Oklahoma Bar Journal

Happy New Year as I Prepare to Leave My Post

By John Morris Williams

It’s the beginning of a new year. A new year often brings renewed hope, dreams and goals. The events of the last 20 months have certainly challenged us to think differently and work differently. However, the core of our work mission has not changed. The Oklahoma Bar Association will this year reexamine its mission and core values to ensure it is doing everything possible to enhance the professional lives of its members.

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I anticipate that our Strategic Planning Committee will be meeting shortly to develop a road map for the future. This will be an exciting and necessary process to move our association forward. Since it has been publicly announced on more than one occasion, I’m sure most are aware that it is my intent to retire at the end of the year. Like you, this is my association, and I want to see it thrive and be there for the generations of lawyers to come.

The final plans have not been developed on all the processes that will be utilized in updating our strategic plan. It is anticipated that there may be some surveying of the membership. If you are like me, filling out surveys is not one of my favorite pastimes. However, I would ask that you do take the time to fill out any surveys you may receive. Research has shown that information gathered from surveys is most helpful if a broad range of members participate. Otherwise, it is just data from people who are inclined to fill out surveys. The OBA is made up of busy lawyers who often sell time for a living. I know that it is asking you to give of your time, but I promise you it will be time well spent in helping guide your association.

As new leadership is being recruited for the association, I do hope every member will take the opportunity to help guide and move us forward. As the hired help, I have had a unique perspective and opportunity to engage in the work of the association. First and foremost, like you, I am a lawyer. I know the challenges of juggling multiple cases and meeting overhead every month. Whether you are a solo practitioner or a member of a large firm, the commonalities that unite us are immense.

Fortunately, the members and leadership of the OBA have always given me the help, wisdom and direction to move from one post to the next. So as I prepare to move to the next post, please join me in helping our leaders chart the future of the OBA.

For the past several years, I mentioned in my comments and conversations with our elected leadership that in the next couple of years our association will be losing almost 200 years of combined experience with the retirement of several of the professional staff. Although there are many changes coming to the OBA, I am certain that our future is bright because we have a dynamic and engaged membership. The job of the professional staff is to assist the elected leadership and members in carrying out the mission and goals of the association. As long as we have committed and talented leadership from the ranks of our membership we will prosper. We can always find new and better ways to serve our members, and fresh eyes often are necessary to take things up a notch.

I call upon every member of the association to be engaged, especially during this time of change, to let your voice be heard and to help shape our future. In the meantime, we will continue striving to meet the challenges ahead and provide the best member service we can under the circumstances and with the resources we have. The association is in good financial condition for the time being. We have not had dues increase in 17 years. The only thing that is the same price as it was 17 years ago for me is my OBA dues amount! We have a competent staff and some new employees who have injected new energy and ideas.

As the calendar pages turn this year, it is my fervent hope that we continue to provide good service and value to our membership. It is my equally fervent prayer that our members reach out to us and let us know what they need and want from our association as we plan for the future.

I’m often reminded of a speech by Retired Justice Joseph Watt. He said a turtle on top of a fence post did not get there alone. I must admit sometimes I feel like that turtle: in a place with a great view, wondering what the heck next to do. Fortunately, the members and leadership of the OBA have always given me the help, wisdom and direction to move from one post to the next. So as I prepare to move to the next post, please join me in helping our leaders chart the future of the OBA.

I want to wish everyone good health and prosperity in this new year. Let us know at the OBA how we can continue to demonstrate our commitment and provide value to your professional life. I see 2022 as a great year for the OBA and hope to hear from you and see you as I move from one post to the next.


To contact Executive Director Williams, email him at johnw@okbar.org.

Oklahoma Bar Journal – OBJ 93 Vol 1 (January 2022)