Cheryl Prell

Part 3 — Charity and Community: Women Helping Women in Business

Allen Matkins WomenTalk to the women partners in the Allen Matkins real estate and litigation practices and they all agree on two things: That even in 2010, the vast majority of decision-makers are men and that women who want to get ahead  need to help one another. So, to that end, up and down the state where Allen Matkins has offices, women attorneys have been actively developing programs to help one another, their clients, and the community.

This series of entries looks at the many creative ways the Allen Matkins Women’s program supports these efforts. It’s become a vibrant part of the firm’s diversity initiative and also an important source of attracting business, retaining talented attorneys and drawing new talent to the firm. Because each program is focused on the specific needs and goals of the women involved, they all have a unique twist. Some are purely business oriented while others combine networking with social activities or community service.

Here’s a look at what some of the women attorneys in the San Francisco and Century City offices are doing to connect charity and community.

Charity and Community

Style & Share: Combining networking with charitable giving

Sandi Nichols

Sandi Nichols

Networking, of course, takes many forms. And, in the San Francisco office, it’s not always strictly about business. Sandi Nichols, an environmental litigation partner and Co-Chair of the Firm’s Environmental and Natural Resources Group, spearheads the Northern California Allen Matkins Women’s Group. This group, which pairs partners with associates, is unusual in that for each event one of the women associates takes the lead as the organizer. There’s also more latitude about the kinds of events that are planned.

The first event, “Tour & Tea,” combined a tour of the remodeled Ghirardelli Square and Fairmont Hotel and Residences, owned and managed by the firm’s client JMA Properties, with an afternoon tea at Crown & Crumpet, one of the tenants at the site.

Makesha Patterson

Makesha Patterson

The most recent networking event, “Style & Share,” was held last spring at Bloomingdale’s. Planned by associate Makesha Patterson, “Style & Share” hosted Allen Matkins attorneys and their clients for a fashion presentation and personalized make-up consultation, and incorporated a community service component—a professional clothing and accessories drive for the non-profit Career Closet of San Mateo County, which assists local women re-entering the workforce.

The next event, says Nichols, will be a little different—a “plus-one” opportunity for the group to continue to expand their network while continuing to mentor the next generation of women lawyers.

REal Women in Century City: Business development combines with Community

Cheryl Prell

Cheryl Prell

Cheryl Prell, a partner in the real estate practice in Century City, has taken a slightly different approach through her networking group, REal Women. These real estate professionals meet monthly to every six weeks for a luncheon that focuses on different relevant topics that support the women in their respective businesses. The group, which is sponsored by the firm, has a membership of about 30 so far, and also uses events as a way to introduce one another to potential clients and other contacts. Additionally, they organize mini get-togethers of three people for lunch or dinner to create stronger bonds among the women.

They’ve also undertaken community action projects. “We’ve put together presentations for high-school and college-age young women about having a career, the importance of staying in school, how to write a resume, and other professional life skills,” Prell explains. “We’ve gone to the Variety Boys and Girls Club in East L.A., USC’s Graduate School of Real Estate, and Santa Monica YWCA’s residential facility for women of college age.”

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