Oklahoma Bar Journal

From the Executive Director | Re-Energize and Save the Date

By John Morris Williams

When I was told this edition of the Oklahoma Bar Journal was focused on energy, I immediately thought of physical energy. This is probably very telling of how much I know about energy law these days. My apologies to the contributing authors for being a bit of a distraction to a very important and timely subject.

The latest data regarding the continuing fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic relates to continuing variants and very good news on the effectiveness of prevention methods and treatments. I pray we are moving into a much better place. In fact, I am counting on it as we plan for the rest of the year. My hopes have been dashed in the past, but we have had no major issues as we have cautiously moved forward with reopening and returning to in-person programming. This is mostly because OBA members are very good at taking preventive measures when necessary and have been very courteous in not placing others at risk. While these times have been challenging, OBA members have been the best in regard to safety, patience and courtesy. I want to say thank you for your kindness and creativity in making a horrible situation as good as it can be.

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I consistently read articles regarding COVID-19 to stay abreast and try to keep up with what the experts are saying. If you are keeping up with this information, you probably have seen that not all the articles are on physical health. A growing body of literature is developing regarding the stress and isolation we have all suffered in the past two years. While virtual meetings appear to be a trend that will continue past the pandemic, they are not a complete substitute for the need for human interaction that most people need. The studies indicate that virtual meetings are good to exchange information but are not the best substitute for the interaction to create relationships and capture the nuances in non-verbal communications. Thus, being with people is sometimes the very best way to network and form new relationships. This seems like a no-brainer; however, we have all been retrained in the past two years to avoid this kind of interaction.

The current literature states stress and isolation are being experienced at alarming rates, resulting in physical and mental health issues. The remedy is for people to find ways to reconnect and get out as much as safely possible. As said above, we have reprogrammed ourselves to avoid in-person interactions, and many have abandoned long-practiced social interactions, such as attending religious services, participating in social events, and attending professional meetings. It is time to re-engage and re-energize!

Solo & Small Firm Conference is a “you must be present to win” event.

Now for some good news. The OBA is coming back strong with events and programming that allow for in-person attendance and often with a virtual attendance component. One event that requires physical attendance is the Solo & Small Firm Conference. We intentionally did not try to recreate this event for virtual attendance because one of its primary purposes was to bring people together in a relaxed environment to interact (socialize) with fellow lawyers in similar practice settings. If you attended any online social events during the past two years, you may have found that they were just not the same. I personally found them a bit forced and artificial. So, Solo & Small Firm Conference is a “you must be present to win” event. We will be back at the fabulous Choctaw Resort in Durant June 23-25 with an outstanding program and really fun social events. Save the date!

President James Hicks and OBA staff are deep in the planning stages for the 2022 Annual Meeting. Since we are not at the point of publishing the agenda, I cannot reveal all the light and magic involved in this year’s meeting. I can tell you the theme is very topical, and the speakers who have committed are nationally recognized experts. In all likelihood, there will a virtual component. Virtual attendance will not allow participants to experience the new and incredible Oklahoma City Convention Center and all the opportunities its state-of-the-art meeting and social event spaces provide. I highly recommend, if your schedule allows, that you attend this year’s meeting in person. Save the date, Nov. 2-4.

It is time for us to come together and re-energize ourselves, build relationships and have some plain ol’ fun. SAVE THE DATES!

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

Oklahoma Bar Journal – OBJ 93 Vol 5 (May 2022)