Phillips Murrah Directors to team up with Animal Legal Defense Fund at OCU Law symposium

Heather Hintz

Heather L. Hintz primarily represents banks, commercial entities and municipalities in litigation in state and federal courts with an emphasis on protecting hard-fought rulings throughout the appeals process.

Two Phillips Murrah Directors will participate in the upcoming “Animal Law Symposium: Oklahoma City,” supported by Animal Legal Defense Fund and Oklahoma City University School of Law.

“OCU Law is glad to partner with Animal Legal Defense Fund to host this symposium,” said Jim Roth, Phillips Murrah Director and OCU School of Law Dean. “With the launch of our Animal Law Program last fall through the generosity of the Kirkpatrick Foundation, our students have shown incredible interest in this growing area of law.

“The symposium will provide an important opportunity for students to connect with practitioners and learn more about the different aspects of Animal Law.”

The symposium will take place at Oklahoma City Law School on March 6 from 8:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. Roth will kick off the symposium with welcoming remarks. Heather L. Hintz, Phillips Murrah Director and Shareholder, will participate in the “Farmed Animals and the Law: Challenges and Opportunities for Change” panel set to begin at 1:45 p.m.

“Oklahoma is deeply rooted in agriculture and resource stewardship,” Hintz said. “A 2016 study published in the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine states that the general public has a high level of concern for animal welfare in food production, but lacks corresponding knowledge.

“The study further suggests that if provided information, the public may be encouraged to translate its concerns into market decisions that will improve farmed animal welfare. My studies prior to law school focused on how information leads to educated market decisions that can impact social change. I remain interested in that concept. I also agree with the philosopher Anne Conway (1631-1679) that every part of nature is in sympathetic harmony with every other, and if we harm one part, we harm the others, including ourselves.  I anticipate the Symposium will better enable participants to make informed decisions that can help improve farmed animal welfare and in turn, the welfare of us all.”

The day-long event is set to provide attendees insight from top voices within the animal law community, and the Oklahoma State Bar has approved the symposium for 7 CLE credits.

Learn more about the symposium and Animal Legal Defense Fund at their website here.

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OCU Law names Ybarra 2019 Outstanding Young Alumna

Monica Ybarra Web

Monica Y. Ybarra is a litigation attorney whose practice focuses on representing individuals and companies in wide range of commercial litigation matters. She also practices in the area of family law, including litigation, custody issues and valuation issues.

Monica Y. Ybarra, Family Law attorney and Oklahoma City University School of Law Class of 2014 alumna, will be honored as Outstanding Young Alumna at the OCU Law Awards Dinner.

“These awards were created in the late 1990s to honor individuals, alumni and non-alumni, in the legal community who have exemplified themselves as champions of the legal profession, established themselves as a community advocate, and supported the endeavors of OCU Law,” said Ally Rodriguez, Director of Alumni Relations at OCU Law. “To be a recipient of an award demonstrates their commitment to excellence in their career and we hope this shines a light on their good works.”

The 2019 OCU Law Awards Dinner will be hosted at 6 PM on April 6 at OCU School of Law.

“Working with Monica, both as a Phillips Murrah team member and now in our mutual roles for our alma mater OCU School of Law, is a real gift,” said Jim Roth, Phillips Murrah Director and OCU Law Dean. “Monica wonderfully embodies the exceptional brain and heart you want in a colleague, a leader and a friend.”

This year’s awards are especially important as they signify the first major event of the OCU Law Alumni Association after being re-established in the fall of 2018 under the direction of Dean Jim Roth, she said.

“As a classmate of Monica’s and a member of the OCU Law Class of 2014, it is an honor to be able to work with her as the Chair of the OCU Law Alumni Association,” Rodriguez said. “Monica brings an excitement to her work and motivates those around her.

“As the 2019 recipient of the Outstanding Young Alumna Award, Monica has exemplified significant achievements in the practice of law since graduation, and is a wonderful representation of the hard work and servant leadership mentality that OCU Law instills.”

Ybarra joined the university’s Alumni Association in September 2018 to oversee development and progress of the organization and was elected Chair by the Board of Directors soon after.

“Dean Roth’s vision to reestablish the OCU Law Alumni Association was one of his top priorities upon assuming his role as the new Dean,” Ybarra said. “He brought together a group of interested alums to serve on the Board of Directors and they elected me as Chair at our inaugural meeting.

“So, I’ve hit the ground running in that role since day one.”

This first year has been focused on getting the word out about the Alumni Association, building partnerships with community businesses for the rewards program, setting goals and bringing the Association’s vision into focus, she said.

“OCU Law has produced some very dynamic leaders and so many of our alums are doing great things all over the world, so it is incredibly humbling to receive this award,” Ybarra said. “I am overwhelmed with gratitude to be recognized in this way.

“I hope that my role and involvement with OCU Law will continue to evolve to meet the needs of the law school. I enjoy helping with local and national recruiting, and certainly enjoy contributing to the law school experience of OCU Law students in any way that I can.”

To learn more about OCU Law and the Alumni Association, click here.

Jim Roth chosen to lead Oklahoma City University School of Law as Dean

Jim A. Roth

Jim A. Roth

Jim Roth, Phillips Murrah Director and Chair of the Firm’s Clean Energy Practice Group, was recently selected to become the Dean of the Oklahoma City University School of Law. He will assume his role on July 1.

“It is a huge honor to be able to serve my alma mater as its next Dean,” Jim said. “OCU Law School has given me so much, and being able to give back – especially at this level of commitment – is surreal and exciting.”

His role will include bringing his expertise and influence to the school in a variety of ways, including his natural ability to transcend typecasts associated with both the legal and academic professions. He noted that a goal is to help inspire future lawyers to place additional attention on the importance of preparedness and leadership in their profession, in their community and on the planet, all of which are quickly and constantly changing.

“The Dean today is not just the chief academic advisor and partner with the faculty,” Roth explained. “This role also requires excellence in admissions, success for student life and subsequently Bar passage, expanded opportunities for career placement, and work that connects Alumni and the broader community to improve the Law School’s impact.”

Jim Roth OCU Law commencement photo

Courtesy of OCU Law

Jim joined Phillips Murrah almost a decade ago and will continue to be an important part of our PM family. Having served as Chair of Phillips Murrah’s Clean Energy Practice Group, and through his thought leadership and advocacy, he has been a key component in helping the renewable energy industry flourish in Oklahoma. “I love the work, and the way we work, at Phillips Murrah and remain committed to our clients’ best interests forever.”

Prior to joining the Firm, Jim served as an Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner from 2007-2009 and was elected District 1 Oklahoma County Commissioner from 2003-2007. This experience, along with his presence and influence in Oklahoma in numerous areas of community leadership and advocacy, was a recipe for success as a finalist candidate brought forward initially by the OCU Search Committee, then voted on by the law school faculty, and finally appointed by retiring OCU President Robert Henry and his replacement, President-Designate Martha Burger.

The Law Dean selection process was rigorous, according to press statement released by Oklahoma City University on Friday, May 11.

“Jim’s appointment follows a thorough national search process, and his selection from the robust pool of applicants is a testament to his strong leadership skills and his vision to grow OCU Law,” President Henry stated in the release.

For further details about Jim’s background and legal practice, visit

Director Jim Roth to moderate Energy Roundtable discussion

Phillips Murrah Director Jim Roth will take the helm as moderator for an upcoming roundtable discussion on Oklahoma’s energy future.

Oklahoma City University School of Law will host the Energy Roundtable at 11:45 a.m. on March 9.

Steve Dixon, President and CEO of Tapstone Energy, will be the speaker for the discussion alongside panelists including Mike Teague, Oklahoma Secretary of Energy and Environment; Michael Ming, General Manager at GE Global Research Oil and Gas Technology Center; and Dana Murphy, Oklahoma Corporation Commission Chairwoman.

“With Oklahoma companies expanding their drilling budgets in Oklahoma, re-employing people and getting back to work around exciting new formations such as the SCOOP and STACK, this is an opportunity to learn what it all means and why there is reason for optimism,” said Roth, Chair of the Firm’s Clean Energy Practice Group. “Oklahoma posted its first GDP gain in four quarters, and just last week Oklahoma added more rigs than any other state in America.”

Roth began his role as OCU Law’s Distinguished Practitioner in Residence at the beginning of the Spring 2017 semester and is co-organizer of the roundtable.

This is the first open forum on energy hosted by OCU Law. Registration is $20, and lunch is included. Register online here.