NAMWOLF Annual Meeting: How to Navigate the NAMWOLF Annual Meeting from a New Member’s Perspective
By: Lauren Hunt, Alvarez Arrieta & Diaz-Silveira LLP, Miami, Florida
“80 percent of success is just showing up” – Woody Allen. Woody Allen has it right. As first-time attendees of the 2015 NAMWOLF Annual Meeting, my partners and I did not know what to expect, but we were excited to show up! We wanted to participate in the conference and get to know the other attendees. We came with open minds, knowing that we were starting our journey with NAMWOLF that would not begin and end in one meeting. What we found was a meeting unlike any law firm conference we have ever attended. Our fellow members were impressive, the social events were unique and fun, the CLE programming was varied, the law firm expo was educational and the speakers were inspirational. From the start, there was a feeling of inclusion, and it became clear as the meeting continued that this was not by accident.
We were expecting to see diversity among the members, of course, but we did not realize how much diversity we would see in practice areas as well. We met in-house counsel, transactional attorneys like ourselves, commercial litigators, and attorneys that specialized in areas ranging from insurance and employment to education and information technology law. We were not expecting to be as impressed as we were with our fellow NAMWOLF law firm members. We understood the rigorous admissions process, since we had just completed it ourselves; however, meeting the other law firm members was an eye-opening experience. Many come from prestigious backgrounds and represent clients with sophisticated legal issues. Everyone we met was knowledgeable, professional and open to sharing about his or her own law practices and goals within NAMWOLF as well as learning more about what we did. We also met many vendors who were not only interested in sharing what they did but also in understanding more about our firm’s needs. We did not have to sell ourselves to anyone – other NAMWOLF members were genuinely interested in what we did. What a welcome change from the typical legal conference.
The social activities were nothing short of amazing (pun intended!), and we thank the Board and committees of NAMWOLF for all of their hard work in organizing the entire event. Although we enjoyed all of the social events, our favorite was the Amazing Race. My partners and I joined different teams, and we all had a blast racing through West Hollywood finding landmarks and taking pictures with our team. Winning quickly took a back seat to enjoying Los Angeles and getting to know our teammates.
The CLE programs had something for everyone. One of my favorites was Reel Justice: The Courtroom Goes to the Movies, which presented an alternative look at the law from the perspective of film. There were a variety of offerings, from business to employment law, cybersecurity to Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and discovery to trial law.
Since it was our first year at the Annual Meeting, we spent a lot of our time at the expo visiting other law firm booths and getting to know the members of other law firms. We encountered many lawyers with niche practices, which creates an opportunity for member firms who practice different areas of law to work together and service the same clients. Our firm, for example, is a corporate boutique law firm specializing in international and domestic M&A, real estate and finance along with immigration and private wealth services. We often refer our clients to other counsel to represent them in their non-transactional matters, such as litigation, employment and IT, and we are excited to find other law firm members with whom we can build strategic alliances.
We also enjoyed the speakers. While each one had a unique message, the one that resonated with me the most was Verna Myers. She spoke no-holds-barred about discrimination and racism. She understands the mission of NAMWOLF to increase diversity but also challenged us to push the envelope because diversity alone is not enough – inclusion is the next step. And that is how my partners and I felt about NAMWOLF. We felt included in the organization from the very beginning.
We heard one thing mentioned repeatedly: NAMWOLF members cannot expect to generate business from attending one NAMWOLF Annual Meeting, but what my partners and I quickly realized is that attending one NAMWOLF Annual Meeting it is the first step to generating business because it opens the door to building lasting relationships with the other lawyers you meet.
The one piece of advice we would give to new members attending the next NAMWOLF Annual Meeting is to show up! Show up to the social events with an openness to meeting new people and learning more about them, show up to the CLE programming to learn more about different practice areas and issues, show up to the expo to share more about yourself, show up to listen to the speakers who will inspire you, and show up to the individual opportunities you have after the Annual Meeting to foster the relationships you are building and that will ultimately lead to the new business you are seeking.
Lauren Hunt is a partner at Alvarez Arrieta & Diaz-Silveira LLP in Miami, Florida. She has extensive experience representing developers and investors in connection with the acquisition, development, financing and disposition of commercial properties. She also regularly advises landlords and tenants leasing industrial, office and retail space.