Off The Record 2019 (OCU Law and OU Law)

Replicating the success of an earlier event hosted for women law students from the University of Tulsa College of Law back in February, McAfee & Taft re-created its signature “Off the Record” event for students from the University of Oklahoma College of Law and the Oklahoma City University School of Law on September 12, 2019, in Oklahoma City. The reception-style event, which was held at the Oklahoma Hall of Fame at the Gaylord-Pickens Museum, offers law students the opportunity to meet with successful women lawyers and judges for an evening of networking and straight talk to discuss real-world issues and concerns not typically discussed in the classroom.

Nearly 200 attendees filled the Bennett-McClendon Great Hall — including McAfee & Taft attorneys and special guests from the bench, nonprofits, government and industry — to share their experiences, offer candid advice, and answer questions about what they can (and should) expect from their legal careers.

The event was hosted by the women of McAfee & Taft and emceed by shareholder Rachel Blue.

Rachel Blue, McAfee & Taft attorney and shareholder: “We started ‘Off the Record’ in Tulsa in 2009. As we developed it, we found that the conversations were taking all these different turns, and that the topics were becoming broader and more varied and more interesting and so the event grew bigger, and it let us bring in more judges and more lawyers and more students. And as it continued to grow, we’ve wound up in Tulsa with about 100 people at a private home event. So when we thought about bringing it to Oklahoma City, we wanted to be able to bring it both of the law schools here, OCU and OU. And we wanted to be able to offer the students that same kind of close one on one experience, having a discussion with a judge or a lawyer and being able to ask questions in that same way where you could get a more intimate answer about what you were asking. So we’re very excited about tonight. We have a lot of women from both schools coming and we have a huge number of women lawyers and judges with a wealth of experience and I think it’s going to be a fabulous evening.”

Alicia Currin-Moore, director of career development, University of Oklahoma College of Law: “I really enjoyed this idea because it’s something I wish I had when I was in law school. I think that it’s an amazing opportunity for female law students to meet other female attorneys that have had success in the profession and to really get to ask them some questions that they may feel apprehensive to ask in a mix setting.”

Alana Haynes House, assistant dean for law career services, Oklahoma City University School of Law: “It’s so cool and I don’t think it’s something that I can really recall seeing in this large of numbers as a law student or maybe even as a practicing attorney, right? Like I’ve seen some smaller groups but just to see, and I’ve been to the Women in Law conference and I think this might be a larger turnout than when I was there. It’s super important for young women coming up in the legal profession to have the opportunity to meet with diverse, experienced, amazing women in the practice of law. That kind of support and nurturing and mentoring, has been foundational for me as a lawyer, and I’m really excited for our students to have the opportunity to get some very close time with really amazing women in our profession.”

Hannah Frizzell, law student, University of Oklahoma College of Law: “I think it’s so important for a women only networking event because I mean speaking from personal experience. In my first year of law school, I went to a lot of networking events because we were just very excited about it and it’s very male dominated and it’s really hard to be in a group with male lawyers or judges and other male law students and ask the questions that you want to ask. It’s amazing, like I’ve already talked to like so many lawyers like a few judges and it’s just like a great networking opportunity for women.”

Camille Burge, law student, University of Oklahoma College of Law: “My highlight has been just making these meaningful connections. I’ve found that there’s so many people who are so willing to just pour out their experiences and their life’s work onto me and just tell me what they’ve been doing and how they got where they are because it’s difficult. I’m a this year and so I’m just trying to find my way so it’s been incredible to just hear from different people who do all kinds of different things and they are more than willing to pour into us and its been incredible, we’re so thankful.”

Amy Sullivan, law student, University of Oklahoma College of Law: “I was interested in coming tonight to meet other women in law that have gone through the same challenges and to see how successful they’ve been and what steps they’ve taken. It’s been really interesting to hear their stories, and where they started, how they got where they’re at and some of their missteps that did set them back and how they overcame them and that really encourages me that I can do something like that too.”

Kathy Pendarvis, general counsel, Oklahoma Office of Management and Enterprise Services: “I’m a general counsel to a very large state agency, the Office of Management and Enterprise Services. Not only do I want to contribute to the law students, to give them whatever benefit I can give from the experience I’ve had at 30 years practicing law but selfishly as General Counsel, I wanted to meet the one year, two year, three year law students and recruit them for their externship programs to our agency. I think it’s important for women to support each other but mostly I think it’s important just for the community, the seasoned lawyers to get to talk to law students and take some of the fear and intimidation out of practicing law. Some of the students I’ve been talking to, their greatest fear is coming up on the impending bar exam or believing that if you’re a general counsel of an entity, you must know it all and we all know the truth is, no, but we all know where to go to get the answers.”

Anna Wolfe, McAfee & Taft attorney: “Events like ‘Off the Record’ facilitate those organic mentorship relationships because as much support as your law firm gives you or wherever you’re going to be practicing at can give you, there’s something to be said for somebody that you’ve built a relationship with and make our trusted advisor and can give you that practical objective advise and they know who you are so it’s very applicable and you can really take it and run with it and so, mentorship, it’s important.”