Inspiring. Empowering. Engaging. Uplifting.
These are just a few of the words frequently used by guests every year to describe “Off the Record,” McAfee & Taft’s signature event — by women, for women — that brings together aspiring law students to network and to engage in an evening of candid conversations with successful women lawyers from the bench, private practice, industry, nonprofits, and government.
The inspiration for the event came to McAfee & Taft attorney Rachel Blue while she was driving home one night after attending a Women’s Initiative gathering at the firm’s Oklahoma City office in 2009.
“I was new to the firm at the time, and I really enjoyed the opportunity to get to know my colleagues that night and to hear their stories about how they came to the firm and their practices,” said Blue. “On the drive back to Tulsa, I started thinking about how much good it would have done me to know stories like that when I was in law school and first practicing. It didn’t take me long to come to the realization that we could make that happen, and that if we did it right, it might be one of those rare moments when everyone wins.”
Shortly thereafter, “Off the Record” was born.
“Everyone at some point has been in a spot where it would have been helpful to know how to navigate something, so we started by just reaching out to the women lawyers and judges that we knew had stories to tell and that would share our goal of helping the students,” said Blue. “I think the early success of the event was based on the dynamic of the gathering — the relationships we had with the lawyers and judges we invited made it easy to be candid with each other and with the students.”
The first few “Off the Record” events, which held on campus at Blue’s alma mater, the University of Tulsa College of Law, were luncheons that featured a list of table topic questions to kick off the conversations. It soon became clear, though, that those preset questions weren’t needed because the students had plenty of their own questions to ask, and the lawyers and judges had plenty of advice to dispense.
Over the years, the event evolved into what it is today — a cocktail reception-style gathering held off campus in an environment that is comfortable and welcoming, where students are encouraged to ask questions — any question — “off the record,” and where outside guests are approachable and generous in sharing their time and career experiences and offering advice.
Today, the highly anticipated “Off the Record” events are held each year for students attending all three of the state’s law schools: the University of Tulsa College of Law, the University of Oklahoma College of Law, and the Oklahoma City University School of Law.
“Over the years, we’ve added more women with different perspectives and stories, and it’s turned into an event that we love because it helps our lawyers understand the clients we work with and the judges we practice in front of while we all work toward the common goal of smoothing the path for the next generation of women lawyers,” said Blue.