New Lawyer Orientation Unchanged

It was 50 years ago — 1957 — that A.F. ‘Tony’ Ringold received his orientation for his new job as a lawyer.
Claude Rosenstein told the young man his responsibilities included the importance of being thorough in his work, getting the benefit of experienced lawyers in the firm, developing, maintaining collegiality and a professional relationship with colleagues, and being involved in the community, especially in pro bono work.
That might seem like a lot to put on a new attorney’s plate, but it has been a long-time guide for Ringold, a partner in the law firm of Rosenstein, Fist & Ringold.
It also is the charge that has provided a continuous learning curve for an attorney who took on new challenges during his career, even when he felt he didn’t have the experience.
‘‘I worked as a summer clerk for Mr. Rosenstein while I was attending law school at the University of Michigan,’’ he said.
As that summer job ended, he was told that he would have a job with the firm if he wanted it.
The 1949 Central High School graduate was attracted to Michigan when he attended a national music summer camp at Interlochen.
Before graduating from high school, Ringold and David Fist formed a friendship and they would work together in the Tulsa law firm for many years. Fist is now retired.
‘‘I played the piano, but wasn’t good enough to make it a career,’’ he said. ‘‘My trip to that part of the country was wanting to get away from Tulsa and have an emphasis different than what I had here.’’
Attracted to law while growing up in Tulsa, Ringold knew attorneys played an important role in the history of the United States. He felt that it was something he would like to do. That interest continued to be developed in college.
Graduating from law school in 1955, Ringold served in the infantry in the Army for two years before returning to Tulsa.
‘‘I felt fortunate to work with Mr. Rosenstein who graduated from the second law school class at the University of Oklahoma in 1913,’’ he said. ‘‘When I joined this firm, there were only five attorneys. I didn’t have a practice, so I did whatever I was asked to do. I focused on learning the law and felt that for me, it was an exciting period.’’
Early work meant practicing in real estate, collection work, oil and gas law and probate.
Those were the learning years that continue to this day.
An attorney never stops learning because rules change, laws change and become more complicated, he said. Clients and their needs change. The economy changes and that impacts clients.
There always is change, always challenges, Ringold continued. That is why an attorney has to be adaptive to each situation because these change the practice.
For example, he continued, an attorney might find himself thrust into an area of law where he has very little experience.
‘‘That happened to me in the area of corporate bankruptcy reorganization in the early 1970s,’’ he recalled. ‘‘I was appointed to be attorney for the trustee in the HomeStake Production Company reorganization. This was a federal case that involved massive investor fraud perpetrated by the head of the company.’’
Movie stars and other celebrities had been bilked out of money after being convinced to invest in the company. It was a case that would last for 15 years.
Federal Judge Allen E. Barrow appointed Royce Savage as trustee and Ringold as attorney for the trustee.
The Securities and Exchange Commission was investigating because of the many complaints that had been received against the company. Civil and criminal charges had been filed.
HomeStake responded by filing bankruptcy.
The case eventually would be outlined in the book ‘‘Stealing from the Rich’’ by the New York Times correspondent who covered hearings.
There was still another challenge, this one more sensitive that would be impacted by a U.S. Supreme Court decision.
It was in 1973 when Judge Barrow appointed Patrick Malloy Sr. and Ringold as lawyers in the Henrie vs Derryberry lawsuit.
This was an abortion issue and Dr. Henrie had been convicted of performing illegal abortions in Oklahoma.
The physician had been convicted, had his medical license revoked and sent to prison.
After completing his prison term, Henrie filed a civil suit in 1973 challenging the validity of Oklahoma’s abortion law. This occurred at the same time the Roe vs Wade case was being heard before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Ringold and Pat Malloy, Sr. were appointed by Judge Barrow as Dr. Henrie’s attorneys.
The case involved a challenged to the Constitutionality of Oklahoma laws, which required that a three-judge federal court be convened to hear the issue.
‘‘I had no trial practice or experience in this area,’’ Ringold continued. ‘‘Mr. Malloy, an experienced trial lawyer and a practicing Catholic, also felt uncomfortable handling the case. I went to Judge Barrow asking that another attorney with more trial experience and expertise be appointed. I felt that such an attorney would be more effective.’’
Judge Barrow rejected the request, smiling and replying, ‘‘you will learn.’’
Judge Barrow also called Ringold and Malloy into his chambers to advise them they would not be paid since this was an indigent case because Dr. Henrie had no money.
Dr. Henrie was petitioning to have his medical license restored and his conviction expunged.
At the same time, three others, a psychologist, psychometrist and minister petitioned to become part of the case because state law also affected their practice.
In the midst of the trial by the three-judge court, Dr. Henrie died and the petition for reinstatement became moot.
Still, arguments continued on behalf of the three who had petitioned to be part of the litigation.
At the end of arguments, the local court opted to wait for the Supreme Court ruling on Roe vs Wade.
Once that case was decided, the three judges held that the principal Oklahoma’s abortion statute was unconstitutional.
Ringold and Malloy were commended by Judge Barrow for ‘‘volunteering’’ their work on the case.
That was the end of the case as far as Ringold was concerned.
However, one day his secretary rang him telling him Mrs. Henrie was in the lobby wanting to see him.
Mrs. Henrie was carrying a paper sack with bills and change, the total amount about $75.
‘‘Mrs. Henrie presented the money as payment for services, thanking me because she wanted me to know how much she and the family appreciated my help,’’ Ringold said. That was a very meaningful payment.
Still another challenge was working as a volunteer for Legal Services of Oklahoma, Ringold continued. This was a very rewarding service providing challenges outside the routine practice.
Issues involved family law, Social Security and other matters where people needed help.
‘‘I was obligated to learn about these areas and do my best to help the client,’’ he said. ‘‘This helped extend my knowledge of law.’’
One day Ringold was asked to make a presentation to medical personnel about industry business and regulations.
That resulted in a practice representing hospitals and physicians.
‘‘I don’t do malpractice work,’’ he quickly added.
The medical area has become more complicated during the past two decades because of changes in federal law, Ringold said. There also are issues involving doctor-patient relationships that must be addressed.
Part of Ringold’s career included teaching law as an adjunct professor for 20 years at the University of Tulsa College of Law.
Values for young lawyers taught by Claude Rosenstein are as fresh today as they were 50 years ago, he said. The importance of being thorough, having a collegiality with peers and being part of the legal community through service still apply.
In addition, the ability to quickly adjust to situations enhances the learning skills for lawyers, he said.

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