Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Night of Painting and Creativity

By Colleen Shevnock

For the past three years, the women attorneys in Dickinson Wright’s Banking & Finance Group have organized a networking event for the Firm’s female clients from local financial institutions and consultants. This event is similar to the Firm-wide Sharing our Success event held annually for all female clients but is targeted to our banking clients. The prior events were held at Nordstrom and included a presentation by the lead stylist following by dinner. Our clients really enjoyed the events and we got great feedback but we wanted to do something different to keep things fresh for our third event! Our goal was for it to be fun and interactive and interesting enough to convince our clients to come spend an August evening with us. We decided on a group painting event based on positive experiences of a few of our attorneys.

So, five DW attorneys and twenty-four clients gathered at Painting with a Twist one evening in August. Of course, we provided some great food and wine for inspiration! We all started the night with a blank canvas on an easel and an assortment of paints on a paper plate. Much to our dismay, lines were not drawn on the canvas like those Paint-by-Numbers we all remember from our childhood! No, there was an instructor at the front of the room who guided us over the two hour period on how to produce our master piece entitled “Almond Branches” with instructions as to color, type of brush and stroke.

Now remember, we have a group of bankers and lawyers in the room. Though bankers may be creative in structuring a loan or crafting financial covenants and lawyers may be creative in helping those bankers create loan documents that memorialize those structures and covenants, we are not, as a group, thought of as “right brain people” or creative. We tend to be “left brain people”, very logical and analytical. This evening, we had to tap into our right brains and everyone was out of their comfort zone! Of course, once the instructor started guiding us, there were all sorts of questions of the instructor to gain further detail and make sure we were doing it “just right”. Our instructor had to keep reminding us that we had freedom to create and there was no right or wrong. It was fun to look around the room and see everyone intensely focused on their creation. The pictures show the determination to the task at hand! A client sitting next to me noticed that I was “sighing” a lot. Yes, I do sigh quite a bit and the stress of my “Almond Branch” creation was getting to me. “You need more wine” she said. I agreed. It was fun to walk around during our break and see everyone’s different interpretations.

What I was particularly proud of was the fact that we had nine different clients represented at a fairly small gathering and everyone was very interested in meeting their female counterparts at other institutions. When I had originally proposed the concept of this event to my male colleagues they were concerned about having clients who are competitors in the marketplace together at one small event. I assured them it would be fine and we would all get along! The ladies have proven me right! Many of these women were former colleagues and appreciated the opportunity to catch up. Others may have recognized a name and appreciated the chance to meet a colleague. As I looked around the room, I also noticed that we had women of all ages and experience levels. One woman was a college intern spending her summer at Chase just embarking on her career along with women who are managers or group heads. I found it gratifying as I truly enjoy my daily interactions with these women and appreciated the opportunity for them to meet each other. The fields of banking and law are still male dominated. To take one evening, gather all of us together and have a few laughs was truly enjoyable. Time to start planning next year’s event!