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Family law attorney leads conference for Oklahoma Guardian Ad Litem Institute

Attorney Monica Y. Ybarra (middle) at Oklahoma Guardian Ad Litem Institute's first annual conference.

Attorney Monica Y. Ybarra (middle) with attendees of Oklahoma Guardian Ad Litem Institute’s 1st Annual Champions for Children Conference.

Monica Y. Ybarra, Phillips Murrah Family Law Attorney, helped orchestrate the 1st Annual Champions for Children conference for the Oklahoma Guardian Ad Litem Institute on Oct. 27.

A guardian ad litem is often an integral part of a family law case involving custody, visitation, and other child-related issues. However, it is often an added expense that the parties, especially low-income families, cannot afford, Ybarra said.

“I became involved when Sharon Byers, Executive Director for the Institute, asked me to assist her in coming up with ideas for CLEs,” Ybarra said. “One thing led to another, and the vision for a GAL-specific conference came into focus.

“This has never been done in Oklahoma, and we weren’t sure how it would be received; however, it was a huge success.”

The Oklahoma Guardian Ad Litem Institute was formed to provide this essential service to low-income families. It is a non-profit organization, and one of the ways the Institute raises money is to put on CLEs, or Continuing Legal Education seminars.

“This was one of our most successful CLEs based on the number of attendees,” Byers said. “We are grateful for Monica for that and the Firm for supporting this social event.

“Without people like Monica and Phillips Murrah, we wouldn’t be able to sustain and provide services for the children of Oklahoma and families that can’t afford it.”

More than 40 attorneys and law students interested in becoming GALs attended the first annual conference.

“I gave a presentation, along with Reagan Barham, another Oklahoma City attorney, called ‘Know your Judge: Judicial Expectations and Preferences’ in which we educated attendees about what judges want to see in a GAL’s representation,” Ybarra said.

Nicholle Jones Edwards, Director and Member of the Firm’s Family Law Practice Group, also presented, showing a cross examination of a GAL in a mock trial setting.

“Monica was instrumental in getting it done,” Byers said. “She is a workhorse and went above and beyond to organize the whole thing. Both Nikki and Monica did an excellent job and had valuable information to contribute, and we are very appreciative.”

For more information on the Oklahoma Guardian Ad Litem Institute, click here.

Phillips Murrah announces 21 attorneys named to 2018 Super Lawyers list

2018 Super Lawyers list

Super Lawyers

Phillips Murrah is honored to have 21 attorneys in 2018 recognized by the Super Lawyers rating service.

2018 Oklahoma Super Lawyers

2018 Rising Stars

Cooper, Ybarra elected to OCBA Board of Directors

Monica Ybarra and Cody Cooper

Phillips Murrah attorneys Monica Y. Ybarra and Cody J. Cooper

Phillips Murrah attorneys Cody J. Cooper and Monica Y. Ybarra were elected as two of six members of Oklahoma County Bar Association’s Board of Directors for 2018 through 2021.

OCBA members were tasked with electing Cooper and Ybarra, as well as Attorneys Chris Deason, Rachel Stoddard Morris, Kelli Stump and Judge Trevor Pemberton, as Directors.

“I’ve benefited greatly from my OCBA membership, and I believe it’s largely due to the great leadership of this organization,” Ybarra said. “The leadership has fostered collegiality, mentorships, community service and professionalism among local bar members through committees and programs, and I view board service as a way to give back.

“Additionally, I want to be a part of growing the OCBA and ensuring that it remains a relevant, valuable part of the legal profession in Oklahoma County, and I believe stepping into a leadership role will allow me to make that kind of impact.”

Ybarra’s goals in this role include collaborating with OCBA members and Directors to find new ways of engaging membership. These goals align with Cooper’s own desires to take a bigger leadership role after previously serving the Young Lawyers Division.

“My motivation to become a board member primarily came about from my involvement with the board as the YLD chair,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to take part in county bar leadership and be engaged in the legal community where I live and work.

“The OCBA is an active bar community with an emphasis on helping its member attorneys and providing community service and support, and I wanted to have a more hands-on role doing that.”

Cooper will serve as Past Chair of YLD through 2019 to offer guidance and support as OCBA’s new YLD chair assumes their role. He has also been chosen as an OCBA delegate to the Oklahoma Bar Association.

To learn more about OCBA, visit their website here.

Phillips Murrah attorneys selected as 2017 Super Lawyers

Phillips Murrah P.C._Logo_Color_emblemTwenty Phillips Murrah Attorneys have been selected for inclusion in the 2017 edition of Thomson Reuters’ Super Lawyers for their excellence in their respective practice areas. Seven attorneys of them under the age of 40 were recognized as Rising Stars.

Super Lawyers is a research-driven, peer influenced rating service of outstanding lawyers who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The Super Lawyers lists are published in Super Lawyers Magazines and in leading city and regional magazines across the country. Using the same patented process for selecting Super Lawyers, Rising Stars recognizes up and coming lawyers who are 40 years old or younger and have been in practice for 10 years or less.

The following Phillips Murrah attorneys are included in 2017’s Super Lawyers:

Directors G. Calvin Sharpe and Lyndon W. Whitmire were among the Top 50 Oklahoma Super Lawyers for 2017. Directors Shannon K. Emmons and Sally A. Hasenfratz were listed on the Top 25 Women Oklahoma Super Lawyers for 2017.

The following Phillips Murrah attorneys are included in 2017’s Oklahoma Rising Stars:

PM Attorney graduates Leadership OKC LOYAL Program

Monica Y. Ybarra

Every year, approximately two hundred of Oklahoma City’s rising stars vie for a chance to be a member of Leadership Oklahoma City’s Linking OKC’s Young Adult Leaders (LOYAL) Program.

Phillips Murrah Attorney Monica Y. Ybarra was selected to participate in this prestigious program as a member of LOYAL Class XII. The Firm is pleased to announce Ybarra graduated from the program last week and is officially part of the Leadership Oklahoma City family.

The LOYAL Program focuses on enhancing personal leadership skills and cultivating community leadership skills. During the seven-month program, participants have unique opportunities to learn leadership skills from Oklahoma’s most influential and accomplished business people, public servants, and non-profit managers.

“Participating in LOYAL has been one of my most rewarding Oklahoma experiences,” Ybarra said. “The program offered me a chance to increase my leadership intelligence and connect to the community in so many ways.

“This program is about so much more than networking—it’s about helping motivated individuals become the leaders of tomorrow.”

Participants gain insight into topics such as board skills, human resources, public speaking, non-profit finances, ethics, and much more. Additionally, Leadership Action Projects afford participants an opportunity to apply their skills and talents to tackle substantive issues in our community.

“At Phillips Murrah P.C. we take pride in being a strategic partner for our clients and for our community,” she said. “I am very fortunate to work for an organization that not only supports my efforts to become a better attorney but also a better Oklahoman.”

Ybarra is a litigation attorney who practices family law. She represents clients in all areas of domestic and family law matters including, divorce actions, custody matters, guardianships, prenuptial agreements, and paternity actions.

Other Phillips Murrah graduates of Leadership Oklahoma City programs include Jim Roth, Signature Program Class XXII, and G. Calvin Sharpe, Signature Program Class XXIII.

Phillips Murrah attorneys author update to commercial lending law reference book

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The two volumes “Commercial Lending Law, Second Edition: A Jurisdiction-by-Jurisdiction Guide to U.S. and Canadian Law” updated by Phillips Murrah attorneys pictured next to the previous edition.

A group of Phillips Murrah attorneys contributed to updating and creating a new edition of “Commercial Lending Law, Second Edition: A Jurisdiction-by-Jurisdiction Guide to U.S. and Canadian Law,” published by the American Bar Association.

The book is meant to be a resource for attorneys who help clients across different jurisdictions.

“A lot of the law impacting commercial lending varies from state to state, sometimes significantly,” said J. Mark Lovelace, Phillips Murrah Director. “The two volumes have separate chapters on local law and practice recommendations for each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, plus a chapter for Quebec and a combined chapter for the other Canadian provinces.

Each chapter follows the same format, he said. Most attorneys who represent commercial lenders will at least occasionally deal with the laws of other jurisdictions.

“This guide will provide an excellent first place to start,” Lovelace said. “It doesn’t take the place of consulting an attorney in that other jurisdiction, but the book provides helpful initial answers and should give the attorney a good idea of the local issues to be considered.”

Phillips Murrah’s attorneys were provided a template developed by Brian Hulse, with the Davis Write Tremaine Firm in Seattle, along with the other original editors of the book to update it for the new edition.

“The 2016 book expanded significantly on the original 2009 edition, and that was the first time we worked with Brian,” Lovelace said. “Josh Edwards and I also worked with Brian on a separate book published by the ABA in 2013 called The Law of Guaranties, A Jurisdiction-by-Jurisdiction Guide to U.S. and Canadian Law.  He has been a tremendous resource and working partner for us.”

The 2016 update on commercial lending law captures changes in relevant law and practice in Oklahoma, but more significantly covers numerous additional issues that the editors wanted to cover this time around, he said.

“The 2009 chapter was our base, and Monica Ybarra provided research and a first draft on most of the new areas to be covered in the update,” Lovelace said. “John Hastie had contributed significant portions to the 2009 chapter, particularly on real estate lending and foreclosure law, and these required a relatively minor amount of updating.

“I wrote and edited a number of sections, but Josh served as the primary editor of our 2016 chapter, with assistance from Erica Halley, and it’s more than fair to say he brought it all together.”

As a result, the new edition had contributions from attorneys at Phillips Murrah with experience ranging from one year to almost 50 years in practice, he said.

For more information on “Commercial Lending Law, Second Edition: A Jurisdiction-by-Jurisdiction Guide to U.S. and Canadian Law” and how to purchase it, click here.

Phillips Murrah attorneys volunteer for Cavett Kids Foundation

Monica Y. Ybarra, OCBA Community Service Committee Vice Chair, with attorney Ashley Schovanec

Attorney Monica Y. Ybarra, OCBA Community Service Committee Vice Chair, with attorney Ashley Schovanec.

Phillips Murrah attorneys Nicholle Jones Edwards, Kayce L. Gisinger, Monica Y. Ybarra, and Ashley M. Schovanec were on site at The Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center on July 6 to lend a helping hand to the children heading to Camp Cavett.

“Monica, who is on the Oklahoma County Bar Association’s Community Service Committee, let the Phillips Murrah attorneys know that volunteers were needed to help with the Camp Cavett camp check-in,” Schovanec said. “On Wednesday morning, Nikki, Monica, Kayce and I helped do things like pass out camp T-shirts, help with luggage, and pass out luggage tags to help the camp check-in process go smoothly.”

Chance Pearson, OCBA Community Service Committee Chair, with Director Nicholle Jones Edwards, Jenna and Claudette Greenway, Cavett Kids Board Member.

Chance Pearson, OCBA Community Service Committee Chair, with Director Nicholle Jones Edwards, Jenna and Claudette Greenway, Cavett Kids Board Member.

The Cavett Kids Foundation serves hundreds of children with various life-threatening and chronic illnesses every year.

“Among other things, the Cavett Foundation provides a unique summer camp experience that meets the medical needs of its campers without distracting from the fun of summer camp,” Ybarra said.

Phillips Murrah attorneys, along with other volunteers from the Oklahoma County Bar Association’s Community Service Committee, assisted campers and their families through the check-in process and saw the kids off to camp.

“Just because a child suffers from a life-threatening or chronic illness doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have the opportunity to go to summer camp,” Schovanec said. “What a heartwarming sight it was to see the look on each of the kids’ faces as they walked (or ran) to the summer camp check-in stations.”

To learn how to get involved and volunteer with Cavett Kids, click here.

Director provides toys, lifts spirits of children at Juvenile Justice Center

Ray E. Zschiesche’s practice is focused on complex state and federal litigation with extensive experience defending insurance companies, class actions mass tort and lender liability.

Ray E. Zschiesche’s practice is focused on complex state and federal litigation with extensive experience defending insurance companies, class actions mass tort and lender liability.

The season of giving is year-round for Phillips Murrah Director, Ray Zschiesche. He has made a habit of continuing his community service efforts, most recently, by helping children at the Oklahoma County Juvenile Justice Center.

“Ray has given generously and repeatedly to the children here at the Oklahoma County Juvenile Justice Center,” Lisa Davis, Oklahoma County District Judge, said. “I know firsthand of his generosity since I’ve been here.”

In February 2014, the center started looking for professional organizations, attorneys, friends, and others to donate toys for the deprived children who entered the five courtrooms there.

“Ray was one of the first to donate—like 150 Hot Wheels, 100 rubber light-up balls, 150 coloring books with 150 24-count boxes of crayons,” she said. “He always (and still does) brought in a large numbers of toys at a time. Through the past couple years he has been a steady source of donations.

“At Christmastime he brings in hundreds of stuffed animals from the Disney store and Mathis Brothers.  He makes toy donations several times throughout the year, always in large amounts.”

The Juvenile Justice Center provides toys for every child who comes to court through the deprived system. There are currently 1,900 Oklahoma County children ranging from 1 day old to 18 years old who are in DHS custody and involved in the court deprived system, Davis said.

“Ray told us at any time we needed more toys for the children to contact him, but he usually beats us to the call, asking if it was time for him to deliver some more toys and what type of toys would we like,” she said. “He might just show up with a bunch of toys. Always so humble and, oh, so giving.

“He continues to lift the spirits of the children, and he, without a doubt, most definitely lifts ours!  He is the Juvenile Justice Center’s children’s silent hero.”

Ray’s donations to the Juvenile Justice Center are just part of his community service efforts. He also works heavily with the Oklahoma County Bar Association and Oklahoma Lawyers for Children on community projects.

“I’ve had a chance to work with Ray on several projects through our service on the OCBA Community Service Committee,” Attorney Monica Ybarra said. “I’ve witnessed his compassion for children and the elderly. He makes it a point to always be present and give of his time and energy, as well as his finances.

“He has a genuine desire to reach out to others and be helpful in meaningful ways…and he’s a great dancer too!”

The Juvenile Justice Center collects toys and stuffed animals for younger children and collects headphones, journals, and Thunder gear for older children.

Those interested in donating toys to the Juvenile Justice Center may contact Rachel Dorsett at 405-468-4219 or via email at rachel.dorsett@okdhs.org to organize a drop-off. Monetary donations can be made out to Citizens for Juvenile Justice.

Other PM stories featuring Ray:

 

Phillips Murrah attorneys support i2E 2015 BrewFest

Attorneys Monica Ybarra, Dawn Rahme, and Erica Halley at Brewfest

Attorneys Monica Ybarra, Dawn Rahme, and Erica Halley at Brewfest.

Hundreds of patrons filled the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark on Nov. 5 to support i2E’s (Innovation to Enterprise) annual OKBio BrewFest.

“The intellectual activity surrounding the annual i2E BrewFest channels the exciting physical changes in downtown Oklahoma City, the Oklahoma Health Center, Bricktown, Deep Deuce and the state,” Attorney Mary Holloway Richard said. “Where else can you find entrepreneurs mingling to discuss their business plans and dreams with one another and with support professionals like the Phillips Murrah team that supports technical businesses as they establish themselves and expand?”

“From conversations with a graduate student physiologist focusing on lessening the impact of retinitis pigmentosa to discussions with an OCU Botany professor and a young distiller known for his marketing genius who is expanding into new markets—all this on a beautiful fall evening at the ballpark.  Helping clients achieve their business goals in research, health care, product development is a exciting as it gets.”

Lauren Branch and her husband Phillips Murrah Director Doug Branch.

Lauren Branch and her husband Phillips Murrah Director Doug Branch at Brewfest.

The event featured samples from 23 of Oklahoma’s local craft beer, wine and spirits producers.

“OKBio BrewFest is an annual fall event to shine a spotlight on bio in Oklahoma and provide support for OKBio, which among other things provides BIO International scholarships to Oklahomans every year,” said i2E President Scott Meacham in an article about BrewFest.

Other event sponsors include Crowe & Dunlevy, Foundation HealthCare, Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, Oklahoma Gazette, Hall Estill, Caisson Biotech, Hit Design, VWR International, McAfee & Taft, Dunlap Codding, and Woodland & Associates.

Read more about BrewFest here.

Phillips Murrah attorneys and summer clerks visit nursing home

REZ Luau

From left: Marchi McCartney, Kendra Norman, Nancy Parrot, William Sobral, Hilary Hudson, Judge Patricia Parrish, Ray Zschiesche, Monica Ybarra, Travis Weedn and Chance Pearson.

Friday afternoon, Aug 7, the Oklahoma County Bar Association Community Service Committee had a Luau-themed party for the residents of the Edwards Redeemer Nursing Home.

Phillips Murrah attorneys Director Ray Zschiesche and Monica Ybarra were on hand to dance and visit with the Edwards Redeemer Nursing Home residents, along with our summer clerks, Hillary Hudson, Kendra Norman, Jace White and Ben McCaslin.

 

 

Attorney Monica Ybarra featured in The Journal Record

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Monica Y. Ybarra is a litigation attorney who represents individuals and both privately-held and public companies in a wide range of commercial litigation matters.

Phillips Murrah attorney Monica Y. Ybarra was featured in an article in The Journal Record titled, “Raising the bar: Law firm success includes developing talent, not just hiring the best.”

The article is about hiring practices within law firms:

OKLAHOMA CITY – Cultivating excellence at a law firm goes beyond hiring smart talent. Experts said developing legal leaders is about recruiting and molding well-rounded attorneys.

“The most successful firms that I’ve seen have exposed their associates to a variety of different aspects within the firm,” said Patrick Fuller, a former legal consultant. “It’s having a strong on-boarding process that incorporates the new attorney into the firm on a variety of different matters.”

The portion that features Monica is below:

Attorney Monica Ybarra, who was hired a year ago at Phillips Murrah, said she was drawn to the firm because of its size and culture.

“As a brand-new person coming out of law school who doesn’t know anything, that’s very attractive to me because I feel like I can learn from experts who know what they are doing,” Ybarra said.

Ybarra said she believes it’s important to work in an environment where she is able to learn from experts about many types of law and where she feels comfortable asking questions.

“Here I feel like everyone just works together as a team,” she said. “It wasn’t like that in other firms where I worked at.”

Ybarra said guidance from her supervising attorney has helped her progress and gain experience in her areas of interest.

Click here to see the entire article at JournalRecord.com.

Attorneys provide cheer for less fortunate through Oklahoma County Bar Association Community Service Committee

Originally published in the May 2015 edition of the Oklahoma Bar Journal

Since the last update, the Community Service Committee continued its annual holiday tradition of providing some holiday cheer to the less fortunate. For many years, members of the Committee have provided Christmas gifts to juvenile residents of Family Junction, a youth shelter that is part of Youth Services of Oklahoma County.

Family Junction houses juveniles who, due to circumstances beyond their control, are not able to live at home. These children are placed at Family Junction because their parents are incarcerated, have drug or alcohol problems or a myriad of other issues that prevent them from providing a safe environment for the children at home.

Members of the Committee received wish lists from the children and either purchased gifts from the wish list or donated money to be used for the purchase of gifts.

In December, the Committee sponsored a holiday pizza party for the children at the shelter, during which Committee members and OCBA staff provided the children with stockings containing candy and a small amount of cash for fast food treats.

Committee members Judge Patricia Parrish, Ray Zschiesche, Ken Stoner, Chance Pearson and Honorary member Sam Stoner with residents of Oak Hills.

The Committee also provided a holiday party for residents of the Oak Hills Nursing Home in Jones, Oklahoma. Oak Hills is a facility that cares for those who are destitute and cannot otherwise afford nursing care at other facilities. Committee members provided snacks, sparkling cider and reindeer antlers for residents to wear, and Judge Parrish arranged for John Hochgraefe and Steve Coleman, “The Elderly Brothers,” to perform oldies hits. Committee members visited and danced with the residents, and some residents even got up out of their wheelchairs to join in the dancing. Committee member Ken Stoner attended and brought nine year-olds Sam Stoner and Easton Chavez to join in the festivities. Sam and Easton brought an energy to the party and the dance floor that was much appreciated by the committee and residents, alike.

In February, the Committee collected donations to refurbish visitation rooms at the Juvenile Justice Center. DHS has a number of rooms at the Center, which are used to allow parents to have supervised visitation with their children. The funds collected by the Committee were used to purchase furniture and changing tables, to help provide a comfortable setting for these supervised visits. The refurbishing activities at the Center continue, and if anyone would like to make a tax-deductible donation to help with this work, checks can be made payable to Citizens For Juvenile Justice, a 501(C)(3) corporation, and dropped off at the OCBA office.

In March, the Committee provided Spring Break activities for the residents of Family Junction and in April the Committee provided plastic eggs filled with treats and dollar bills for an Easter egg hunt for the kids.

Committee members Chance Pearson, Monica Ybarra, Ray Zschiesche and Judge Patricia Parrish, Honorary member Taylor and guests Ivonne Molina and Travis Weedn with the Elderly Brothers at the Spring Fling party.

Committee members Chance Pearson, Monica Ybarra, Ray Zschiesche and Judge Patricia Parrish, Honorary member Taylor and guests Ivonne Molina and Travis Weedn with the Elderly Brothers at the Spring Fling party.

In April, the Committee hosted a Spring Fling party for the residents of Edwards Redeemer Nursing Center. Judge Parrish again arranged for the “Elderly Brothers” to entertain the residents with music and recruited her granddaughter, Taylor, to help with party preparations and dancing. All of the residents received straw hats and sunglasses so they can be in style for the summer, and all the cookies they could eat. Judging from the smiles on the faces of the residents and Committee members, the Spring Fling was a great success.

The Community Service Committee always welcomes new members to participate and make a small difference in the lives of those less fortunate. Anyone interested may contact Ray Zschiesche at (405) 235-4100 or Chance Pearson at (405) 239-6040.

Firm adopts family for Oklahoma Family Network

Attorneys at Phillips Murrah wrapped gifts for Oklahoma Family Network.

From left: Bobby Dolatabadi, Jennifer Miller, Dave Rhea, Dawn Rahme, Melissa Gardner, Liz Mobley, Josh Edwards and Monice Ybarra.

OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorneys at Phillips Murrah hosted a gift wrapping party on Dec. 18 to wrap donations for the Oklahoma Family Network. The firm raised $4,000 for the 2014 holiday season.

“The attorneys and legal professionals at Phillips Murrah recognize that community service and philanthropy are important components of our profession and we seek out opportunities that would allow us to make a positive impact on our local community,” said Monica Y. Ybarra, attorney at Phillips Murrah. “Our partnership with the Oklahoma Family Network is a great way to have a direct impact in the lives of Oklahoma families dealing with special health care needs and disabilities. Through OFN, we are able to connect with families in need and provide much-needed essential items…as well a little fun!”

The Oklahoma Family Network serves families whose members are critically ill or have other health issues or disabilities. Phillips Murrah has raised funds to buy gifts for families and provide funds to OFN for emergency medical bills, food shopping, utility payments, etc. for years.

“This event is a fulfilling opportunity for the whole firm to get involved and go beyond the practice of law to help struggling Oklahoma families that do not have the means to celebrate Christmas,” said Cody J. Cooper, attorney at Phillips Murrah. “By giving gifts to families in need, the families are able to celebrate Christmas when they wouldn’t otherwise and the parents get peace of mind knowing that their children will have presents under the tree. It helps them take focus away from their struggles, even if only for a day.”

Phillips Murrah adds new attorney

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Monica Y. Ybarra

OKLAHOMA CITY – Monica Y. Ybarra has joined Phillips Murrah’s Litigation Practice group as an associate attorney.

Ybarra represents individuals and privately-held and public companies in a wide range of commercial litigation matters.