Missing packet contains surprise

Jack L. Brown’s packet had a section missing during a recent Oklahoma Board of Governors meeting.
He wondered about it for just a moment, then went on with the business facing the board.
When it was time for the board to vote on the 2009 OBA honorees he found out why that section was missing.
It was then he learned that he had been named by the OBA Awards Committee to receive the association’s Neil E. Bogan Professionalism Award.
Brown, surprised and humbled by the nomination, recused himself from voting.
A partner in the Jones Gotcher & Bogan law firm, Brown is the first person in the firm to receive the honor named after the late member of the organization.
During the quarter century since Brown, a Miami native, earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Tulsa College of Law, he has focused on serving clients and the underserved.
This has been done through service to the Tulsa County Bar, Oklahoma Bar and American Bar Associations.
He also has served on various boards including Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma for 25 years and as president from 2006-2008; the Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Authority; the Tulsa Zoo Friends Advisory Board; the Hillcrest Healthcare Foundation Board; Oklahoma Task Force on Volunteerism and Leadership Tulsa.
Completing his undergraduate work at the University of Oklahoma, Brown went to law school with the idea of getting the pseudo PhD degree so he could pursue a career as an administrator in education.
He changed direction while in law school, deciding on the traditional role of a practicing attorney, following in the footsteps of his father and older brother. He has never looked back.
Brown knew Neil E. Bogan and worked with him in his early days as an attorney.
‘‘I wasn’t associated with the firm at that time,’’ he said, ‘‘but Neil and I worked together on various Tulsa County Bar Association and Oklahoma Bar Association functions. Neil had served as TCBA president and was the OBA president at the time of his death in 1990.
Neil’s youngest son Tad is an associate in this firm, Brown said. ‘‘Neil continues to live through Tad who is much like his father and developing into a wonderful young lawyer.’’
Neil structured the tradition that supported firm attorneys participating in the work of helping others.
Bill Jones, senior partner always supported younger attorneys for getting involved with other groups and was very proud of Neil, he said. He (Jones) was devastated after his death. The bar in Tulsa and Oklahoma lost an outstanding lawyer and leader. Scholarships in Neil’s honor were established both at the University of Tulsa College of Law and University of Oklahoma College of Law. Those scholarships continue to this day.
Brown also encourages young lawyers to get actively involved in the various associations.
He gives that advice knowing the personal demands that are placed on anyone really getting involved.
Some can say ‘‘no’’ more easily when the workload gets too heavy, Brown said. ‘‘I haven’t learned that word.’’
Currently he is the OBA Bench and Bar Committee chair. That group has recently completed work on the revised code of judicial conduct currently before the board of governors for approval.
His legal work is a civil practice made up mostly of estate planning and related work as well s complex commercial litigation.
Complex commercial litigation is defined primarily class action defense work involving ERISA claims.
A lawyer works on a varied schedule and there are no eight-hour days, Brown said. He noted that on a recent three-day trip to Washington on ABA business that his day often went well into the night. Even while traveling he worked, either for clients or on various association projects. The ABA committee work focused on judicial independence. It also included a meeting with ABA President Carolyn Lamm.
Brown currently is chair of the ABA Judicial Commission, a position held by an attorney member every six years. Otherwise judges serving on the committee are elected to the chairman’s position.
Locally, Brown serves as the Tulsa County Bar delegate to the Oklahoma Bar House of Delegates as well as the awards committee.
He also is the TCBA nominee to the board of Legal Aid Services, a position he has held for 25 years.
Brown and John Hermes with McAfee & Taft worked together to merge the East and West organizations into a statewide unit several years ago.
‘‘That union has worked and worked well,’’ he said.
Only Dallas Ferguson has served longer on the Legal Aid board, probably 30 years, he said.
Sadly, despite the merger, the organization still is able to reach about 20 percent of the people in Oklahoma needing legal services who are in poverty, Brown said.
‘‘I consider it a privilege to serve on these committees and to give something back to the public,’’ Brown said. ‘‘I found my answer to service through the bar committees working with underprivileged.’’
That extends to members of the legal profession because Brown genuinely likes working with lawyers and judges who are ‘‘some of the finest people in the country.’’
Looking to the future, Brown said he would like to continue serving in some sort of leadership role at the local, state and national levels.
Experiences gained in those positions have had a positive influence as he worked on various projects.
‘‘But I never want to lose site of working for clients,’’ he said. ‘‘Despite all the other committee and pro bono work, they remain first.’’
Brown’s son Bradley Joseph a student at the University of Tulsa College of Law, and daughter Anne, who will graduate from OU in December with a major in broadcast journalism and meteorology, will attend the OBA luncheon to see their father honored.

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