Oklahoma Bar Journal

Celebrating the Rule of Law

By Janet Johnson

A major bragging right for Oklahomans is that our state is the birthplace of Law Day. Oklahoma lawyer Hicks Epton, who later served as OBA and OBF president, conceived this idea in 1951. Since its inception, Law Day has become a way to celebrate and honor the rule of law. In 1958, President Eisenhower established Law Day as a national day in the United States, and it is celebrated annually on May 1 to honor the law and its basis for our system of government. This month, many Oklahoma lawyers, county bar associations and the OBA will be promoting a deeper understanding of the legal system and its principles to the public.

Law Day serves as an opportunity for Oklahomans to reflect on the role of law in their lives and to engage in discussions about the legal system's significance in preserving democracy, protecting individual rights and ensuring justice for all citizens. It also provides a platform for legal professionals to interact with the public and to promote civic education and engagement.

Each year, I can hardly contain my excitement about Law Day. It’s such an amazing opportunity to celebrate the rule of law, revisit civics and engage with the public. Highlighting the relevance of Law Day is always an important mission for the OBA. It is a key opportunity to not only celebrate the legal profession but also promote public awareness of the rule of law. Plus, it gives lawyers a platform to showcase their expertise and commitment to upholding justice in Oklahoma. Through our annual Ask A Lawyer public service event, lawyers assist the public with a variety of legal issues. Every May 1, all Oklahomans are encouraged to call a hotline or send an email with their legal questions. Volunteer lawyers staff the hotline from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. to assist callers with any issues they may be encountering or direct them to appropriate resources to assist them further. Every year, thousands are able to take advantage of this service, which is now in its 48th year.

I encourage you all to look at the many opportunities for participation in Law Day. By promoting public understanding, Law Day provides an opportunity for lawyers to engage with the public and promote a deeper understanding of the legal system. This helps to demystify legal concepts, address misconceptions and foster informed citizenship. It can often be overlooked how crucial a role lawyers play in advancing civic education and promoting civic engagement. Participating in Law Day events allows lawyers to educate students, community members and fellow professionals about their rights and responsibilities.

Overall, Law Day is an opportunity to celebrate legal heritage and achievements. By participating in Law Day activities, lawyers can honor the legacy of those who have worked tirelessly to advance justice, protect individual rights and uphold the rule of law. Contributing to the public good and promoting legal literacy will undoubtedly foster a greater appreciation for the legal system.  Involved lawyers can demonstrate their dedication to upholding the rule of law and advancing justice for all by actively engaging in Law Day and helping us all build a more informed, inclusive and equitable society. I hope you’ll join us in this endeavor this year and every year!

To contact Executive Director Johnson, email her at janetj@okbar.org.

Originally published in the Oklahoma Bar JournalOBJ 95 No. 5 (May 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.