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Law Day 2013: Annual Celebration to Highlight Equality

By Richard J. Vreeland and Jennifer S. Prilliman

Ask A Lawyer
Thursday, May 2
7-8 p.m.
OETA stations
Featuring segments on:
Sexual Predators in Schools
Elder Law
Social Media
Lawyers Giving Back
Hosted and moderated by Dick Pryor
Special guests:
Oklahoma Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Colbert
OBA President James T. Jim Stuart

Commemorating the 150th anniversary of the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation and  the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech “I have a Dream,” this year’s Law Day theme is “Realizing the Dream: Equality for All.” We celebrate Law Day every year as a reminder of the importance of the rule of law and to not take for granted the liberties and freedoms we enjoy. This year’s theme reminds us that though we have made great strides in the United States towards equality, there is still work to be done. As lawyers we play a critical role in promoting equality, whether it is representing clients and ensuring they receive proper due process, giving our time to service organizations or just being active participants in our community.

Law Day is an opportunity for us to pause and acknowledge issues both present and past. The OBA Law Day Committee is excited to once again highlight and celebrate the work that lawyers do in our communities. Law Day has more than 50 years of history and tradition, and it began here in Oklahoma. Wewoka attorney and past OBA President Hicks Epton developed the idea for Law Day in the late 1950s, and it has evolved into a national celebration. This year Oklahomans will observe Law Day on May 2 with activities and events throughout the state.

Again this year we held our annual art and writing contests for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Students interpreted the theme “Realizing the Dream: Equality for All” in a variety of art formats. With the help of OETA and Red Rock Film productions, we have again produced an informative television show covering important topics and the impact lawyers make on the lives of individuals and the law. Additionally, with the help of all our attorney volunteers, we will continue to offer 12 hours of nonstop free legal advice on May 2.

Law Day 2013Volunteer lawyers answer calls for legal advice during the 2012 Ask A Lawyer event in Oklahoma County.

Ask A Lawyer TV Show

We are excited about this year’s Ask A Lawyer television show which will air May 2 at 7p.m. on OETA stations across the state. We have changed the format from the past few years and hope you will be as excited as we are about the changes. The show begins with the emotional story of a young woman who was the victim of sexual abuse at the hands of a trusted school coach. The segment highlights the signs and warnings teachers, parents and friends should be aware of as well as the legal recourse victims may seek.

Estate planning and elder law questions are some of the most common questions we receive during the annual Ask A Lawyer event. We interviewed a daughter caring for her aging parents about the work her attorney did for her. This will be followed by a panel discussion addressing some of the common questions relating to estate planning and elder care. The show continues with a question and answer segment in which community member submitted questions about social media and the workplace, an area where technology has outpaced the law.

The show will feature OBA President Jim Stuart who will highlight many good works being done by lawyers throughout the state. Chief Justice Tom Colbert also joins in the celebration of Law Day and recognizes the student contest winners and their winning artwork.

Contests and Activities

This year more than 1,300 students from across the state submitted entries centered on this year’s theme, “Realizing the Dream: Equality for All.” Judging is never easy for the Law Day Committee members; the students always submit such excellent work. The winners have been announced, and the winning entries can be viewed online.

Ask A Lawyer TV show host and moderator Dick Pryor directs questions about elder law to panelists Sarah Stewart and Rick Goralewicz, both of Oklahoma City.

FREE LEGAL ADVICE

We are well under way in preparing for the statewide Ask A Lawyer call-in event to be held May 2, when for 12 nonstop hours the public can call in for free legal advice. The Ask A Lawyer call-in event is a great way for all Oklahoma bar members to participate in the celebration of Law Day. This annual event gives us a unique opportunity to provide a valuable community service while promoting a positive public image of attorneys and the OBA.

Callers statewide will be able to reach an attorney by calling 800-456-8525 throughout the day on May 2. The OBA Law Day Committee works with each county Law Day chairperson to set up a network of attorneys to field calls during the broadcast. Volunteer attorneys in each participating county staff their own local phones and answer questions for a predetermined time period. Attorneys in Oklahoma and Tulsa counties work together to staff the toll-free, statewide telephone number from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Your Help is Needed

To make this community service project a success, the Law Day Committee needs your help. It takes a total of 30 attorneys for each two-hour shift to fully staff the statewide number. That effort, combined with the local county bars, creates a huge need for attorneys to step forward. To volunteer, contact your local county Law Day chairperson.

The Law Day Committee has again committed to branch out to the Latino community by offering free legal advice in Spanish. Each shift in Tulsa and Oklahoma City will need Spanish-speaking volunteers. If you speak Spanish or know non-attorneys who would volunteer to translate, we need your help!

Directive and Proclamation

In continuing with OBA Law Day tradition, Chief Justice Tom Colbert signed the Law Day directive, encouraging courts to host Law Day events. Gov. Mary Fallin has again this year signed a proclamation designating May 2, 2013, as Law Day in Oklahoma.

Law Day 2013Volunteer lawyers answer calls for legal advice during the 2012 Ask A Lawyer event in Oklahoma County.

Get Involved

As we get ready to celebrate Law Day next month, the OBA Law Day Committee is already preparing for next year’s Law Day activities. If you have ideas for next year’s Law Day or just want to be involved, then join us on this fun yet hardworking committee. If you would like to join you can contact Richard Vreeland, 405-360-6631; or Jennifer Prilliman, 405-208-5174.

We hope that you will participate in Law Day, whether it is volunteering to provide free legal advice in your county or making a presentation to a local school group or organization. With the commitment of the Law Day Committee, county Law Day chairpersons and the help of each and every one of you, this year’s Law Day will be a great celebration highlighting the many important roles OBA members play in our communities.

Mr. Vreeland, of Norman, and Ms. Prilliman, of Oklahoma City, serve as co-chairs of the OBA Law Day Committee.