Off The Record 2023 — Tulsa

The Women of McAfee & Taft were pleased to host the firm’s signature “Off the Record” event for women law students from the University of Tulsa College of Law on October 11, 2023,  at the home of shareholder Rachel Blue (TU JD ’88). Now in its 15th year, the networking event is a cooperative effort with TU Law and is specifically designed to offer aspiring law students the opportunity to meet with successful women lawyers and judges for an evening of inspiration, empowerment, 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 corporate counsel from leading businesses as well as special guests from area nonprofit organizations, City of Tulsa, Oklahoma Supreme Court, Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals, Tulsa County District Court, Tulsa County Public Defender’s Office, and the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma.

Rachel described this year’s event as “the best event we’ve ever done.”

In this highlights video, some of those in attendance share what makes the event so special, why it’s important for women in law, and how many opportunities are available to those with law degrees.

Rachel Blue, McAfee & Taft intellectual property lawyer: “We always have such a good time. There’s some pretty inspiring women that we get to talk to every year. That’s one of the reasons we do it, this is fun for us not just because we get to share with the students but because we learn things ourselves. There are women with all kinds of backgrounds and they put their degrees to all kinds of uses.”

Justine Ellis, McAfee & Taft trial lawyer: “Seeing all the women talking and just being open, it made me feel comfortable that if, I had a problem or wanted to talk about something the people that I met at those events, I could go up to ’em and talk to ’em about it. I think I wanted to know what it was really like to practice and so it was nice to hear an authentic answer cause in law school it’s a little different. So yeah, it was very helpful.”

Kimberly Arland, law student, The University of Tulsa College of Law: “I’m excited to talk to practicing lawyers who are moms and get their perspective on how they balance that because I know it’ll be completely different once I’m out of school to balance my kids and work, and my husband and all of that. So I’m interested to get that perspective on things.”

Lori Whitlock, law student, The University of Tulsa College of Law: “I think I just wanted to be surrounded by women attorneys in the community because this is where I plan to practice eventually. So I just wanted to kind of get a feel for what the environment’s gonna be like.”

Amy Hernandez, law student, The University of Tulsa College of Law: “Honestly, I had heard so many great things, specifically from attorneys who are already practicing. So I had heard great things from attorneys in the public defender’s office and the pardon and parole office and they really encouraged me to come and get to meet other attorneys so I thought it’d be a really good opportunity.”

Cassia Carr, deputy mayor, City of Tulsa: “After law school, I went and worked in private practice at a firm of similar size as McAfee & Taft representing large companies. And after that I went and worked in-house so for one of our clients, which was a great opportunity ’cause I did work for them so they saw my work, they liked my work. So I worked at Williams for several years and while I was doing all of that, I got to know the Mayor of Tulsa and I’m a huge Tulsa fan. He put me on a couple of volunteer positions but when his Deputy Mayor stepped down he asked me to come in and finish his term as his Deputy Mayor and I use my law degree every single day reading contracts all the time but even more than that, I use kind of what I learned at Williams. How do I work with different parts of an organization for us to all come together for one purpose? Everybody has different pieces. And so I learned that at Williams, I’m really able to bring that to the City of Tulsa and make Tulsa just the best place to live.”

Katie Crane, McAfee & Taft trial lawyer: “So I went to law school in New York, I went to Fordham, and then I went to a big law firm in New York City for a year and then I clerked for a federal judge, loved that experience but then I went to a little bit of a smaller law firm in New York after the big law firm, and then COVID hit and with a burgeoning family and a two bedroom apartment in Manhattan. I moved to Tulsa and started at McAfee & Taft. In law school, I thought that I wanted to do litigation. I loved the classes like civil procedure and criminal law and the classes that centered on litigation but I wasn’t sure. And so going to an event like this and talking to someone who was in litigation or had maybe pivoted, I would think would be really helpful in trying to make a decision on what I wanted to do. And if I wanted to take the traditional law firm route.

Melissa Roop, corporate counsel, Quik Trip Corporation: “I keep coming back to this event every year because my very first year, I actually met a phenomenal female lawyer who’s about 10 years my senior and she and I instantly hit it off. She’s still a mentor for me to this day and we get together a few times a year. But we just formed an incredible bond and I think it’s just provides an incredible opportunity for other female lawyers and female law students to get together, get to know each other, and be there to support one another as they make those big milestone decisions.”

The Honorable Stacie Hixon, judge, Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals: “I was excited to come to this event tonight because I wanted a chance to connect with some of our female law students. Think it’s very important that we be able to talk about what kind of opportunities there are out in the practice of law and the different things that we can do with our degrees. It wasn’t guidance that I really had and I think that it would be helpful to any student to know at least what I do at my job and what different women do at their jobs so they can figure out what they wanna do when they graduate. Something that really surprised me when I became a judge is how encouraging female judges are from the Supreme Court on down of other female judges, even when we don’t always agree on the work that we are doing but especially I’m a little bit younger than some of the judges I work with, but some of the folks I work with went through some difficult years as female lawyers so they’re still always willing to lift women up. And I think that combined with the fact that Tulsa’s actually a really big small town it’s a pretty tight knit group overall.”

Photo of Tulsa women lawyers and law students gathered inside and outside Rachel Blue's home for the Off The Record event.