OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Bar Association will honor a number of legal professionals from across the state, including nine from Oklahoma City, when it holds its annual meetings Nov. 10-12.

Meetings slated at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Oklahoma City will be highlighted by, among other things, awards presented to 19 Oklahomans.

“All the award winners should be proud of their accomplishments,” OBA President Mike Mordy of Ardmore said in a release. “They represent the best of our legal profession in many ways, such as contributions to their communities and to the profession, integrity and character that make them role models.”

OBA Awards Committee and Diversity Committee members selected the award winners after considering nominations submitted from across Oklahoma.

Those to be recognized include:

• Judge Allen Welch, 2021 recipient of the Award of Judicial Excellence. Welch deserves to be recognized for his “honorable, humble and patient service to Oklahoma County and the state of Oklahoma,” an OBA statement said. Welch served as OBA assistant general counsel for 10 years prior to his appointment in 2004 to serve as District 7 judge. “Although his service has been on dockets that do not draw the spotlight, and his nature is to not seek recognition or glory, Judge Welch conducts himself and his hearings in a professional manner. He is known for calm deliberation in the face of emotional people who are dealing with deep pain and great loss,” the OBA said.

• Carol Manning will receive the Liberty Bell Award for promoting or publicizing matters regarding the legal system. She recently retired as OBA communications director after 26 years of service to the association, presiding over the publication of more than 400 issues of the Oklahoma Bar Journal. She has enthusiastically promoted the work of local county bar associations as well as the statewide organization, particularly during the OBA’s annual celebration of Law Day. “Manning’s tireless support of the volunteer attorneys who guide the association is recognized as having been instrumental to the OBA’s progression into a top-tier bar association over the last quarter-century,” the OBA said.

• The Alma Wilson Award will be presented to Mark McDaniel for his long list of contributions to the young people of Oklahoma. Out of a desire to give all kids the chance to play sports regardless of their resources and ZIP code, Cleats for Kids (C4K) was founded by Mark and Stacy McDaniel. “The organization empowers kids to live healthier lifestyles and learn life lessons through sports by providing athletic shoes and safety equipment to kids in need,” the OBA said in its release. “Since its establishment in 2011, C4K has impacted more than 125,000 Oklahoma kids and has distributed over 175,000 sports items. Under McDaniel’s leadership as chairman of the board, C4K has created collaborations with community partners and schools to serve kids, including 225 school districts and 60 nonprofit organizations across Oklahoma.”

• Justice Noma Gurich is the recipient of the Neil E. Bogan Professionalism Award for her continued commitment to meeting high standards in the legal profession. She was appointed to the Oklahoma Supreme Court in 2011 by Gov. Brad Henry and is only the third female justice to serve since statehood. Before her appointment to the Supreme Court, she served as an Oklahoma County district judge for 12 and a half years, during which time she presided over nearly 200 jury trials. She also served for 10 years on the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Court. Prior to her judicial career, Justice Gurich practiced law in Oklahoma City for 10 years.

• Lee Slater will be awarded the Trailblazer Award for his significant, unique visionary efforts that have had an effect on the legal profession and community. Slater worked as an editor and reporter for the Tulsa World when he was tapped to become the youngest head of an Oklahoma state agency in 1971. Three years later, he undertook a wholesale revision of the Oklahoma Election Code – the only time it’s been done in state history. However, his most noted accomplishment was inventing the “I Voted” sticker in 1976 to increase voter turnout. Through his private practice, Slater represented a host of political and private clients, including multiple governors, Oklahoma senators and representatives, U.S. Congress members and several leading Oklahoma corporations.

• The Earl Sneed Award for outstanding continuing legal education contributions will be awarded to Chad Kelliher. During the 2020 OBA annual meeting, Kelliher worked with the Professionalism Committee to provide quality continuing legal education programs and an entertaining way to achieve ethics credits. Additionally, this year, he has provided more ethics programs and has taken the lead in coordinating a back-to-basics and advanced motor vehicle accident series with the OBA CLE department.

• Jordan Haygood Coltrane is the recipient of the Outstanding Young Lawyer Award. He has actively served on the OBA Young Lawyers Division Board of Directors since 2014 as co-chair of the Membership Committee, chair of the Kick-it-Forward Committee, liaison to the OBA Disaster Response and Relief Committee and Law Schools Committee, secretary, treasurer, chair-elect and chair. He also served as American Bar Association YLD district representative for Oklahoma and Arkansas. He is a member of the OBA Health Law Section and serves as a board member for Rebuilding Together OKC.

• The Oklahoma City Association of Black Lawyers, led by President Tiece Dempsey, will receive the Outstanding Service to the Public Award. During the COVID-19 pandemic, members provided free legal assistance and contributed $5,000 to a bail relief fund for individuals arrested for protesting in 2020. Members also raised and donated $3,000 to Nappy Roots Books, the first Black-owned bookstore in northeast Oklahoma City, which was in jeopardy of closing due to the financial effects of the pandemic. Association members also served the community through board membership positions with Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma and the Mayor’s Human Rights Commission Committee.

• Stephen Hoch of Fort Worth, Texas, is the recipient of the Oklahoma City University School of Law Outstanding Senior Law School Student Award. Hoch is a Dean’s Scholar and was awarded six CALI awards and a Top Ten Speaker Award at the Regional ABA Appellate Advocacy Competition. Hoch is a 2015 graduate of the University of Oklahoma, where he received three bachelor’s degrees.

Other OBA award recipients will include David Petty, Joe Stamper Distinguished Service Award, Guymon; James R. Webb, John E. Shipp Award for Ethics, Yukon; Bryan County Bar Association, Tulsa County Bar Association, Outstanding County Bar Association Award; Women in Law Committee, Golden Gavel Award; Stephen K. Newcombe, Award for Outstanding Pro Bono Service, Lawton; Justice John G. Browning, Maurice Merrill Golden Quill Award, Plano, Texas; Matthew Cecconi, TU College of Law Outstanding Senior Law Student Award, Los Angeles; and Robert L. Rembert, OU College of Law Outstanding Senior Law Student Award, Norman.

Receiving Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher Awards from the OBA Diversity Committee will be Justice Shawna S. Baker, Tulsa; Tony Coleman, Oklahoma City; Francie Ekwerekwu, Oklahoma City; Miguel Garcia, Oklahoma City; Trent Shores, Tulsa; and CAIR Oklahoma, Oklahoma City.

More information about the meeting and events is available at www.okbar.org.

The 18,000-member Oklahoma Bar Association, headquartered in Oklahoma City, was created by the Oklahoma Supreme Court to advance the administration of justice and to foster and maintain learning, integrity, competence, public service and high standards of conduct among Oklahoma’s legal community.

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