Downtown Phoenix Sheraton

Downtown Phoenix Sheraton

On Thursday, another in a popular series of networking events for lawyers will be staged in downtown Phoenix. You should consider stopping by.

Hosted by the State Bar of Arizona (Mentor Committee and Young Lawyers Division), it will be held on Thursday, September 18, at the downtown Phoenix Sheraton Hotel, in its District American Kitchen and Wine Bar.

This is the fourth annual such kick-off event, and the previous ones have been crowded and enjoyable affairs.

Here is an image with more particulars:

State Bar Networking event 09-18-14And here is a map:

I'm guessing your dog doesn't greet clients at your law office. You may want to rethink that. (Meet Rosie, Ruth Carter's companion.)

I’m guessing your dog doesn’t greet clients at your law office. You may want to rethink that. (Meet Rosie, Ruth Carter’s companion.)

If you’re like most lawyers, your office probably did little or nothing to mark National Doughnut Day.

Well, that’s a shame.

If that’s the case, then your office must not be that of Arizona attorney Ruth Carter. Ruth has many attributes and high points in her brief career—including being named an ABA Legal Rebel and being an author of multiple books. And now we can add pastry-sharer.

I mentioned doughnuts, so let’s get to it.

Ruth is aware of the great value in social interactions. And why not: One of her areas of focus is flash-mob law. So a day dedicated to fried-dough goodness seemed to her as good a time as any to gather her myriad circles in her new law offices. A Venn diagram with smiles and Bosa doughnuts at the center, you might say.

Every exuberant, Ruth Carter greets guests at her Doughnut Day open house.

Every exuberant, Ruth Carter greets guests at her Doughnut Day open house.

The June 6 event gave attendees the chance to visit with folks in different but affiliated industries. And we all got to catch up with what Ruth has cooking in her own practice. Smart move, that.

Plus, her wonderful Basset, Rosie, was present, as always.

Thanks, Ruth, for kicking off our June well. Here is the thank-you note I posted after the sweet, sweet event.

Doughnuts = the circle of life (or something, my thank-you note tried to convey).

Doughnuts = the circle of life (or something, my thank-you note tried to convey).

And how do you gather people informally in and around your practice? Doughnuts work, but they’re only one idea. Share yours!

Here is what an engaged organization looks like:

A crowded University Club for an annual Arizona Women Lawyers event, in Phoenix, Oct. 24, 2013.

A crowded University Club for an annual Arizona Women Lawyers event, in Phoenix, Oct. 24, 2013.

Not such a great picture, eh? Well, that’s what I get for attending a function put on by an active group of lawyers.

Last Thursday, I stood in a packed-to-the-gills University Club in Phoenix. There, the Arizona Women Lawyers Association gathered to mingle and to honor a great judge, Roxanne Song Ong.

Judge Roxanne Song Ong spoke briefly, describing her path toward her current position as Presiding Judge of the Phoenix Municipal Court, “the State’s largest limited jurisdiction court and among the top ten busiest municipal courts in the United States,” as the court’s website says.

The judge spoke of her challenges as a young lawyer who was also a young mother. On that path, she would work part-time as a prosecutor, meeting her office’s needs by increasing her work-week from one day, to two, and so forth, until she found herself a full-time employee. On many of those days, she would rush home to breast-feed a young child. The trek repeated itself as she moved from being a part-time pro tem judge to becoming a full-time jurist.

The popularity of the AWLA annual event is conveyed somewhat by my bad crowd photos. Here’s another. The diminutive Judge Song Ong is way up there, in the back of the photo.

Judge Roxanne Song Ong speaks at the AWLA event, Oct. 24, 2013.

Judge Roxanne Song Ong speaks at the AWLA event, Oct. 24, 2013.

Even more evocative than the number of attendees, though, is the engagement I witnessed. Here’s an example.

I spoke with many folks at the event, and by the time the prepared remarks began, I found myself toward the back of the room, standing near a group of six or so young women lawyers (that was a coincidence, I assure you).

judge roxanne song ong headshot

Hon. Roxanne Song Ong

As Judge Song Ong spoke about her life’s path, I was able to see the reaction among those young women. The judge’s description of her challenges in balancing life’s needs was met by multiple nods by the women. Time and again, they smiled at her remarks. Most telling, they caught each others’ eye, smiled broadly and nodded.

Having spoken with a few of the women at the evening reception, I know that they don’t all have growing families or spouses. They are not (yet) toiling as judges pro tem or presiding judges. And yet the judge’s remarks resonated with them. In her story, they could spy parts of their own path.

As I left the University Club that evening, I walked to the parking lot with a young lawyer who had been among that group. I was not so surprised to hear that she was headed back to the office for more work. That is not very uncommon in law. I’m confident that Judge Somg Ong’s remarks cheered her, just for a bit.

I wrote last Friday about the multiple values of diversity, among them an actual increase in quality in the legal profession. That quality was transmitted by Judge Song Ong, and appreciated in the young lawyers who seek guidance in a challenging profession. Well done.

Arizona Women Lawyers Association logo pin

Have you gotten your AWLA pin yet?

The Los Abogados annual banquet, Oct. 19, 2013.

The Los Abogados annual banquet, Oct. 19, 2013.

I keep hearing that “people don’t want to join things anymore.” Or this: “Our organization can’t draw lawyers to events like we used to; law firms and attorneys don’t value networking events as they once did.”

Maybe. Or maybe your events are lackluster, and you’re failing to engage lawyers in ways that have meaning. Los Abogados clearly works from a different playbook.

That was my thought as I attended Saturday evening’s Los Abogados annual banquet. The packed room at the Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs was a rebuke to those who declare the days of attorney interaction dead and gone.

And if you get out of your office a good amount, you’ll see that kind of robust fellowship replicated at numerous other events throughout the year. For example, I was unable to attend the recent Native American Bar Association Seven Generations Award Ceremony and Dinner, but reports are that it was filled with happy lawyers. I also heard that the State Bar’s own mixer last Thursday at Kitchen 56 Restaurant was gangbusters. Well done to the Bar’s Young Lawyers Division, Solo Practitioner and Small Firm Section, Tax Law Section and the Arizona Jewish Lawyers Association.)

Back at the Los Abogados event, there was all you could expect (silent auction, food, drink, music, conversation, awards) and more—fantastic (professional) dancers and a closing act of three opera singers. Even if you’ve never gotten closer to The Three Tenors than a PBS special, you knew you were in the midst of greatness at the Pointe Hilton.

Professional dancers wow the crowd at the Los Abogados banquet, Oct. 19, 2013.

Professional dancers wow the crowd at the Los Abogados banquet, Oct. 19, 2013.

So the next time someone bemoans declining attendance at (fill in the blank) the Lions Club, or Kiwanis, or whatever, be sure you point out that busy attorneys remain connected, but they’ve reallocated their time. They seek events and organizations that provide a deep connection, and those groups that give back in meaningful ways.

And remember: Connectivity is more than just one night; it continues throughout the year. Therefore, you should follow them on Facebook here.

In that vein, it’s not too early to point out that the Arizona Asian American Bar Association annual banquet will be on Thursday, February 18, 2014. Go on; mark it on your calendar. It’ll be at C-Fu Gourmet in Chandler, where the multi-course evening would suggest you begin skipping lunches now to prepare for the feast.

Let’s get connected.

At the end of the program, opera surprised and delighted attendees.

At the end of the program, opera surprised and delighted attendees.

Today I share with you an event that is a little farther afield from my usual coverage (just pretend it’s Change of Venue Friday): It involves a gathering of professional singles. And yes, that includes lawyers.

Stephanie Lieb

A few weeks ago, I was at a communications event where I met Stephanie Lieb. She is a principal in a venture called “Phoenix Mingles” (her co-owner is Morgan Klemp, the founder of Arroyo Vodka). And the venture is exactly what it sounds like.

As the company describes itself:

“The mission of Phoenix Mingles is to invite young professionals to casually mingle in a comfortable environment, in hopes that they find a meaningful connection. In a generation where technology limits the personal interaction that is key to discovering compatibility and attraction, Phoenix Mingles aims to return to a time when singles truly got to know each another, face to face.”

Morgan Klemp

Fair enough. On Thursday, Phoenix Mingles holds its inaugural event. Their target group is age 35 and under (which means it was kind of Stephanie to even have chatted with me in the first place!). The launch will take place from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday, October 11, at O.H.S.O. Eatery + nanoBrewery, 4900 E. Indian School Road, a locally owned brewery that opened in November 2011.

The “locally owned” part is no accident. Lieb says it’s part of their ethos to support local businesses (they are a part of Local First Arizona). So that’s why you’re likely to sip a wide variety of delicious suds rather than off-the-rack suds at their events.

You can register for the event here. It costs $25 online; $35 at the door. “Registration fee includes one locally made cocktail/beer/wine, an assortment of dips and flatbread pizzas, and the ability to win one of many prizes donated by Phoenix area businesses.”

More information about Phoenix Mingles is at their website and Facebook page.

If you’re generally on the fence about mixin’-and-minglin’ events, the next part may cause you some trepidation. Or (to think positive), it could lead you to decide to give it a shot. Listen up.

Meghan Krein

The evening will have an “emcee” in the person of Meghan Krein. Organizers say that Krein’s “an author and relationship expert who holds a master’s in clinical psychology” (and she tweets here and blogs here). At the beginning of the night she will offer tips on mingling and conduct a few icebreaker activities.

Remember, if advice and icebreakers are not your cup of tea, it’s possible that: (1) you need no advice (yeah, I’m sure that’s it), or (2) you still may enjoy a beverage and some conversation, so get over it. And in my own uneducated experience, nothing impresses those whose heart you seek to win more than being a good sport about challenges—like icebreakers.

Organizers plan to hold at least one event per month. At each, they will collect donations for a different local charity. Thursday’s event will benefit Poverty’s Pets, a nonprofit organization “that rescues abandoned, neglected and abused companion animals in low-income and underserved communities. Through education and veterinary care, including spay and neuter services, it is their goal to end animal cruelty, suffering, overpopulation and homelessness.”

Being over 35 and married—and out of town this week—I won’t be at O.H.S.O on Thursday. But I’d enjoy hearing afterward from someone who attended.

O.H.S.O. patio

Attendees gather for a Legal Marketing Association event featuring a panel of in-house corporate counsel, at Snell & Wilmer, Phoenix, Sept. 26, 2012.

This week, I get to interact with many communications and PR professionals, and that leads me to wonder: Could their best practices align quite a bit with those of lawyers?

That thought occurred to me as I prepared to moderate a Wednesday panel at Snell & Wilmer for the Legal Marketing Association. The panel was comprised of in-house corporate counsel, and the audience included both lawyers and communications folks.

It was a blast, and I continue to be impressed by the deep level of commitment and quality that emanates from the LMA. As I said in my opening remarks, their story pitches and sharing of information are what allow us to cover our beat well.

But story pitches—and lawyers—are much on my mind this week, mainly because of a panel I will sit on this Saturday.

The “8th Annual Publicity Summit” is co-hosted by the local chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Public Relations Society of America. (Could those organization names be a little more intimidating, please?) I’ve been in the SPJ for years, and I’ll be on a panel of magazine editors, writers and reporters.

Here is how the PRSA describes the event:

“Now is your chance to secure that challenging story you have been working on or meet face-to-face with your favorite media person. [Beat] Join PRSA Phoenix Chapter and Society of Professional Journalists for the 8th Annual Publicity Summit and the opportunity to network with peers, meet key members of the Phoenix media and get your stories placed. More than 20 of The Valley’s top journalists and reporters from various media outlets across multiple beats will be in attendance.”

You can find more information and registration pages online. (Registration may be closed by the time you click the second link.)

It will be in the downtown Phoenix ASU Cronkite Journalism school. Please stop by to say hi if you’re there.

If Saturday’s group could learn anything, they should hear from members of the LMA, who routinely impress me by how well they can educate the media about lawyers and their accomplishments.

So what will the journalists be telling the PR folks? What we love love love in story pitches—and, conversely, what may be less than effective when trying to get your content placed.

The lessons that will be explained on Saturday should help those communications professionals (and us media attendees who may get great pitches). But it occurred to me that they are the same lessons that lawyers should take to heart when connecting—either with magazines or with each other.

Here is some of what I’ll discuss at the SPJ event. What other lessons would you add?

  1. Learn before you call: Like most media outlets, our magazine is available online. Plus, my own material is available via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, our website, etc. Given that, opening with “So what do you do there?” or “What kind of stuff do you guys publish?” is the path toward a very short conversation. And that’s true for lawyer connections, too: Read all you can about someone before striving to make a connection.
  2. Read our stuff: This is related to the first point, but it’s worth being explicit. Lawyers and magazines have an awful lot of their record “out there,” and it’s available via the web. Using Google to spot significant verdicts that have gone their way (or not) will help make your ultimate conversation more informed (even if you don’t explicitly bring up that searing loss!).
  3. Connect where it makes sense: Sending blanket queries to everyone and her sister simply does not work. Story ideas should be tailored to the publication and its audience. Similarly, lawyers don’t cotton to outreach that looks to have all the individuality of a widget.
  4. Reveal yourself: When you reach out to someone, let him or her know something about you and/or what you represent. Be sure your email signature provides access to relevant information. And don’t hesitate to provide links to other content that you think will make your connection to the other person more sensible.

Here’s to valuable connections! Have a great weekend.

Downtown Phoenix Sheraton

I wrote last year about a State Bar of Arizona mentor networking event that kicked off a year of those bad boys.

Since then, I’ve tried to spill some ink in the effort to announce these events. But I have some fondness for this original Mentor Committee effort, which was a leader in what turned out to be a successful endeavor.

Here is the news about tonight’s event. Stop by the Sheraton in downtown Phoenix and chat with your fellows.

When: Thursday, September 20, 2012 from 5:30 pm-8:30 pm

What: Complimentary appetizers and networking with attorneys

Where: District American Kitchen and Wine Bar at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel, 320 N. 3rd St, Phoenix, AZ 85004 (Northwest corner of Van Buren & North 3rd Street).

Here is a map (and there’s complimentary 3-hour valet parking):

Co-Sponsoring Organizations: State Bar of Arizona Mentor Committee, Young Lawyers Division, Sole Practitioner and Small Firm Section, Tax Law Section, Public Lawyer’s Section, and Committee on Minorities and Women in the Law.

Corporate sponsors:

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