Meet 2018 OBA President Kimberly Hays
By Lacey Plaudis
Kimberly Hays was born Aug. 18 in a year we’re not going to mention. She was born and raised in Tulsa with her brother Craig. She grew up the daughter of a school teacher and an attorney. “My mom was an elementary school teacher while I was growing up. She retired when my daughter was born. Then, she opened up a reading clinic that she still has today. My dad was a special judge when I was little. I used to sit on the bench in my little pig tales.”
Kim’s core personality hasn’t changed from when she was a kid. “As a kid, my mom called me her social butterfly. She still does. I just love to be with a group of my friends and be out doing things.” In the summers, you would have found Kim at the neighborhood pool from morning to night playing with a large group of kids. You would also find her playing with Barbie dolls with her girlfriends. “Growing up I lived for Barbies, dress up costumes, anything dance related or cheerleading.”
Always the expressive and friendly social butterfly, Kim was very involved in dance. “I did ballet and cheer. I cheered all through middle school and high school. I danced with a studio in town. I was either dancing or cheering all the time. I used to dance ballet on pointe.”
EARLY BEGINNING OF A LAW CAREER
Growing up the daughter of an attorney, Kim was around the practice of law often. “In high school and in college, I worked in and around law because my dad would come home at night and work. I grew up seeing the coffee table with all his law files.”
In the summers, Kim would help around her father’s law office filing papers, answering phones and even sat in on the occasional deposition. “I remember when I was in junior high school, I got to sit in on a deposition. I thought it was the coolest thing, my dad got to ask these people questions and they had to answer. I thought, ‘This is amazing, I want to do that.’”
POKES AND JAYHAWKS
A true Tulsan, Kim only left briefly to attend OSU and the University of Kansas. “My undergraduate degree was in philosophy. I knew I was going to law school, so I chose the program that would give me the most experience in writing and reasoning. I had taken philosophy courses before and liked it. Since I was a philosophy major, it’s a good thing the lawyer thing worked out.”
During her time at OSU, she was active in her sorority Pi Beta Phi. The sorority kept her busy volunteering in the community and participating in campus events. “Homecoming was several months long and my favorite college event.” Kim also served as president of Pi Beta Phi her junior year.
Kim left the Pokes to join the Jayhawks at the KU School of Law in Lawrence. Both Kim’s mom and dad went to TU for their undergraduate degrees. Her dad went to TU for law school, and her mom went to OSU for her masters. “I wanted to get out and do something different so I went to KU. It was a good law school and a fun city.”
However, law school was a very different experience for Kim. Homecoming was replaced with studying, community service with study group sessions and sorority events with even more studying. However, she did find some time for basketball. “The law school is right across from the basketball arena, Allen Fieldhouse. We’d study, run over and watch a basketball game, come back and study some more.”
Kim met her husband, Alan Souter, while the two were attending OSU. They enjoyed attending OSU football games and grabbing cheese fries at Eskimo Joe’s. “We dated from ‘89 to ‘93. We dated through the end of OSU and all through law school.” While the two made good study buddies, they also competed with each other to get better grades.
Kim and Alan had a busy year in 1993. Alan’s father died in March, they both graduated in May, took the bar exam in June and were married and sworn in in September. “We found out we passed the bar the night before we got married.”
“It was the night of the rehearsal dinner, we knew they were posting the results on the window of TU law school at 11 p.m. I told my dad we weren’t going to look and that we’d wait until after our honeymoon.” Kim’s dad couldn’t wait that long, however. “After we did the whole rehearsal dinner my dad said he was going to put gas in the car. This was at around 11 p.m. I didn’t clue in. Next thing, I know he comes running back in, ‘You both passed!’”
MENTOR AND COLLEAGUE
After her swearing-in ceremony, Kim went to work for her father. He was a general practice attorney but practiced quite a bit of family law. “It was amazing to practice with him. The plan was to practice together longer.”
Just seven months after being sworn in her father passed away. “He was second chairing me in my first trial. I was doing the cross examination in my first divorce trial when he had a heart attack there at the courthouse. He was 54.”
Kim’s dad passed down his love of the law and a piece of valuable advice for any young professional. “He used to say, ‘Your word is your bond. You only get one reputation, and you have to guard that. You have to make your reputation what you want it to be.’” He made sure that Kim knew the secret to being a good lawyer was to be a good person.
A NEW START
After wrapping up some of her father’s cases, Kim went to work at the same firm as Alan. She worked at the firm for some time before making another switch. “I went out on my own when I was six months pregnant with my daughter. Although difficult, it seemed like a good idea at the time so I could raise my kids at the office.”
Kim opened a family law practice in a little house off of Denver Street in Tulsa. The quaint setting allowed her to raise her kids in a comfortable environment. Her golden retriever puppy, Chloe, is able to go to work with her every day and play in the kitchen. Kim’s legal assistant, Stephanie, has been with her for over 20 years. “We are a great team – I am lucky to have Stephanie.”
Kim and Alan have two children. “Our daughter, Noelle, is a freshman at Drury University. Our son, Parker, is a freshman at Bishop Kelly High School.” Most family events revolve around Parker’s baseball games and Noelle’s dance team and college life.
When the family does get a chance to get away, they usually choose one of two places. “We are beach people. Anytime we can get to the beach, we do.” The family also loves Disney World. “My family grew up going to Disney World. We go every year.”
When Kim isn’t working, she enjoys running half marathons. “I just finished the Route-66 half marathon. That was my 31st half marathon. I’ve only done one full marathon. That one was enough.” Kim, the social butterfly, started running with the running club Fleet Feet nine years ago. “I met this group of amazing women. We all still run together. We travel as a group and have fun. We have girls’ weekends, and in the middle, we run 13.1 miles.”
Alan is general counsel for a construction company in Tulsa, and he also represents clients in real estate development projects. He enjoys watching OSU football and KU basketball with the family. Alan is the 2018 Oklahoma Bar Foundation president.
PLANS FOR 2018
As president of the OBA, Kim’s major initiatives will be addressing the aging of membership and examining new technology. With help from the Board of Governors, she aims to tackle issues such as training senior members on new technologies and improving resources for aging members.
Kim’s ability to work hard in any capacity will help in the OBA’s mission to constantly improve the practice of law in Oklahoma. Her friendly and social nature will surely brighten any bar event.
Ms. Plaudis is an OBA communications specialist.
Originally published in the Oklahoma Bar Journal -- OBJ 89 pg. 6 (January 2018)