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Attorney Mary Holloway Richard authors update to AHLA publication

Mary Holloway

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

Mary Holloway Richard, Phillips Murrah Healthcare Law Attorney, lent her expertise to an update of the American Health Lawyers Association‘s Institutional Review Boards publication.

In preparing the third edition, the AHLA recognized the need to update the previous edition based upon changes in statutes and regulations and to incorporate new guidance reflecting expertise and current, in-depth experience with clinical research and IRB’s.

An important addition is the new chapter 17 “IRB Compliance and Internal Audits” authored by Richard.

Richard has recognized expertise in regulatory requirements and risk management in clinical research based upon involvement with both researchers and the IRB process for many years in the largest health system in the state.

The chapter brings to life a clinical research compliance plan by including the key elements and sample policies, procedures and other forms for use by researchers and research facilities, she said.

Richard advises clients regularly about FDA, HHS and OHRP requirements and lectures and writes on related topics, including regulatory requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation applicable in clinical research performed in the European Union.

For more information on the latest edition of the publication, click here.

NewsOK Q&A: Anyone can take part in utility rate cases

Eric Davis

Eric Davis is an attorney in the Firm’s Clean Energy Practice Group and the Government Relations and Compliance Practice Group. He represents clients in a range of regulatory and energy matters.

In this article, Oklahoma City Attorney C. Eric Davis discusses the process utility companies must go through to request rate increases and how different parties can participate.

Q: Oklahoma’s two largest electric utilities have rate cases ongoing at the Corporation Commission. How does the rate case process work?

A: In Oklahoma, investor-owned electric companies are “rate-regulated” by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. Regulating the rates of investor-owned utilities is necessary based on their monopoly status, i.e., customers generally can’t choose among other competing utilities for the same service. As a result, companies like Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. and Public Service of Oklahoma must seek approval from the three elected Corporation Commissioners before increasing rates. When a utility requests a rate increase, the resulting procedure is referred to as a “rate case.” A rate case is a formal, evidence-based, court-like process, open to the public. In a rate case, the commission determines the amount of revenue a company reasonably needs to operate, and then decides how best to allocate any increase (or decrease) among the company’s customers. This allocation process involves dividing customers into classes (such as residential, commercial, industrial, municipal, public schools), and even subclasses, and then, ideally, assigning rates across classes in an equitable manner.

Q: What types of issues exist in OG&E’s and PSO’s current rate cases?

A: Primary drivers in any rate case include the utility’s operational costs, costs associated with plant investments, and the utility’s right to earn a fair profit. On the generation side, national trends evidence a shift toward renewable and natural gas resources, and conflicts abound concerning how utilities should deal with their existing fleets, including coal plants. In its current rate case, OG&E has requested about $54 million annually to recover the cost of retrofitting its Sooner coal plant to reduce air pollution. Meanwhile, historically low load growth and other market trends are causing electric utilities to reconsider the manner in which they obtain rate increases from the commission. In PSO’s ongoing rate case, the company is proposing a “performance-based rate plan,” in which its earnings would be subject to more frequent, annual reviews, allowing for periodic rate adjustments. Such annual reviews, while occurring with more regularity, would be structured differently and allow for less in-depth analysis than a traditional rate case. However, PSO has proposed a backstop, stating it would file a full-blown rate case after three years.

Q: Who may participate in rate cases?

A: Anyone can take part in a rate case, whether by emailing public comment to the commission, or formally intervening as a party. Formal parties have the right to issue discovery, present witnesses, and cross-examine witnesses of other parties, including the utility’s witnesses. Common parties include the commission’s staff, the attorney general, large industrial customers, AARP, and the Department of Defense. Intervening parties may aim to influence utility policies, or ensure the utility’s costs are reasonable. Parties also may advocate on behalf of particular customer classes during the rate design process, ensuring costs are fairly apportioned among customers.

 

Published: 2/6/19; by Paula Burkes
Original article: https://newsok.com/article/5622090/qa-by-c-eric-davis-anyone-can-take-part-in-utility-rate-cases

NewsOK Q&A: IP assignment agreement is key to invention ownership

Phillips Murrah Patent Attorney Cody J. Cooper

Cody Cooper is a Patent Attorney in the Intellectual Property Practice Group and represents individuals and companies in a wide range of intellectual property, patent, trademark and copyright matters. His practice also includes commercial litigation.

In this article, Oklahoma City Patent Attorney Cody J. Cooper discusses the rights inventors have when inventing under the employment of someone else.

Q: When an employee invents something during the course of his or her employment, who owns the invention?

A: The employee owns the invention. Inventors’ exclusive right to their inventions is specifically written into the United States Constitution and, as such, courts have generally interpreted ownership of inventions to favor individuals, except in very narrow circumstances.

Q: How can an employer assure ownership when an employee conceives of an invention on the job?

A: The employer must have employees sign an intellectual property (IP) assignment agreement. Because the general rule is that an inventor owns the rights, courts strictly interpret IP assignment agreements. Recent case law has instructed employers that how you draft the assignment agreement is equally as important as having an agreement in the first place. In fact, the Federal Circuit recently determined, in Advance Video Technologies LLC v. HTC Corporation Inc., that an IP assignment must include language saying the employee “assigns” — present tense, not future tense — their employer all IP rights. The small difference in language had a tremendous impact on the employer’s ability to sue another company for patent infringement.

Q: Should IP assignment agreements only be used by businesses in manufacturing, research or product development?

A: No. I would suggest any company consider having its employees sign an IP assignment agreement if the company expects employees to create work or inventions to which the company would expect to have rights and expects to protect it through application for apply for a trademark, patent, copyright or other appropriate protection to keep others from using it without permission.

Q: What are some other employer considerations regarding IP assignment agreements?

A: Make sure that your employees sign IP assignments before they begin working for you, and make sure that you consult an attorney on the drafting of the IP assignment to ensure that it complies with current law and effectively assigns the IP rights you are seeking to protect.

Q: What if an employer has employees who’ve already created inventions that the employer presumed the company owned but doesn’t have an IP assignment in place? Can the company enter into an IP assignment agreement retroactively?

A: If this is the case, the invention is owned by the employee, and the employer likely has no rights to the invention. Nevertheless, the employer and employee can still enter into a IP assignment agreement, but there must be some sort of consideration (exchange in value) passed between the parties. The law makes clear that it is not enough for the employer to say that the consideration the employee is receiving is that they get to keep their job — there must be something more passing to the employee for their assignment of their invention (i.e. money, stock, etc.).

 

Published: 1/30/19; by Paula Burkes
Original article: https://newsok.com/article/5621521/qa-with-cody-j-cooper-ip-assignment-agreement-is-key-to-invention-ownership

 

Phillips Murrah announces new Director, Shareholder for 2019

Director Zachary K. Bradt

Director Zachary K. Bradt

Phillips Murrah proudly announces the promotion of Zachary K. Bradt to a Director and Shareholder for the Firm. Zac’s selection brings the Firm’s total number of Directors to 37.

“I feel very honored and fortunate to be a part of the outstanding team at Phillips Murrah,” Zac said. “During my time here, the Firm has placed great emphasis on developing its Energy and Natural Resources practice to meet the ever-growing needs of our clients. I look forward to using this new role to facilitate further growth and continue providing services that help our clients succeed.”

In his practice, Zac has prepared numerous drilling title opinions, division order title opinions and acquisition title opinions, and conducted due diligence in the acquisition and divesture of oil and gas properties. His growing oil and gas transactional practice is focused around the preparation of various oil and gas agreements, instruments, and conveyances as well as the drafting of curative documentation to clarify record title for his clients.

“Since joining Phillips Murrah almost five years ago, Zac has shown considerable commitment to his clients and to improving and growing his practice at the Firm.” said Thomas G. Wolfe, President and Managing Partner. “We are confident Zac’s experience and success at the Firm will thrive in his position as Director and Shareholder.”

Born and raised in Oklahoma, Zac makes his home in Edmond, with his wife, Amy, and son, Jude. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his family, watching sports, traveling, and golf.

He officially assumed his new role on Jan. 1, 2019.

Director Nikki Edwards quoted by Journal Record on divorce settlements

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.

A change in tax deductions regarding alimony has lead to an influx of clients looking to expedite their divorces.

Nikki Edwards, Phillips Murrah Director and Family Law Attorney, was quoted in a Journal Record article addressing the circumstances agreeing with Ron Little, McAfee & Taft Family Law Attorney.

Phillips Murrah Family Practice Law Director Nikki Edwards said she’s seeing the same issues from her clients as Little. She has clients who are trying to get the agreement finalized in a few weeks, while others are willing to push it into 2019.

“It was a surprising change because it’s been well-settled for many years,” she said. “The impact will be to restructure the settlement negotiations.”

She said from a practitioner’s standpoint, the change gets back to why alimony was created, which is predicated on one’s ability to pay versus one’s need.

“(The new law) will take out the thoughts of paying more because of the tax benefit,” she said. “It takes out the incentives for both sides.”

Read the full article by The Journal Record here.

OKC Beautiful appoints Newton treasurer

Sam Newton

Samuel D. Newton is an attorney practicing in Oil and Gas, Construction, and Healthcare Law.

OKC Beautiful, Oklahoma City’s only nonprofit organization dedicated to the beautification of Oklahoma City, elected Phillips Murrah Attorney Samuel D. Newton to its Board of Directors to serve as the organization’s treasurer.

“I feel that, at some point in the not too distant past, aesthetics gave way to efficiency,” Newton said. “Cities and towns often fail to think about how the atmosphere of the city helps attract businesses and promote civic involvement.

“Coming from Austin, where the city is very deliberate about growth, I was heartened to see that Oklahoma City also had an understanding of the importance of atmosphere and aesthetics in an overall plan.”

Newton said Attorney Mary Holloway Richard suggested he consider OKC Beautiful. He met with Carla Sharpe, past OKC Beautiful President, to discuss the organization and how his skills and abilities could be of use and was nominated to be on the Board.

“As treasurer, I will be responsible for working with the Executive Director and Finance Committee to ensure that budgets are met and kept,” he said. “More importantly, for my new role, I want to work to increase the OKC Beautiful endowment to ensure sustainable growth and future successes.”

Newton’s appointment comes at the same time as Attorney Ellen K. Spiropoulos’s role as President of the organization comes to an end.

“Finishing my two year term as President of OKC Beautiful is bittersweet since it also means I will soon be leaving the Board per our mandatory term limits,” she said. “I have been privileged to be President as the organization prepared for and celebrated its 50th anniversary, which was a great opportunity to reflect on all the individuals and achievements of our past and how the mission of OKC Beautiful continues and into the future.

“Sam will bring to his new position as Treasurer all the qualities that he make him an outstanding lawyer—attention to detail, strategic insights and problem solving skills. When you add to that his passion for Oklahoma City, he was a perfect choice for the OKC Beautiful board and now its executive committee.”

Newton will begin his role next year.

“Coming from a small town that didn’t put much stock in beautification and being a big proponent of the ‘broken windows’ theory, the mission of OKC Beautiful speaks to me as does its inter-meshing of educational and beautification programs,” Newton said. “So, I look forward to working with the organization and our other board members as we strive to build our endowment and grow our programs.”

To learn more about the organization or make a contribution, please visit the OKC Beautiful website here.

Firm selects Employee of the Month for October 2018

Cory Everett

Cory Everett

Cory Everett, Information Technology, is Phillips Murrah’s Employee of the Month for October 2018.

“It is truly an honor being voted Employee of the Month,” Cory said. “We have so many great people that work here and do far more important work than what I do.

“My Phillips Murrah family has given me more than I could even begin to describe.”

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

“It has been a pleasure and honor to work with Cory,” said Sam Lincoln, Information Technology Director. “No matter the task, Cory always has a positive and professional attitude.

“His work ethic and dedication to excellence is immeasurable.”

The Firm recently began making a donation to the winner’s charity of choice.

“The work at Hough Ear Institute of restoring hearing for people all over the world is truly a modern miracle,” Cory said. “This is the future we are living in and to see a group dedicated to reaching ‘all who have ears will hear’ is so awe inspiring.”

Hough Ear Institute is currently running a campaign to raise $300,000 to dedicate to the Institute’s research efforts and will match contributions.

“Our research is truly cutting edge and is on the way to restoring one’s natural hearing for less than the cost of one hearing aid,” said Justin DeMoss, Director of Development at Hough Ear Institute. “This will revolutionize the way hearing loss and tinnitus is treated.”

To learn more about Hough Ear Institute or make a personal contribution to their fundraising campaign, click here.


Top Work Places 2017Phillips 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.

Newton presents on preemptive business practices for ASA-OK

ASA LogoPhillips Murrah Attorney Samuel D. Newton gave the last presentation for a Fall educational series on Nov. 2 for members of the American Subcontractors Association of Oklahoma.

Newton’s presentation was entitled “Protect and Preserve: Considerations and Implications of Business Practices on your Company’s Future” and follows presentations given by Attorneys A. Michelle Campney and David A. Walls in September and October, respectively.

“In the discussion, we covered maintaining corporate best practices to preserve the corporate shield, non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements, discussed the implications of the Oklahoma Uniform Trade Secrets Act and how it works with confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements and how they all apply to protecting your business,” Newton said. “I switched to discussion of preserving businesses either through succession planning or selling the business.

“With succession planning, I discussed the importance of seeing the truth of the situation and not the idea (ie, who really is most apt to take over your business) and how to implement such changes, like through a buy-sell agreement or the organizational documents. I then gave a basic overview of a sale and the initial documents owners may be confronted with (letters of intent, confidentiality agreements) as well as the importance of preparing for due diligence.”

Newton, Campney and Walls will continue the series and each give presentations to ASA-OK in the Spring.

For more information about ASA, visit their website here.

Firm celebrates Halloween, raises funds for Oklahoma Regional Food Bank

Phillips Murrah staff members dress up for the Firm's annual Halloween costume contest.

Phillips Murrah staff members dress up for the Firm’s annual Halloween costume contest.

Phillips Murrah staff members were given the chance to test their creativity and help raise money for the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma on Oct. 31 at the Firm’s annual Halloween Party.

Contestants competed to win the annual costume contest, and Phillips Murrah raised $580 from those in attendance for Firm’s Annual Harvest Food Drive fundraising campaign.

Rachel Schones, Receptionist, won First Place by a landslide with her pregnant nun look. Second Place was awarded to Cristal Bazemore, Administrative Assistant, dressed as an alien, and Third Place was won by Tess Bromme, who dressed as Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones.

“I enjoy dressing up every year,” Schones said. “It’s fun to see the creativity of the different costumes each year.

Receptionist Rachel Schones in her First Place costume

Receptionist Rachel Schones in her First Place costume

“I was very surprised this year when I heard that I won first place. I wasn’t sure what people would think about the pregnant nun costume, but it was a fun day.”

Employees dress up to compete for a popular vote in hopes of winning a cash prize.

“A lot of people didn’t know it was me and some people were creeped out,” Bazemore said. “It was the best ever, seeing people’s reactions!”

Phillips Murrah partners with the Oklahoma County Bar Association to support their annual Harvest Food Drive, which all proceeds are donated to the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.

If you would like to donate to the Young Lawyers Division’s Harvest Food Drive, please contact the Oklahoma County Bar Association at (405) 236-8421.


Top Work Places 2017Phillips 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.

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’s legal team welcomes labor and employment attorney

Lauren Barghols Hanna

Lauren Barghols Hanna

Phillips Murrah law firm is proud to welcome Lauren Barghols Hanna to our downtown Oklahoma City office.

The Firm welcomed Lauren to the Firm’s Labor and Employment Practice Group as an Of Counsel attorney.

As a part of her employment practice, Lauren counsels and represents management in all phases of the employment relationship, including litigation matters involving discrimination, retaliation, harassment and wrongful discharge claims, whistleblower claims, claims related to employment agreements and theft of trade secrets, and other disputes arising from the workplace.

She also works with employers in crafting appropriate employment policies and procedures, employee handbooks, non-disclosure/non-solicitation agreements, and employee severance agreements and releases.

Lauren’s practice in the area of water rights frequently involves the representation of landowners in obtaining groundwater and streamwater permits for irrigation, oil and gas industry production, and other beneficial uses.

Lauren is a contributing author to the Oklahoma Employment Law Letter and has been interviewed by The Oklahoman, served as a guest legal columnist for The Journal Record business newspaper, and spoken at seminars on a variety of employment-related topics. She also authored the Oklahoma chapter of the LexisNexis Waters and Water Rights treatise.

Lauren’s achievements have earned her inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America (employment law—management; labor and employment litigation) and Oklahoma Super Lawyers.

In addition to her legal practice at the firm, she serves as a volunteer attorney for Oklahoma Lawyers for Children, a nonprofit organization that uses the time, talent, and resources of pro bono lawyers to represent and assist children in various matters, including parental termination jury trials before the Oklahoma County District Court (Juvenile Division).

In 2014, the Oklahoma CASA Association honored Lauren with its “Attorney of the Year” award for her work with OLFC. Lauren and her family also work with the Tinker Air Force Base Home Away From Home Program, welcoming Airmen serving their first tour into their family for holiday meals, birthday celebrations, summer cookouts, and other activities to create community and mentorship for young enlisted airmen.

Born and raised in Oklahoma, Lauren lives in Edmond with her husband Adam and her two children. Her hobbies include rowing, camping, and OU sports.

Phillips Murrah named among 2019 Best Law Firms in 39 practice areas

Phillips Murrah is proud to announce that our law firm has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report’s 2019 “Best Law Firms” for professional excellence for the Oklahoma City Metropolitan Area in the following practice areas:

Tier 1

  • Administrative / Regulatory Law
  • Banking and Finance Law
  • Business Organizations (including LLCs and Partnerships)
  • Commercial Litigation
  • Commercial Transactions / UCC Law
  • Corporate Law
  • Energy Law
  • Energy Regulatory Law
  • Government Relations Practice
  • Insurance Law
  • Land Use & Zoning Law
  • Litigation – Banking & Finance
  • Litigation – Bankruptcy
  • Litigation – Land Use & Zoning
  • Litigation – Real Estate
  • Litigation – Tax
  • Natural Resources Law
  • Product Liability Litigation – Defendants
  • Real Estate Law
  • Trusts & Estates Law

Tier 2

  • Construction Law
  • Health Care Law
  • Litigation – Antitrust
  • Mergers & Acquisitions Law
  • Public Finance Law
  • Securities Regulation
  • Tax Law
  • Workers’ Compensation Law – Employers

Tier 3

  • Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights / Insolvency and Reorganization Law
  • Environmental Law
  • Family Law
  • Litigation – ERISA
  • Litigation – Trusts & Estates
  • Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions – Defendants
  • Medical Malpractice Law – Defendants
  • Oil & Gas Law
  • Personal Injury Litigation – Defendants
  • Securities / Capital Markets Law
  • Venture Capital Law

This list is for the Oklahoma City Metropolitan area. To be eligible for a ranking, a law firm must have a lawyer listed in The Best Lawyers in America, which recognizes the top four percent of practicing attorneys in the United States.

Earlier in the year, Phillips Murrah announced that 44 of our attorneys are recognized by Best Lawyers in America for 2019.

Firms included in the 2019 “Best Law Firms” list are recognized for professional excellence, quality law practice and breadth of legal expertise. The “Best Law Firms” rankings are based on a combination of client feedback, information provided on the Law Firm Survey and the Law Firm Leaders Survey and Best Lawyers peer-review.

Lawyers know everything – almost

Gavel to Gavel appears in The Journal Record. This column was originally published in The Journal Record on October 25, 2018.


Dave Rhea

Dave Rhea is the Marketing Director for Phillips Murrah law firm.

By Phillips Murrah Marketing Director Dave Rhea

What is brand affinity? What is SEO? Many attorneys admittedly don’t know much marketing jargon. Historically speaking, marketing is a relatively new addition to the legal industry. Only 41 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized lawyers’ right to advertise.

From what I understand – as a non-attorney working in a large law firm – law schools don’t offer many, if any, classes about marketing methods. Thus, these activities can seem as impractical to lawyers as dancing does to steelworkers.

However, in today’s digital landscape, it’s reasonable for attorneys to consider adopting a marketing mindset. Technology, coupled with the growing inclination of law firms to onboard marketing professionals, allows attorneys to easily demonstrate their expertise to a much wider audience while sacrificing fewer billable hours.

What can attorneys do to develop more business in the digital age? There are numerous ways to leverage new media to effectively enhance one’s visibility and reputation in the community, but for this column I would like to concentrate on one such activity, in particular.

The biggest bang for the non-billable hour is thought-leadership authorship. Writing short-form articles on a consistent basis for publication on the firm’s website, or blogging, is an easy way to position oneself as an industry leader. Such articles can have a long shelf life and are versatile in how they can be disseminated. This activity also allows for exposure outside of the attorneys’ usual circles of influence while building a body of work that increases their digital footprint, which allows the attorney-authors and their firms to be found more easily on Internet search engines.

Savvy, marketing-minded author-lawyers can also use such articles to heighten awareness and demonstrate excellent customer service to their clients and prospects. Using direct outreach via one-to-one email, these attorneys can show proactive attention and demonstrate knowledge of the targets’ industries, thereby harnessing a proven way to nurture relationships and win new business.

Old-school rainmakers with existing books of business and established reputations may not view blogging as a beneficial use of their time. However, many of these key influencers still understand the benefit of developing a marketing-mindset culture within their firms and go the extra mile to promote buy-in from junior partners and associates.

Dave Rhea is marketing director at the law firm of Phillips Murrah in Oklahoma City.

Phillips Murrah’s legal team welcomes oil and gas title attorney

Morgen Potts

Morgen D. Potts

Phillips Murrah law firm is proud to welcome Morgen D. Potts to our downtown Oklahoma City office.

Phillips Murrah welcomed Morgen to the Firm’s Energy and Natural Resources Practice Group as an associate attorney.

Morgen represents both privately-owned and public companies in a wide variety of oil and gas matters, with a strong emphasis on oil and gas title examination.

Morgen has represented low-income families at the University of Oklahoma’s legal clinic, assisted a University professor with research to update a Real Property treatise, assisted with title work for a land acquisition company, and assisted on cases as an Associate Attorney at a general practice law firm located in Oklahoma.

Before joining Phillips Murrah she had her own practice in Norman, Oklahoma where she practiced a variety of different types of law.

Morgen graduated early from law school, was published in the Oil and Gas, Natural Resources, and Energy Journal for the University of Oklahoma, competed on an American Bar Association negotiation team, and earned an Academic Achievement award in her Mineral Title Examination class while attending law school.

Morgen was raised in Moore, Oklahoma and is currently living in Oklahoma City with her husband. She enjoys reading, yoga, playing golf, and spending quality time with friends and family.

Firm selects Employee of the Month for September 2018

Tifany Manning

Tifany Manning

Tifany Manning, Legal Assistant, is Phillips Murrah’s Employee of the Month for September 2018.

“Wow, it’s such a privilege to be chosen as Employee of the Month,” she said. “My bosses and co-worker’s are the BEST around!  I love my job and thankful I get to work for such a great firm.”

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

“It has been a pleasure and honor to work with Tifany,” Director Jennifer L. Miller said. “No matter the task, Tifany always has a positive and professional attitude. Her work ethic and dedication to excellence is immeasurable.

“Tifany is a valuable member of the Phillips Murrah team and the award is very much deserved.”

Starting this month, the Firm will begin making a donation to the winner’s charity of choice.

“I chose Cavett Kids Foundation as my charity,” Manning said. “Cavett Kids strives to help kids with severe and life threatening illnesses have some normalcy by attending camps, of which they have six different ones, and just be a kid doing kid things.

“I have volunteered several times and learn something from these sweet kiddos every time. I love their mission, their values and their motto.”

Phillips Murrah attorneys volunteer each year with the foundation’s Camp Cavett send-off.

To learn more about Cavett Kids Foundation and how you can get involved, visit their website here.


Journal Record and Oklahoman Best Places to Work of 2017

Phillips Murrah has been recognized as one of the Best Places to Work in Oklahoma in 2017 by The Journal Record and an Oklahoma Top Work Place by The Oklahoman/Energage three years in a row. Our Firm strives to recognize and reward our employees for excellence.

Phillips Murrah attorneys present for Construction Financial Management Association

Attorney David Walls addresses construction industry professionals at September's CFMA meeting.

Attorney David Walls addresses construction industry professionals at September’s CFMA meeting.

David A. Walls, Construction Law Attorney, and Byrona J. Maule, Phillips Murrah Director and Employment Law Attorney, addressed construction industry professionals at a September meeting for Construction Financial Management Association.

Walls presented an update regarding American Institute of Architect changes to standard form construction industry contracts. Maule followed, speaking on the impact of Oklahoma’s medical marijuana laws on employment law.

Maule’s presentation focused on drug and alcohol testing, policy impacts on drug and alcohol testing and anti-discrimination, and preemption issues under the Controlled Substance Act, the Drug Free Workplace Act and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act.

As a result, she said, testing procedures need to be updated or changes, policies will have to be updated, and training will be needed for managers.

For more information about the Oklahoma chapter of CFMA, please click here.

Director Jim Roth launches OCU Law alumni association

Jim Roth, Phillips Murrah Director and Oklahoma City University School of Law Dean, announces the revival of OCU Law's Alumni association at a meeting in early September.

Jim Roth, Phillips Murrah Director and Oklahoma City University School of Law Dean, announces the revival of OCU Law’s Alumni association at a meeting in early September.

Jim Roth, Phillips Murrah Director and Oklahoma City University School of Law Dean, announced the reestablishment of OCU Law’s Alumni Association in September.

“The law is a service profession, and here at OCU Law, we are a service-oriented school,” Roth said. “As an alumnus of the school, I have always admired that OCU is committed to helping create lawyers with a solemn responsibility for upholding the rule of law and for ‘doing good’ in the broader community.”

With more than 7,000 OCU Law alumni invited to join the revamped Association, Roth comprised a Board of Directors of OCU Law alumni, including Phillips Murrah attorneys Monica Y. Ybarra and Martin J. Lopez III, to oversee development and progress. Upon announcement, the Board of Directors voted to elect Ybarra as the first Chair of the association.

“This is an exciting time for OCU Law, and there’s no better way to rally our alums and get everyone plugged in to that energy than by resurrecting the OCU Law Alumni Association,” Ybarra said. “I’m looking forward to leading the Board of Directors as we fashion an association that will represent the interests of our vast alumni network, provide meaningful services to alums, students, and community partners, and be a channel through which alums can support the law school.”

The association is in the planning stages for the coming year, and the Board will be holding a launch event in November to kick off the association, said Ally Rodriguez, Director of Alumni Relations.

To learn more about OCU Law’s Alumni association, visit their website here.

 

NewsOK Q&A: Mineral owners should be informed about leasing, selling options

Zac Bradt

Zac Bradt is an attorney in the Energy & Natural Resources Practice Group. He represents both privately-owned and public companies in a wide variety of oil and gas matters, with a strong emphasis on oil and gas title examination.

In this article, Oklahoma City Oil and Gas Title attorney Zachary K. Bradt discusses the advantages mineral owners have when taking action with their mineral interests.

Q: What options are mineral owners faced with in today’s market?

A: As oil and gas activity in the state remains strong, mineral owners are seeing more opportunities related to their mineral interests. Some are being approached about signing new leases, while others are receiving calls and letters about selling their mineral interests. Whether leasing or selling, mineral owners are being presented with options that create certain advantages to an informed mineral owner.

Q: What advantages can leasing provide over selling?

A: The obvious answer is that the mineral owner will get to keep their mineral interest. By signing a new lease, the mineral owner will receive a bonus payment that is calculated based on the number of mineral acres owned, and a royalty on any production occurring during the term of the lease. The bonus and royalty can be negotiated with the lessee, but mineral owners should be aware of the inverse relationship between the two. A higher bonus will offer a lower royalty, whereas a lower bonus will provide for a higher royalty.

Q: What advantages can selling provide over leasing?

A: Selling mineral interests presents a financial advantage over leasing. If a mineral owner is financially incentivized, they may feel comfortable selling their interests away to a third party. Much like the bonus payment, mineral owners will receive a price per mineral acre offer to buy from third parties. The difference with selling is that there is a direct correlation between the royalty and purchase price. Minerals with a higher lease royalty will bring in a higher price per acre from potential buyers.

Q: How can a mineral owner decide what is the best option?

 

Published: 9/25/18; by Paula Burkes
Original article: https://newsok.com/article/5609461/qa-with-zac-k.-bradt-mineral-owners-should-be-informed-about-leasing-selling-options

Firm selects Employee of the Month for August 2018

Deena Baker

Deena Baker

Deena Baker, Legal Assistant, is Phillips Murrah’s Employee of the Month for August 2018.

“It is once again an honor to be recognized as employee of the month,” she said. “My co-workers and bosses are the best a person could ask for!

“It’s a great privilege to be part of such a wonderful firm and awesome team!”

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

“Deena works until the job is done right, regardless of what the clock says, which is a function of her strong work ethic,” Director Juston R. Givens said. “The value Deena brings to my practice and the work she does for the Phillips Murrah team is truly immeasurable.”


Journal Record and Oklahoman Best Places to Work of 2017

Phillips Murrah has been recognized as one of the Best Places to Work in Oklahoma in 2017 by The Journal Record and an Oklahoma Top Work Place by The Oklahoman/Energage three years in a row. Our Firm strives to recognize and reward our employees for excellence.

Avoid a clawback

Gavel to Gavel appears in The Journal Record. This column was originally published in The Journal Record on September 13, 2018.


Clayton Ketter

Clayton D. Ketter is a Director and a litigator whose practice involves a wide range of business litigation in both federal and state court, including extensive experience in financial restructurings and bankruptcy matters.

By Phillips Murrah Director Clayton D. Ketter

A business owner learns that one of her customers has filed for bankruptcy. She rushes to check her books and breathes a sigh of relief after seeing that the customer paid all of their outstanding invoices just days before going bankrupt. Unbeknownst to the business owner, those payments may have to be paid back to the bankruptcy estate as a preference.

One of the principal policies underlying bankruptcy law is fairness to creditors, which attempts to ensure that similarly situated creditors are treated equally. To promote this goal, creditors in a bankruptcy are placed into classes, with members of each class sharing proportionally in distributions of a bankrupt debtor’s assets.

This policy can be hampered when a debtor pays a preferred creditor immediately before a bankruptcy, to the detriment of other creditors. To ensure that a debtor’s limited money does not disappear to creditors favored by the debtor, the Bankruptcy Code allows a bankruptcy trustee to claw back such payments.

A payment is considered a preference if it meets five criteria: It is made to a creditor; for a debt owed prior to the payment being made; while the debtor was insolvent; during either 90 days before the bankruptcy filing for ordinary creditors or one year for insiders of the debtor; which allowed the creditor to receive more than it would have received in distributions from the bankruptcy estate.

If a payment is a preference, it must be paid back to the trustee unless a valid defense can be established.

Several defenses are available to creditors, including for substantially contemporaneous exchanges. Typically, point-of-sale transactions and those that involve cash on delivery will meet this defense. Another common defense exists for payments made in the ordinary course of business, which analyzes the typical transactions between the parties and in the relevant industry. If it is common for a debtor to pay invoices within 60 days of delivery, for example, those payments may meet the ordinary course defense.

Businesses can take steps to shield payments received from financially troubled customers from being subject to preference liability. The most effective means is to require prepayment, COD, or point-of-sale transactions only. Businesses can also strategically apply payments to invoices in a manner designed to fit within preference defenses.

To recover a preference, the bankruptcy trustee must commence a lawsuit within the bankruptcy case, typically preceded by a demand letter. Any business that receives such a letter should consult with bankruptcy counsel to determine whether they have valid defenses to the claim. Consulting with a bankruptcy attorney is also advisable prior to entering into sizable business transactions with a financially troubled company to attempt to eliminate preference risk. Doing so can help reduce the risk that a business gets embroiled in a bankruptcy, and worse, has to repay money that it was owed.

Clayton D. Ketter is a litigation attorney at Phillips Murrah P.C. who specializes in financial restructuring.

Phillips Murrah’s legal team welcomes tax attorney

Jessica Cory

Jessica N. Cory

Phillips Murrah law firm is proud to welcome Jessica N. Cory to our downtown Oklahoma City office.

Phillips Murrah welcomed Jessica to the Firm’s Tax Law Practice Group as an associate attorney.

In her practice, Jessica represents businesses and individuals in a wide range of matters, including general tax planning, business succession planning, and the structuring of complex transactions.

Jessica has advised clients regarding corporate and general business matters, including choice of entity, formation, tax-free reorganizations, acquisitions and dispositions, and tax planning.  She has particular experience working with flow-through entities, including disregarded entities, limited liability companies, partnerships, and S corporations.  Jessica has also successfully represented clients in disputes with the Internal Revenue Service.

Prior to entering private practice, Jessica gained valuable experience service as a judicial clerk for United States District Court Judge Robin Cauthron in the Western District of Oklahoma.  She then received her Masters of Law in Taxation at New York University School of Law and worked for a law firm in Houston, Texas before joining Phillips Murrah.  Jessica is licensed in both Oklahoma and Texas.

Jessica has written and presented on a variety of tax topics, including choice-of-entity in light of the 2017 tax reform, the tax implications of foreign ownership of real property, changes to the partnership audit procedures enacted in 2015, and defending against the trust fund recovery penalty.

Jessica grew up in Killeen, Texas but now lives in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  In her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, traveling, and training for her next race.

Phillips Murrah welcomes two new attorneys to legal roster

Travis Harrison, Jim Roth, and Martin Lopez III

OCU Law Dean and Phillips Murrah Director Jim Roth stands between OCU Alums and new attorneys Travis E. Harrison and Martin J. Lopez III as they celebrate passing the bar exam.

Phillips Murrah is proud to welcome Martin J. Lopez III and Travis E. Harrison to our Firm.

Phillips Murrah welcomed Martin to the Firm’s Litigation Practice Group as an associate attorney where he represents individuals and both privately-held and public companies in a wide range of civil litigation matters.

Martin attended the Oklahoma City University School of Law where he served as class president, also serving as the Student Bar Association President his third and final year. He was also a member of the Oklahoma City University Law Review. Additionally, Martin had the opportunity to work alongside university president Robert H. Henry, serving as his legal research assistant for two years.

While pursuing his law degree, Martin worked as a judicial intern for the Honorable Timothy D. DeGiusti of the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma as well as for Justice Noma D. Gurich of the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

Born and raised in Oklahoma City, Martin currently lives there with his wife and puppy. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with friends and family, watching Sooner sporting events, traveling, and fly fishing.

Travis has joined Phillips Murrah’s Transactional Practice Group as an associate attorney where he represents individuals and businesses in a broad range of transactional matters.

Travis graduated cum laude from Oklahoma City University School of Law where he earned the CALI Award of Excellence, which is awarded to the student with the highest grade in the courses as determined by the professor for five of his courses (Contracts II, Legal Research and Writing II, Constitutional Law I, Oil and Gas Law, and Commercial Paper). He was also a member of the Oklahoma City University Law Review. While serving as a member of the Law Review, he authored a Note titled Judicial Discretion on Outcome-Determinative Legislation After Bank Markazi v. Peterson, which was published in 2018.

Travis was born and raised in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where he currently resides. He enjoys traveling, reading, attending sporting events, and spending time with family and friends.

Attorneys prepare educational presentations on construction law

ASA LogoPhillips Murrah Attorneys A. Michelle Campney, Samuel D. Newton, and David A. Walls explore facets of construction law as a part of an educational series for members of the American Subcontractors Association of Oklahoma.

The team has planned six presentations, three in the fall and three in the spring, with the first topic covering the “Do’s and Don’ts of Bidding” on Sept. 7. Subsequent presentations by Walls and Newton are planned for Oct. 5 and Nov. 2, respectively.

“In the past, we have spoken about different provisions in the typical construction contact,” Campney said. “The presentations are new material on different topics important to subcontractors and construction.”

For more information about ASA, visit their website here.

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.

Firm selects Employee of the Month for July 2018

Nanette Morris

Nanette Morris

Nanette Morris, Paralegal, is Phillips Murrah’s Employee of the Month for July 2018.

“I’ve worked for Phillips Murrah for almost 19 years, and I can’t think of anywhere else I’d want to work,” Morris said. “The work is challenging and fun, and – even better – I get to work with so many smart and talented people.

“I really do love my job!”

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

“Nanette has been with the firm for over eighteen years and is a highly skilled legal assistant,” Director Elizabeth K. Brown said. “She plays an integral role in our transactional and estate planning department.

“With her positive and professional demeanor, she works well even under the most stressful situations in  the practice of law. She is smart, hard-working and dependable and always a pleasure to work with. She definitely deserves this honor.”


Journal Record and Oklahoman Best Places to Work of 2017

Phillips Murrah has been recognized as one of the Best Places to Work in Oklahoma in 2017 by The Journal Record and an Oklahoma Top Work Place by The Oklahoman/Energage three years in a row. Our Firm strives to recognize and reward our employees for excellence.

Phillips Murrah partners with Cristo Rey OKC

Cristo Rey Students

Phillips Murrah Marketing Director Dave Rhea and Attorney Bill Price welcome the four Cristo Rey students who will be working with the Firm during the 2018-2019 school year.

Phillips Murrah law firm is proud to sponsor the inaugural freshman class of Cristo Rey Oklahoma City Catholic High School.

Students in the school’s Corporate Work Study Program will begin working with the Firm in a variety of capacities on Aug. 13.

Four students will alternate working with the Firm each day in general clerical and administrative matters. The team of students “job share” the position for the school year with each student working one full day per week plus one Friday per month. Academic schedules are staggered so students won’t miss class due to work. As part of the school’s Corporate Work Study Program, students get valuable work experience in addition to a salary that is used to support their tuition and minimize costs for families.

“We at Phillips Murrah are excited for the opportunity to work with these bright, young minds and share with them insight into the legal field,” said Thomas G. Wolfe, Phillips Murrah President and Managing Partner. “Given that the work may be fast-paced and ever-changing, I have full confidence these students will gain unique and practical experience that will stick with them throughout their education and professional careers.”

Phillips Murrah joins a long list of Corporate Work Study Partners including: American Fidelity, Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, BancFirst, Catholic Charities, the Chickasaw Nation, Clements Foods, Express Employment Professionals, First National Bank of Oklahoma, Grace Living Centers and Humphreys Capital, Latino Community Development Agency, Lopez Foods, Loves Travel Stops & Country Stores, McBride Orthopedic Hospital, Mercy Health, Oklahoma City National Memorial, Oklahoma City Thunder, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, The Oklahoman, Slawson Exploration, Stella Nova Cafes, Synergy Datacom Supply, United Way, Variety Care and Weokie Federal Credit Union.

Cristo Rey’s Oklahoma City chapter is part of Cristo Rey Network, the only network of high schools in the country that integrate four years of rigorous college preparatory academics with four years of professional work experience.

To learn more about Cristo Rey, visit the network’s website here.

 

An alternative to federal funding

Gavel to Gavel appears in The Journal Record. This column was originally published in The Journal Record on August 2, 2018.


Sam Newton

Samuel D. Newton is an attorney practicing in Oil and Gas, Construction, and Healthcare Law.

By Phillips Murrah Attorney Samuel D. Newton

Efforts made this year to move forward with a federal infrastructure bill have stalled. Now, with the state budget strained and federal dollars unlikely, the legislature, counties, and municipalities will likely need to look at alternative methods to deliver needed infrastructure enhancements and repairs without additional tax funding.

Public-private partnerships provide a viable alternative. Using a P3 structure, a state will turn over one of its essential services, such as highway construction, to a private developer.

When people think of P3s, they generally imagine large-scale infrastructure projects. However, bundling smaller projects has shown promise that allows benefits to flow to smaller projects or rural communities. For example, Pennsylvania awarded a multi-year contract for a developer to finance, design, construct, and maintain 558 bridges that otherwise would have had to wait until the budget constraints allowed for repair. P3s have also been used on other public works projects such as wastewater treatment centers, schools and hospitals.

In 2017, the Oklahoma Public and Private Facilities and Infrastructure Act was enacted, authorizing a governmental entity to enter into P3s. While the act appears to be more focused on utilizing the P3 scheme for non-highway infrastructure projects – it exempts the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority – it does allow for ODOT and the OTA to utilize its general scheme for awarding road infrastructure projects. Most importantly, it provides a ready framework for identification and implementation by examining, among other factors, the project’s ability to improve public operational efficiencies, promote public safety or attract private investment in the state and minimize governmental liabilities.

However, P3s aren’t a panacea. One of the oft-cited concerns of using P3s is turning over an essential government service to a private corporation that isn’t subject to the same oversight and accountability standards as a public agency. This concern is addressed in the contractual documents surrounding the P3 project, with the government generally having significant oversight rights. The agency that would generally be responsible and the partnership committee established under the act will need to engage in significant analysis prior to deciding on a P3, and both the parties have to be able to work together in the spirit of the project with awareness as to its respective rights and responsibilities.

Samuel D. Newton is an attorney with the law firm of Phillips Murrah, practicing in construction, oil and gas, and health care law.

Q&A: Medical Marijuana and the Construction Industry

Sam Newton

Samuel D. Newton is an attorney practicing in Construction, Health Care, and Oil and Gas Law.

In this article, attorney Samuel D. Newton discusses procedures Oklahoma construction industry employers need to develop with the legalization of medical marijuana.

With the passage of State Question 788 and the decision by the Governor not to call a special session, many of the ancillary questions regarding the impact of medical marijuana will remain unanswered until the next legislative session in 2019. But, in jobs where safety is key, such as construction, employers will need to develop procedures now to ensure that they are complying with safety rules and regulations as well as not stepping on an employee’s rights.

Q: How does the passage of State Question 788, medical marijuana, affect my safe work site and drug free policies?

A: The provisions of State Question 788 provide that an employer can take action against an employee who uses or possesses medical marijuana at the place of employment or during work hours. Thus, a contractor’s safe work site policy that prohibits the use of drugs or alcohol on the job is allowable under the law. However, unless an employer can show an imminent risk of losing a monetary or licensing benefit under federal law or regulation, an employer cannot refuse to hire, terminate, or otherwise discriminate against an employee simply because the employee has a medical marijuana card.

Q: If one of my employees with a medical marijuana card is “high” on the job can I still terminate him or her?

A: Maybe. Contractors will need to carefully differentiate between being impaired at work (ie, under the influence of marijuana and its attendant effects) and testing positive for marijuana although the employee may not be impaired. Unlike alcohol, scientific research has not been able to put a specific number on the THC levels (the compound in marijuana that makes one “high”) that impairs a person’s ability to drive or work safely—and THC may appear in a blood or urine screen well after it is consumed. So, unless the legislature choses a legal level of THC, the key will likely be whether, based on an objective observation, the employee was able to safely function.

Q: My company is working on federal projects, how can I mesh the state law requirements and federal law requirements?

A: Federal law still considers marijuana to be a Schedule I Narcotic under the Controlled Substances Act. Thus it is against federal law to consume or possess marijuana, medical or not. Additionally, most, if not all, federal projects are subject to the federal Drug Free Workplace Act which requires employers to have a drug free work place policy prohibiting the unlawful possession or use of drugs in the workplace and make an ongoing good faith effort to maintain a drug free workplace. These policies include requiring the employee to report to the employer and the employer to report to the contracting agency any workplace criminal drug conviction. However, the distinctions are fine and the interplay between federal law and the imminent risk of losing federal contracts or licensing has yet to be defined by Oklahoma or Federal courts and not by the federal or state government.

NewsOK Q&A: SQ 788 also opens path for new medical marijuana businesses

Jason M. Kreth

Jason M. Kreth is a Director and a commercial litigator who represents financial institutions, handling matters such as foreclosures, bankruptcy and lender liability litigation. He also represents clients in a range of real property disputes.

In this article, Director Jason M. Kreth discusses requirements and allowances for medical marijuana distributors since Oklahoma voters approved State Question 788.

Q: What type of new business opportunities exist now that SQ 788 has passed?

A: The approval of SQ 788 enacted a series of new statutes that take effect July 26. Aside from provisions related to the acquisition of a medical marijuana license for individual use, the statutes also provide a framework for the approval of new medical marijuana businesses. These business are: retailers or dispensaries of medical marijuana; commercial growers of medical marijuana; processors of medical marijuana into concentrated, edible or other forms; and medical marijuana researchers. In addition, the Oklahoma State Department of Health has published its draft proposed Medical Marijuana Control Program regulations which, if implemented in their current form, would provide for the licensure of laboratories to test and approve various medical marijuana products. However, both the statutes implemented by SQ 788 and the regulations proposed by Department of Health are still subject to change.

Q: What are the main requirements that must be met in order to obtain a license as a dispensary, commercial grower, processor or researcher?

A: In each case, an individual or entity wishing to obtain a license to operate as a dispensary, commercial grower, or processor, must submit an application to the Oklahoma State Department of Health along with a $2,500 fee. The application must establish that the applicant: is 25 or older; is an Oklahoma resident, in the case of entities, that all members, managers and board members are Oklahoma residents and that no more than 25 percent of its ownership is out-of-state; is registered to conduct business in Oklahoma; and isn’t incarcerated and doesn’t have either a nonviolent felony conviction in the last two years or any other felony conviction in the last five years. In addition, the Department of Health’s proposed regulations also would require submission of a criminal background screening as well as proof of a $50,000 bond made payable to the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

Q: Where can these new medical marijuana businesses operate?

A: Virtually any location as other businesses. The only direct exception is a dispensary can’t operate within 1,000 feet of a school. To ensure this freedom to operate these businesses, the statutes specifically prohibit a city or municipality from restricting zoning for the purpose of preventing the opening of medical marijuana establishments, and landlords are prevented from refusing to execute a lease with such businesses unless, by doing so, they would lose a licensing or monetary benefit under federal law. However, the proposed regulations of the Department of Health would create several practical limitations on where these businesses could be located. For instance, a dispensary may not be housed in the same location as a physician who can prescribe medical marijuana and the location where medical marijuana may be grown or processed is subject to more exacting security and privacy standards than those of a simple dispensary, which may limit the options for potential locations.

Q: When can these businesses obtain their licenses?

A: The statutes set an ambitious timetable of applications being made available within 30 days of the passage of SQ 788 and the establishment of a regulatory office for processing these applications within 60 days of passage. Furthermore, the statutes require that all applications must be processed within two weeks. However, these timetables are subject to alteration by the legislature and may be extended.

 

Published: 7/3/18; by Paula Burkes
Original article: https://newsok.com/article/5600093/sq-788-also-opens-path-for-new-medical-marijuana-businesses