Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Recent News
Home / Breaking the Ice / Breaking the Ice: Networking events connect diverse professionals
Christopher Pham
Christopher Pham, a Fredrikson & Byron shareholder, created his weekly “Elevate Our Network” events in 2017. (Submitted photo)

Breaking the Ice: Networking events connect diverse professionals

When Christopher Pham wasn’t meeting other diverse professionals at networking events, he launched his own.

Pham, a Fredrikson & Byron shareholder, was an associate in 2017 when he created his weekly “Elevate Our Network” events.

They take place in Minneapolis at the Exchange & Alibi Lounge, where Pham is a co-owner. They’re open to everyone but are especially popular with diverse entrepreneurs and professionals.

Pham created “Elevate Our Network” brand T-shirts and other merchandise when in-person events, which have resumed, stopped during pandemic shutdowns.

Pham, co-chair of Fredrikson & Byron’s sports and entertainment group, said connecting with financial advisers, agents and others through “Elevate Our Network” helped him begin working with professional athletes.

This fall, he’s teaching at the University of Minnesota Law School’s new Sports and Name, Image and Likeness Clinic.

Name: Christopher Pham

Title: Shareholder, Fredrikson & Byron

Education: B.A., sociology of law criminology and deviance, University of Minnesota; M.A., criminal justice, Chapman University; J.D., Mitchell Hamline School of Law

Q: Best way to start a conversation with you?

A: Just walk up and start speaking. At “Elevate Our Network” events, when I see somebody I don’t recognize I introduce myself, ask them what they do and just get to know them.

Q: Why did you go to law school?

A: I went to law school by accident. My mother wanted me to be a doctor, a common theme in Asian households. I was in pre-med. By my sophomore year, I’d transferred back to the U of M Twin Cities from St. John’s University, took organic chemistry and quickly learned becoming a doctor wasn’t for me.

When I built up enough courage to break my mom’s heart, to let her know I wasn’t going to be a doctor, her first question was what are you going to do instead? I said I think I’m going to become a lawyer. At the time, I hadn’t considered whether I wanted to go to law school or become a lawyer. But that bought a couple years to get my mom off my back so I could finish undergrad at the U of M.

As I was finishing undergrad, my mom said, are you applying to law schools? I didn’t think I had the discipline and for law school, so I pursued a master’s in criminal justice. Growing up in north Minneapolis — sociology, law, criminology, criminal justice, I had an interest in those things. At Chapman University, a couple lawyers in my cohort encouraged me to take the LSAT. They said if you get in, maybe it’s meant for you to go. I took the LSAT, applied at a couple of schools, got in and moved back to Minnesota from California to go to law school.

Q: What books are you reading?

A: “White Fragility.” I do a lot of work in the diversity, equity and inclusion space so it’s been on my radar.

Q: What’s your pet peeve?

A: Being ignored.

Q: Best part of your work?

A: The autonomy in private practice. I enjoy being present and active in my kids’ lives. The individuals that I have the honor and privilege of working with at the firm as well as my clients.

Q: Least favorite?

A: Private practice can be demanding, long hours, client emergencies.

Q: Favorite activity away from work?

A: Traveling and spending time with my family, my kids and my significant other. We like to eat at different restaurants, we like to go to amusement parks. If I need to do something to decompress, that’s playing basketball.

Q: Where would you take someone visiting your hometown?

A: Other than the Exchange and Alibi Lounge, Soul Bowl is a restaurant that I enjoy and worked. Lotus is another favorite for Vietnamese cuisine.

Q: Legal figure you most admire?

A: A partner here, Terry Fleming. He is my mentor, my sponsor, my champion, my advocate. He’s somebody that I very much look up to.

Q: Favorite book, movie or TV show about lawyers?

A: I just binge-watched a Netflix show, “Partner Track,” about a diverse woman attorney working at a big firm in New York City. I appreciated this show because it addresses issues of race and unconscious bias.

Leave a Reply