Q&A with Judge Morris –
A Judge’s Perspective
As GableGotwals celebrates its 75th anniversary, we are taking this opportunity to highlight individuals who have contributed to the Firm’s success and who have served in their communities. We spoke with Judge Joseph W. Morris to get a judge’s perspective.
As a former U.S. District Judge and former general counsel of Shell Oil Company and Amerada Petroleum Company, what drew you into private law practice and to GableGotwals?
I had known Ellis Gable for a long time. He invited me and my wife to his 50th wedding anniversary to Frances Martha Gable. He asked me “what are you going to do when you finish your job now.” You see, Shell had a rule that when you got to be 60 years old and you were an officer with the company, you had to retire. I told him I would probably come back to Tulsa. He said come see me. I did and I’ve had the good fortune of being at Gable for the past 35 years. Although I knew of other law firms, Gable had an excellent reputation and I was honored to be invited to join.
What’s the most memorable moment from your law practice?
I love being at the Firm but I also loved being on the bench. My most memorable moment was the requirement as a federal judge to sentence a man who committed a serious crime. The morning of the sentencing came and his wife and young baby were present. It was very difficult for me to send him to prison for the crime of arson. He intentionally burned down a large building and as a result, he spent several years in prison.
What made you become a lawyer?
I never wanted to do anything else but become a lawyer. I grew up on a farm in Rice County, Kansas and my father was a farmer. I attended a one-room country school with two other children. From the time I was thinking of what I wanted to do in life, I knew I wanted to be a lawyer. I’m lucky to have two graduate degrees from the University of Michigan Law School – I have a masters in law and doctorate of science of law. I also attended Washburn University for my undergraduate studies.
How have you seen Gable evolve over the decades?
GableGotwals has always been highly respected in the legal world. The Firm has had numerous and notable cases involving the oil and gas industry and Gable is a law firm whose name is frequently given when important legal matters are at issue.
What do you think the future holds for the Firm?
Gable has always had a strong reputation and I think it has a bright future. We have a young CEO and the Firm’s first female president which will help lead the next generation.