OU Law Alumna Shares Employment Law Experience During the COVID-19 Pandemic

May 1, 2020 | By Rebeka Morales, Event and Communications Coordinator

Paula Williams, OU Law alumna (’11) and employment lawyer at GableGotwals, shares how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted her practice and her clients.

“It’s been tough,” said Williams. “I’m not a healthcare worker, I’m not on those kinds of frontlines, but in many ways I feel like I am on the frontlines with employers making some really tough decisions to try to insulate those businesses so that they can make it through this recession and still have jobs for employees later.”

Williams encourages employers to first check the Department of Labor’s website when looking for answers to their questions.

She also shared a heartfelt message for OU Law’s Class of 2020.

“So, as someone who is experiencing their second recession in my adult life…this is a paragraph in your story,” said Williams. “This is not going to define your story forever. It is the start. It is not the beginning, middle and end…You’re going to look back and tell people what things were like when you were starting to practice during coronavirus.”

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OU Law Conversations: Dean Emeritus Andrew Coats

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.



OU Law Conversations: Robert Barnes

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.


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