What is it? The North Phoenix Bar Association (NPBA) was established in 2010 by attorneys Gary Smith, Fred Thomas and Jeff Craven. The NPBA primarily serves attorneys (in good standing) who practice in the Northeast Judicial District, but membership is open to all attorneys in good standing with the State Bar of Arizona in any locale. Its current president is Phoenix attorney Pouria Paknejad. In addition to providing a networking opportunity for lawyers and vendors, NPBA is committed to giving back to the community; despite the group’s relative youth, it hosts one charity event per year. This year it hosted a golf tournament at the Orange Tree Golf Resort in Scottsdale. A portion of the proceeds from the event went to the Children In Need Foundation, a local non-profit dedicated to delivering 100% of fundraising moneys to bigger organizations like the Ed Doherty Scholarship Foundation, National Society for Brain Injured Children, Valley Big Brothers Big Sisters and many others. cle luncheons North Phoenix Bar Association holds CLE luncheons on the second Wednesday of every month at the J.W. Marriott Desert Ridge. The CLE includes a gourmet meal, a case law or legislative update, and a presentation from a distinguished speaker. According to Paknejad, NPBA’s focus is to, “Consistently provide accessible CLEs to small and mid-size firms without asking attorneys to drive across the city to attend.” Prior to NPBA’s founding in 2010, practitioners in North Phoenix oft en drove to mid-town or downtown to attend CLEs. This typically caused the loss of half-a-day’s worth of work, cost more than $100, and even then, food wasn’t always off ered. Paknejad says NPBA provides members, “An aff ordable, relevant, and convenient CLE luncheon.” The average cost of a NPBA luncheon, including a meal and the presentation, is about $40. NPBA began as a small group of attorneys meeting at Catch-22 Sports Bar in North Phoenix. Today, the group meets at the J.W. Marriott at Desert Ridge. Moving closer to the city furthered the organization’s mission to be accessible since the resort is conveniently located at the Loop-101 and Tatum Boulevard. Members have attended presentations from such distinguished guests as Lynda Shely, John Phelps, Hon. Michael McVey, Hon. Jay Polk and Hon. Douglas Gerlach, to name a few. In July, they will welcome attorney Melanie Beauchamp, author of “DUI: The Next Day.” Beauchamp will discuss her book and offer live demonstrations to illustrate the oft-missed nuances in Arizona DUI law. Networking & Mentoring In addition to the CLE luncheons, the association offers benefits like social events, vendor discounts, and philanthropic opportunities. Younger practitioners are offered mentor-attorneys in a wide variety of practice areas. This year, the NPBA is working with the Maricopa County Bar Association to host, “Cigars & Scotch,” The organization’s website touts it as, “An event where attorneys can chat and decompress,” and, “An evening of meeting colleagues without talking ‘shop’ (although you can if you want).” What are the north Phoenix Bar association’s Future Plans? After Paknejad was elected president in November 2012, he embarked on a campaign to expand the organization’s reach. Within a month he had NPBA’s website completely overhauled; within two months, he relocated the organization closer to the city’s core at Desert Ridge. In May, he closed a deal with the Maricopa County Bar Association to establish NPBA as a sister-bar with ex-officio representation on its board of directors. In June, the association welcomes a Supreme Court justice for the first time, Justice Ann Scott Timmer. “To say that we’re honored would be an understatement. Justice Timmer isn’t just an accomplished attorney, she’s also a pioneer,” Paknejad said, “We’re delighted to welcome her.” Ultimately, Paknejad says, the organization’s existence depends on its individual members’ continued desire for community and camaraderie. “Our members look forward to the meetings each month, not necessarily because they’re excited for a CLE, but because it’s a chance to catch up with other people who used to be only colleagues, but are now friends.”
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