Oklahoma Bar Journal
Women in Law Now an OBA Section
By Bevan G. Stockdell
In September, the Board of Governors approved a petition signed by more than 80 OBA members to transition the long-standing Women in Law Committee to the Women in Law Section. Shannon Panach and Bevan Stockdell, who served as the Women in Law Committee co-chairs in 2020 and 2021, were elected as the founding chairs of the Women in Law Section. The purposes of the Women in Law Section are:
- To promote women in the legal profession;
- To educate and engage OBA members and the public about issues affecting women in the legal profession and laws affecting women generally;
- To support the advancement of women through community service;
- To coordinate continuing legal education programs; and
- To provide networking and career development opportunities for Section members.
In many ways, the transition from committee to section will go unnoticed. We will continue to have regular business meetings, networking events, community service projects and host the annual Women in Law Conference and Mona Salyer Lambird Spotlight Awards Luncheon.
What will change is financial flexibility and governance. Surprising to most, the Women in Law Committee was already self-funded, just like a section. The Women in Law Section will continue to raise revenue through conference sponsorships and registration fees. But by becoming a section, our activities are no longer part of the OBA budget and general operating fund. This will give the Women in Law Section room to grow its programs and enhance benefits to members. For several years, the women in law have expressed a desire to do more significant community outreach to support other women. As a section, we will be able to offer financial assistance to charitable organizations, as well as sponsor other bar association activities and legal education programs.
Being a section also means autonomy in leadership. While committee chairs are appointed by the OBA president, sections elect their own officers. During the OBA Annual Meeting, Women in Law Section officers for 2022 were elected: April Kelso, chair; Emily Harrelson, chair-elect; Melissa East, treasurer; Cheryl Jackson, secretary; and Shannon Panach and Bevan Stockdell, immediate past chairs. This officer structure provides greater continuity year to year and will strengthen leadership.
Another important change is that members will need to join the section and pay section dues each year. There are two ways to join. You can check the box for the Women in Law Section when you pay your 2022 bar dues online or by mail. At any time, you can join by logging in to your MYOKBar account through the OBA website. Women in Law Section annual dues are $20. Section membership is free for newly admitted first-year attorneys. Additionally, law students, judges and others with an interest in the section’s activities are invited to join as associate members.
Everyone is welcome to attend the upcoming social mixers hosted by the Women in Law Section. On Tuesday, Dec. 7, we will gather from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Elote, 514 S. Boston Ave., in Tulsa, and The Study, 701 W. Sheridan Ave., in Oklahoma City. We hope you’ll join us!
Bevan G. Stockdell serves as co-chair of the Women in Law Section.
Originally published in the Oklahoma Bar Journal – OBJ 92 Vol 10 (December 2021)