Early test suggests career path

When Ron Main was in the sixth grade a career test pointed him in one of three directions, salesman, minister or lawyer.
Years later, Main found that test paper after he had completed the University of Tulsa College of Law in 1964, quite some time after he had started his practice.
Even today he cannot fully explain why he chose the legal profession as a career, but feels that everything has fit together well throughout his 43 years in practice.
‘‘I also had the idea in choosing a career that I wanted to do something good for people,’’ he said. ‘‘I found those test results ‘interesting.’’’
Main unknowingly found himself working towards that goal of helping other — and his profession — when he went to work with a small law firm after graduation. Those were the days when a young lawyer would be assigned to any legal case the firm might be handling.
Other long-time attorneys urged the 1958 Central High School graduate to ‘‘get involved’’ and get to know his peers.
He also would teach as an adjunct professor at his alma mater and would be a lecturer at the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma City University Colleges of Law.
The Vietnam War was raging and Main joined the Army Reserve to meet his military obligation. At 26 years old, he found himself as a ‘‘slick sleeve private’’ undergoing basic training at Ft. Polk, La.
‘‘I was one of the older soldiers going through training at that time,’’ he recalled. Another friend joined the Navy and after completing basic, Main applied to and was accepted in the Naval Reserve. Immediately, because of his law degree, he was commissioned.
His friend, who had gone through Officer Candidate School, would serve off the Vietnam coast.
During summer camp, Main requested that he be assigned to the same station as his friend and upon arrival, found he outranked him.
Completing a six year stint in the reserves, Main settled into his legal practice, this time with a larger firm.
He grinned as he recalled those days when, after hours, the politically active lawyers would receive calls from national leaders including Barry Goldwater and Richard Nixon.
While working with Gerald Klein and his firm, Main learned about the importance of being involved in the Tulsa County Bar Association, then a loose-knit predominantly male organization.
Klein, one of the founders of the American Bar Association Foundation had been stressing the need to be involved with peers.
‘‘I quickly understood the advantage of this type of involvement,’’ he continued.
It was one of the most important lessons he would learn early in his career.
While working with Klein and his firm, Main was assigned a desk in the law library. The firm had the largest private law library in the state at that time. West Publishing also had an office there.
That setting would provide instructions that went far beyond law school.
Main looked up from his desk one day and saw a federal judge in the library researching a point of law. Attorneys would come to the library to do research and study the law.
Main listened intently as these men discussed various issues, learning not only an in-depth study of the law, but also the importance of always associating with good people.
That experience would be invaluable as other attorneys would seek Main out, asking him to assist with research and filing papers at the courthouse. The trek to the courthouse would keep him in touch with other law students serving as bailiffs, minute clerks and in other positions. Those continued contacts would build a camaraderie that continues to this day.
Main also was involved with the Tulsa County Bar Association and in 1970 was named to the board of directors. At that time, the TCBA would move from location to location, depending upon where free space could be found. But the board also wanted to find a permanent location and set down specifications. The basic charge to the search committee was that it had to be large enough for functions and a staff.
At that time, directors would meet at the Tulsa Club for dinner and cocktails with each person paying his tab. Once or twice a year they would hear a building committee report — usually that they couldn’t find one.
It was in the early 1980s that Main, Barry Epperson, outgoing TCBA president, and Lois McIlroy, executive director, stood outside a building at East 15th St. and South Boston.
Main, looking at the facility that had fulfilled several purposes, including a drug store and a carpet store, realized this was the closest building possible to meet the requirements set down more than a decade earlier for a Tulsa County Bar Association facility.
Not only did it meet the initial space requirements, two additional floors could be added — if needed. He doubts that the additional space will be added in the foreseeable future.
Epperson told Main that if he felt the building was suitable, they needed to act.
He did.
Main went home, talked to his wife Shari, and then bought the building, writing a check for the down payment.
‘‘I was tired of hearing about the lack of success the building committee was having,’’ he said. The board of directors agreed to the building purchase.
It was after the purchase that it was discovered the Tulsa County Bar Foundation had all the money and there was no Tulsa County Bar Association.
‘‘I formed the Tulsa County Bar Association Inc. and had two corporations, a foundation and an association,’’ Main continued. It wasn’t an entirely happy situation. There were several confrontational meetings and some board resignations.
Issues centered on raising dues and some didn’t see the need for a building.
Today, those opponents support the TCBA.
A major remodeling project on the building and purchase of additional land for a parking lot has transformed the area, making those confrontational days a memory of only a few people.
There also was a need to justify their existence and Main led educational programs open to the public. Topics included discussions about wills, probate, divorce and child support.
When Republic Bank failed, a bankruptcy judge designated the bar center as a location for the court where people could file documents reflecting losses. The place was packed at all meetings.
While active with the TCBA, Main also devotes time to the Oklahoma Bar Association, currently serving on the Professional Responsibility Commission.
This group is partially responsible for hiring the general counsel and staff to investigate complaints against attorneys.
Today he serves as general counsel on the Oklahoma Bar Association Tribunal.
He recently spent time on a hearing involving an attorney and will return to Oklahoma City to hear additional testimony.
Once that investigation is complete, the report and recommendation is prepared for the Oklahoma State Supreme Court for action.
The public perception of an attorney, whether good, bad or indifferent is seen in these investigations, he said.
Attorneys have made incredible mistakes in their practice and some are unbelievable, Main said, adding that the commission experience has helped him keep his attorney skills sharp and stay out of trouble.
Main has been a solo practitioner for many years grinned as he recalled the ‘‘liquor by the drink (wink)’’ years. One day he received a call from different restaurants and clubs saying ‘‘they had been busted.’’
After about the fourth call, he was able to talk to one of the policemen making the raids.
He learned that it was the officer’s last day on the vice squad and he was just saying ‘‘goodbye’’ to friends.
Other responsibilities included serving first as assistant editor, then editor of the Oklahoma Bar Journal, a weekly publication going to attorneys. He did that for 10 years.
Despite the extra curricular activities, Main keeps up a practice in civil work.
And he constantly is involved in something.
That something is Youth Services of Tulsa and Hospice of Green Country. In addition he serves on the Oklahoma Attorneys Mutual Insurance Company board — a malpractice insurance group for attorneys.
Career high points include getting the building for the TCBA and the 10 years on the foundation that helped see through the remodeling project.
Those efforts has provided the ability to have Continuing Legal Education programs for attorneys as well as having space available for other organizations to meet.
Main has high praise for the support he received from his parents and his brother, also an attorney.
Most of all, he appreciates his wife Shari who said ‘‘sure’’ when he approached her with the idea of buying the building that became the headquarters for the Tulsa County Bar Association.
Even though Shari wants him to slow down a bit, urging him to come home a just a little earlier, Main wonders what he would do … except get in her way, adding, ‘‘I’m still a hard charger.’’



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