Oklahoma Bar Journal
Meet 2022 OBF President Valerie Couch
Law school: University of Oklahoma College of Law
Graduation year: 1983
Current Position: Dean Emeritus of Oklahoma City University School of Law.
Location: You can find me in our Putnam Heights neighborhood in Oklahoma City — or on my family’s farm in Pottawatomie County. I also maintain a faculty office at OCU Law.
Why did you decide to be a lawyer?
Reading great literature in college created in me a strong desire to be in the middle of the action — in medias res. As a lawyer, I knew I would be able to jump into the arena and find purposeful work — in the middle of the action.
What is one thing you’re glad you tried but would never do again?
I’m glad I had the opportunity to live in Los Angeles, California, while I was in college. But I was also so happy to return home to Oklahoma. I still love to visit big coastal cities, but I would never live in one again.
Are there any social norms that completely baffle you?
Almost all of them.
What is your biggest pet peeve with modern technology?
Why haven’t we figured out how to “Beam me up, Scotty!”?
What is on your bucket list?
I don’t have a bucket list. No doubt it’s time to get one!
Explain the leadership roles you hold in professional and/or community settings and why these responsibilities are important to you.
I have played a variety of roles in the legal profession: practicing lawyer, mediator, judge, law school dean, and law professor. And fortunately for me, I have been befriended along the way by many generous, big-hearted people and, through their example, encouraged to live a full and engaged life. Looking back, I see that taking on leadership responsibilities in the legal community, county bar, state bar, federal bar association, inns of court, and other professional organizations deepened my knowledge of and appreciation for our legal profession. Being involved also created key relationships that led to opportunities to do meaningful work and serve on problem-solving teams.
Recently, I have served on the OKC National Memorial Board of Trustees, the Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation Advisory Board, the advisory board for the Oklahoma Innocence Project, the Western District Historical Society, Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt’s Human Rights Commission Task Force, and other groups whose missions serve our communities.
Service on the Oklahoma Bar Foundation Board of Trustees has been one of the most absorbing of these recent responsibilities. I have grown to love the Bar Foundation and all it does — quietly, without fanfare, and with great efficiency — to help people and assist the legal profession in fulfilling its responsibilities to those in need.
What would you tell current law students and young associates about the importance of professional and civic responsibility?
Relationships are crucial to your happiness and success. Taking on professional and civic responsibilities will create lasting friendships that will broaden your understanding of life’s complexities and develop your capacity for solving problems. A life of service helps you find your place in the arena.
What are your goals as 2022 OBF Board President?
My goals are to help our board grow the foundation’s endowment, celebrate the foundation’s 75-year history, build upon the foundation’s alliance with the Oklahoma Bar Association, and increase public awareness of the foundation and its work. Most of all, I want to help the foundation continue to address the needs of Oklahomans for access to justice, high quality legal services, legal education, scholarships and programs that strengthen democracy. In other words, I hope to stay in the middle of the action!
Oklahoma Bar Journal – OBJ 93 Vol 1 (January 2022)