Tuesday evening saw 2011’s version of what has become a noteworthy legal event for Arizona. That was the reception honoring the lawyers who were counsel in the cases that garnered the Top 10 Civil Verdicts moniker, as published in our June Arizona Attorney Magazine.

Lawers from this year's Top 10 Civil Verdicts. Our author Kelly MacHenry, a trial lawyer herself, is seated in the front row.

Hosted at Snell & Wilmer by partner and litigator Kelly MacHenry, the event brings together those trial lawyers, as well as those who won significant defense verdicts in cases where claimed damages were high.

I wrote about this event last year, and one thing makes the event better with every passing June.

The characteristic that marks the evening and makes it a must-attend event is not the wonderful food or the plush digs, both of which are great every time. The true value of the gathering lies in the remarks by the trial lawyers themselves. For after Kelly describes each case and hands the lawyers their certificates, they get the opportunity to share something about the case—what element was decisive, any aha moments that were milestones, what witness or piece of evidence was key to their success.

It is a pleasure and a surprise for me every year how open and expressive the honorees are in response to Kelly’s invitation to share some of their trial strategies—or moments of great good luck! People whose livelihood is ensuring a good outcome for their clients in a courtroom often relax into a discussion of the moment when it all came together—or when it looked like it was all going to hell in a handbasket.

Huge Arizona Attorney cover-photo appears dwarfed by photograph from Snell & Wilmer's art collection.

I told the attendees why the issue is one of my favorites throughout the year: I enjoy hearing what Arizona juries are doing and what trends the verdicts may reflect. But I also enjoy the successes and stories of trial lawyers. Although a huge part of their job is preparation, at the end of the day, they must act decisively even when surprises arise.

If you are comfortable only when you have your belt and suspenders firmly cinched up, litigating may not be the venue for you.

I also have to single Kelly MacHenry out for praise. She brings to a thankful magazine the complete package: She writes extremely well, she’s laser-focused on accuracy, she meets deadlines—and she’s super-smart! If any potential authors out there embody even one of these qualities, I’d be happy to work with you on an article. If you bring all four—you’ve made my month! Write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

Congratulations to all the lawyers and their amazing trial teams. And thanks to Kelly for phenomenal writing and idea generation.

Click here to see some more pictures on the Arizona Attorney Magazine Facebook page.

And here is the list of honorees (in alphabetical order):

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I wrote a few days ago about an upcoming event at Snell & Wilmer honoring some hard-working people. The event was to honor those lawyers (and their staff) who had prevailed in the Top 10 verdicts of 2009, and the top defense verdicts in the same year.

Our master of ceremonies was Kelly Wilkins MacHenry, an attorney at Snell and the author of our annual cover story on the topic.

Here is a photo of the group.

Besides being able to toast their accomplishments, the evening provides another great aspect: We get to hear from the lawyers themselves, who provide some insight into what they think made their case special, and why they think they may have prevailed. To those of us who find law practice fascinating, it is a great way to spend your time.

I have to add that Snell catered with Tammie Coe – an inspired decision! I am used to thinking of Tammie Coe in terms of delicious baked goods and sandwiches on the phenomenal MJ Bread (baked by her husband, Michael John).

Tammie Coe

This evening, though, Tammie rolled out her shop’s newest delicious catering choices, including spring rolls, spicy cheese puffs and meatless meatballs. None of these paltry words can reveal how wonderful the food was. And to make it even better, Tammie herself was there, schlepping her delicious offerings. Like her food, she’s a pleasure at a party!

Here’s to great lawyering and catering, that time-honored combo!

Yes, this is a Tammie Coe cake.

Leaving the office early is rarely a bad thing (unless a security guard and personal items in a cardboard box are involved). And it’s especially a pleasure when you’re heading out to a celebratory event.

This evening Snell & Wilmer is hosting a gathering to honor the lawyers whose hard work comprised the Top 10 civil verdicts of 2009, as reported in the June issue of Arizona Attorney.

I’ll get to say a few words tonight, and I’m used to touting the magazine. But on this annual occasion, I have to toss all the plaudits toward our author, Snell lawyer Kelly Wilkins MacHenry.

Kelly’s been researching and writing this feature story for six years now. And it was she who first contacted the magazine years ago, offering to do all the really hard parts on a story we had wanted to do for awhile.

Kelly Wilkins MacHenry, Snell & Wilmer

Many may believe that this data are simply sitting around waiting to be transcribed. But that is far from the truth. Kelly has to dig far and wide to get at those nuggets of truth. Her work leads to a remarkable product, and we thank her again for serving our readers so well.

But now I’m off to Snell, where I expect great conversation, and the chance to raise a toast to some Arizona lawyers.