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From New York to Los Angeles, law firms are decking the halls — some more than others. Mark Lanier may be treating his colleagues at Lanier, Parker & Sullivan to a Texas-style shindig, filled with carnival rides, an entrance by Santa in a hot-air balloon and a private concert by Diana Ross, but let’s get real. New York-based Debevoise & Plimpton is having a firm-wide gathering at its in-house library. “It’s really no big deal,” says third-year associate David L. Duncan. But the litigation group, which Duncan is part of, is having a formal dinner at a partner’s house. But Duncan reported a rather strange holiday-related competition going on in his office. He says duplicating services load the firm’s office with candy. The result: sugar highs and copies. “There seems to be a lot of competition between the companies over the candy.” At Hatch & Parent, associates get to party it up more than once this month. “The associates traditionally get the tree” for the office, and then have a tree decorating party/happy hour event, says Deborah Martin, an associate at the Santa Barbara, Calif., firm. And then there’s the in-office tree lighting party for the staff, families and loved ones. Hatch partners give toasts, staff bring their children, Santa Claus makes an appearance, and the kids get stockings with candy. And finally, there’s a catered party, which is off-site and more formal and elegant, says Martin. The firm also has been running a holiday “trivia” event via e-mail. The winner receives two round-trip plane tickets, and the runner-up wins a weekend at a bed and breakfast. Los Angeles firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips treated its lawyers to a weeknight buffet party at the St. Regis Hotel. Up north in San Francisco, Morrison & Foerster is throwing a party at the swanky Sheraton Palace hotel, replete with a DJ and food like Roasted Baron of Beef Au Jus and chilled jumbo shrimp. Tom Hess, a shareholder in the Columbus office of Akron, Ohio’s Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs, says the firm isn’t doing anything as a whole, so it’s up to the individual offices. Some offices have had client appreciation benefits within the past 60 days. “These events are tied to a community outreach program; for example, the Canton, Ohio office held a party at an art opening.” Hess says he gets out of the office during the season. “I go and see clients, spread holiday cheer, take clients to dinner and give them cookies. I also give them bottles of Hess wine, which is made in California.” A corporate associate at a large New York firm (which he didn’t want to name) says his firm threw its party this year at the posh Marriott Marquis, which looks out at the bright billboards of Times Square. The food, he reports, was “sumptuous.” In addition to the parties, some firm sources reported spreading a little cheer in the community. At MoFo’s Los Angeles office, the firm held a silent auction Thursday, the proceeds going to an L.A. shelter for abused women and children. Some of the items donated included a one-hour plane ride for four people, an expensive bottle of wine, and a unicycle. ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS… Hatch’s Martin said she couldn’t think of any particular noteworthy legal event this year, but said that a lesson she learned last Christmas was “never go in and attempt to get an order of contempt against someone on Christmas Eve.” In keeping with the holiday spirit, the judge wouldn’t grant it. Each Christmas, certain gifts predominate the lawyer gift-giving scene. This year, the Palm Pilot was most wanted among our legal sources. They also mentioned the Blackberry, a pager-sized e-mail device; business card cases; and desk clocks. Jennifer McKee at Manatt Phelps said one of the best gifts she’s received is a brass device that embosses your books with your name. This year she wouldn’t mind receiving a silver-plated card carrier and (of course) a Palm Pilot. If you’re stumped as to what to buy for that special lawyer in your life, she suggests checking out For Counsel, an online vendor of lawyer gifts both ridiculous and sublime. The Web site is http://www.forcounsel.com/. On the “no” list, our associate contacts mentioned food items. This might relate to the “I want to lose weight” responses we got in regards to New Years resolutions. Kimberly A. Eckhart, a litigation associate at Morrison & Foerster, put her foot down on one popular gift: lawyer joke books. “We’re not interested!” she says. And then there are the dreamers. Buckingham Doolittle’s Hess says he wants a Porsche because “I’ve never had one.” Other lawyers are hoping for a business-casual wardrobe — and snow. Depending on where you’re lawyering, dream on. NEW YEAR . . . NEW START Most of our contacts share the intentions of MoFo’s Eckhart, who says she plans to “go to the gym more and schedule more personal time.” Other resolutions include: no more procrastination; no more smoking; and getting home more often. One West Coast associate from a firm that didn’t fare so well in this year’s American Lawyer Associate Survey says her top New Year’s resolution is to “find an in-house job.” But what’s an associate’s real resolution for the New Year? Bill more hours! But if that’s the case, kiss goodbye to your non-smoking, gym-going, life-outside-of-work resolutions. Jonathan Hayter, Justin Kim, Jennifer Taylor, Carrie Thompson, and Tricia Lawrence contributed to this article.

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