Attorney Spotlight | Q&A with Lisa Riggs
OPVEON is pleased to feature Lisa Riggs. Lisa Riggs is a managing partner at Riggs, Abney, Neal, Turpen, Orbison & Lewis, with offices in Tulsa, Oklahoma City and Denver. Lisa grew up in Sand Springs. After graduating from Charles Page High School in 1978, Lisa attended OU where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science in 1982, and a Master’s degree in Sociology in 1984. She then moved to Washington, D.C. where she obtained her Law Degree from Georgetown University Law Center in 1987.
Lisa has worked as a civil trial lawyer her entire career, focusing primarily on consumer rights and issues including product liability, medical malpractice, catastrophic injuries and civil rights. She began her career in Washington, D.C. as a litigator and served as a Court Mediator. Lisa was an active member of the D.C. Trial Lawyers Association and served on its Board of Directors. She remained a Partner in her Washington, D.C. firm until 1996 when she moved back home to Oklahoma and joined her father’s law firm, where she became the firm’s first female president. Lisa is an AV Preeminent rated attorney in Legal Ability and Ethical Standards, and has been recognized by Oklahoma Magazine as one of the top women attorneys in Oklahoma. In 2018, Lisa was recognized by the University of Oklahoma as one of their Distinguished Alumni.
Currently, Lisa serves as President of the Sandite Team for Animal Rescue, Chair of the Sand Springs Museum Association, Oklahoma Association for Justice Board member, American Heritage Bank Advisory Board member, and Sutton Avian Research Center Advisory Committee member, and enjoys volunteering with Lawyers Fighting Hunger. She has previously served on the Sand Springs School Board, Sand Springs Education Foundation, Sand Springs America Downtown, The Nature Conservancy Advisory Board, Land Legacy Board and the Legal Aid of Oklahoma Endowment Committee.
Lisa lives in Sand Springs with her husband, Gary Meek, and their five dogs and two cats.
“Lisa embodies what every trial lawyer and advocate should be. She’s empathetic, inquisitive and a zealous advocate. She is a role model in this business. Most important, that is just who she is naturally. I am lucky to call her my friend.” — Frank Frasier | Attorney
Q&A with Lisa Riggs
Q: March is International Women’s Month. As your firm’s first female president, what does International Women’s Month mean to you?
A: There has been a real effort by women to lift up other women, and that is important to me both personally and professionally. I have been fortunate to work with both men and women who have been very supportive of me, but that is not the case for all women. So, I do think women need to work to support, encourage and promote each other at every opportunity, and having a month celebrating women and their achievements is wonderful. We have women in leadership positions here at my firm, and I certainly look forward to the next female president of Riggs Abney!
Q: What inspired you to practice law?
A: Number one, my Dad, who I always envisioned as my own personal Atticus Finch. He served as a juvenile court judge when we were kids, and he was always going the extra mile to help kids and families, even bringing kids home to our house and taking them on vacation with us. I always though how lucky I was to have him as my Dad and to have my Mom who welcomed even more kids into our family in addition to five of their own. And he was always trying to help adults the same way. Then of course, Atticus Finch really was a true inspiration to me, and I think he and my Dad really led me to a career path of working to help everyday people.
Q: Your dad is one of the most well respected and admired attorneys in Tulsa. How has being his daughter influenced your career?
A: Interestingly, I started my career in Washington, D.C. while attending Georgetown Law. I think in some ways that was good for both of us, but I really wanted to practice with him because I knew what a great role model he was generally, and I wanted to benefit from some of that professionally by working alongside him. Seeing his work ethic, his honesty and integrity, and his never wavering respectful interaction with friend and foe alike really impressed upon me the value that comes from that.
Q: What do you consider to be the most rewarding part of your career?
A: Getting to know and help people from all walks of life. Most of my cases involve patients who have been harmed by the medical industry in one way or another — medical malpractice, pharmaceutical injury, medical device mishaps, nursing home malpractice or abuse, with other cases involving defective products or other catastrophic injuries or deaths. I enjoy helping the clients investigate what really happened, and trying to understand how and why it happened. Most cases I review are not cases that I agree to pursue, but I can often provide answers and a sense of closure to families even when I don’t litigate a case for them. I really enjoy the “counselor” side of Attorney and Counselor at Law.
Q: What is a trial preparation tip that you would share with a young attorney trying his/her first case?
A: Preparation, preparation, preparation, and do not hesitate to reach out to other attorneys who handle similar cases. Many attorneys are very willing to discuss cases, issues and strategy with younger lawyers. Being nervous is ok — it shows you care and it’s natural, so do not be consumed by it.
Q: What motivated you to become involved in the Sandite Team for Animal Rescue?
A: I have been an animal lover my whole life. I was always the kid bringing home a stray dog, or turtle, or baby possums. When I moved back to Tulsa I got involved with a group of people working to transport adoptable pets to other states where they had a better chance of adoption. We then got a group of friends together in Sand Springs and set up a 501(c)(3) organization so we could raise funds for veterinary and transport expenses to help more abandoned and neglected pets in our home town. I believe working to reduce the homeless and neglected pets in our neighborhoods improves our community, and really, it just makes me happy.
Q: What is your favorite thing about your involvement in Lawyers Fighting for Hunger?
A: Working to hand out the meals to those in need. I love interacting with those folks, giving them a smile or a hug, trying to let them know that there are strangers in their community who really do care about them, who see them as real neighbors, real people. It helps me keep life in perspective, and to always put myself in the shoes of others.
Q: What is one of your most memorable accomplishments from your volunteer experience?
A: I’m not sure it’s one thing, it’s more the feeling that you are part of a group of people from all walks of life trying to give back in different ways. No question I get back more than I give. As my partner Mike Turpen loves to say, “If you ain’t givin’, you ain’t livin!”
Q: You love to travel. What is your favorite destination you have been to? What did you enjoy about it?
A: Africa, hands down, is my favorite travel destination. It is hard to describe, but it is a life-changing experience to go on safari in Africa, sleep in a tent in the company of all those wild species around you, and interact with the tribes and villages there. The landscape and cultures are so beautiful and different, and again it is a reminder to keep life and its challenges in perspective.
Q: Where is one place you have not traveled to yet but would like to in the future?
A: I really want to go to Egypt. It has such an exotic culture and heritage, and of course the pyramids!