The gift shops of federal museums and other D.C.-area tourist attractions remain a great place to locate unique law-themed items. If you can't make it to the new National Museum of African American History and Culture (where advanced tickets quickly sold out until 2017), you can browse some of its souvenirs available in the Smithsonian Store, including books on African-American and civil rights history, t-shirts, and jewelry. The Supreme Court Historical Society Gift Shop and White House Gift Shop are also perennial favorites for legal and political-themed knickknacks, jewelry, and even jigsaw puzzles.
Since last year's gift guide, the National Archives and Records Administration store has expanded its inventory. Patent Prints now include a number of sports-themed patent artwork (e.g., basketball nets, golf ball cores, and soccer shoes) as well as musical instruments, toys, and vehicle parts. The Bill of Rights comes emblazoned on lunch bags, t-shirts, and coffee mugs. The Kitchen collection includes dishware and glassware featuring the Declaration of Independence, D.C. government landmarks, and a 1974 "cocktail construction chart" drawn by a former employee of the U.S. Forest Service.
Private museums and attractions are another great source for unusual law gifts. Ralph Nader's American Museum of Tort Law in Connecticut also hosts a small online shop, featuring t-shirts depicting the Brown v. Kendall "reasonable person" case, the exploding Pinto automobile which inspired Nader's classic book Unsafe at Any Speed, and the famous flaming rat (don't ask).
Online retailer Uncommon Goods offers The Devil's Dictionary Law Glasses, a pair of tumblers featuring humorous definitions of "proof" and "justice" straight from Ambrose Bierce's 1906 satirical Devil's Dictionary. (Similar glassware pairs are available for finance and medicine.) For less-sarcastic drinkers, the site also offers glasses featuring the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.
In September, Florida became the first state to require a minimum number of continuing legal education hours in technology, a change which will take effect on January 1. Florida's recent rule change also made them the 25th state to adopt an ethical duty for lawyers to stay current with technology. With technology's importance to the law profession increasing by the day, gadgets make great gifts for law students and lawyers alike! Some ideas at various price points include:
- Electronic organizers like Grid-It offer affordable options for safely storing cables, chargers, headphones, and other tech accessories.
- Speaking of chargers, ThinkGeek's Electronics section includes several whimsical charging devices, such as Star Wars-themed USB chargers, and a Back to the Future flux capacitor car charger.
- Noise-canceling headphones are a higher-end purchase, but can vastly improve study time in the law library as well as air travel. CNET recommends The Best Noise-Canceling Headphones of 2016 at prices ranging from $165 to $440.
- Tablets are a great option for the mobile lawyer or law student. Consumer Reports offers a Tablet Buying Guide to help users navigate the growing amount of choices on the market.
- Virtual reality headsets don't come cheap, with the exception of Google Cardboard's introductory offering. But for gamers and budding geeks, virtual reality is undeniably appealing. CNET rounds up available options, including Samsung Gear and Oculus Rift. Be warned, though – Microsoft has just announced plans to develop a new $299 VR headset in 2017, meaning this year's gift might need an upgrade in the not-too-distant future.
When shopping online, be mindful to calculate the cost of sales tax (if applicable) and shipping to your purchase. Free shipping may be available from retailers with a specific purchase amount. There's also Free Shipping Day, in which online retailers offer no-minimum free shipping with delivery by Christmas Eve. Free Shipping Day isn't until December 16, when desired items might be out of stock – so keep an eye out for shipping deals between now and then, such as "Cyber Monday" (the Monday following Thanksgiving).
Finally, don't forget to stop in at your local independent retailers. Yes, prices may be slightly lower at online giants like Amazon or Barnes & Noble, but shipping costs can often even that score, or even cost more in the long run. Local retailers may also carry unique merchandise not available on other sites, such as Runaway Clothes' popular "Durm Bull" t-shirts. Sustain-a-Bull is Durham's alliance of more than 175 independent local businesses, many of which are retail stores offering unique local items.
All of us at Goodson Blogson HQ wish our readers a happy and safe holiday season.