Volume 11, no. 2
A Diverse Network for African Americans
By Rodd C. Walton
My networking experiences are not unlike others in our profession, but what may make then unique is my level of personal engagement with my community. I don’t network by design, but rather as a result of my community activities. Among my volunteer efforts, I work with civic and service organizations to mentor youth, educate the community about politics and the legal system, and to feed the hungry and homeless.
In this community service environment, I encounter people from all walks of life. Many of these individuals are professionals like me—simply interested in giving something back. Professionals or not, the people I encounter all share a common concern—legal matters that need to be addressed. For many, our meeting at a community service event is the first time they’ve encountered an attorney in a non-confrontational setting.
This past Thanksgiving I assisted in a local, daylong effort to feed, clothe, and shelter the needy. Each Thanksgiving, Christmas, Martin Luther King Day, and Easter more than 40,000 volunteers raise money and assemble to serve food, provide showers, haircuts, and clothing to Atlanta’s hungry and homeless. I have enlisted my fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., and its local chapter to assist in this and other community services efforts. Each time I serve at one of these events, it never fails that I have a conversation with someone that leads them to ask what I do for a living, and my reply always results in the same comments: “You know, I have this legal issue. . . .” or “I know someone that has been looking for an attorney. . . .” I exchange pleasantries, give them a business card, and we continue to work. Within days I always get a few phone calls—sometimes I can help them directly and sometimes all I do is refer them to someone else.
I don’t participate in these events to find clients—they find me. But whether it’s helping to feed the hungry or satisfying someone’s legal needs, it’s a fulfilling experience.
Rodd C. Walton is owner of the Walton Law Group, a solo practice where he specializes in transactional law, real estate, employment/labor law and intellectual property law. He is also a major in the U.S. Army Reserve Judge Advocate General Corps. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Links to Resources
For information about the American Bar Association’s resources for minority lawyers, go to http://www.abanet.org/minorities/links/minoritybars.html There you’ll find links to:
• National Bar Association at http://nationalbar.org/welcome.shtml
• National Black Prosecutors Association at www.blackprosecutors.org/
• National Conference of Black Lawyers at www.ncbl.org/homepage.php
In addition, the author recommends:
• www.minorityprofessionalnetwork.com/ (for advertising, employment, and career services)
• www.gatecitybar.org/ (a local Georgia specialty bar)