Off The Record 2023 — Oklahoma City

McAfee & Taft was pleased to host its annual “Off the Record” event for aspiring law students from the Oklahoma City University School of Law and the University of Oklahoma College of Law on September 28, 2023, at the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City. The cocktail reception-style event is a cooperative effort with OCU Law and OU Law and is specifically designed to offer women 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.

Joining McAfee & Taft attorneys in sharing their diverse experiences, offering candid advice, and answering students’ questions on a myriad of professional and personal topics were special guests from the state bench, nonprofits, government, academia, and industry. Featured speakers on this year’s special Q&A panel were Stephanie Chapman, general counsel at Balon Corporation; Cherish Ralls, senior attorney at Devon Energy Corporation; The Honorable Sheila Stinson, district judge for Oklahoma County District Court; Roberta Fields, shareholder with McAfee & Taft; and Cara Rodriguez and Julia Barry, assistant U.S. attorneys with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Oklahoma.

The signature event was hosted by the women of McAfee & Taft and emceed by shareholder Jodi Cole, a 2008 graduate of the Oklahoma City University School of Law, and Jennifer Callahan, a 1996 graduate of the University of Oklahoma College of Law.

Jodi Cole, trial lawyer and McAfee & Taft shareholder: “Our goal for this event is to be a facilitator between alumni, attorneys and judges in the communities and the law students at OU and OCU. One of the benefits of being at McAfee is we get to interact with judges and experts and in-house counsel at state agencies, and we hope to facilitate the connections between those experts and the law students, so that the law students are able to network, to meet people, and hopefully gain relationships that will last them when they start their career.”

Bianca Bryant, director of career development and student services, Oklahoma City University School of Law: “I think it’s important for our young female students to be able to talk to the women and the lawyers and the judges and the people that are out there doing this right now, because they can see and visualize who and what they could be in the next three years. And so we’re always really eager to promote this event and especially to our first year students because I think it’s just a great way to start networking and become involved in the community early on and find mentorship and find friendship even, amongst not only their peers, but also the the attorneys and judges that are present here tonight.”

Katheleen Guzman, dean of the University of Oklahoma College of Law: “I get so much energy, I just think it’s inspiring because you can just hear that energy, and you can feel it. And when I look around and I see these people, these young women and mentors and mentees, smiling, talking, exchanging ideas, and then exchanging confidence in a way that doesn’t simply demonstrate one’s own confidence, but gives some to the other party. That exchange to me just cannot be beaten. And I value this opportunity for that reason, probably above all others.”

Jennifer Callahan, tax lawyer and McAfee & Taft board director: “I think for law students sometimes, — and I’ve watched it, ’cause I now have a son that’s a 3L — there’s so much focus on trying to get a clerkship with a law firm in the summer and that’s great, right? ‘Cause that’s what we are. But there’s not a lot of opportunities like what we are presenting tonight where the law students can really see all these other options that are out there in the practice of law.”