Oklahoma Bar Journal

Young Lawyers Division | Raking in Awards

By Laura R. Talbert

Laura Talbert and Caroline Shaffer Siex represent Oklahoma young lawyers during the 2024 ABA YLD Midyear Meeting in Louisville, Kentucky.

The Young Lawyers Division proudly celebrates recent accolades that underscore the YLD’s commitment to service and excellence within the legal profession. Among these honors is the esteemed Outstanding Service to the Public Award, which was bestowed upon the division’s Wills for Heroes program, recognizing its invaluable contribution to the community. Additionally, the recognition of Caroline Shaffer Siex, the immediate past chair of the YLD, with the distinguished Outstanding Young Lawyer Award, highlights the exemplary dedication and leadership demonstrated by individuals on the YLD Board of Directors. These prestigious acknowledgments serve as a testament to the unwavering dedication of the YLD in advancing legal excellence and public service.

A promotional poster advertises a recent YLD Wills for Heroes event.

Caroline Shaffer Siex’s recognition as Outstanding Young Lawyer shines a spotlight on her remarkable contributions to both the legal profession and the community at large. As 2023 chair, Caroline has exemplified the highest standards of legal excellence and service, inspiring her peers and future generations of legal professionals. Her dedication to advocacy, professionalism and public engagement embodies the ethos of the OBA YLD and serves as an inspiration. Her achievement not only reflects her personal commitment to the legal profession but also underscores the collective spirit of the YLD in nurturing young lawyers.

In tandem with dedicated individuals like Caroline, the OBA YLD’s commitment to public service is epitomized by the remarkable impact of its Wills for Heroes program. This initiative stands as a beacon of hope and support for our local heroes, offering vital legal assistance to our law enforcement officers, first responders, paramedics and military personnel.

Clayton Baker, a dedicated member of the YLD, is the Wills for Heroes chair and a passionate advocate for the program, and he will be accepting this award on behalf of the YLD. With a brother who serves in law enforcement, several veterans in his family and a cousin who is an active-duty major general in the U.S. Air Force, it goes without saying that this program is near and dear to his heart. Prior to leading the program, Clayton was a volunteer at this event for many years. Reflecting on his firsthand experiences, he emphasized the intention of providing essential legal services to our local heroes.

In Clayton's words: “Our law enforcement officers, first responders, firefighters, paramedics and military sacrifice so much for us. They put their lives on the line every day to protect us. We’re grateful that the Young Lawyers Division found a path to give back to these individuals in a way that could significantly benefit them and their families. Having an estate plan in order is something that we should all have but is often overlooked by many. Providing free last wills and testaments may sound a bit morbid, but it is one of the few things we can do to take the burden off of them and their loved ones. With everything these selfless individuals do for us, offering free wills to them is the least we can do, and this program is only scratching the surface. There is so much more we, as legal professionals, can do to support these individuals.”

YLD members provide free legal services to a client during a 2023 Wills for Heroes event.

On behalf of the YLD, we want to thank the OBA for honoring both Caroline Shaffer Siex and the Wills for Heroes program. The YLD is humbled, and we will continue to provide these services, hopefully even more expansively, to better serve all that we can.

If you’re a young lawyer and want to get involved, come to the OBA Annual Meeting in July! We’d love to meet you!

Ms. Talbert is a lawyer in Oklahoma City and serves as the YLD chairperson. She may be contacted at lrtalbert@gmail.com.

Originally published in the Oklahoma Bar JournalOBJ 95 No. 6 (June 2024)

Statements or opinions expressed in the Oklahoma Bar Journal are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Oklahoma Bar Association, its officers, Board of Governors, Board of Editors or staff.