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Holiday parties combine cheer, networking, giving

The 2013 annual Brown & Hutchinson holiday celebration was held at the Wintergarden. It has become one of the most sought after invitations each holiday season. Vasiliy Baziuk

The 2013 annual Brown & Hutchinson holiday celebration was held at the Wintergarden. It has become one of the most sought after invitations each holiday season. Vasiliy Baziuk

One law firm parties with popcorn. Lots of firms use their holiday get-togethers for networking or helping others. And then there are the ones that are marked on calendars a year in advance.

When Brown Hutchinson LLP throws its 14th annual shindig for about 500 clients and invited guests Friday at The Legacy Tower, it will be a long-awaited event. Clients, business partners, friends of the firm, members of organizations like the Monroe County Bar Association and local judges all know to be there.

“We start getting calls long before the invitations go out — just making sure we’re still having it, same date, same time,” said Lolita Forsett, the firm’s chief administrator.

“Even public officials call to make sure we’re having ours before they commit to anything else,” she said.

Bond Schoeneck & King PLLC’s party for clients and their families has a much shorter pedigree in Rochester – this is only its second year – but the firm thinks its hit on a winning formula: Its gathering on Dec. 20 at the Inn on Broadway is followed by a showing at the Little Theatre of “Miracle on 34th Street,” complete with popcorn and carolers.

“Last year, we came up with a unique family-themed holiday party — invited clients and their families —and we’re going to continue with that tradition,” said Edward P. Hourihan Jr., managing partner of Bond Schoeneck’s Rochester office.

The firm, which has grown its Rochester office to 35 lawyers over its seven years in town, threw its first holiday party last year at the Inn on Broadway, where about 400 clients and their families — including about 100 children — dined on hors d’oeuvres and enjoyed an open bar, he said. A partner dressed as Santa, a professional photographer took family portraits, and guests were given Stever’s Candies chocolate bars, a local favorite, as favors.

After the reception, partygoers walked across the street to the Little Theatre, where they filled three cinemas for a special showing of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” he said. Everyone got popcorn, and carolers sang to guests as they left.

“It’s a big splash — it’s almost like hosting a wedding,” Hourihan said. “It was so well received that we decided to do it again this year.”

MCBA President Steve Modica, left, recognizes members of the judiciary during the MCBA's 2014 annual Bench and Bar Holiday Party. Vasiliy Baziuk

MCBA President Steve Modica, left, recognizes members of the judiciary during the MCBA’s 2014 annual Bench and Bar Holiday Party. Vasiliy Baziuk

The Monroe County Bar Association will help young lawyers and judges mingle at its Pre-Bench and Bar VIP Reception this afternoon at Harter Secrest & Emery LLP at The Legacy Tower. That precedes the bar association’s Bench & Bar Holiday Party downstairs at the tower’s Wintergarden.

Anne Wells, director of marketing for Harter Secrest, said members of the judiciary, YLS members and MCBA leaders were invited to the VIP reception hosted by the firm, with drinks and light snacks.

“We take our bar association membership seriously, and especially like to sponsor the young lawyers section to help them get established in their careers and give them the opportunity to connect with the judiciary,” Wells said.

At the bar association’s main event, gloves, hats, scarves and other winter apparel will be collected on behalf of Lawyers for Learning to benefit School 29 Adlai E. Stevenson, according to the event invitation.

And that ties in with a lot of holiday parties.

Brown Hutchinson’s isn’t just a festive event. Its holiday party is also the firm’s annual toy drive.

The firm works with local church New Life Ministries to pull off the toy drive, and then holds a “Love in Action” holiday party on Dec. 19 for children — ages 2 to 10 — who are identified through various contacts, including staff and leaders at Monroe County Department of Human Services, Open Door Mission and School 19 Dr. Charles T. Lunsford.

Forsett, the firm’s chief administrator, said the church had to rent a truck last year to pick up the toys, which were taken to the church unwrapped for a separate, annual gift-wrapping party, she said.

Over 14 years, Forsett said partygoers have helped collect thousands of toys for needy children.

“We’re really excited because we think we’re going to go over the 10,000-toy mark this year,” she said.

T. Andrew Brown and Michelle A. Hutchinson of Brown & Hutchinson hosted their 11th Annual Holiday Party and Toy Drive in 2011 at the Bausch + Lomb Wintergarden. Brown Hutchinson is partnering with New Life Ministries, which helps distributes the toys. Vasiliy Baziuk

T. Andrew Brown and Michelle A. Hutchinson of Brown & Hutchinson hosted their 11th Annual Holiday Party and Toy Drive in 2011 at the Bausch + Lomb Wintergarden. Brown Hutchinson is partnering with New Life Ministries, which helps distributes the toys. Vasiliy Baziuk