By Katherine D. Hoke, Managing Partner/Principal/AttorneyHOKE_K 015 medium 300dpi file

On a chilly February day in 2013, Jim Shields invited me to lunch at a neighborhood restaurant here in Addison.  Jim, who was in a contemplative mood, acknowledged that he has been very blessed in both his personal and professional lives, and expressed that he and his wife Cathie felt it was the right time for the law firm to start giving back in a more concrete way.  Jim confessed that he was not sure how to go about the process of implementing a formal giving back program, and asked me if I would be willing to “figure it out.”  After I said “yes,” I realized that I had no clue what I was doing, so I did what any other clueless person in my situation would do.

I turned to the Internet.

The Internet provided a lot of information about large corporations with internal philanthropy departments and substantial foundations, but virtually nothing that was applicable to a small company with less than 15 employees that wanted to do something positive for the local community.

The light bulb went off at a business lunch later that year with Deanna Walker and Stacey Relton of Venturity Financial Partners.   Deanna and Stacey are two of the members of the Shields Legal Group Executive Women’s Forum, a group of female executives from the Addison/North Dallas corridor that meet quarterly.  As we were discussing ideas for the next meeting’s presentation, Deanna suggested contacting Sejal Desai with EEntrepreneurs for North Texasntrepreneurs for North Texas (“EFNT”) to speak about philanthropy opportunities in North Texas.  Sejal graciously agreed to speak to our group, and the rest, as they say, is history!

Jim and I met with Sejal and Pam Gerber, EFNT’s Executive Director, and realized that EFNT was a perfect match for our small firm.  EFNT, which is a program of Communities Foundation of Texas (“CFT”), essentially serves as an out-sourced corporate philanthropy department, providing all of the structure and logistical support small companies like ours need to be good corporate citizens.  As EFNT says, they “make it easy to do good.”  To learn more about EFNT, please visit their website at www.efnt.org or their FaceBook page at Entrepreneurs For North Texas (EFNT).

Shields Legal Group formally became a member of EFNT at year-end 2013, contemporaneously establishing the Shields Legal Group Charitable Fund of CFT.  But that just opened the door to community service – how would our small law firm execute and what kind of impact would we have?

Those questions and more are the topic of my next article. To say that the last thirteen months have been eye-opening is an understatement. The journey to IMPACT 365, the firm’s community service arm, is the subject of an entire article.  Stay tuned…

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