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Nominate Someone Who Deserves to be Honored

By Jennifer Castillo

To some of you, spring may bring to mind images of shamrocks, leprechauns, pastel colored eggs and chocolate bunnies. For others, spring may mean breaks from school and family vacations. In my mind, spring represents the beginning of the OBA Awards Committee’s work for the year. It is the time when we plan our year as a committee and begin to publicize the nominations process. As a working mom of two, I understand how difficult it can be to find a few extra minutes in which to write and submit an OBA award nomination. But consider how a few minutes of your time now can encourage and inspire others to continue serving our community through leadership, public service and service to the profession far into the future. 

For example, Carolyn S. Thompson received the Alma Wilson Award in 2017 for her work at Douglass High School in Oklahoma City as chair of the Law and Public Safety Career Academy. In this role, Ms. Thompson spends 20 to 25 hours a week coordinating speakers, arranging field trips and summer internships as well as writing grants for all the academy’s funding. She believes the work she does makes a difference in the lives of Oklahoma students, but the work also comes with many obstacles and frustrations. When asked about how receiving the award impacted her, Ms. Thompson told me that on the days when she feels like beating her head against a wall to get some small task accomplished, having been recognized by the OBA motivates her to keep going. 

Judge Jill Weedon, who received the Judicial Excellence Award in 2017, similarly told me how meaningful it is to her and her family that someone noticed her efforts. She said, “Writing a nomination letter is an act of kindness that will only cost you a little time. You may surprise someone with the gift of having their achievement publicly acknowledged.” Ms. Thompson added, “I am sure there are many Oklahoma lawyers who do pro bono work who deserve to be recognized but who receive little recognition. It takes time and effort to prepare and submit an award nomination, but to those being nominated that time and effort will mean a lot and might make a real difference in the nominee’s life. I encourage OBA members to take the time to seek out and nominate our members for the great work they are doing.” 

To encourage nominations, the Awards Committee has made the nomination process as streamlined as possible. Anyone can submit an award nomination, and anyone nominated can win. No specific form is required. Nominations can be as short as a one-page letter (however, the entire nomination cannot exceed five singled-sided 8 ½ x 11 pages including exhibits and support letters). No specific method of delivery is required. Nominations may be mailed, emailed or faxed (but please pick just one). I encourage you to take a look at the award categories and nominate at least one deserving colleague or professional organization for an award. You never know what great acts of service and kindness you may inspire.




  • The deadline is Friday, July 27, but get your nomination in EARLY!
  • The entire nomination cannot exceed five single-sided, 81/2” x 11” pages. (This includes exhibits and support letters.) 
  • Nominations don’t have to be long; they can be as short as a one-page letter to the OBA Awards Committee. A nomination form is not required, but is available as a PDF. Also, see nominating tips from the Awards Committee Chairperson.
  • Make sure the name of the person being nominated and the person (or organization) making the nomination is on the nomination.
  • If you think someone qualifies for awards in several categories,pick one award and only do one nomination. The OBA Awards Committee may consider the nominee for an award in a category other than one in which you nominate that person.
  • You can mail, fax or email your nomination (pick one).
    Fax: 405-416-7089
    Mail: OBA Awards Committee, P.O. Box 53036, Oklahoma City, OK 73152

Individuals for Whom Awards are Named

  • Outstanding County Bar Association Award - for meritorious efforts and activities
  • Hicks Epton Law Day Award -for individuals or organizations for noteworthy Law Day activities
  • Golden Gavel Award - for OBA Committees and Sections performing with a high degree of excellence
  • Liberty Bell Award - for non-lawyers or lay organizations for promoting or publicizing matters regarding the legal system
  • Outstanding Young Lawyer Award- for a member of the OBA Young Lawyers Division for service to the profession
  • Earl Sneed Award - for outstanding continuing legal education contributions
  • Award of Judicial Excellence- for excellence of character, job performance or achievement while a judge and service to the bench, bar and community
  • Fern Holland Courageous Lawyer Award - to an OBA member who has courageously performed in a manner befitting the highest ideals of our profession
  • Outstanding Service to the Public Award - for significant community service by an OBA member or bar-related entity
  • Award for Outstanding Pro Bono Service - by an OBA member or bar-related entity
  • Joe Stamper Distinguished Service Award - to an OBA member for long-term service to the bar association or contributions to the legal profession
  • Neil E. Bogan Professionalism Award- to an OBA member practicing 10 years or more who for conduct, honesty,integrity and courtesy best represents the highest standards of the legal profession
  • John E. Shipp Award for Ethics- to an OBA member who has truly exemplified the ethics of the legal profession either by 1) acting in accordance with the highest ethical standards in the face of pressure to do otherwise or 2) by serving as a role model for ethics to the other members of the profession
  • Alma Wilson Award - for an OBA member who has made a significant contribution to improving the lives of Oklahoma children
  • Trailblazer Award - to an OBA member or members who by their significant, unique visionary efforts have had a profound impact upon our profession and /or community and in doing so have blazed a trail for others to follow