Since the very beginning of my time at the MCBA, I have heard about the “glory days” of the Bar when members would meet up at the Powers Grill. At the end of their day lawyers would gather to share stories from their days, meet friends, make new ones and to celebrate the collegiality of the profession. I understand that those were the days when attorneys would talk about a case, and perhaps even with a handshake, settle on a mutually favorable outcome for their clients. I would have loved to have been witness to this generation of the practice.
As a member association, we periodically do member surveys and will ask, “what other programs or services would you like to see the bar establish?” One of the primary responses received every time we ask this question is a request for more networking and social events.
Great! I love socializing and networking. It’s one of my favorite activities in life. So our solution was to create an event that would accomplish three things:
- Be informal — no advanced registration required
- Be free or affordable for members — free munchies and discounted beverages
- Be super casual — which meant no speeches
The solution staff developed with insight and enthusiasm from our Membership Committee at the time was the creation of BarSTOP.
We established this monthly gathering for the third Thursday of every month from 5:00 – 7:00 pm to catch folks on their way home. Stop in for some downtime at the end of the day, enjoy free appetizers, compliments of our loyal sponsors each month, plus drink specials. Initially we gathered at The Hyatt for downtown convenience, but as the weather improved, we sought a variety of new locations including Label 7, City Grill, etc. We thought by moving it around town it would offer more appeal and show members the cool new venues that exist in Rochester. The establishments were always happy to welcome us.
Initially, we had a pretty good show of members, acknowledging it would take time to get launched, so in the early days, we may have hit 30 or even 40. And despite our very best efforts, the number began to dwindle. Some recent BarSTOPs were as low as 10-15, with our consistent regulars continuing to show up (which we appreciate).
As your bar executive, I am asked to look at resources that I put into all of our events, both human resources, and resources such as underwriting dollars. In recent months, and not just the summer BarSTOPs, I must question the commitment to this single event that clearly is not viewed as important by the super majority of the members. Following consultation with the MCBA Team, we have made the decision to discontinue the BarSTOPs. Though we regret this decision for the few loyalists that have attended over the last 2 years, we simply were not accomplishing our objective.
My struggle with this decision takes me back to the survey responses from you — we want more social and networking events. So help me understand, I think we accomplished that challenge in the form of BarSTOPs, but clearly so many of you did not. I am not certain we could have made it any cheaper.
Please talk to me, why did the BarSTOPs not make it? What could we have done different? Instead of monthly, is quarterly better? Is Thursday too busy with other activities? Was the beer not cold?
I work very hard, as does the whole MCBA team, to meet as many of your expectations as possible. If not a BarSTOP, then how do you wish to socialize and network?
I look forward to hearing from you.
Thanks for checking in,