Governance & Membership
President's Message - January 2023
By Brian Hermanson
With the beginning of a new year, many things are changing across Oklahoma. With the wind of change comes changes to the Oklahoma Bar Association. We begin the year with a new OBA executive director. Janet Johnson, who has been serving as the OBA’s educational programs director, is now our association’s executive director. This is a change that marks the end of John Morris Williams’ nearly 20-year tenure in that role. John has honorably and skillfully led the OBA through many years of change and challenges. Thank you, John, for all you did for us. You will be missed in so many ways.
Janet is the first woman to hold the executive director role. She is uniquely qualified to provide strong leadership as we head into the future. We expect great things from her, and I look forward to working with her. Please take the time to meet her.
This is also a time for new beginnings for me. While I have been active in the OBA for more than 40 years, this opportunity to serve as your president is one that takes my breath away. The responsibility of leading an organization that is made up of more than 18,000 attorneys is quite the challenge. I feel I have been preparing for this moment for a long time, but now that it is here, I am cautiously optimistic about the path before me.
I want to claim the days of COVID are behind us and that everything will be back to normal. However, it is more and more apparent to me that there will be a new normal that will not only change the practice of law but also our everyday life.
With that as a background, I still look forward to this coming year. This year, the Board of Governors will travel around the state to reach out to our membership. Please take advantage by attending any events that happen near you and get to know the OBA leadership. This is your bar association, and you should take every opportunity to become active in areas of interest to you.
As president, I intend to make myself available to all the county bars. I truly like attorneys and look forward to anything I can do to meet and get to know our membership. I know it is impossible for everyone to come to the bar center every year, so I will do my best to bring it to you.
I had the privilege to work on the Board of Governors with many great leaders. This past year, President Jim Hicks has done an outstanding job providing strong leadership through some very trying times. His willingness to always be an active leader was incredibly important. Jim would always greet you with a smile and a handshake, and he was always truly happy to see you. I only hope that I can provide the type of leadership Jim provided.
Finally, I would like to discuss what I hope to accomplish during the next year. I hope to continue to lead the bar through these times when it seems outsiders continually try to attack the OBA. We should be proud of our association and the way we do so much for our membership and all the citizens of the state of Oklahoma. In every community across the state, it is the lawyers who are providing leadership on thousands of boards and groups with little or no pay. It is the lawyers who are volunteering to make sure children and young adults receive guidance in their development. I think we need to make a conscious effort to highlight the activities of these countless volunteers.
In addition, I would like to see a return to the level of professionalism that is necessary for each of us to responsibly do our job. The practice of law does not require name-calling or disrespect to be shown toward our fellow lawyers. We are professionals, and we all need to step forward to ensure that we practice with the proper respect shown to our adversaries.
We need the courts to hold the lawyers to that level of professionalism. No judge should sit by while actions are happening in their courtroom that diminish the respect that should be shown to every lawyer.
I look forward to working with every one of you this year. Please volunteer to work on one of our committees. You will be better for it. I hope to see you at one of our many activities throughout the year. Remember, any bar association is only as strong as its membership makes it.
Thank you for this opportunity to serve you!
Brian Hermanson serves as district attorney for the 8th District of Oklahoma.
Originally published in the Oklahoma Bar Journal – OBJ 94 Vol 1 (January 2023).