Governance & Membership

President's Message - April 2024

Law Day

By Miles Pringle

2024 OBA President Miles Pringle

May 1 is Law Day, and the theme established by the American Bar Association is “Voices of Democracy.” According to the ABA, “Law Day provides an opportunity to understand how law and the legal process protect our liberty, strive to achieve justice, and contribute to the freedoms that all Americans share.” Nationally, Law Day was brought into being by Dwight D. Eisenhower through a proclamation in 1958.

As you may know, Law Day is a deep tradition in Oklahoma. Hicks Epton, Wewoka attorney and 1953 OBA president, launched the OBA’s “Know Your Liberties – Know Your Courts Week” while head of the OBA’s public relations committee in 1951. This event was established with the purpose of educating the public about the legal system and celebrating the liberties we have as Americans. The event spread across the nation and evolved into what we now know as Law Day. Law Day and related activities help the OBA accomplish its goal to, in the public interest, encourage practices that will advance and improve the honor and dignity of the legal profession. You can learn more about this history on the OBA website at www.okbar.org/lawday.

Law Day is a great opportunity for lawyers to show their pride in their profession. Regardless of the theme, it is important to step back from our daily projects and appreciate the role we play in society. Attorneys help guide clients through the legal process and make sure that the rule of law is understood and followed. Last year’s theme was “Cornerstones of Democracy,” and I like to think of attorneys as the brick masons responsible for laying the bricks, applying the mortar and repairing the cracks in our republic.

Regarding this year’s theme, ABA President Mary Smith stated, “We must all use our voices to maintain our system of laws and to ensure that our democracy, as conceived, endures.” The ABA stated that the theme is intended to encourage “Americans to participate in the 2024 elections by deepening their understanding of the electoral process; discussing issues in honest and civil ways; turning out to vote; and, finally, helping to move the country forward after free and fair elections.”

When I think about this theme and how it relates to the practice of law, it brings to mind how lawyers help clients’ voices be heard. Attorneys act as the voice of their clients in a manner that is governed by rules and standards of professional conduct. Anyone can make a sign and picket a government building, and that action sometimes can be influential. Other methods, like filing a complaint (with the courts or an agency), are best done with the advice of counsel. We help our clients’ voices be heard every time we write a letter, file a document or speak on our clients’ behalf. That is an awesome responsibility and important to the function of our democratic republic.

There are many Law Day activities in which you can participate this year. I have had the opportunity to visit the Law Day festivities of many county bar associations and to take part in the Ask A Lawyer event. I hope you are able to join one this year!

Miles Pringle is executive vice president and general counsel at The Bankers Bank in Oklahoma City.

Originally published in the Oklahoma Bar Journal – OBJ 95 Vol 4 (April 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.