Oklahoma Bar Journal

Make History With an OBA Award Nomination

By LeAnne McGill

For several decades, the Oklahoma Bar Association has proudly recognized those lawyers who represent the best of the best in our profession, as well as those law-related organizations that support our members while we go about our work. Looking over the historical list of OBA Award winners, https://bit.ly/3zYOkFc, you will see the names of some of the giants on whose shoulders we now stand. But history doesn’t stand still; the legends of tomorrow are the leaders of today. It’s now your turn to honor those who are making a difference right now. Help our association continue its legacy of recognition by nominating one of your worthy colleagues for a 2023 OBA Award.

Deserving individuals and entities stand out for their hard work in public service, leadership and service to our profession. Look among your peers, search your legal associations and contact local bar members to seek out those who should be recognized for their efforts. The nomination process is very simple. It only takes a few minutes for you to fill out a nomination form for one of these awards.

The designated awards are listed below, along with a short summary of the original award honoree. Anyone can submit a nomination, and anyone can be nominated. No specific form is required, and the nominations can be as short as a one-page letter but cannot exceed five single-sided 8 ½ x 11 pages. You can email, fax or mail the nominations to the Awards Committee at the information below. The deadline for the nominations is Friday, June 30, at 5 p.m. Visit www.okbar.org/awards for more information.

Please spread the word to your colleagues and friends about the awards process and encourage them to submit a nomination, and I can tell you firsthand how meaningful the awards are to the chosen recipients. Don’t forget – nominating an OBA Award winner is your chance to make history!


The deadline is 5 p.m. Friday, June 30, but get your nomination in EARLY! Nominations, complete with all supporting material, MUST be received by the deadline. Submissions or supporting material received after the deadline will not be considered.

Length of nomination is a maximum of five 8 ½ x 11-inch, one-sided pages, including supporting materials and the form, if used. No exceptions.

Make sure the name of the person being nominated and the person (or organization) making the nomination is on the nomination.

If you think someone qualifies for awards in several categories, pick one award and only do one nomination. The OBA Awards Committee may consider the nominee for an award in a category other than one in which you nominate that person.

Submission options (pick one):

  1. email: awards@okbar.org (you will receive a confirmation reply);
  2. fax: 405-416-7089;
  3. mail: OBA Awards Committee, P.O. Box 53036, Oklahoma City, OK 73152.

Visit www.okbar.org/awards for the nomination form if you want to use one (not required), history of previous winners and tips for writing nominations.


OUTSTANDING COUNTY BAR ASSOCIATION AWARD – for meritorious efforts and activities
2022 Winner: Woods County Bar Association

HICKS EPTON LAW DAY AWARD – for individuals or organizations for noteworthy Law Day activities
2022 Winner: Daniel Crawford, Tulsa

GOLDEN GAVEL AWARD – for OBA committees and sections performing with a high degree of excellence
2022 Winner: OBA Law Day Committee

LIBERTY BELL AWARD – for nonlawyers or lay organizations for promoting or publicizing matters regarding the legal system
2022 Winner: Allison Hall, Tulsa

OUTSTANDING YOUNG LAWYER AWARD – for a member of the OBA Young Lawyers Division for service to
the profession
2022 Winner: April Jenee Moaning, Oklahoma City

EARL SNEED AWARD for outstanding continuing legal education contributions
2022 Winner: Robert G. Spector, Norman

AWARD OF JUDICIAL EXCELLENCE – for excellence of character, job performance or achievement while a judge and service to the bench, bar and community
2022 Winner: Judge Jennifer Brock, Newkirk

FERN HOLLAND COURAGEOUS LAWYER AWARD – to an OBA member who has courageously performed in a manner befitting the highest ideals of our profession
Not awarded in 2022

OUTSTANDING SERVICE TO THE PUBLIC AWARD – for significant community service by an OBA member or bar-related entity
2022 Winner: Lauren Barghols Hanna, Oklahoma City

AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING PRO BONO SERVICE – by an OBA member or bar-related entity
2022 Winner: Rachel Morris, Edmond

JOE STAMPER DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARD – to an OBA member for long-term service to the bar association or contributions to the legal profession
2022 Winner: Jimmy K. Goodman, Oklahoma City

NEIL E. BOGAN PROFESSIONALISM AWARD – to an OBA member practicing 10 years or more who for conduct,
honesty, integrity and courtesy best represents the highest standards of the legal profession
2022 Winner: James T. Stuart, Shawnee

JOHN E. SHIPP AWARD FOR ETHICS – to an OBA member who has truly exemplified the ethics of the legal profession either by 1) acting in accordance with the highest ethical standards in the face of pressure to do otherwise or 2) by serving as a role model for ethics to the other members of the profession
2022 Winner: Charles E. Geister III, Oklahoma City

ALMA WILSON AWARD – for an OBA member who has made a significant contribution to improving the lives of Oklahoma children
2022 Winner: Sarah Brune Edwards, Oklahoma City

TRAILBLAZER AWARD – to an OBA member or members who by their significant, unique visionary efforts have had a profound impact upon our profession and/or community and in doing so have blazed a trail for others to follow
2022 Winner: Michael J. Knopp, Oklahoma City


NEIL E. BOGAN – Neil Bogan, an attorney from Tulsa, died unexpectedly on May 5, 1990, while serving his term as president of the Oklahoma Bar Association. Mr. Bogan was known for his professional, courteous treatment of everyone he came into contact with and was also considered to uphold high standards of honesty and integrity in the legal profession. The OBA’s Professionalism Award is named for him as a permanent reminder of the example he set.

HICKS EPTON – While working as a country lawyer in Wewoka, attorney Hicks Epton decided that lawyers should go out and educate the public about the law in general, and the rights and liberties provided under the law to American citizens. Through the efforts of Mr. Epton, who served as OBA president in 1953, and other bar members, the roots of Law Day were established. In 1961, the first of May became an annual special day of celebration nationwide designated by a joint resolution of Congress. The OBA’s Law Day Award recognizing outstanding Law Day activities is named in his honor.

FERN HOLLAND – Fern Holland’s life was cut tragically short after just 33 years, but this young Tulsa attorney made an impact that will be remembered for years to come. Ms. Holland left private law practice to work as a human rights activist and to help bring democracy to Iraq. In 2004 she was working closely with Iraqi women on women’s issues when her vehicle was ambushed by Iraqi gunmen, and she was killed. The Courageous Lawyer Award is named as a tribute to her.

MAURICE MERRILL – Dr. Maurice Merrill served as a professor at the University of Oklahoma College of Law from 1936 until his retirement in 1968. He was held in high regard by his colleagues, his former students and the bar for his nationally distinguished work as a writer, scholar and teacher. Many words have been used to describe Dr. Merrill over the years, including brilliant, wise, talented and dedicated. Named in his honor is the Golden Quill Award that is given to the author of the best written article published in the Oklahoma Bar Journal. The recipient is selected by the OBA Board of Editors.

JOHN E. SHIPP – John E. Shipp, an attorney from Idabel, served as 1985 OBA president and became the executive director of the association in 1998. Unfortunately, his tenure was cut short when his life was tragically taken that year in a plane crash. Mr. Shipp was known for his integrity, professionalism and high ethical standards. He had served two terms on the OBA Professional Responsibility Commission, serving as chairman for one year, and served two years on the Professional Responsibility Tribunal, serving as chief-master. The OBA’s Award for Ethics bears his name.

EARL SNEED – Earl Sneed served the University of Oklahoma College of Law as a distinguished teacher and dean. Mr. Sneed came to OU as a faculty member in 1945 and was praised for his enthusiastic teaching ability. When Mr. Sneed was appointed in 1950 to lead the law school as dean, he was just 37 years old and one of the youngest deans in the nation. After his retirement from academia in 1965, he played a major role in fundraising efforts for the law center. The OBA’s Continuing Legal Education Award is named in his honor.

JOE STAMPER – Joe Stamper of Antlers retired in 2003 after 68 years of practicing law. He is credited with being a personal motivating force behind the creation of OUJI and the Oklahoma Civil Uniform Jury Instructions Committee. Mr. Stamper was also instrumental in creating the position of OBA general counsel to handle attorney discipline. He served on both the ABA and OBA Board of Governors and represented Oklahoma at the ABA House of Delegates for 17 years. His eloquent remarks were legendary, and he is credited with giving Oklahoma a voice and a face at the national level. The OBA’s Distinguished Service Award is named to honor him.

ALMA WILSON – Alma Wilson was the first woman to be appointed as a justice to the Supreme Court of Oklahoma in 1982 and became its first female chief justice in 1995. She first practiced law in Pauls Valley, where she grew up. Her first judicial appointment was as special judge sitting in Garvin and McClain counties, later district judge for Cleveland County and served for six years on the Court of Tax Review. She was known for her contributions to the educational needs of juveniles and children at risk. The OBA’s Alma Wilson Award honors a bar member who has made a significant contribution to improving the lives of Oklahoma children.

LeAnne McGill is an attorney in private practice in Edmond. She serves as the Awards Committee chairperson.


Originally published in the Oklahoma Bar Journal – OBJ 94 Vol 5 (May 2023)

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.