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Firm selects Employee of the Month for December 2018

Donna Anderson

Donna Anderson

Donna Anderson, Paralegal, is Phillips Murrah’s Employee of the Month for December 2018.

“I am extremely grateful and humbled,” Donna said. “I feel truly blessed to work for such a great company that I consider a part of my family.”

The Employee of the Month is selected anonymously by Phillips Murrah staff on merits of teamwork and overall contributions to the Firm.

“Congratulations to Donna Anderson, a skilled paralegal, working with our legal team to provide top-notch client service to our often anxious family law clients,” Director Nikki Edwards said. “Clients, support staff and all of the attorneys Donna works with describe her similarly as ‘the calm in the storm’.

“We are so happy that Donna deservingly received the December Employee of the Month recognition. Donna’s insight and dedication are evident in all she does.”

The Firm recently began making a donation to the winner’s charity of choice, and Donna chose Positive Tomorrows.

“We are so grateful that Donna and Phillips Murrah P.C. have chosen to support Positive Tomorrows in this way,” said Susan Agel, Positive Tomorrows President and Principal. “As Oklahoma’s only elementary school and social service agency specifically serving children and families experiencing homelessness, we rely on a generous community to keep our doors open.

“Gifts like this mean that we can continue to provide life-changing services to some of our communities most vulnerable little ones.”

Positive Tomorrows recently broke ground on a new facility in Oklahoma City, and Phillips Murrah has been a supporter of their mission for years.

“I believe children are our future, and the fact that Positive Tomorrows is trying to ensure their success makes this a worthy cause,” Donna said. “Many children would not have the simple pleasures of life such as a meal or a place where they feel safe if it were not for Positive Tomorrows.”

To learn more about Positive Tomorrows, click here.


Phillips Murrah has been recognized as an Oklahoma Top Work Place by The Oklahoman/Energage four years in a row. Our Firm strives to recognize and reward our employees for excellence.

Director presents for OU Women and Gender Studies class

Nicholle Jones Edwards

Nicholle Jones Edwards’ practice focuses on family law, labor law and general civil litigation. Her family law practice includes litigation, complex custody issues and valuation issues.

Nicholle Jones Edwards, Director and member of the Family Law Practice Group, presented to the Women and Gender Studies class at the University of Oklahoma on Oct. 23.

The class is comprised of mostly seniors and students looking to attend law school. Her presentation focused on custody and the impact of gender on custody disputes.

Edwards advised that Oklahoma law has enacted statutory measures to prevent gender bias in these matters, lending the example that in divorce cases, mothers’ rights are no greater than fathers’ rights under the law.

However, the issue in same-sex divorces as with any other divorce will focus on the best interest of the child, she said.

Edwards previously served on the Advisory Board for the Women and Gender Studies program and continues to lend support.

To learn more about OU’s Women and Gender Studies class, click here.

Sheets, Ybarra earn Journal Record’s Leadership in Law awards

law day robert n sheets monica y ybarra leadership in law

Robert N. Sheets and Monica Y. Ybarra hold their Leadership in Law awards from the Journal Record.

Director Robert N. Sheets and Attorney Monica Y. Ybarra were presented with the Journal Record’s Leadership in Law award on May 1 at the Oklahoma County Bar Association’s annual Law Day Luncheon.

Oklahoma County District Judge Trevor Pemberton and Attorneys Judy Hamilton Morse (Oklahoma City) and M. David Riggs (Tulsa) were also recipients of this year’s Leadership in Law Award.

“I am truly honored to receive this recognition,” Ybarra said. “The list of honorees is really impressive, and I am humbled to be recognized along with these amazing attorneys that I look up to.”

Ybarra joined the Firm in 2014 and represents clients in the Firm’s Family Law Practice Group.

“As a young associate, it can be difficult to juggle work and family obligations and find time for community work, but community work and civic engagement is a vital part of connecting to the city and the people who live here and opens my eyes to the issues facing our community,” she said. “Finding ways to serve and engage not only enriches my life and experiences, but I hope it blesses others.

“Additionally, I have greatly benefited from the community service of others throughout my life and my education, so finding ways to serve feels like I’m giving back what has so generously been given to me. The OCBA provides so many opportunities to serve, both in the legal profession and the greater OKC community. I am grateful to be a part of such a service-oriented organization and I look forward to finding more opportunities to be useful and to serve.”

Sheets, one of the Firm’s founders, represents both privately-held and public companies in the Firm’s Commercial Litigation Practice Group. This is the second time the Journal Record has recognized him with the Leadership in Law award.

“I was moved when I received the Leadership in Law award from the Journal Record in 2008, and I am honored even more so to be recognized with this award for a second time 10 years later,” Sheets said. “It’s a real testament to the work I’m permitted to do in the legal field and within the community, and I appreciate those who see me fit to hold such an honor.

“My position has afforded me the opportunity to become active in the community, specifically with the Oklahoma County Bar Association and the Voices for Children committee. Thank you to the OCBA for allowing me to give back in a meaningful way, and thank you again to the Journal Record for the acknowledgment.”

Phillips Murrah Director Nicholle Jones Edwards was honored with the award in 2017.

Journal Record names Nikki Edwards to Fifty Making A Difference list

Nikki Edwards

The Journal Record will honor Phillips Murrah Director Nikki Edwards as one of fifty female business and community leaders in Oklahoma named to their “Making A Difference” list.

Olympic gold medalist Shannon Miller will be the keynote speaker at the 37th annual Woman of the Year gala set for Oct. 26 at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.

The Fifty Making A Difference list spotlights female business and community leaders, and honorees are chosen from hundreds nominations received across the state.

For more information, visit the Journal Record’s website.

Director commemorates 20 years of service for Positive Tomorrows

Nikki Edwards and Julie McDaniel

Twenty years ago, when Phillips Murrah Director Nikki Jones Edwards first set foot on the Positive Tomorrows campus, she was hooked. Two decades later, she’s still going strong and is now one of the organization’s biggest advocates.

“In law school, I thought I would graduate and work for the ACLU, or some other grassroots community organization, using my law degree to help the less fortunate or underserved in some way,” said Nikki, Chair of the Firm’s Family Law Practice Group. “Although I entered private practice, I still wanted to find ways to serve or advocate for the marginalized people in our community.” A friend introduced Nikki to Positive Tomorrows, and she was off and running.

Positive Tomorrows is Oklahoma’s only elementary school that serves homeless children. The school provides a unique blend of educational and social services to homeless children and families in hopes of providing quality education despite the unstable circumstances that homelessness can create.

In 1997, Nikki began volunteering at the school. At first, she tried to pace herself, coming into the school every month to read to the kindergarten classes. But it wasn’t long before she became a very familiar face around campus, eventually making weekly trips to the school to read. “It was the best part of my week,” she said.

NIkki Edwards, Nedra Funk, and Chris Batson Deason

Her drive and passion for the Positive Tomorrows mission did not go unnoticed. Nikki was invited to sit on the Board of Directors and she jumped at the opportunity. “I served on the Board for several years until my son, Sam, was born. I resigned from the Board to focus on Sam, but continued to support the organization through financial and in-kind donations and attending Positive Tomorrows-sponsored events.”

“During the next few years, while she wasn’t on the board, she was definitely a friend of Positive Tomorrows,” said Susan Agel, Principal and President of the Board. “We heard from her regularly and she was always available to give advice and assist in other areas. I was saddened when she resigned from the board, but I knew she had made the right decision. I resolved to wait until she was ready and invited her back again.”

When Nikki rejoined the board two years ago, she also brought the Phillips Murrah family along with her.

“Phillips Murrah not only supports my efforts at Positive Tomorrows, but the Firm and our employees have become partners to the organization as well. Some of our attorneys volunteer at the school, and the Firm contributes to various projects throughout the year,” Nikki said.

Her dedication to this at-risk population is changing lives. “We work with a very difficult population with every strike against them,” said Agel. “Our lasting legacy is to introduce a different life to children who are growing up in very difficult circumstances.”

Nikki attributes her motivation to serve to her upbringing, giving credit to her mother, Rita.

“My mom, who was one of my biggest role models, was a psychotherapist and she dedicated countless hours to volunteering and training volunteers in the area of domestic violence abuse prevention,” she said.

Nikki uses her mother’s example as a template to tackle a different community problem—homelessness. Applying the same tenacity and commitment as her mother, Nikki has been an advocate, supporter and friend to Positive Tomorrows for two decades. “Homelessness can be never-ending. It has the potential to be a vicious cycle, repeated by these kids because they emulate their parents’ actions,” she said, adding that Positive Tomorrows is part of the solution.

Kindergarten students working dress up for Dr. Seuss Day in a classroom at Positive Tomorrows.

“A professor once told me that education is the lone equalizer, and I could not agree more,” she said. “These children know that Positive Tomorrows is a safe, nurturing and calming place where they can actually learn. Public schools simply cannot provide the same holistic environment of family services and education. Public schools aren’t equipped to handle a child who is falling asleep in class because she was awake all night at the homeless shelter or was displaced in the middle of the night because her family was kicked out of a relative’s home.”

Research has shown that working with homeless children in this kind of environment can have a long-term impact on the success of a child and his or her family, Agel said. “We want children to feel a sense of control over their destiny and that’s one thing that is often lacking for people in poverty,” she said.

In addition to assisting homeless families and educating homeless children, Agel said, “Our role is to help teach the general public about poverty, in general, and homelessness in particular.”

Recently, Positive Tomorrows launched a fundraising campaign to expand the reach of their message and allow the school to provide services to more children.

“We are in the beginning stages of implementing a capital campaign to raise $10.2 million, which would allow us to double our capacity from 74 to 140 students,” Agel said. “So far this school year, we have turned away 88 students due to a lack of space and resources.”

“The new school will have space for a special education classroom and designated space for music and art, as well as a gym for PE classes. The new building will also include a severe weather safe room, which we currently do not have,” she said.

The organization plans to build the school on the NorthCare campus in Oklahoma City.

“The campus is shaping up to be a center for family and child social-emotional health, and we expect some strong programs to develop out of that partnership,” Agel said. “We’re also hearing that other nonprofits are exploring the location and we’re excited about these possibilities for future partnerships.”

Although Nikki’s commitment to Positive Tomorrows spans two decades, she’s already looking forward to the next twenty years. “I’m excited to see what’s in store for our next phase. Our capital campaign is underway, and I have no doubt that our community will rally to support Positive Tomorrows as it has done for many years.”



To learn ways to get involved with Positive Tomorrows, please visit their website here.

Phillips Murrah Director named as Secretary of Positive Tomorrows

Nicholle Jones Edwards’ practice focuses on family law, labor law and general civil litigation. Her family law practice includes litigation, complex custody issues and valuation issues.

Phillips Murrah Director Nicholle Jones Edwards was appointed Secretary of Positive Tomorrows, an organization aimed at helping homeless children in Oklahoma, on July 1.

“Positive Tomorrows is my favorite charity and non-profit organization,” Edwards said. “As the only elementary school designated for homeless children in Oklahoma, it serves as a safe harbor for kids who struggle to have any normalcy or consistency.”

Edwards also currently serves at the Board Governance Chair hoping to further the organization’s mission.

“These are kids who may not see a meal until the one they receive the next day at school, may not have any clothing except that on their bodies the day they enroll at Positive Tomorrows, and who don’t know the quiet respite of the same bed each night,” she said. “Simply stated, this place is their sanctuary.

“All of this is part of the overall mission, of which the primary focus is for the Positive Tomorrows kiddos to receive a top-notch education.”

Learn more about Positive Tomorrows and how you can get involved here.

Phillips Murrah sponsors OU Women and Gender Studies event

Joanna

OU Women and Gender Studies Professor JoAnna Wall, OU Linebacker Eric Striker, and Phillips Murrah Director Nikki Edwards at Voices from the Heart on April 22.

Phillips Murrah sponsored the University of Oklahoma’s Voices from the Heart event on April 22, benefiting the university’s Women and Gender Studies Program.

“I serve on the Advisory Board as an extension of my undergraduate and law school alma mater,” Phillips Murrah Director Nikki Edwards said. “I believe as a professional woman in law, I owe it to give back by committing my resources, finances and my time to this cause.”

Several Courage Awards were given to Oklahomans who were recognized for their courage. Mary Bishop and Sharon Baldwin, the couple who filed suit to challenge Oklahoma’s gay marriage laws, and OU Football Linebacker Eric Striker were given awards.

Jari Askins, former lieutenant governor of Oklahoma, was the keynote speaker and she was also given a surprise award for her courage.

“I believe human rights causes and tolerance are central to growth in our state and country,” Edwards said.