It happens every year, on the last Friday of April. Former partners, associates and staff of Bronson, Bronson & McKinnon come together from all parts of California — and this year, Europe — to celebrate their late and beloved law firm.
"We're like the swallows in Capistrano," said ex-partner Richard Stratton, whose current firm, Hanson Bridgett, housed this year's reunion.
"Some of us left [Bronson] in the late '80s, and we all come back every year," said Margaret Alice Seltzer, now of the Seltzer Law Group.
Upward of 100 people turned out for the 10th anniversary, and they had a little extra to celebrate this year. About six months ago the firm completed its wind-down and, in typical Bronson fashion, it was a collegial affair. No partner lawsuits, no creditor litigation, no employee class actions, not even a bankruptcy filing, partners said. In the end the firm even wound up paying back some capital to partners last fall.
"We paid off more debt than we ever thought we would. We paid out more capital than we ever thought we would," said Richard Ardoin, a member of the wind-down committee who now practices at McKesson Corp. Former partners Michele Trausch and Paul Sanner and consultant Machelle Burkstrand also served on the committee.
|Wind-down committee (from left): Sanner, Burkstrand, Ardoin and Trausch.|
Bronson was founded in 1918 and in its heyday numbered 180 lawyers and boasted one of the state's top litigation practices. The firm dissolved April 30, 1999, following a long series of defections.
Ardoin was one of at least six former managing partners at this year's reunion, along with Terrence Ponsford, Charles Legge, Alexander Brainerd, Gilmore Diekmann and James Krieg. Former partner Edwin Green, 73 and described as one of the firm's great trial mentors, flew in from his home in Roquecor, France.
"Bronson was a special place," sighed Ardoin. "It'll never happen again."
— Scott Graham