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

Phillips Murrah sponsors OU Law’s 2019 Best Brief Award

Best Brief Award Winners

Attorneys Ashley M. Schovanec and Erika K. Halley presented the Best Brief award to winners in the 1L Class.

The University of Oklahoma’s Competitions and Clinic Awards Luncheon offered first-year law students the chance to compete and show how their studies have paid off on April 18.

“We celebrated the hard work our students have put into our competitions and clinic programs,” said Camal Pennington, Director of Annual Giving at OU College of Law.

Attorneys Erica K. Halley and Ashley M. Schovanec presented the $5,000 Best Brief Award sponsored by Phillips Murrah law firm. The Firm also sponsored the award in 2018. 

“The First Place award is granted to one student from each of the four sections in the 1L Class for best written brief,” Pennington said. “$500 is awarded to each of the First Place winners.

“Phillips Murrah also grants a $250 award to the second place brief for each section.”

OU Law competition teams traveled all over the U.S., from New York City and Albuquerque to Dallas and Washington, D.C. to Denver, San Diego, and Chicago, he said.

“Faculty members, alumni and outside attorneys helped coach these teams,” Pennington said. “For two consecutive years, OU Law has been ranked in the Top 5 in the country for our competitions program.

“OU Law competition teams have won four national championships in the last two years including the 2019 Federal Bar Association Moot Court National Championship.”

Halley and Schovanec are OU College of Law alumni. Halley represents individuals and businesses in a broad range of transactional matters, and Schovanec is a litigation attorney who represents individuals and both privately-held and public companies in a wide range of civil litigation matters.

Click here to learn more about the OU College of Law.

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.

Phillips Murrah sponsors OU Law’s Best Brief Award

Eight 1L students were awarded the Best Brief Award, sponsored by Phillips Murrah, on April 19 at the University of Oklahoma's Competitions and Clinic Awards Luncheon.

Eight 1L students were awarded the Best Brief Award, sponsored by Phillips Murrah, on April 19 at the University of Oklahoma’s Competitions and Clinic Awards Luncheon.

First-year law students in the University of Oklahoma’s College of Law put their studies to the test to compete for the Best Brief Award, sponsored by Phillips Murrah law firm.

“All 1L students at OU Law are required to write an appellate brief in their Legal Writing and Research class, and this brief is later used to argue their case in the 1L Moot Court Competition,” Attorney Kendra M. Norman said.

Following the the 1L Moot Court Competition, top appellate briefs were judged and recognized at The Competitions and Clinic Awards Luncheon on April 19 at Robert S. Kerr Student Lounge on campus.

Norman and Hilary H. Clifton, Phillips Murrah Attorneys and OU Alumnae, represented the Firm in awarding the $5,000 Best Brief Award to the top eight students.

“Writing my first brief took an immense amount of research on the topic as well as meticulous editing and structuring of the brief to maximize the effectiveness and persuasiveness of the legal arguments involved,” Norman said. “It was a new style of writing for me, so I devoted a substantial amount of time to making my brief the very best that I could and learning the intricacies of how to effectively convey legal arguments.”

The $5,000 prize is divided among the winners and is the only OU College of Law writing award with a monetary gift.

“The moot court competition is a very exciting and frequently terrifying right of passage for all first year law students,” Clifton said. “At first, writing the brief seems like an insurmountable task, but it’s such a satisfying feeling to complete your first major piece of legal writing.

“The topics usually involve really interesting topics in Constitutional or criminal law, which is a nice change of pace from the fundamentals you spend most of your time learning as a 1L. My year, the brief was due at noon on St. Patrick’s day, and I remember frantically trying to finish so that I could go celebrate, but I’m pretty sure I spent the rest of the day catching up on sleep instead.”

Norman represents clients in a broad range of transactional matters, and Clifton represents individuals and companies in the Firm’s Litigation Practice Group.

Click here to learn more about the OU College of Law.

Director Kathryn Terry speaks at Alpha Phi 71st Biennial Convention

The emphasis of Kathryn D. Terry’s litigation practice is in the areas of insurance coverage, labor and employment law and civil rights defense.

The emphasis of Kathryn D. Terry’s litigation practice is in the areas of insurance coverage, labor and employment law and civil rights defense.

Director Kathryn D. Terry rejoined her sorority sisters for the Alpha Phi 71st Biennial Convention from June 22-26 in Cleveland, Ohio.

Terry, who serves as President of the board for the Alpha Phi house association at the University of Oklahoma, offered her guidance by speaking to the more than 400 Alpha Phi women from across the country who attended the convention.

“Sorority houses are happening places and face incredibly unique labor, employment and risk management issues,” Terry said. “As a labor and insurance attorney, and President of the house board, my professional life and Alpha Phi meet at a crossroad.

“I provided guidance and worked with Alpha Phi alumnae from all over the country to more effectively meet the needs of our collegiate women by managing labor, employment and wage issues for sorority houses, as well as liability and risk management challenges that the managers and owners of sorority houses encounter as part of their routine – and often not so routine – operations.”

Alpha Phi International is a sisterhood with chapters at 170 college and universities in the United States and Canada.


Phillips Murrah sponsors OU Women and Gender Studies event


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

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

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

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

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

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

Attorney appointed adjunct professor of OCU School of Law

Rodney L. Cook is experienced in all areas of tort litigation with special emphasis in the practice areas of product liability, warranty, insurance and fraternity law.

Rodney L. Cook is experienced in all areas of tort litigation with special emphasis in the practice areas of product liability, warranty, insurance and fraternity law.

Phillips Murrah Attorney Rodney L. Cook has been appointed as an adjunct professor at Oklahoma City University School of Law where he will be teaching Pretrial Litigation this semester.

He continues to serve as an adjunct professor at the University of Oklahoma College of Law where he has taught Civil Pretrial Litigation for ten years.


Phillips Murrah attorneys judge Calvert Moot Court competition

Attorneys Robert Campbell, Cody Cooper, and Kayce Gisinger volunteer to judge OU College of Law’s Calvert Moot Court competition.

Phillips Murrah attorneys Robert Campbell, Cody Cooper, and Kayce Gisinger are flipping the script by judging in the University of Oklahoma College of Law’s Calvert Moot Court competition this week.

During the annual competition, second and third year law students compete as teams against one another in a series of rounds and those with the best records advance to the finals. Each attorney volunteered to act as a judge for preliminary rounds of competition.

“The students did an excellent job and their hard work and preparation definitely showed through their presentation and analysis of complex constitutional issues,” Cooper said. “I really enjoy getting to go back to the school and volunteer to help the law students because it is an opportunity to help students develop and also lets me take an objective look at what presentation methods are persuasive and effective so that I can carry those observations over into my own practice.”

This year the competition revolves around the case of Kansas v. Carr, No. 14-450, pending in the U.S. Supreme Court.  The arguments are centered around the appropriate weight given to mitigating circumstances in a capital sentencing, said Leann Farha, a student at OU College of Law who helped organize the teams for the competition.

“One of the most valuable aspects of a competition is the participation of the judges,” she said. “The judges in each round provide feedback that will not only help students during the competition, but will also impact their future legal careers.”

The prizes are as follows: $500 each for the winning team, $250 each for the first runner-up, and $100 for the best individual speaker, said Mitch McGrew, External Relations Director for the Board of Advocates at OU College of Law.

The final round of the competition will take place at noon on Friday, October 30 in OU’s Bell Courtroom for those interested in attending.

To follow along and get more information about the competition, visit the OU Board of Advocates Facebook page here or follow them on Twitter here.



Phillips Murrah legal assistant overcomes breast cancer and graduates paralegal program


Darci Gregory holds her Legal Assistant Certificate for completing the University of Oklahoma’s Paralegal Program.

It’s never too late to learn something new, and Legal Assistant Darci Gregory embodied that mantra when she decided to further her education.

“After being in the legal field for a couple of years, I decided that I really didn’t know much,” she said. “I started researching paralegal programs and found the perfect match with OU’s Paralegal Program.”

The University of Oklahoma’s College of Law Legal Assistant Education program can be completed in two years by taking three Saturday classes each semester for a total of 23 credit hours.

“It sounded perfect for a full-time employee and mom of three,” Darci said. “So, in August of 2010 I applied and was accepted into the program.”

After getting into the program, a visit with her doctor unveiled an unfortunate diagnosis.

“Just a few short weeks later, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer,” she said. “Knowing that there was no way I was going to be able to take classes, have the necessary surgeries and go through chemotherapy and radiation, I decided to put the whole idea of furthering my education on hold for a while.”

Darci then underwent a series of treatments: two surgeries to remove the cancer from her lymph nodes and breasts, six rounds of chemotherapy, seven weeks of radiation, and subsequent tests to make sure the cancer had been eliminated.

About a year after she was diagnosed, Darci was given a clean bill of health and was ready to get started on her paralegal journey again.

“Little did I know that by going and spending so many Saturdays I would learn as much as I have,” she said. “The program taught me how to use the enormous law library, dissect legal problems and apply the law, learn about contracts in ways I never thought were imaginable and so much more.”

The road was long and drawn out due to scheduling conflicts with classes and the ability to mentally get through the program after having chemotherapy, Darci said.

Despite all of the challenges, she was able to complete the program in five years and celebrated her graduation on August 8.

“Graduating, in general, can mean so many things to different people,” she said. “To me, graduating from this program showed my determination to not only finish what I started, but it was also a reminder of the journey I have taken along the way.”

Darci will celebrate five years being completely cancer free on September 3.