Job may, may not be enviable

Travis Pickens has a job that attorneys might envy — then again, maybe not.
The Oklahoma Bar Association Ethics Counsel is charged with giving advice to other attorneys who might have committed a violation.
Pickens, who started as ethics counsel on August 3, succeeds Gina Henrdrix who was named OBA General Counsel.
While Pickens’ role might sound like a dream job, it is one that requires serious attention to detail and to the plea for help from an attorney that feels they might have made a mistake.
‘‘I give the best advice that I possibly can on ethics issues,’’ he said. ‘‘I am the counterpart to the general counsel who must take action against attorneys for professional and ethical violations of conduct. I meet the ethical question on the front end before it becomes an issue that could result suspension or disbarment.
‘‘Gina did a great job and I hope to continue her valuable service to the OBA on ethics issues.’’
Pickens said he guides attorneys through established rules of professional conduct in an effort to resolve difficulties.
The new ethics counsel earned his juris doctorate from the University of Oklahoma College of Law in 1984 and initially was in practice with Musser and Bunch in Oklahoma City. Then he was an associate with Mitchell, Klein, Pickens and Peck before becoming a solo practitioner.
‘‘My work generally has been focused on oil and gas law and general civil litigation,’’ he said. There also was some work in family law.
He was drawn to the OBA job because of more than 22 years private practice experience as well as teaching and writing on ethics issues.
And he just wanted to help.
‘‘I like lawyers and working with lawyers,’’ Pickens said. ‘‘I want to try to help when there are problems. I really believe that lawyers want to do the right thing involving rules of professional conduct.’’
Lawyers, despite best efforts, can make mistakes under the pressures of daily practice, he said.
The body of law is a guide and it is helpful to have someone able to think about issues and then help attorneys make good decisions.
John Morris Williams, OBA executive director, said the organization is fortunate to have someone of Pickens’ caliber to fill the position.

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