Thursday, January 24, 2019
The Oklahoma Supreme Court has granted reinstatement to a petitioner who teaches law
On April 4, 2018, the Petitioner, Carol Rose Goforth, filed her Petition for Reinstatement requesting she be readmitted as a member of the Oklahoma Bar Association (OBA) pursuant to Rule 11, Rules Governing Disciplinary Proceedings, 5 O.S. 2011, Ch. 1, App. 1-A (RGDP). The record reflects the Petitioner graduated from the University of Arkansas School of Law in 1984 and was admitted to practice law in Oklahoma on October 18, 1984. She resided in Tulsa, Oklahoma where she worked for the law firm Doerner, Stuart, Saunders, Daniel and Anderson from October 18, 1984, through May 1, 1989. On May 15, 1989, she moved to Newark, New Jersey to accept a full-time teaching position at Seton Hall School of Law. She remained there until the summer of 1993 when she moved to West Fork, Arkansas to accept a full-time teaching position at the University Of Arkansas School Of Law in Fayetteville. She is currently a University Professor and teaches a range of business law, and practical transactional skills classes with a focus on corporations, unincorporated entities, securities regulation and transactional practice skills. The record indicates she has not been licensed to practice law in any other state.
On July 19, 1990, Petitioner was suspended from membership in the OBA for failure to pay membership dues for the year 1990. One year later, this Court ordered her name stricken from the OBA membership rolls. After filing her petition the Professional Responsibility Tribunal (PRT) held a hearing pursuant to Rule 6, RGDP. The Petitioner testified she regretted letting her bar license lapse but her career has been focused solely on teaching and she was even discouraged from retaining her license. She explained the law school faculty was divided between the higher paid doctrinal course teachers and the licensed, sometimes adjunct teachers, who were regarded as clinical or practical teachers. She was encouraged not to be regarded as a clinical or practical teacher and therefore she let her license lapse. At the time, there was no benefit in keeping her law license and it appeared even detrimental to her career. She also testified that she relied upon the letter sent to her on September 12, 1991, from the OBA. The letter notified her that her name had been stricken from the roll of attorneys. The last paragraph of the letter also stated the letter may be disregarded if she had no intention to practice law in Oklahoma in the future.
The legal academy is elitist and disdains practical experience as a teaching tool?
But a light can go on.
The Petitioner's educational philosophy has changed over the years. She now believes there is a real need to provide law students with transactional skills training. Her ultimate goal is to expand the legal education at the University of Arkansas School of Law. She intends to initiate a supervised law clinic for upper-level law students interested in working with entrepreneurial clients. This will likely include accepting pro bono clients in the state of Arkansas. She will need to be licensed in Arkansas in order to reach this goal. After reinstatement of her Oklahoma license she will pursue her Arkansas license through reciprocity. Her goal is not to practice law in Oklahoma nor will she practice law in Arkansas for profit. Any clients taken will be on a pro bono basis in an academic setting. Her desire for reinstatement lies purely with helping her students develop transactional skills to enhance their education.
The Professional Responsibility Tribunal supported the petition.
The Petitioner has complied with the rule-mandated requirements for reinstatement. We hold the Petitioner has met her burden of proof and established by clear and convincing evidence her eligibility for reinstatement without examination. Within thirty days of the date of this opinion Petitioner shall pay the costs incurred in this proceeding in the amount of two hundred and thirty-two dollars and ninety-three cents ($232.93) as required by Rule 11.1 (c), RGDP. She shall also be required to pay the current year's (2019) OBA membership dues. Upon payment of the costs assessed and her 2019 membership dues, the Petitioner shall be reinstated to membership in the Oklahoma Bar Association and her name shall be added to the roll of attorneys. Following reinstatement she shall complete mandatory continuing legal education in the same manner as other members of the bar.