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Director Nikki Edwards honored with OBA Mona Salyer Lambird award

The Oklahoma Bar Association’s Women in Law Committee has named Phillips Murrah Director Nicholle Jones Edwards as a 2020 Mona Salyer Lambird Spotlight Award recipient.

Nicholle Jones Edwards attorneyt

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.

“Mona Lambird was a trailblazer and paved the way for me and so many others, serving as the first woman OBA president,” Edwards said. “I was only a young lawyer when she died tragically in 1999 and recall the loss to our legal community.

“The Mona Lambird award is the highest honor as the award represents ultimate leadership and mentorship in our profession.”

The Spotlight Awards were created in 1996 to annually honor five women who have distinguished themselves in the legal profession and who have “lighted” the way for other women. The award was later renamed to honor 1996 OBA President Mona Salyer Lambird.

Edwards is director in the Firm’s Family Law practice and has been recognized by The Journal Record with the Leadership in Law Award and as one of the 50 Women Making A Difference (2017). She is also active in community service, serving in leadership roles with Positive Tomorrows, the Oklahoma City Ballet, the Oklahoma Single Parent Scholarship Program, and previously with the University of Oklahoma’s Women & Gender Studies advisory board.

Phillips Murrah is proud of our efforts toward equity among female partners and is a regular supporter of the National Association of Women Lawyers. The Firm was also deemed a “Ceiling Smasher” by Law360 for ranking among the top 10 law firms of its size with the highest representation of women equity partners.

Read more about the Mona Salyer Spotlight Awards recipients here.

Sharpe accepted into Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel

Director G. Calvin Sharpe has been accepted as a new member to the Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel (FDCC).

Calvin Sharpe Web pic

G. Calvin Sharpe

“After many years of primarily focusing on medical malpractice defense, I began diversifying my practice about 15 years ago and now represent numerous corporate clients,” Sharpe said. “FDCC is well-known as the best professional trade association for linking defense attorneys—like myself—with corporate counsel and executives who—also like myself—greatly value integrity, professionalism, and civility.

“The educational opportunities that FDCC affords are incomparable and will no doubt be invaluable to my practice. I am honored to have been invited to FDCC’s membership and look forward to getting very involved.”

Founded in 1936, the FDCC has maintained the mission of creating a network of established defense counsel, in which members are nominated and require approval before being accepted.

“Networking has long been an important part of the career of most lawyers,” Sharpe said. “I met most of my current clients through networking events or networking through friends and colleagues. What sets FDCC apart is that it not only provides many networking opportunities through many different means, but it provides those opportunities with individuals and companies of diverse backgrounds and expertise who have been vetted and proven themselves to have met FDCC’s very high standards.

“To have the opportunity to engage with the FDCC membership is a unique privilege that would give anyone a leg up in the path toward a successful career.”

Sharpe has 30 years of experience in Oklahoma courtrooms, representing a diverse list of business clients in matters relating to medical malpractice, medical devices, products liability, insurance and commercial litigation.

Read more about FDCC at its website here.

Latham to present CLE on home lending issues, COVID-19’s impact

Gretchen M Latham Web

Gretchen M. Latham’s practice focuses on representing creditors in foreclosure, bankruptcy, collection and replevin cases.

Attorney Gretchen M. Latham will present “COVID-19 House Issues for Lenders: Foreclosures, Replevins, Evictions, and Bankruptcy” this Thursday afternoon as part of a series of Continuing Legal Education courses for Oklahoma Bar Association’s annual meeting.

The virtual presentation will give an overview of the topics important to home lenders with a special focus on how COVID-19 has changed ways to navigate each.

“It is important for landlords to be sure they know what can and can’t be done before starting an eviction or foreclosure,” she said.

Viewers will be advised on how the CARES Act and Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines will continue to impact home lenders through the end of 2020 when CDC regulations on foreclosures and evictions are set to expire.

Latham brings over 15 years’ experience in creditor representation to her practice, assisting local lenders as well as national creditors. Her practice focuses on representing creditors in foreclosure, bankruptcy, collection and replevin cases in which she offers on a statewide basis as well as in all three Bankruptcy and Federal Court Districts in Oklahoma.

To see the full meeting agenda covering a scope of COVID-19 issues, visit OBA’s website here.

Phillips Murrah named among 2021 Best Law Firms in 47 practice areas

Phillips MurrahPhillips Murrah is proud to announce that our law firm has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report’s 2021 “Best Law Firms” for professional excellence for the Oklahoma City Metropolitan Area and the Dallas/Fort Worth area in the following practice areas:

Oklahoma City

Tier 1

  • Administrative / Regulatory Law
  • Banking and Finance Law
  • Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights / Insolvency and Reorganization Law
  • Business Organizations (including LLCs and Partnerships)
  • Commercial Finance Law
  • Commercial Litigation
  • Commercial Transactions / UCC Law
  • Corporate Law
  • Energy Regulatory Law
  • Financial Services Regulation Law
  • Government Relations Practice
  • Information Technology Law
  • Insurance Law
  • Litigation – Bankruptcy
  • Litigation – Labor & Employment
  • Litigation – Land Use & Zoning
  • Litigation – Real Estate
  • Litigation – Tax
  • Natural Resources Law
  • Product Liability Litigation – Defendants
  • Real Estate Law
  • Trusts & Estates Law

Tier 2

  • Employment Law – Management
  • Energy Law
  • Land Use & Zoning Law
  • Litigation – Banking & Finance
  • Mergers & Acquisitions Law
  • Oil & Gas Law
  • Personal Injury Litigation – Defendants
  • Public Finance Law
  • Securities Regulation
  • Tax Law
  • Water Law
  • Workers’ Compensation Law – Employers

Tier 3

  • Bet-the-Company Litigation
  • Construction Law
  • Environmental Law
  • Family Law
  • Health Care Law
  • Labor Law – Management
  • Litigation – Antitrust
  • Litigation – ERISA
  • Litigation – Trusts & Estates
  • Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions – Defendants
  • Medical Malpractice Law – Defendants
  • Technology Law

Dallas/Fort Worth

Tier 3

  • Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights / Insolvency and Reorganization Law

 

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 61 of our attorneys are recognized by Best Lawyers in America for 2021.

Firms included in the 2020 “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.

NextGen Under 30 awards Kendra Norman in legal field

As the American labor force evolves to accommodate an influx of millennial-generation employees, standing out in a flooded career field grows more competitive and valuable.

Kendra Norman Web

Kendra M. Norman represents individuals and businesses in a broad range of transactional matters.

NextGen Under 30, which names top performing Oklahomans under 30 years of age across various industries, has named Attorney Kendra M. Norman to its 2020 honorary list in the Law category.

“I’m extremely honored to receive this award a few short weeks before I turn 30,” Norman said. “There are so many other amazing recipients, including several of my LOYAL XV classmates with which I am so excited to celebrate!

“I appreciate the opportunity to make a difference in the Oklahoma City as an attorney and as a volunteer in the community, and I am very grateful to be recognized for those efforts!”

NextGen recognizes strives to highlight the accomplishments of individuals who are making a difference within their respective industries and who demonstrate talent, drive and service to their communities.

“Kendra is not only outstanding in her role as an attorney with Phillips Murrah, but also impressive in the roles she’s taken upon herself in supporting her community and fostering connections with students who plan to enter the legal field,” said Joshua L. Edwards, Director and Transactional Practice Group Leader. “Phillips Murrah recognizes the potential our younger lawyers have to be successful leaders in the firm and in the community, and we seek to encourage and support them in their development.

“Kendra is a prime example of what can be accomplished when dedicated and compassionate individuals thrive in their practice and in their community involvement, and we are proud she is honored as NextGen Under 30 recipient.”

Honorees had the opportunity to meet and network at an Oct. 19 social event at the Oklahoma State Capitol.

“It was really awesome to meet so many other recipients from around the state and talk to young leaders in several different professions,” Norman said.

NextGen chose 379 Oklahomans as 2020 award winners in 20 career categories from 241 companies and organizations.

Read the full list of winners on NextGen’s website here.

Laurel Baker joins Phillips Murrah law firm’s Dallas legal team

Laurel L. Baker portrait

Laurel L. Baker – Click to view profile.

OKLAHOMA CITY (October 19, 2020) – Phillips Murrah P.C. is pleased to announce Laurel L. Baker has joined the Firm in its Dallas office as an Associate attorney. Her addition to the Firm brings the number of Phillips Murrah attorneys serving the Texas market to 16.

Laurel is a litigation attorney whose primary focus is on commercial and business litigation matters representing both plaintiffs and defendants in business and commercial disputes involving banking, corporate governance, contract disputes, mergers and acquisitions, employment, and other business litigation issues.

Laurel received her J.D. from the SMU Dedman School of Law and was a Dean’s Scholarship Recipient. While at SMU, she was Auction Director for the Association of Public Interest Law, a student attorney in the Child Advocacy Clinic, and an Articles Editor of the International Law Review Association.

She is a member of the State Bar of Texas and holds a B.A. degree in Political Science from Baylor University where she graduated Cum Laude.

Phillips Murrah opened its Dallas office in May of 2018.


CONTACT:

Phillips Murrah – Dallas Office:
3710 Rawlins Street, Suite 1420
Dallas, Texas 75219

Main: (214) 615-6365
Fax: (214) 434-1370​​

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Vicarious liability – Physicians can take steps to minimize risk

The following column was originally published in The Journal Record on October 5, 2020.


Martin J. Lopez portrait

Martin J. Lopez III is a litigation attorney who represents individuals and both privately-held and public companies in a wide range of civil litigation matters.

By Phillips Murrah Attorney Martin J. Lopez III

Between 2003 and 2020, the number of certified physician assistants practicing in the United States increased by over 220%. Set against this landscape of PA’s increasing role in health care, supervising physicians must be especially mindful of their responsibilities.

According to the Oklahoma’s Physician Assistant Act, a PA may practice medicine and prescribe drugs and medical supplies only under the supervision and direction of a state-licensed physician. The OPAA requires that the supervisory relationship be articulated and agreed upon by means of a practice agreement, which accounts for protocols and the scope of practice, as well as the PA’s education, training, skills and experience.

For physicians already juggling a busy patient caseload and bearing the responsibility of supervision and delegation of decision-making authority for up to four PAs at once, it is not uncommon for them to abrogate this responsibility by taking a hands-off or passive approach to this working relationship. However, they must be aware that the governing statute establishes that “at all times, a physician assistant shall be considered an agent of the delegating physician.”

This is known in the law as establishing vicarious liability. While no reported case in Oklahoma has actually held a physician vicariously liable for the acts or omissions of a PA, the statutory language creates the possibility of the extension of PA liability to the supervising physician.

While supervising physicians need not be physically present nor consulted in each instance of PA patient care, they must be readily available through telecommunication and appropriately participate in services provided by the PA. The statute specifically notes the supervising physician must:

  • Be responsible for the formulation or approval of all orders and protocols that direct the delivery of services provided by a PA, and periodically review such orders and protocols.
  • Regularly review the services provided by the PA and any problems or complications encountered.
  • Review a sample of outpatient medical records at a site specified in the practice agreement.
  • While the OPAA sets forth the scope of physician supervision of a PA and participation in a PA’s practice, there are a number of steps that can be taken to minimize physician risks of vicarious liability:
  • Pay careful attention to credentials and qualifications during the PA hiring process.
  • Ensure that the practice agreement includes a listing of the PA’s scope-of-practice responsibilities, and the requirements and limitations of the physician’s delegation authority.
  • Specify aspects of care that require prior physician consultation or approval.
  • Include language setting out the manner in which the record review requirement will be met by the PA and physician.

Once the PA begins practice, the supervising physician is advised to actively monitor the PA to ensure compliance with the practice agreement and that the PA provides patient care in a manner that does not exceed the PA’s level of skill and competence. Likewise, the physician should foster an environment in which the PA’s consultation with the physician is not perfunctory, but is actively encouraged to a meaningful extent to further the care rendered to the patient.

As with so many issues in health care today, risk is based not only upon regulatory language but also upon an analysis of the facts. Potential vicarious liability risk is mitigated by beginning with a practice agreement that takes all of these requirements and concerns into account.

Martin J. Lopez is an attorney at the law form of Phillips Murrah.

Proactive tech considerations in the era of the virtual workplace

The following column was originally published in The Oklahoman on October 4, 2020.


Hilary Hudson Clifton Web

Hilary Hudson Clifton is a litigation attorney who represents individuals and both privately-held and public companies in a wide range of civil litigation matters. Click photo to visit her attorney profile.

By Phillips Murrah Attorney Hilary H. Clifton

As thousands of workers continue to clock in remotely each day, many businesses are still learning the ins-and-outs of the virtual collaboration platforms their employees are using.

Microsoft Teams, Slack, Google Docs, BlueJeans, Trello, and, of course, the ubiquitous Zoom, are only a few of the programs that have recently evolved from helpful but perhaps underutilized tech tools, to vital aspects of daily operations.

In the rush to adapt to these new realities, however, savvy businesses should be deliberate when selecting and utilizing virtual collaboration tools.

Though only time can play out the range of virtual workplace conduct that might cause headaches for businesses and employers, cautionary tales are emerging. For example, one doctoral student at Stockton University in New Jersey found himself facing potential disciplinary action after using an image of President Trump as his screen background during a class being held via Zoom.

Though his apparent political statement was likely intentional, it’s not difficult to imagine how one might make an inadvertent statement — political or otherwise — via a video conference background.

A controversial book on a bookshelf or a political poster hanging in a home office might become pertinent, for example, in an employee’s suit against a supervisor, or a family photograph of a luxury vacation might raise questions in a collection lawsuit.

In addition, long before the pandemic, businesses have been grappling with managing, storing, and retrieving vast quantities of electronic data.

In the age of telework, the built-in chat functionalities found in many applications allow users to forego traditional email and participate in fast-paced conversation threads that can promote informality and create huge quantities of data that might be mined by opposing parties in litigation.

Video conferencing platforms also often include a “chat” functionality, allowing participants to send private and/or public messages to one another during the course of a meeting, with those chats potentially, and potentially unbeknownst to the participants, becoming part of a memorialized “transcript” following the meeting.

Fortunately, many applications already have built-in features to deal with some of these concerns.

Zoom users can brush up on how to control private “chat” capabilities by visiting the support section of their website. For fans of Microsoft Teams, Microsoft has a page devoted to mining group chats for discoverable content.

To be truly proactive, however, businesses relying heavily on telework should consider implementing an express telework policy that covers the use of video conferencing and other collaboration platforms.

Employers could include policies stating whether video conferences will be recorded, or requiring that employees use a neutral background during business-related conferences (to make marketing lemonade out of pandemic lemons, many companies have created their own branded Zoom backgrounds).

Additionally, having a policy in place that specifies which programs employees are permitted to use for work-related communications can help streamline the retention and retrieval of important data. Though continuing to do business in the midst of Covid-19 can feel like an overwhelming minefield of uncertainties, proactive businesses can nevertheless adapt and thrive by taking control of their virtual workplaces.

Hilary H. Clifton is an attorney at the law firm of Phillips Murrah.

Phillips Murrah maintains support of National Association of Women Lawyers as 2020 Sustaining Sponsor

National Association of Women Lawyers logo

Phillips Murrah is proud to announce its inclusion as a 2020 National Association of Women Lawyers Sustaining Sponsor, continuing the Firm’s mission to promote gender equality in the legal field.

NAWL is the nation’s oldest professional organization devoted to the interests and progress of women lawyers and women’s legal rights, and members include individual attorneys, including private practice, corporate, academic, government and non-profit attorneys, and groups, including law firms, corporate legal departments, law schools, and bar associations.

“NAWL has been empowering women in the legal profession for more than a century,” Director Janet A. Hendrick said. “I am proud of Phillips Murrah’s continued support of this venerable organization and its important work, and equally proud of our firm’s demonstrated commitment to advancing and supporting women in the legal profession.”

NAWL’s events and resources help bring awareness to gender-based topics and challenges within the legal profession, and the group’s advocacy initiatives address current and ongoing gender and racial equality issues across the country.

For more information, visit the NAWL website at https://www.nawl.org.

 

Phillips Murrah sponsors Positive Tomorrows at 2020 Cork & Canvas

Positive Tomorrows’ hosted its annual Cork & Canvas event, sponsored by Phillips Murrah and Director Nikki Jones Edwards, via virtual livestream on Sept. 17.

The event was originally scheduled for April 16 but was rescheduled and repurposed as an online auction event due to COVID-19. This change created an opportunity for Positive Tomorrow to air videos from supporting sponsors during the event.

Watch Phillips Murrah’s sponsor video below:

Nikki has supported Positive Tomorrows in various roles, serving as the Past President, volunteer, and four-term board member. She recently commemorated 20 years of service for the organization.

Positive Tomorrows is Oklahoma’s only elementary school specifically serving homeless children and their families and prides itself on educating at-risk children by dedicating attention to their unique educational and social service needs.

Learn more about Positive Tomorrows here.

Read more about Phillips Murrah’s support of Positive Tomorrows below:

Phillips Murrah welcomes two new attorneys to litigation team

Phillips Murrah is proud to welcome Natalie M. Jester and Laurie L. Schweinle to our Firm’s Litigation Practice Group as associate attorneys.

Attorney Laurie L. Schweinle and Natalie M. Jester

Laurie L. Schweinle and Natalie M. Jester

Natalie and Laurie represent individuals and both privately-held and public companies in a wide range of civil litigation matters.

Natalie attended the University of Oklahoma College of Law where she earned the American Jurisprudence Award for Professional Responsibility, Litigation Skills, and the Criminal Defense Clinic. She served as the Staff Editor on the Oklahoma Law Review and was on the Dean’s Honor Roll.

Prior to law school, Natalie was an Officer in the U.S. Navy. She now lives in Oklahoma City with her husband and two dogs.

Laurie attended the Oklahoma City University School of Law where she earned multiple CALI Awards for Excellence and was on the Dean’s List and Faculty Honor Roll. She served as a Staff Editor on the Law Review and received the Oklahoma Bar Association’s Outstanding Senior Law Student Award for OCU. She was also a member of the Phi Delta Phi Honor Society.

Laurie was raised in the Holdenville, Oklahoma area and received a Bachelor’s Degree from East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma. Prior to law school, Laurie worked for the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training as the Executive Assistant, Public Information Officer, and Legislative Liaison.

Voth accepted into LOKC’s Signature Class 39

Attorney Lauren S. Voth has been accepted into Leadership Oklahoma City’s next Signature Class.

Attorney Lauren Symcox Voth

“Usually, the Signature LOKC program is a 10-month program with classes each month that focus on different community issues,” Voth said. “This year will be a little different and LOKC Class 39’s start date will be deferred to Fall 2021, however, we will have virtual meetings and get to attend alumni events throughout this year.”

The Signature Program is comprised of a two-day opening retreat and one-day-a-month programs for accepted individuals familiar with volunteer programs to network and increase their impact on their organizations and their community. Applicants are typically senior executives, business owners, and high-level directors and managers across industries and business types regionally.

“I am excited that we are in this unique position to spend a year getting to know one another and then another year learning and exploring Oklahoma City’s community issues, diversity, and resources,” Voth said.

To learn more about the Signature Program and other Leadership Oklahoma City programs, visit their website here.

Force majeure clauses and COVID-19

Gavel to Gavel appears in The Journal Record. This column was originally published in The Journal Record on September 17, 2020.


By Phillips Murrah Attorney Kendra M. Norman

Kendra Norman Web

Kendra M. Norman represents individuals and businesses in a broad range of transactional matters.

Force majeure clauses are common clauses in contracts that allocate risk between parties and release a party from liability or obligations during unforeseeable or unpredictable events that are out of the party’s reasonable control.

These events can generally be referred to as acts of God or can be specifically listed in the agreement, often including events like war, strikes, riots or government actions. However, it should be noted that there is not a specific set of events that come under the definition of “acts of God” – this often depends on the context of the contract and the jurisdiction.

Force majeure clauses are ever-evolving and the language used has been influenced by events around us. Before 9/11, most force majeure clauses didn’t include terrorism as a force majeure event. This spurred litigation between parties regarding whether terrorism was an act of God that should be covered by the force majeure clause to excuse performance. Now, terrorism and terrorist attacks are often specifically set forth in force majeure clauses.

The conversation about force majeure clauses now revolves around whether the COVID-19 pandemic qualifies as an act of God and how this will affect contracts. As always, this depends on the type of contract, the language set forth in the contract, the context of the contract, the intent of the parties, and the governing law of the contract. Therefore, this determination is highly fact-specific and depends on several factors.

It is possible that COVID-19 could be considered an act of God in some contracts, or it could fall under force majeure clauses that contain specific references to disasters, national emergencies, government regulations or generally acts beyond the control of the parties. With the extraordinary potential consequences from COVID-19 yet to be determined, businesses should begin ascertaining whether their material contracts contain force majeure provisions and how such provisions may affect their rights and responsibilities going forward. However, given the widespread impact of COVID-19, it is possible that parties may be more likely to negotiate amendments to agreements that have been impacted by COVID-19 rather than forcing parties to rely on and litigate force majeure clauses.

Nevertheless, going forward, those entering into contracts should consider whether adding more specific terms such as epidemic, pandemic or infectious disease as force majeure events will be advantageous for them in the future.

Kendra Norman is an attorney with the law firm of Phillips Murrah.


Phillips Murrah’s attorneys continue to monitor developments to provide up-to-date advice to our clients during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Keep up with our ongoing COVID-19 resources, guidance and updates at our RESOURCE CENTER.

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Gardner to present ethics CLE for in-house corporate counsel

Director Melissa R. Gardner will give a Continuing Legal Education presentation virtually for Association of Corporate Counsel on Sept. 9.

Melissa Gardner is a Director who practices in the Energy & Natural Resources Practice Group. She 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.

ACC is a global association that aims to be an educational resource and networking platform for in-house counsel in corporations, associations and other organizations.

“Phillips Murrah is happy to sponsor the Oklahoma Chapter of the ACC and to partner with OK ACC in serving the business interests of our in-house counterparts,” Director Joshua L. Edwards said.

Gardner’s presentation is a refresher for a full spectrum of ethics issues in-house counsel manage on a daily basis.

“In my experience, continuing legal education for ethics is incredibly important because you are often on your own when making these decisions,” she said. “Plus, your relationships working with your clients on a day-to-day basis make some of the more difficult ethics calls more complicated than they would be if there was an arm’s length relationship.”

Gardner will cover Oklahoma’s Rules of Professional Conduct and address eight common ethics issues, exploring practical scenarios and ways to address each.

“Putting on programs like this allows us to support OK ACC’s mission of providing continuing education opportunities to its members,” Edwards said.

To learn more about ACC and this CLE, visit their website here.

Phillips Murrah voted 2020 Reader’s Choice Best Local Law Firm

The Oklahoman newspaper’s readers named Phillips Murrah law firm a winner of Readers’ Choice Awards in two categories for 2020.

Phillips Murrah P.C. was voted Best Local Law Firm, and Director Elizabeth K. Brown was chosen as Best Business Attorney.

Remaining nominees from the Firm were voted into the Top 3 of their respective categories:

Readers of The Oklahoman chose nominees in May and voted on winners in June.

The winners were recognized at the Readers’ Choice event on Aug. 27.

PM attorneys create “practical” guide to commercial real estate leasing

Phillips Murrah attorneys merged their expertise to curate a commercial real estate leasing legal guide for Thomson Reuters’ Practical Law resource.

Thomson Reuters Practical Law provides guidance across many practice areas with hundreds of editors monitoring each subject to make day-to-day updates as legal viewpoints shift. Directors Sally A. Hasenfratz and Joshua L. Edwards and Attorneys Jennifer Ivester Berry and Erica K. Halley contributed to organizing the August 5, 2020 update for Real Estate Leasing for Oklahoma.

“I enjoyed spending time taking an earnest look at the various layers of my real estate and leasing practice to create a user-friendly roadmap on the basics in the Oklahoma market,” Halley said. “Q&As like this and similar materials made available by Thompson Reuters are great resources for out-of-state attorneys and, particularly, local attorneys who may be handling a matter outside of their usual field.”

thomson reuters practical law

Read more on Phillips Murrah’s Real Estate Leasing guide for Oklahoma from Thomson Reuters here.

Cooper elected 2021 OCBA Vice President

Oklahoma County Bar Association members voted to elect Cody J. Cooper, Phillips Murrah Director, as Vice President for 2021.

Cody Cooper online photo

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

“I enjoy being involved in the Oklahoma County Bar because it provides me an opportunity to be directly involved with Oklahoma County’s legal community and provides me an excellent opportunity to meet and work with colleagues that I wouldn’t otherwise have an opportunity to work with,” he said. “I have the chance to work directly with our county judges, law schools and practitioners throughout the county to further the work of the bar and provide a positive community impact.”

Cooper is currently serving his term on OCBA’s Board of Directors, a role he assumed in 2019 and will serve in until his term as Vice President begins in August 2021.

OCBA members also elected Judge Don Andrews as President, Shanda McKenney as President-Elect, Benjamin Grubb as Law Library Trustee, and Ed Blau, Judge Heather Coyle, Katherine Mazaheri-Franze, Drew Mildren, Amy Pierce, and Judge Susan Stallings as members of the 2023 Board of Directors.

To learn more about OCBA, visit their website here.

Does COVID-19 constitute a material adverse effect?

Gavel to Gavel appears in The Journal Record. This column was originally published in The Journal Record on August 6, 2020.


By Phillips Murrah Attorney Travis E. Harrison

Travis Harrison

Travis E. Harrison is a transactional attorney who represents individuals and both privately-held and public companies in a wide range of transactional matters.

In addition to a vast human toll, COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on businesses, markets and supply chains. With infections still spreading, businesses have suffered cash and liquidity constraints and anticipate such suffering to continue.

The pandemic also presents unique risks to parties in acquisition agreements, such as risks concerning the financial viability of the target company. Parties often address these risks by including material adverse effects, or MAE, clauses.

Generally speaking, an MAE is an event, circumstance, change or effect that presents a material threat to the business of the target company. MAE clauses account for this possibility and allocate risk among the parties.

Such clauses are frequently used as conditions to closing and qualifiers to the seller’s representations. If the target company suffers an MAE as defined in the agreement, the clause allows the buyer to unilaterally terminate the deal without being considered in breach of contract. The seller can qualify representations made about the condition of the target company, making it more difficult for a buyer to assert a breach. Also, exclusions to the definition of an MAE are identified, such as industrywide market conditions.

One increasingly common issue is whether COVID-19 constitutes an MAE. The following questions may help determine the answer and assist parties in the negotiation stages:

  • Are there MAE exclusions such as epidemics, pandemics and natural disasters?
  • Has COVID-19 resulted in unique issues for the target company that are disproportionate to other companies in the same industry?
  • Is the buyer obligated to use certain efforts to close the deal notwithstanding events that affect the financial condition of the target company?
  • What other limitations apply to an MAE? For example, can events only occurring after executing the agreement qualify as an MAE?
  • Have the parties contractually shifted the burden to the seller to prove that an MAE has not occurred?

While these questions may provide guidance on the issue, establishing whether an MAE has occurred is a highly fact-intensive issue that depends on the unique circumstances involved and the specific language used in the acquisition agreement. It should also be noted that buyers have faced a significant burden in court to show that any event meets the criteria of an MAE. As more parties litigate the issue, the courts will play an important role in establishing precedent that will shape how parties negotiate acquisition agreements.

Travis E. Harrison is an attorney with the law firm of Phillips Murrah.

GIP names Jim Roth as new board member

Global Innovation Platform has named Jim Roth, Phillips Murrah Director, as a board member.

Jim Roth is a Director and Chair of the firm’s Clean Energy Practice.

“Jim has extensive depth and insights regarding energy policy, trends and opportunities and will add tremendous value to the governance of GIP,” said David Swank, CEO of GIP. “I had the great pleasure of working with Jim while he served as Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner and found Jim to be very innovative, forward thinking and pragmatic about where we need to be going in the energy and built environment space.”

Roth is a member of the Phillips Murrah Law Firm’s Energy & Natural Resources Practice Group and chair of the Clean Energy Practice Group. He represents individuals, publicly-owned companies and privately-owned companies in a range of business, energy and environmental issues, as well as a variety of public policy and regulatory matters.

He served as an Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner, by appointment of Governor Brad Henry. Prior to that appointment, Roth was elected to consecutive four-year terms as Oklahoma County Commissioner. He is a member of the Oklahoma, Kansas, and American Bar Associations and is a past president of the National Association of Civil County Attorneys.

Additionally, in 2018, Jim began serving as the dean of the Oklahoma City University School of Law, his alma mater. He enjoys bringing leadership and innovation to preparing tomorrow’s lawyers for the legal profession. Roth is an alumnus of OCU Law, earning his Juris Doctor degree in 1994. He also holds graduate certificates from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, the United States Air War College’s National Security Forum at Maxwell Air Force Base, and the Institute of Public Utilities at Michigan State University.

“Jim’s vast experience within the energy sector will be highly beneficial to our shareholders,” said Jordan Harper, GIP board chair. “Jim is an individual who brings out the best of others and organizations. I appreciate his ability to generate ideas and build solutions that are meaningful to clients and society in general.”

GIP is an IoT (Internet of Things) and digital data company located in Stillwater, Okla. The company provides technology solutions that make infrastructure and facilities smarter and intuitive. GIP’s primary clients include the utility, commercial, industrial, agriculture and residential sectors. Learn more about GIP at globalinnovationplatform.com.

Efficiency programs help reduce energy load, costs

The following column was originally published in The Journal Record on June 30, 2020.


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.

By Phillips Murrah Attorney C. Eric Davis

Summer’s here. That means warmer weather – and higher electric bills. However, there are ways to reduce your energy usage and save money. And chances are your utility company already has programs in place to help you do it.

If you’re unfamiliar with these programs, you’re not alone. Most people don’t think to turn to their electric company to learn how to use less energy. But in fact, utilities across the state, including Oklahoma’s two largest, have a variety of programs to help consumers avoid energy waste and lower their bills. Despite their effectiveness, many customers are unaware of these programs, and this knowledge gap was a topic of discussion at a recent multi-day Town Hall held by statewide nonprofit The Oklahoma Academy. The conclusions from the Town Hall were subsequently announced at a press conference with elected officials.

At the press conference, The Oklahoma Academy released recommendations concerning the state’s energy future. These included increasing Oklahomans’ awareness of energy efficiency and demand response programs that are designed to avoid energy waste or shift energy usage to times when the grid is less strained. The aim of the programs is to reduce utilities’ overall electricity demand, which has several benefits. One, it reduces the need, thus expense, for utilities to build additional generation plants and power lines. As a result, associated environmental impacts are reduced and customers’ electricity bills decrease. Moreover, dollar for dollar, experts consider these programs to be among the most cost-effective investments for utilities to serve their load.

So, what types of programs are available? Depending on your utility, you may be eligible to have an energy efficiency consultant visit your home, have your HVAC system tuned up, or even have your home weatherized. Likewise, specialized energy efficiency and demand response programs may be available to commercial and industrial customers, such as rebates for upgrading to more efficient heating, cooling, and lighting systems, or lower rates for customers who shift energy usage to periods when the electric system has more capacity.

Because the costs of these services may be spread among all customers, many times there is no additional cost for those taking advantage of them. So, take the advice of The Oklahoma Academy and explore what programs are out there. You can save money, help the environment, and give the grid a break.

Eric Davis is an attorney at Phillips Murrah and a member of The Oklahoma Academy. Davis also participated in The Oklahoma Academy’s town hall on Oklahoma’s energy future.

Village Animal Shelter renovation project makes significant progress

The following article is an update to a February 2020 column by Thomas G. Wolfe, Managing Director of Phillips Murrah P.C., on the state of renovations being made to the Village Animal Shelter in Oklahoma City.

thomas wolfe village animal shelter okc friday phillips murrah

Home builder Jim Abernathy, left, walks Village Animal League’s Tom Wolfe and Cheryl Steckler and The Village City Manager Bruce Stone, right, through his plans for the new Village Animal Shelter. Photo by OKC Friday

Plans for a renovated Village Animal Shelter in Oklahoma City are actively being executed, with Jim Abernathy, project supervisor and Village resident, optimistic for it’s completion ahead of the originally projected 90-day turnaround.

Thomas G. Wolfe, Managing Director of Phillips Murrah and Village Animal League board member, authored an article in February informing readers of plans for the Village Animal Shelter and calling for donations to reach the project funding goal.

The OKC Friday newspaper reported updates to the project in the June 5 issue:

Last week (Jim Abernathy) met with City Manager Bruce Stone and Village Animal League (VAL) board members Tom Wolfe and Cheryl Steckler at the site to review progress and finalize plans.

Abernathy reported they are making significant progress.

Wire fencing kennels and all the existing concrete around the enclosures have been removed. All wiring was removed in advance of the new electric service, which will have new wiring and lighting.

“Existing plumbing was disconnected and removed and we are preparing to rough in the new plumbing in the next week or so,” Abernathy said.

Also, workers removed the entire ceiling was removed and placed shoring in advance to install the new heating and air conditioning system.

“This alone will be a real game-changer regarding the comfort of these animals while they wait for a new home,” Abernathy continued.

The large steel frame roof structure between the kennel and building to the south is set to be reinstalled with metal roofing panels that will keep the dogs under a roof when inside the outside portion of the enclosures. The inside part should be completed in early June.

Abernathy plans to begin plumbing work reconfiguration and installing new water and drain lines for the kennel within a week or two.

While significant parts of the project are on track for completion, there are still items for the project that aren’t fully funded, Steckler said.

The Oklahoma Humane Society is accepting donations for this project through The Village Animal Shelter so that donations will be tax deductible.

Here’s How to Donate

  • Make checks payable to Oklahoma Humane Society, write in the memo line: “Village Animal League” or “VAL Fund,” and mail to PO Box 18471, OK 73154.
  • To donate online, go to www.okhumane.org/donate/one-time-donations, click the “Donate Now” button, reference “Village Animal League” or “VAL Fund.”
  • Or, call 405-286-1229.

Success Story

The OKC Friday also reported on Lucy Rose, a stray dog rescued by Village Animal League near their offices, and Wolfe’s assistance in getting her rehabilitated:

village animal league okc friday

Britton Road Vet’s Molly Ann Mauldin leads Lucy Rose into the clinic. Photo by OKC Friday

Lucy Rose is healing nicely after spending at least three days wandering The Village and being rescued by The Village Animal League.

A larger, brown, very skinny dog was first noticed last Wednesday outside the OKC FRIDAY Newspaper’s office on Quail Plaza Drive. Animal Control and Cheryl Steckler, a VAL board member, were called.

Cheryl said she followed the dog for an hour and a half and could not get her to come to her.

Sightings of the dog continued on Thursday and into Friday, often times she lay in the shade on FRIDAY’s island. Others also tried to approach her to no avail.

Cheryl brought a trap on Friday when finally the stray dog was found in the courtyard of a nearby building. Cheryl and volunteer Ann Hopkins were quick to shut the gates. By this time, the dog apparently was tired enough to let them take her to the Britton Road Vet Clinic.
In the meantime, Cheryl named her Lucy Rose. Dr. Todd Mauldin and his daughter Molly Ann are taking care of her.

Lucy Rose had two-week-old deep infected bite wounds through the muscle which required stitches. She was found to be heartworm negative, but had an heavy infestation of fleas and ticks, Cheryl said.

The dog weighed 43 pounds and needs to gain at least 10. Cheryl said Lucy Rose ate and slept well all weekend. She had a bath on Monday and spaying and chipping will take place after she heals up some.

“Dr. Mauldin said she is doing great,” Cheryl said. “She’s skittish, but doesn’t seem to want to bite anybody.”

Tom Wolfe, also of The Village Animal League, is paying Lucy Rose’s bill. Cheryl said others have expressed an interest in helping out.

She asked them to call the Britton Road Vet at 751-8007.


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Beau M. Patterson joins Phillips Murrah Dallas office

Attorney Beau M. Patterson

OKLAHOMA CITY (June 3, 2020) – Phillips Murrah P.C. is pleased to announce Beau M. Patterson has joined the Firm in its Dallas-based office as an Of Counsel attorney. His addition to the Firm brings the number of Phillips Murrah attorneys serving the Texas market to fourteen.

Beau works primarily as an outside general counsel to his business clients, advising and assisting them in responding to existing legal needs while also helping to anticipate and plan for those that may not yet have come into focus.

Beau’s practice is primarily transactional, with an emphasis on mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance, public and private capital raises, debt offerings, real estate transactions and restructurings. Prior to joining Phillips Murrah, Beau served for three years as General Counsel of a technology company which grew to more than 1,000 team members during his time with the company.

Beau was born in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, and previously lived and worked in Oklahoma City. He attended Oklahoma City University School of Law.

Phillips Murrah opened its Dallas office in May of 2018.


CONTACT:

Phillips Murrah – Dallas Office:
3710 Rawlins Street, Suite 1420
Dallas, Texas 75219

Main: (214) 615-6365
Fax: (214) 434-1370​​

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405 Magazine selects Phillips Murrah for 2020 Oklahoma Top Attorneys

Phillips Murrah is honored to have 13 attorneys selected as Oklahoma Top Attorneys for 2020 by 405 Magazine. Attorneys are selected for the list by an online peer-voting and research process facilitated by DataJoe Research across various practice areas.

For more information on each listed attorney, visit their profile by clicking on their portrait or contact information below:

Oklahoma Top Attorney for Banking and Financial Law:

. Mark Lovelace Oklahoma Top Attorney Banking and Financial Law

J. Mark Lovelace, Director
405.552.2404
jmlovelace@phillipsmurrah.com

 

Donald A. Pape Oklahoma Top Attorney Banking and Financial Law

Donald A. Pape, Of Counsel
405.364.3346
dapape@phillipsmurrah.com


Oklahoma Top Attorney for Business Law:

Robert O. O'Bannon Oklahoma Top Attorney Business Law

Robert O. O’Bannon, Director
405.552.2483
roobannon@phillipsmurrah.com


Oklahoma Top Attorney for Civil Law Transactional:

A. Michelle Campney Oklahoma Top Attorney Civil Law Transactional

A. Michelle Campney, Of Counsel
405.552.2487
amcampney@phillipsmurrah.com


Oklahoma Top Attorney for Commercial Litigation:

Thomas G. Wolfe Oklahoma Top Attorney Commercial Litigation

Thomas G. Wolfe, Director
405.552.2401
tgwolfe@phillipsmurrah.com


Oklahoma Top Attorney for Health Care Law:

Mary Holloway Richard Oklahoma Top Attorney Health Care Law

Mary Holloway Richard, Of Counsel
405.552.2403
mhrichard@phillipsmurrah.com


Oklahoma Top Attorney for Intellectual Property Rights:

Martin G. Ozinga Oklahoma Top Attorney Intellectual Property Rights

Martin G. Ozinga, Of Counsel
405.606.4721
mgozinga@phillipsmurrah.com


Oklahoma Top Attorney for Labor and Employment:

Byrona J. Maule Oklahoma Top Attorney Labor and Employment

Byrona J. Maule, Director
405.552.2453
bjmaule@phillipsmurrah.com


Oklahoma Top Attorney for Land Use – Environment:

Jim A. Roth Oklahoma Top Attorney Land Use Environment

Jim A. Roth, Director
405.552.2417
jaroth@phillipsmurrah.com


Oklahoma Top Attorney for Medical Malpractice Defense:

G. Calvin Sharpe Oklahoma Top Attorney Medical Malpractice Defense

G. Calvin Sharpe, Director
405.552.2413
gcsharpe@phillipsmurrah.com


Oklahoma Top Attorney for Oil and Gas:

Elizabeth K Brown Oklahoma Top Attorney Oil and Gas

Elizabeth K. Brown, Director
405.552.2423
ekbrown@phillipsmurrah.com


Oklahoma Top Attorney for Real Estate:

Sally A. Hasenfratz Oklahoma Top Attorney Real Estate

Sally A. Hasenfratz, Director
405.552.2431
sahasenfratz@phillipsmurrah.com


Oklahoma Top Attorney for Tax Law:

Robert O. O'Bannon Oklahoma Top Attorney Business Law

Robert O. O’Bannon, Director
405.552.2483
roobannon@phillipsmurrah.com

 

Dawn M. Rahme Oklahoma Top Attorney Tax Law

Dawn M. Rahme, Director
405.606.4770
dmrahme@phillipsmurrah.com

 

View the full list of attorneys here:

Phillips Murrah sponsors OU Law’s 2020 Best Brief Award

Eight first-year law students at the University of Oklahoma received awards for their prowess in writing legal briefs through Phillips Murrah’s ongoing sponsorship of the Best Brief Award.

OU law best brief 2020

Three recipients of OU Law’s 2020 Best Brief Award: Jordan Stroh, Jen Mook, and Trae Havens

“We appreciate Phillips Murrah for their unwavering support for the OU College of Law,” said Interim Dean Katheleen Guzman.  “The Phillips Murrah Best Brief Awards illustrate their commitment to helping us fulfill our mission:  educating the next great generation of lawyers and leaders to serve our community.

“That our students continue to excel in the classroom and the courtroom is directly attributable to extraordinary partners like Phillips Murrah, and we are truly grateful.”

$500 First Place and $250 Second Place prizes were awarded to students in each of the four sections of the 1L Class.

“I’m beyond grateful to this firm for the award money they gifted me and for recognizing me for my writing skills I have developed through my time thus far at OU Law,” said Jordan Stroh, First Place recipient.

Though awards are typically given during an awards luncheon, this year’s ceremony was hosted via a Zoom video conference on April 16.

“I am so appreciative of winning the Phillips Murrah Best Brief Writing Award during my first year of law school,” said Jen Mook, Second Place recipient. “Being a strong legal advocate requires many skills; however, none may be as useful as effective persuasive writing.

”I am grateful that Phillips Murrah recognizes this by awarding students for our writing efforts early in our law schools careers.”

Awards are given to top appellate briefs following judging from the 1L Moot Court Competition.

“I’m incredibly grateful for Phillips Murrah and their dedication to lifting up the next generation of legal professionals,” said Trae Havens, First Place recipient. “It’s a unique honor to receive the Phillips Murrah Best Brief Writing Award!

“I’m working hard to improve my legal research and writing skills, always taking inspiration from the amazing attorneys at Phillips Murrah.”

Read More: Phillips Murrah sponsors 2019 Best Brief Award

CARES Act and independent contractors – How businesses can mitigate risk related to CARES Act unemployment claims

By Phillips Murrah Attorney Martin J. Lopez III 

Below is an expanded version of a Gavel to Gavel column that appeared in The Journal Record on May 14, 2019.

attorney Martin J Lopez III

Martin J. Lopez III is a litigation attorney who represents individuals and both privately-held and public companies in a wide range of civil litigation matters.

Businesses should identify and mitigate risk related to CARES Act independent contractor unemployment claims

In response to the COVID-19 national emergency, Congress has taken the extraordinary measure to allow independent contractors, gig-workers, and self-employed individuals access to unemployment insurance benefits for which they are generally ineligible. This article is geared towards businesses that regularly use independent contractors who may file claims for unemployment insurance benefits—discussing the risks involved and how businesses can mitigate those risks.

Background Regarding Relevant CARES Act Provisions

On March 27, 2020 President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”). Among other provisions, the CARES Act significantly expands the availability of unemployment insurance benefits to include workers affected by the COVID-19 national public health emergency who would not otherwise qualify for such benefits—including independent contractors. This increased accessibility to unemployment insurance benefits theoretically provides an avenue for a state unemployment agency to find an independent contractor applicant to be an employee. Such a finding introduces the risk of the state unemployment agency assessing unpaid employment and payroll taxes for those a business previously treated as independent contractors. Tangentially, such a finding could serve to establish or bolster independent contractors’ claims in wage and hour litigation.

To qualify as a “covered individual” under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (“PUA”) provisions of the CARES Act, a self-employed individual must self-certify that she is self-employed, is seeking part-time employment, and does not have sufficient work history or otherwise would not qualify for unemployment benefits under another state unemployment program. Further, the self-employed individual must certify that she is otherwise able to work and is available for work within the meaning of applicable state law, but is “unemployed, partially unemployed or unable or unavailable to work” because of one of the following COVID-19 related reasons:

  • The individual has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
  • A member of the individual’s household has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • The individual is providing care for a family member or member of the individual’s household who has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • A child or other person in the household for which the individual has primary caregiving responsibility is unable to attend school or another facility that is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency and such school or facility care is required for the individual to work;
  • The individual is unable to reach the place of employment because of a quarantine imposed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency;
  • The individual is unable to reach the place of employment because the individual has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19;
  • The individual was scheduled to commence employment and does not have a job as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency;
  • The individual has become the breadwinner or major support for a household has died as a direct result of COVID-19;
  • The individual has to quit his or her job as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency;
  • The individual’s place of employment is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.

If the individual meets the above criterion, she is a “covered individual” and is eligible for unemployment assistance authorized by the PUA provisions of the CARES Act. Such assistance was available beginning January 27, 2020 and provides for up to thirty-nine (39) weeks of unemployment benefits extending through December 31, 2020. Covered individuals’ unemployment benefits are calculated state-by-state, according to each state’s conventional unemployment compensation system. In addition, under the PUA provisions of the CARES Act, covered individuals may receive an additional $600 for each week of unemployment until July 31, 2020.

What Businesses Can Do to Protect Themselves

To counteract the risks discussed above, I recommend a business implement the following best practices when responding to a claim of unemployment by an independent contractor:

  • respond proactively to unemployment claim notices for independent contractors;
  • state clearly in the response that the relevant individual-claimants were independent contractors and not employees of the business;
  • affirmatively state that each independent contractor claimant was an independent contractor to whom the business occasionally (or routinely) provided work, but that it is unable to provide the same volume (or any) work to the individual at present because of the COVID-19 national emergency;
  • specify in the response that the individual’s eligibility for unemployment benefits must be entirely predicated on the PUA provisions of the CARES Act allowing for independent contractor participation in the program; and
  • provide the claimant’s independent contractor agreement to the state unemployment agency.

In providing this information and documentation to the state unemployment agency, the business will be able to demonstrate its independent contractor relationship with the individual. Together with the fact that these individuals’ eligibility to receive unemployment income rests exclusively on relevant CARES Act provisions, the business should be well-positioned to avoid the typical risks that can result from a successful unemployment claim by an independent contractor.

Martin J. Lopez III is an attorney at the law firm of Phillips Murrah.


Phillips Murrah’s attorneys continue to monitor developments to provide up-to-date advice to our clients during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Keep up with our ongoing COVID-19 resources, guidance and updates at our RESOURCE CENTER.

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Edwards named OCU Law’s Distinguished Practitioner for Fall semester

Nicholle Jones Edwards attorneyt

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.

Oklahoma City University School of Law recently named Director Nikki Edwards the Distinguished Practitioner in Residence for the upcoming Fall semester.

“The role of Distinguished Practitioner in Residence is an exciting opportunity to interact with the students in a meaningful, interactive way, as opposed to a lecture format,” Edwards said. “I’m most looking forward to being able to play a small role in the exciting futures of our future lawyers.”

Edwards will be the third person and first female to hold the position, Jim Roth, OCU School of Law Dean and Phillips Murrah Director said.

“We at OCU School of Law are thrilled to host Nikki Edwards as our Distinguished Practitioner in Residence for the upcoming Academic Year ‘20-‘21 where she will lead our lucky students through a Litigation Practicum covering all issues from A to Z,” Roth said. “As our first female lawyer in this role, it’s an extra special way to highlight not only her wonderful skills, but to bring attention to the under-representation of women in litigation practices.

“We have tremendous faith that Nikki will educate and inspire men and women to become great practitioners for their clients and the profession.”

Highlighting the Firm’s focus on gender equity in law firm leadership, Edwards hopes her role can bring more visibility to women in the legal field.

“I am honored to be the first female to serve as Distinguished Practitioner In Residence,” Edwards said. “Today more than 50 percent of law students are women, yet a very small percentage of trial lawyers are female.

“I would love my students to realize that women can be strong, effective, trial lawyers, and the courtroom is not only a place for men. A big part of my life’s work is supporting other women as a mentor, friend and colleague. As a shareholder of Phillips Murrah P.C., our firm has a much larger percentage of female shareholders than the state and national average, which is something I am very proud of. I think the future should and will have more female litigators, and that is why being chosen by Dean Roth and OCU Law for this position is such a high honor.”

Enrollment for the course is now open. Learn more at OCU School of Law’s website.

“I hope students learn to love the practice of law and not just the substantive case law found in various subjects,” she said. “A significant takeaway will be that as lawyers in litigation we have the ability to really change lives and that the students realize how important our representation is to our clients, the public and the judiciary.

“Importantly, litigation and trial work can be extremely exhilarating and exciting, but also very frightening for new lawyers, so I hope each student feels a basic comfort level with the process at the conclusion of the class.”

Click here to learn more about Nikki’s practice.

Firm selects Employee of the Month for March 2020

donna anderson eotm

Donna Anderson

Donna Anderson, Legal Assistant, is Phillips Murrah’s Employee of the Month for March 2020.

“It is an honor to be nominated as Employee of the Month,” Donna said. “I am extremely grateful and blessed to be a part of this loving work family!”

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

“Donna is more than just a legal assistant to me, she feels like family,” Attorney Molly E. Tipton said. “She is reliable, diligent, positive and very smart.”

The Firm makes a donation to the winner’s charity of choice, and Donna chose National Kidney Foundation.

To learn more about National Kidney Foundation, click here.

 

Read more: Firm selects Employee of the Month for February 2020


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

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SBA disaster loan summary

Gavel to Gavel appears in The Journal Record. This column was originally published in The Journal Record on April 2, 2020.

This Gavel to Gavel column is a summary of our full-length Q&A on Small Business Administration (SBA) loan programs.


By Phillips Murrah Director Alison J. Cross and Attorney Kara K. Laster

Phillips Murrah Attorney Kara K. Laster and Director Alison J. Cross

On March 27, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which expanded two Small Business Administration loan programs – the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program.

Small business owners, in particular, are anxious to receive relief under the historic act. Below is a summary of highlights of these two expanded lending programs:

• PPP loans: Eligible businesses may use PPP loans for payroll costs, health care, interest on mortgage payments, rent, utilities, and interest on any other debt. Eligibility requires that applicants had no more than 500 employees per physical location, were operational prior to Feb. 15, had employees on payroll, and paid wages and payroll taxes. They may receive the lesser of 2.5 times the average monthly payroll costs during the prior year or $10 million.

The dates to begin applying are small businesses and sole proprietorships on April 3 and independent contractors and self-employed individuals on April 10. The application deadline is June 30, but businesses should apply as soon as possible because there is a funding cap.

Businesses need to submit a PPP loan application along with payroll documentation to an approved lender. Businesses must certify that they suffered substantial economic injury from COVID-19 and that funds will be used to retain workers and maintain payroll, or make mortgage payments, lease payments, and utility payments.

• EIDL loans: Eligible businesses may use EIDL loans for working capital and they can be up to $2 million with interest rates of 3.75% for small businesses and 2.75% for nonprofits. Loan amounts are based on actual economic injury. Eligibility requires that applicants had no more than 500 employees in existence as of Jan. 31 and that they suffered substantial economic injury from COVID-19.

Additionally, if the loan is made before Dec. 31 and is $200,000 or less, there is no guarantee requirement. Applications should be submitted directly to the SBA, which can be found on its website.

There are numerous additional stipulations and details related to these two small business disaster loans that cannot fit onto this column format, including loan forgiveness criteria, amount determination and approved lenders. Applicants should consider discussing their application with legal representation.

Phillips Murrah attorneys Kara K. Laster and Alison J. Cross contributed to this column.

Michele C. Spillman joins Phillips Murrah Dallas office

Michele C. Spillman

OKLAHOMA CITY (March 23, 2020) – Phillips Murrah P.C. is pleased to announce Michele C. Spillman has joined the Firm in its Dallas-based office as an Of Counsel attorney. Her addition to the Firm brings the number of Phillips Murrah attorneys serving the Texas market to fourteen.

With a background in both labor and employment law and commercial litigation, Michele represents employers in a wide variety of industries and provides advice and counsel on federal and state employment laws regarding discrimination, harassment, retaliation, medical leave requests and accommodations, and wage and hour issues.

Michele also assists employers with human resources matters, including employment policies, handbooks, severance agreements, non-competition matters, and internal investigations into alleged violations of various employment laws.

Michele is a member of the Texas Bar Association, the Dallas Bar Association, and Attorneys Serving the Community.


CONTACT:

Phillips Murrah – Dallas Office:
3710 Rawlins Street, Suite 1420
Dallas, Texas 75219

Direct: (214) 615-6365
Fax: (214) 434-1370

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Firm selects Employee of the Month for February 2020

eotm Abby Tompkins

Abby Tompkins

Abby Tompkins, Legal Assistant, is Phillips Murrah’s Employee of the Month for February 2020.

“It is a privilege to work with such a great group of people and for them to recognize me as Employee of the Month is an honor,” Abby said.

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

“I am thrilled that Abby was recognized as Employee of the Month,” Director Sally A. Hasenfratz said. “Those who work with her closely know that she is a hard worker, she has her head in the game and helps spot issues, she has a keen willingness to learn new things and she is poised and great with clients. A well-deserved honor!”

The Firm recently began making a donation to the winner’s charity of choice, and Abby chose Focus on Home.

To learn more about Focus on Home, click here.


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

 
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