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:

This past fall, we ran a wealth of information in Arizona Attorney Magazine on the topic of law office management—software, hardware and more.

One tool I considered (but left aside) for our content-review was a social media tool that has gotten a fair amount of ink lately: Google+.

I am curious how many lawyers have made the shift into Google+, and whether that meant giving up on another channel? For myself, I opted in, but I have done little with my presence in the past six months (sorry, My Circles).

Today, I’m pleased to offer a guest post that explores the upsides to Google+ for lawyers. It comes from Denver-based Colleen Harding (her complete bio follows her post below). You can reach Colleen at colleenaharding@gmail.com.

After reading her post, please let me (and her) know about your own experience with Google+. And now, Colleen:

How Attorneys Can Benefit the Most from Using Google+

6 helpful tips for optimizing your online, professional connections

Since the inception of Google+ in 2011, the fastest social networking platform community in history consists of approximately 25 million users—and continues to grow by about one million users per day. Similar to Facebook, the Google+ platform lets users share information to optimize each individual’s personalized search results.

What does Google+ mean for well-known U.S. law firms? This platform offers direct interaction with a target community of individuals who actually have interest in the products, services, and information provided by legal firms—as noted via Google places as well as their specific Google search results.

Google+ offers attorneys the following six benefits:

1. Real customer profiles

Like Facebook, the focus of Google+ is individual user profiles—in other words your online brand or presence. Well the great thing about Google+ is that it’s mandatory to register for your user profile using your real name—which means you know you are interacting with a true-to-life human being and not some made up pseudonym.

2. Managing Google+ Circles

Another great aspect of Google+ is that you can build your customized social network community via Circles or common relationship restrictions that allow you to add a contact, like on Facebook, without their acceptance of any requests. You can add a new contact to the following circles—Family, Friends, Acquaintances, and Work—and then manage those relationships more precisely via preferences (i.e., so work colleagues can’t see everything you post). This means Google+ is more versatile than other social networking communities so you simply drag contacts into one Circle or multiple Circles and you don’t have to worry about them seeing your personal interactions if you don’t want them to.

3. Information targeting

Again, similar to Facebook, with Google+ you can share status updates, photos, videos are more. However, you can set preferences so only certain circles can see certain content. For legal firms, you can share an article, for example, and precisely select the distribution Circle for your information, which means you specifically target only relevant users so your posts appears in their Google+ Stream for them to read, comment on, and share.

4. Custom news feeds

Google+ offers users the ability to bookmark custom news feeds on a particular individual, business, geographical location, or keyword topic—similar to preferences in Google News. The custom feeds, known as Sparks allows users to find interesting and relevant stories on their interest areas, for example, law, and the potential for viral sharing is a plus too.

5. Profile recommendations

Attorneys can recommend their own lawyer profiles, websites, or blogs by simply installing the Google+1 Button extension for the Google Chrome browser to help them grow their professional network

6. It’s easy to grow your professional Circles

Finding other lawyers and legal professionals to grow your Circles is extremely easy with Google+. The platform uses the powerful search capabilities of the larger search engine to help you connect with like-minded folks in your industry, collaborate, and share resources and professional recommendations.

About The Author

Colleen Harding is a staff writer for Bachus and Schanker in Denver on topics relating to employment, labor and state law. Her passion for the legal realm started with a job as a Legal Aid and continued when she accepted a role as a Human Resources Coordinator for a mid-sized U.S. manufacturing company. She is also a member of Amnesty International as well as an active volunteer in her community.

Tonight is another in a series of successful State Bar of Arizona mixers. These networking events allow members to mingle in a relaxed atmosphere. Here is the information.

Networking Event at The Lodge To Support Eve’s Place

Please join us at The Lodge for an attorney networking event on Thursday, May 24, 2012 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. to support Eve’s Place, a nonprofit domestic violence shelter.  Free appetizers will be served.

Please bring paper goods to donate to Eve’s Place. The shelter needs paper towels, facial tissues, and toilet paper.

This networking event is being brought to you by the State Bar of Arizona’s Young Lawyer Division, Sole Practitioner & Small Firm Section, Tax Law Section, and Antitrust Law Section; Arizona Association of Defense Counsel Young Lawyer Division; and Defense Research Institute Young Lawyer Division.

The Lodge is located in Old Town Scottsdale at:

4422 N. 75th St., Scottsdale, AZ 85251

Here is a map:

Does The Lodge have a moose? You won’t know if you don’t go!

Thank you to our sponsors:

Perez Law Group

Vocational Diagnostics, Inc.

One Neck IT Services

CBRE, Inc.

LexisNexis Web Marketing Services

www.LawLinks.com

Other Donation items:

Eve’s Place will gladly accept your donation of gently used clothes, house wares and collectibles at their thrift shop, Eve’s Treasures, located at 10765 West Peoria Avenue, in the Sun Bowl Plaza Shopping Center.

For donations of furniture and other large items, call 623-583-1434 to schedule a pickup. Or you can bring them to Eve’s Place offices, at: 8101 N 35th Ave # D10, Phoenix, AZ 85051. 602-995-7450.

Items may also be brought to the Perez Law Group offices:

Glendale Office (Main Office):

5622 West Glendale Avenue

Glendale, AZ 85301

office: 602-252-9937, ext. 13

fax: 623-939-3214

Phoenix Office:

2415 E. Camelback Rd., Suite 700

Phoenix, AZ 85016

Office:  602-553-1004

Fax:  623-939-3214

Another in the State Bar’s successful series of networking events occurs this evening. It will give attendees the chance to visit, nosh and listen to some blues at a downtown Phoenix venue.

The gathering occurs at Copper Blues Rock Pub & Kitchen. Here is more detail about the evening, sponsored by the Bar’s Young Lawyers Division:

March Madness Viewing Party and Networking Event for Attorneys at Copper Blues

Please join the State Bar of Arizona, Maricopa County Bar Association, and other attorney organizations on Thursday, March 22, 2012, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. for a March Madness viewing party, networking with other attorneys, and free appetizers.

Copper Blues Rock Pub & Kitchen is located downtown in CityScape:

50 West Jefferson Street #200

Phoenix, AZ 85003

*Free three-hour parking in garage with validation

Co-Sponsoring Organizations: The State Bar of Arizona’s Young Lawyer Division, Sole Practitioner & Small Firm Section, Mentor Committee, Tax Law Section, and Public Lawyers Section; Sports Lawyers Association; Maricopa County Bar Association’s Young Lawyer Division; and Arizona Black Bar

Corporate Sponsors: Epps Forensic Consulting PLLC; Cox Business; Sharp Business Systems; GEICO and Fendon Law Firm, P.C.

Ari Kaplan at ASU Law School, Feb. 28, 2012

Most lawyers I speak with, no matter how long they’ve been out of law school, say that they find networking difficult. Putting yourself out there just seems kind of… smarmy … they tell me.

Typically, I’m right there with ‘em. Years ago, I’m sure, my own law practice would have improved if I had known how to collect and exploit meet and collaborate with other lawyers.

See? Even now, I still tend toward the impulse that networking is a little bit crass.

That’s why I’m not Ari Kaplan. But I’m trying.

Last Tuesday, February 28, Kaplan spoke to a packed room at the ASU Law School. His topic was succeeding in a stagnant legal economy. Attendees came hungry for far more than the free pizza. Law graduates face one of the worst job markets in decades, and they wanted to hear how networking could help them advance. Given their comments, though, many of those students shared my concern that networking was a nicer term for “egotism.” Ari set us straight.

Kaplan cut through that notion well. In fact, he left me feeling better about the whole concept—and he provided some valuable takeaways in the process.

Here, then, in networking-book-bullet-style so favored among the busy, are 8 things I learned from Ari Kaplan about networking—and about Ari Kaplan.

1. Grades are something—but not everything.

As a new law school graduate, Kaplan interviewed with a BigLaw partner, who exclaimed, “You have more Cs on your transcript than anyone we’ve ever hired.” Replied the redoubtable Kaplan, “Actually, some of them are C+’s.” Ari went on to a successful nine-year career at large Manhattan law firms.

2. His formula for success involves framing yourself—and actually becoming—a visible, enthusiastic expert.

You may achieve that in many ways. But new electronic platforms, such as blogging and other social media, allow even new lawyers to start on that path in ways their predecessors never could.

3. Networking isn’t about you; it’s about the person you’re speaking to.

This may be the toughest lesson to believe, but it also could be the most transformative. Ari posted a slide of students’ concerns about what it means to network, and they largely settled around the concept that self-promotion was, well, icky (I don’t judge. Remember, before hearing Kaplan, I tended to concur.). But then Ari dropped the following pearl: “Promote the good work of others, and let it somehow reflect on you.” Whoa. Never have I been happier to play the role of Grasshopper (younger readers, Google that to understand the reference.).

4. Be interesting. And what is most interesting to the person you’re speaking with? That person her- or himself.

Ari recalled speaking to a high-level in-house counsel, who said the secret to networking is to be interesting. In fact, that lawyer said, “To be interesting is interesting.” Kaplan marveled that after wrangling an interview with a top legal mind, the speaker ended up being Yogi Berra. But Ari thought about it and had to agree: If you’re interesting, you’re memorable—and opportunity follows.

And the second part of that corollary (I’m not really sure if it’s a corollary, but it sounds more mathematically exact than “notion”) is that people find themselves and their own needs interesting. Ari spoke of the ASU Law student who feared that networking equated with being “a money-grubbing, name-dropping tool” (possibly the greatest name for a band ever). Instead, he said, those who are interesting approach networking by putting their focus on their correspondent: What can I do to bring the focus on that person?

5. Be a hustler.

No, no, no. Put pejorative definitions out of your head. Kaplan simply means that successful networkers are proactive and direct (without becoming a tool. See above.)

6. Technology can make a difference.

Ari took some time to examine a few tech tools that may help in networking. I leave you to examine his books and website for more, but I will say he had great tips about the following platforms:

  • LinkedIn
  • Blogging
  • Conference-call platforms like Free Conference Pro, AnyMeeting and Zoomerang
  • Google Alerts
  • Help A Reporter Out

7. It’s all challenging, but here’s a guarantee: Nothing will work if you do nothing.

Really? You’re looking for more detail to explain that? Move on.

8. People want to stay connected with you, and they want to help you.

I know, this sounds pretty pie in the sky. But Kaplan made a good argument that you should remain in contact with those you’ve previously connected with. Too many of us dutifully collect business cards at meetings and events—my top drawer is full of them. But follow-up? Not so much.

Kaplan argues that people who have previously given you advice, or worked with you on a project, or even spoke with you at a bar event or CLE—all of them are somehow invested in your future. They want to hear how you’re doing—so long as your entire conversation is not, “Will you hire me? Please?” Long term, those who never hire you but who provide valuable connections and ideas may be the most helpful collaborators.

As Ari Kaplan concluded: “Find specific people who may help you, and then find organic ways to stay connected.”

Whoa x 2.

Congratulations and thanks to Samantha Williams and the Career Services folks at ASU Law for bringing Ari Kaplan to Arizona. Well done. (You should follow the Center on Twitter.)

More event photos are at the Arizona Attorney Facebook page.

And more information on Ari Kaplan is here and here.

Law practice can be solitary work. Too often, you find yourself alone with your pen, your research and your second-guesses.

That’s why the State Bar of Arizona seeks to get you out of your office, at least on a semi-regular basis. Tonight, the Young Lawyers Division of the Bar hosts a networking mixer at Talking Stick Resort. It’s time for a break.

Here is the detail:

What: Networking, live music, breathtaking views and free delicious appetizers

When: Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012, 5:30-8:30 pm

Where: Talking Stick Resort Orange Sky Lounge, 9800 E. Indian Bend Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85256 (101 and Indian Bend Road)

A map and directions are here.

Hosts: State Bar Young Lawyers Division, Sole Practitioner & Small Firm Section, Mentor Committee, and Arizona Society of CPAs

Sponsors: Ahern Insurance Brokerage, Epps Forensic Consulting PLLC

Orange Sky Lounge at Talking Stick Resort

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