OU Law to Honor Outstanding Alumni at Order of the Owl Hall of Fame Ceremony

February 7, 2024

NORMAN, OKLA. — The University of Oklahoma College of Law will honor five outstanding alumni at its annual Order of the Owl Hall of Fame ceremony Thursday, Feb. 22, at the Molly Shi Boren Ballroom in the Oklahoma Memorial Union on the OU Norman campus. The Order of the Owl recognizes OU Law graduates who demonstrate leadership and service through outstanding accomplishments in their legal careers.

This year’s Order of the Owl honorees are:

  • Jari Askins, lieutenant governor of the state of Oklahoma,
  • Melvin Hall, executive director, Oklahoma Human Rights Commission
  • Terence Kern, chief judge for the Northern District of Oklahoma
  • Clark Musser, oil and gas attorney and recipient of the Eugene Kuntz Award
  • Natalie Shirley, chair of the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents  

 

Reagan Bradford, partner in the firm of Bradford and Wilson, will also be honored with the Order of the Parliamentarian recognizing more recent OU Law graduates for distinguished accomplishments in the first 20 years of their legal career.

Since its inception in 2011, the Order of the Owl has inducted 37 deserving OU Law alumni.

“This year continues the law school’s tradition of honoring several of its most respected alumni,” said Katheleen Guzman, dean of the OU College of Law. “Our honorees embody OU Law’s mission: to educate lawyers and leaders whose lives change ours for the better. We could not be more proud of the varied ways in which their work has had a profoundly positive impact for our state, our nation and our profession, and we look forward to celebrating them in February”

Jari Askins (’80)

Born and reared in Duncan, Oklahoma, Jari Askins has served the people of Oklahoma for more than 40 years in a variety of roles ranging from judge to legislator to lieutenant governor.

Askins was elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives in 1994 from District 50 and completed her term limit of 12 years serving her constituents of Stephens, Comanche and Cotton counties. During her last term, she became the first woman to lead a caucus in the Oklahoma Legislature when she was elected Democratic House Leader.

She won statewide election as lieutenant governor in 2006 and served in that role until 2011. When she was sworn in as Oklahoma's 15th lieutenant governor in 2007, she achieved the rare distinction of being involved in public service in all three branches of state government.

She served as special judge for the District Court of Stephens County from 1982-1990 and was the first woman to serve as an officer in the Oklahoma Judicial Conference. She currently serves as administrative director of the courts where, under the supervision of the chief justice and the Oklahoma Supreme Court, she coordinates judicial operations and personnel throughout the state.  She is the first woman to serve as administrative director of the courts in Oklahoma.

Melvin Hall (’81)

After an eight-year public service career with the Cleveland County District Attorney’s Office (1980-1983) and as executive director of the Oklahoma Human Rights Commission (1983-1987), Hall joined the Riggs, Abney, Neal, Turpen, Orbison & Lewis law firm on Jan. 1, 1988.

Hall has focused his practice on civil litigation of matters relating to employment law, business and commercial law, and civil rights law.

In addition to his law practice, Hall is a nationally sought-after speaker and lecturer on employment law and civil rights issues.

He is currently an adjunct professor at OU, teaching classes on employment law and the civil rights movement. He presented at the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education conference in New Orleans in 2018.

Hall has served on numerous boards and commissions, including a seven-year term as an OU Regent from 1992 through 1999. Currently, he serves on the LegalShield Board of Directors and the Arvest Bank Board of Directors. At OU, he serves on the Executive Committee of the Southwest Center for Human Relations Studies, the Women’s and Gender Studies Board of Advocates, and OU Law’s Board of Visitors and Oklahoma Innocence Project Advisory Board.

Terence Kern (’69)

A native of Clinton, Oklahoma, Kern’s list of accomplishments is long and impressive. He received his bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma State University, his juris doctorate from OU in 1969 and his Master of Laws degree from the University of Virginia in 2004.

Kern took on the role of general attorney of the Federal Trade Commission from 1969 to 1970 and also served in the Oklahoma Army National Guard from 1969-1970 and U.S. Army Reserves from 1969-1975. 

In 1994, Kern was nominated by then-President Bill Clinton to assume a seat on the District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma. In 1996, he became chief judge and served in that capacity until 2003. He attained Senior Status in 2010 and this year was honored with the Federal Bar Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Kern’s list of honors and awards includes being named Judge of the Year by the Oklahoma Gang Investigators Association in 2007, by the Oklahoma Association for Justice in 2014 and by the American Board of Trial Advocates in 2020.

Clark Musser (’70)

With more than three dozen publications to his credit, not to mention the numerous opportunities to lecture as an expert in the field of oil and gas law, Musser has been a leader in the field for many years.

A 1970 OU graduate, Musser has held numerous positions with the Oklahoma Bar Association, including as chair of the OBA Ethic Committee and of the Mentoring Committee and member of the Diversity Committee and Law Schools Committee. As a member of the Oklahoma County Bar Association, he has served as president (1997-1998) and director (1992-1995).

In 1993, he received the Oklahoma County Bar Association’s Outstanding Service Award. In 1996, he was one of the first recipients of the prestigious Eugene Kuntz Award for leadership in natural resources law and policy. He has also been instrumental in the planning of the annual conference at OU, which has become hailed as one of the world’s largest and most influential for oil, gas and energy law.

His professional career has included service with the Judge Advocate General Corps, where he served as an Air Force captain from 1970 to 1974.

Natalie Shirley (’82)

An Oklahoma native, Shirley currently serves chair of the OU Board of Regents and co-chair of the United Way of Central Oklahoma Annual Fund.

In January 2018, Shirley was selected as the first female president and CEO of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. Prior to that, she concurrently served as president of Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City and as Gov. Fallin’s secretary of Education and Workforce Development. Serving as the secretary from 2015-2018, Shirley helped implement the Oklahoma Works program, designed to increase educational attainment for Oklahomans to produce a more educated workforce to support and cultivate the state’s economy.

From 2007-2011, Shirley served in Gov. Brad Henry’s cabinet as Oklahoma Secretary of Commerce and Tourism, where she was responsible for the Workforce department and was the liaison between the governor and five major state agencies and more than 30 small agencies, authorities and institutions. During this time, she also served as executive director of the Department of Commerce, the state’s leading economic development agency.

Reagan Bradford (’08)

Bradford began his practice at Crowe & Dunlevy, where he honed his litigation skills and learned the ins and outs of corporate defense. From there he moved in-house to Chesapeake Energy Corp., where he ultimately served as deputy general counsel and assistant corporate secretary.

Bradford then left the corporate world to join forces with famed trial lawyer Mark Lanier. He opened the Oklahoma City office of The Lanier Law Firm in 2016, and, from 2016 to 2020, originated and handled a host of complex litigation matters, resulting in over $300 million in client recoveries while serving as managing attorney of the Lanier law firm’s Oklahoma City office.

Bradford then launched a new venture with his law partner, Ryan Wilson. Since opening Bradford & Wilson in 2020, the firm has recovered over $250 million for its clients, primarily royalty owners. Bradford has been appointed as lead counsel in over 25 oil-and-gas class actions and serves on the board of directors and executive committee of the National Association of Royalty Owners.

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