50 Making a Difference profile: Mary H. Richard, J.D.

From The Journal Record / by Jessica Mitchell
Published: November 3, 2016
Click to see full story – 50 Making a Difference profile: Mary H. Richard, J.D.

Mary Richard is recognized as one of pioneers in health care law in Oklahoma. She has represented institutional and non-institutional providers of health services, as well as patients and their families.

For Mary Richard, the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.

“Life will do everything in its power to distract you and sway you from your path,” Richard said. “It is vital to have courage, foresight and conviction to take risks and embrace change – and for the next generation to see you live your life in this way.”

Richard, who has a master’s in public health and a law degree, took 10 years off from her successful legal career to raise her three children – Katherine, Andrew and Claire. When they were grown, she returned to full-time practice.

“Re-entering the workforce took some courage,” she said. “Regulations were nearly unrecognizable from the beginning of my career, technological advances meant playing in a different league, and the issues facing health care providers had become increasingly more important.”

Richard tackled the challenges to continue her dedication to health care law and to expand her practice to include mental health issues. Today, Richard is an attorney of counsel for Phillips Murrah PC and adjunct law professor at Oklahoma City University.

“Some of the most fulfilling work I do combines helping families, patients and their providers navigate the labyrinth of regulations surrounding mental health with the requisite skill and empathy,” Richard said. “For me, this has become more essential as mental health law has become more arcane.”

Richard’s dedication to the broader community is as obvious as was her dedication to her young family when the children were growing up, said U.S. District Judge Stephen P. Friot.

“Mary has recommitted herself to the practice of law with a level of energy and dedication that would be admirable in a 30-year old lawyer. The short of the matter is that Mary no longer has anything to prove, as a professional, a wife, a mother or a humanitarian, but she keeps on proving it.”

Richard has served in various leadership positions with the Mental Health Association Oklahoma, Oklahoma Health Lawyers Association and Oklahoma Bar Association Health Law Section and has been instrumental in establishing a webcast series on vulnerable populations that has focused on the mentally ill, the elderly, children and education for the disabled.

“Through my law practice, community service and adjunct professorship, I have had the opportunity to help correct, in some small measure, our state’s failures to provide adequate services to the mentally ill and those suffering from substance abuse disorders,” Richard said. “I believe strongly in educating lawyers, law students and families about the significant and increasingly complex legal issues facing mental health patients, their families, governmental units and health service providers.”

She and her husband, Dr. James M. Richard, live in Oklahoma City.