos of team members)
  • Third-Party Recognition: (Such as pieces commemorating the firm’s selection in a National Law Journal “Hot” list)
  • Press Coverage: (Usually in the form of a commemorative incorporating articles on a high-profile judgment or verdict).
  • Bankruptcy Reorganizations
  • Successful Patent or Trademark Filings

Providing Firms with “Deal Toys” and Non-“Deal Toys”

If you’re looking to commemorate any significant event or achievement on behalf of your firm, The Corporate Presence provides you with a wealth of design and production expertise and experience. Reach out to us and get the creative process started.

David Parry is the Director of Digital Strategy for The Corporate Presence, and for Prestige Custom Awards, a designer and provider of custom corporate awards ranging from creative employee and client recognition pieces to the N.F.L. Commissioner’s Awards, and ESPN’s ESPY awards.

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