The University of Oklahoma College of Law will honor five outstanding alumni at its annual Order of the Owl Hall of Fame Ceremony, Thursday, March 12. The Order of the Owl recognizes OU Law graduates who demonstrate leadership and service through outstanding accomplishments in their legal careers.
In August 2021, we participated in an internship at the 104 th session of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD). Though the internship usually takes place in...
What led you to OU Law? I have wanted to go to law school since I was a teenager. I was active in speech contests and enjoyed making oral presentations. When I was in high school, I would go downtown and watch some of the trials at the courthouse, so, I got acquainted with the courtroom rather early. I obtained a Navy scholarship to go to OU. I was a regular Navy midshipman then I served three years in the far east before coming back to law school. I wanted to attend law school and came back to OU.
What led you to OU Law? OU Law has been part of my family since the 1920s. My great uncle was Dr. Maurice Merrill, a 1922 graduate of OU Law who then earned a Doctorate in Law from Harvard University in 1925. Merrill taught at OU Law for 30 years, published numerous seminal works in oil and gas law, constitutional law, administrative law and the law of Notice. While still in his twenties, Merrill published the seminal treatise Implied Covenants in Oil and Gas Law, which has been a cornerstone of my cases. In law school, I lived with Uncle Maurice and marveled at his longhand scrawl which was literally final copy in its first draft form. In my mind, he will always be ten times the lawyer that I ever became.
What led you to OU Law? When I was a sophomore in high school in Walters, Oklahoma--a town of about 1500--I was bored in study hall and found a book on occupations and professions. I went through the book and almost by the process of elimination, I came to the profession of lawyer. I wasn’t quite sure what lawyers did, but I knew they didn’t work in the fields the way I grew up, picking cotton and bailing hay. I knew they wore suits, and maybe I had in my mind that the practice of law had some connection to public office. At any rate, from that time, I decided that I wanted to be a lawyer.
What lead you to OU Law? As was permitted at the time, my first year at OU Law in 1956 was as an undergraduate senior at OU. I never questioned where I would go to law school. I was our family’s second generation to go to OU law school. We are now a five-generation family to do so. My dad and his identical twin brother, Ralph, were OU Law graduates, class of 1927. My grandfather, Dr. William Bennett Bizzell, was OU’s 5 th president. OU was a second home to me.
Tell us about starting your career at OU Law. My undergraduate class was in 1952 and I did a combined degree. My senior year in undergraduate school at OU was my first year in law school. I had a two-year military interruption when I was a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps commissioned through the university NROTC program. I served from 1952-54 in the Marine Corp and went to Korea. I came back for my last two years of law school and finished in 1956.