Law firms find rewards in staging events just for kicks

September 10, 2014

Sometimes lawyers just want to have fun.

For numerous firms large and small, it’s good practice to stake out events that offer an opportunity to socialize, cut loose and have a good time.

“Judges, lawyers, and friends and family have been enjoying cheeseburgers and beverages for free on Betz + Blevins for 18 years now,” founding partner Kevin Betz said of their Workingman’s Friend event. The annual gathering at the landmark Indianapolis tavern of the same name takes place on the Thursday before Labor Day weekend.

A side benefit of the event is that it helps put a brand on the firm’s employment law practice. “I absolutely love Workingman’s Friend and loved the name,” Betz said. “And I thought for a practice focusing on working individuals, whether they be CEOs or working-class individuals … it perfectly coincides with the nation’s celebration of hard-working Americans.”

Hundreds of people each year stop by to socialize over brews and burgers during the event. Among those who came by this year were Indiana Court of Appeals Judges Margret Robb and John Baker, for whom Betz clerked before going into private practice.

Partner Sandra Blevins said the event also is an opportunity for collegiality in a more relaxed setting. “We specifically are very sure to invite all of our opposing counsel,” she said.

If you missed out on the Workingman’s Friend, you might check out what Frost Brown Todd LLC is cooking up.

The firm will host a tailgate party for attorneys and clients before the Purdue-Notre Dame football game Sept. 13 at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Frost Brown Todd attorney Edward Holloran III will lend his culinary cookout capabilities. It’s for clients that went to Purdue or Notre Dame, Holloran said, or “clients in general who we want to entertain at a fun party. All our firm partners and associates with Notre Dame or Purdue ties are going to be there.”

polak-jonathan-mug Polak

It was a good call for the firm to hand off the event to Holloran – “I like to tell people I have a Ph.D. in tailgating,” he said. Before each Indianapolis Colts home game, Holloran tailgates at Victory Field and usually serves 30 to 50 people.

“If there are 40 people at my tailgates, 20 to 30 of them are lawyers, not only from our firm, but lawyers all over the area,” he said. Holloran is also renowned for putting a twist on tailgating, cooking up foods popular in the region of the visiting teams. He’s created dishes based on every other team in the National Football League.

Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP has hosted a celebration on Abraham Lincoln’s birthday in February for the last eight years. Every attorney at the firm is free to invite an attorney of their choice to get together in the spirit of camaraderie, said Taft partner Jonathan Polak.

“There are not a lot of opportunities for lawyers to get together outside of bar functions,” Polak said. “Lincoln was well regarded not only for being president but for being civil when he practiced law. We use this event to foster civility.”

wf-ed-holloran-15col.jpg Frost Brown Todd LLC partner Edward Holloran III serves up a Low Country boil at an Indianapolis Colts tailgate. He’ll be running a firm-sponsored tailgate before the Notre Dame-Purdue football game Sept. 13 at Lucas Oil Stadium. (Photo submitted)

Usually about 150 people attend the Lincoln Day gatherings, and sometimes there are honorees, but that’s usually the exception. Former Indiana Chief Justice Randall Shepard and former Justice Frank Sullivan have been honored at past events when they were leaving the court, but Polak said the gatherings have a simpler mission.

“What drove it I think was just a desire to bring lawyers together,” he said. “I think we realized there are not a lot of opportunities to get together and break bread and have a drink.

“It’s really easy for us lawyers to get caught up in the day-to-day drudgery of practicing law. This is an opportunity for us to get out of that context and be more involved in a social event where those things don’t matter, and we can remind ourselves that at the core, we’re all lawyers, and while we’ve all got jobs to do, ultimately we’re all part of the same team.”

A few firms get some mileage out of events centered around the Indianapolis 500. Littler Mendelson P.C.’s local office invited guests for a Fast Friday event May 16 before qualifications began for the race. The event also let the firm roll out its new “dashboards” that provide clients data aimed at reducing legal spending.

Mixing just a little business with pleasure, Lewis Wagner LLP hosts a wine-tasting event each year that caters to female clients, said Marketing Manager Kelly Noga.

“We were looking for a unique way to thank them for placing their trust in our women attorneys and introduce those clients who work primarily with our male partners to our female attorneys,” Noga said.

Several firms offer tried-and-true golf events as a way for clients and attorneys to have a little down time. On Oct. 1, the Indianapolis office of Benesch Friedlander Coplan & Aronoff LLP will host a golf outing for friends and clients at the Trophy Club in Lebanon, said Director of Marketing and Communications Julie Gurney.

Benesch also recently sponsored a beer tasting and invited clients and friends of the firm to TwoDEEP Brewing Co., also a client of the firm.

“We really just did it to introduce the brewery to the community and to our clients and friends,” Gurney said. “We just like to do these things periodically for fun, goodwill, (and) to get our attorneys and friends together.”•


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