Successful women bonding over martinis, gossip and high fashion—sounds a bit like Sex and the City, only this group is exclusive to attorneys (sure, SATC’s Miranda could join) and convenes in downtown Minneapolis and its surrounding suburbs. Meet the Juris Divas: “Smart, sassy lawyers or judges who enjoy good times, good stories and good friends—and a good martini or two,” as the tagline goes.
Six years ago, at a rooftop party above the Barristers Trust Building, Twin Cities attorneys Carolyn Agin Schmidt and Kristen Naros dreamed up the all-female social club. “We have our own style,” says Agin Schmidt, a criminal defense attorney with a solo practice. “We don’t have to emulate the guys. It’s about celebrating women.”
What began as a group of 30 at Trocaderos restaurant two years ago has increased to more than 300 attorneys. Membership qualifications: any female lawyer who thinks she’s a diva, says Naros, a personal injury lawyer with Rambow Law Firm. “We also have ‘divas in training’—those who are in their last year of law school.”
And contrary to their Sex and the City counterparts, “designer bags are not a prerequisite,” adds Agin Schmidt.
“It’s about networking and socializing in an informal setting,” says Naros. “I’ve met so many wonderful women in different areas of practice.”
As the group has grown, so has its mission. In addition to happy hours, Juris Divas hosts charity fundraisers “mostly benefiting underprivileged women and children,” says Agin Schmidt—partnering with local businesses such as Bergstrom Jewelers, Rocco Altobelli and Neiman Marcus. The events have raised nearly $10,000 for Ronald McDonald House, Minnesota Ovarian Cancer Alliance and Perspectives Family Center.
“We’re going beyond the original concept,” she says. “It’s allowed us to meet our goal and help others. We’ve taken this from a ‘diva’ thing to giving back.”
If the group continues to expand at its current rate (Naros gets at least five inquiry e-mails a week), the founders will look to outside help. “The hard thing is having our own lives and practices,” says Agin Schmidt. “Maybe somebody will design our Web site.”
Meanwhile, they’ll continue on with their mission. “Women communicate differently when it’s just women,” says Naros. “It’s an opportunity to get together and not be spoken over.”
“Or,” says Agin Schmidt, “be distracted by the boys.”
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