Impressions & Highlights of the New Orleans Business Meeting

By: Timothy J. Reckart; Rusing Lopez & Lizardi, P.L.L.C.; Tucson, Arizona

If you missed the 2016 Business meeting in New Orleans, you were one of the few, as this was the highest attended NAMWOLF Business meeting ever. And was it ever worth it! One of the things I treasure about each NAMWOLF meeting, whether it’s the Business Meeting or the Annual Meeting, is the chance to see folks who have become friends, not just professional acquaintances. I know of no other organization for lawyers where friendships have sprung up so readily and where new acquaintances can be so readily made. It was nice to welcome some folks whom my firm had invited to join NAMWOLF attending their first meeting ever. Because it’s a smaller meeting than the annual meeting and, therefore, a more intimate setting, friendships can be made all the more easily.

When my wife and I arrived Saturday evening, the taxi driver was unable to get us within three blocks of the Royal Sonesta Hotel, where the meeting was being held and which is in the heart of the French Quarter, because Bourbon Street was absolutely packed with humanity. So, we plunged headlong into the wild NOLA night life, navigating through the crowd with our luggage (no small feat).

The Amazing Race Around New Orleans kicked off Sunday morning and, by all accounts, was all one could have hoped for given all there is to see and do in New Orleans. We opted for a less frenetic morning, enjoying beignets at Café du Monde after Mass at Saint Louis Cathedral, the oldest Cathedral in North America. (Hint for future trips: the line at Café du Monde is much shorter if you don’t go in the morning.) Both the Cathedral and Café du Monde are next to Jackson Square, where local artists display their eclectic creations for sale and admiration. Sights included a jazz band on every other corner and City Park, with its majestic tress draped with Spanish moss and the oldest grove of mature live oaks in the world!! All sightseers were fascinated with the ornate wrought iron balconies, some of which had bubble machines, with effervescent orbs streaming down on passers-by.

John Lewis, Jr., Global Chief Diversity Officer at the Coca-Cola Company, demonstrated his charisma with a dynamic luncheon address. Most everyone began to arrive and it was a good time after lunch to connect with folks we had seen at previous meetings.

The CLEs then began in earnest. The two first sessions included the always energetic and entertaining tutorial on improving your CLE presentations. This group needs to go on tour. The Trials PAC then gave a masterful class on the art of trial cross examination, that was also presented to in-house counsel on Tuesday morning. We concluded the first day with the evening cocktail reception where we were visited by Mardis Gras parade festooned participants gracing us with beads.

Tuesday followed with Joel’s welcome address, where he recounted NAMWOLF’s accomplishments of the

past year and affirmed the vision for NAMWOLF. We are so blessed with his leadership as the organization continues to grow and serve diversity in unparalleled ways. This was followed by a number of CLE sessions for in-house counsel (see, folks, it’s worth coming to these things). During the in-house CLES, Joel and the entire board hosted a heart-to-heart meeting for all the NAMWOLF law firm members, giving us each a chance to express our thoughts on strategic directions and decisions for NAMWOLF. Again, this was one of those things where you walk out thankful that you have a chance to be with everyone in NAMWOLF, even if folks have differing views.

The Luncheon Speaker was Gwen Marcus, EVP & GC for Showtime Networks, Inc., who was so entertaining you can understand why Showtime continues to do well. We rushed from that to the afternoon CLEs (I was helping lead a panel for the IP PAC – thanks to all the in-house folks who participated) followed by the evening cocktail reception. Some of the PACs then had business meetings, which gave us all time to get to know each other well, which is important because cross-references among NAMWOLF law firms is one of the major sources of work origination from NAMWOLF The various PACs then went out to dinner and treated their in-house counsel guests. I joined up with the Transactional Pac and we went to Brennan’s. I’ll say this: I have never seen waitresses and waiters as professional as those in NOLA. They are, hands down, the classiest, most knowledgeable in the country.

Tuesday morning offered us a Newsletter Committee meeting (a great way to get introduced to folks at NAMWOLF) and some marketing sessions to help us with marketing our firms and some more PAC business meetings. Unfortunately, my wife and I rushed out early to go standby on an earlier flight as they were forecasting tornados for the area and missed the marketing sessions!! Oh well, I’ll catch them at the Annual Meeting in Houston where you can too. Hope to see you there!