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Hilsher honored with OBA John E. Shipp Award for Ethics

November 5, 2018

Gerald Hilsher, a shareholder and veteran trial lawyer, has been named the 2018 recipient of John E. Shipp Award for Ethics by the Oklahoma Bar Association. The award is given annually to an OBA member who has truly exemplified the ethics of the legal profession by either acting in accordance with the highest standards in the face of pressure to do otherwise, or by serving as a role model for ethics to other lawyers.

Numerous current and former clients and colleagues submitted letters to the OBA in support of Gerald’s nomination.

Included among them was J.W., who wrote that Gerald is a “class act with undisputed integrity” and said that he counted him as a good friend who has helped him turn his life around, despite the fact Gerald was the prosecutor responsible for sending him to prison more than 20 years ago.

“Nowadays, people that see us together and know about our unique relationship ask me how I could be friends with an ex-federal U.S. attorney that put me in federal prison,” said J.W. “Nobody understands this but me. HE SAVED MY LIFE!!! If it had not been for Gerald and his tenacity to get my attention about what life is really all about, I would be dead long ago.”                                                    

There was also the letter from a former colleague who considers Gerald her mentor and friend. In it, she described an incident from many years ago in which opposing counsel had carelessly tossed their deposition notes in the trashcan before walking out of the room. “I asked Mr. Hilsher about the notes and without hesitation, he told me that we would leave them where they were and would not read them,” she said. “I know that was the right decision, but I have remembered to this day being tempted and Mr. Hilsher’s quick decision to do the right things. It set the tone for the rest of my career.”

A client whose Medicaid fraud charges were dismissed for insufficient evidence after two years of battling stated, “Gerald believed in my innocence and continued to work for me long after other lawyers would have capitulated and encouraged their client to make a deal with the prosecutor. Despite concerns over how I would be able to pay him, I felt like proving my innocence was his highest priority.”

Another colleague recounted numerous instances of Gerald’s everyday ethical, compassionate behavior – from helping out an office security guard with stage 4 cancer with her medical bills, spending quality time mentoring young attorneys, raising funds and delivering toys for the firm’s “Christmas for Kids” gift drive, and making it a point to treat everyone he encounters with equal respect.

“Everywhere Gerald goes, he leaves friends in his wake,” said the colleague. “Powerful people in government, clerks in stores, clients, homeless people, colleagues, and the ‘orphans and widows’ he hosts at his home for holiday meals will all attest that he is exactly the person you want as a representative of the legal profession.”