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Firms get ready to party

Firms get ready to party

It's been a tough year for law firms, but what better way to boost morale (and celebrate still having a job) than the annual work Christmas party? And law firms have once again shown their…

It's been a tough year for law firms, but what better way to boost morale (and celebrate still having a job) than the annual work Christmas party? And law firms have once again shown their ingenuity, exploring a wide range of themes and venues in an effort to embrace the Christmas spirit.

Feathers fluttered around the Sydney office of Clayton Utz last week as staff prepared to descend on Westin Hotel in Martin Place, celebrating with a Rio Carnivale theme.

Staff from Corrs Chambers Westgarth's Melbourne office are embracing their inner Britney Spears with a circus theme, decking out the Atlantic Shed in Docklands to resemble a big top spectacular, complete with balloon trees, popcorn and fairy floss. Meanwhile, the firm's resident DJ, IT lawyer Jason Forte, will be getting the clowns, magicians and ringmasters dancing.

Freehills' Melbourne office went traditional this year, opting for a classic black tie affair at the Melbourne Park Function Centre, while Baker & McKenzie's Melbourne team flooded the shiny new Spanish restaurant Movida Aqui to enjoy drinks and tapas and be entertained by guitarist Valentino.

At Middletons, Sydney staff went wild with a safari party held at Taronga Zoo, Melbourne staff are masquerading at the Regent, and Perth staff will be smelling the roses with a garden party theme.

Staff from DLA Phillips Fox's Sydney office are in for an added "treat", with rumours that outgoing chief executive Tony Crawford will carve up the dance floor at the Metro Theatre with a tribute to Michael Jackson's moonwalk, getting right into the So You Think You Can Dance theme. The firm will also be raising money for Variety, The Children's Charity, on the night, with funds going towards the purchase of 2,000 icecreams for children attending the annual Variety Kids Christmas Party.

Macpherson + Kelley lawyers are pulling out all the stops this year, bringing together all staff from across its four offices in Victoria and NSW for one united party at Asian restaurant Red Spice Road in Melbourne.

Lander & Rogers is following suit, bringing all its Sydney and Melbourne staff together at the Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron in St Kilda for dinner, drinks, and the keenly anticipated graduate review.

Meanwhile, Allens Arthur Robinson's party plans are shrouded in a cloak of mystery, a spokesperson saying only that "there are a number of themes that have been dreamt up in smoky backrooms, some of which apparently are yet to be revealed". The spokesperson did, however, confirm that an '80's theme was on the cards for one office.

"For those of us for whom the eighties were a rather recent and very cool reality rather than a distant and daggy decade this is a slightly disconcerting experience. Still it's a chance to get that red leather tie and walkman out of the bottom drawer and show how you party like it's 1999," the spokesperson explained.

Defying expectations, business analyst firm IBISWorld believes businesses will actually be spening more on their Christmas parties this year that last year. As reported by The Australian today, IBIS reports that $560 million are forecast to be spent on 2009 Christmas dos, compared with $319 million last year. In addition, the percentage of organisations celebrating the festive season is expected to increase from 67 per cent in 2008 to 92 per cent this year.

- Zoe Lyon

Related article >> How to avoid Christmas party pandemonium

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