Law School Mourns Death of J. William “Bill” Conger

January 2, 2013

Brook Arbeitman
Director of Marketing and Communications
Oklahoma City University School of Law
(405) 208-6300

(OKLAHOMA CITY – January 2, 2013) – Oklahoma City University School of Law has lost a great teacher, friend and colleague. J. William Conger died at his home on New Year’s Day. He was 67 years old.

Bill, as he was known, had a distinguished legal career spanning more than 40 years. He practiced in a variety of capacities before he and friends Larry Hartzog and Len Cason founded the Oklahoma City firm of Hartzog Conger & Cason, later becoming Hartzog Conger Cason & Neville.  He practiced primarily in the area of business litigation, and his clients’ interests took him all over the world.

In 2003, he became of counsel for the firm and began teaching at the law school where he was a beloved instructor and mentor. Bill taught trial practice, introduction to legal practice, civil procedure and complex litigation and was an inspiration to the future lawyers he enjoyed teaching. He was so cherished by our students that in 2005 he received the professor of the year award, an honor voted on by the students.

“Bill was a force, not only for his clients whom he represented with enthusiasm and passion, but also for the hundreds of students who were fortunate to learn the values of the legal profession from his perspective,” said Oklahoma City University School of Law Dean Valerie K. Couch. “He was a longtime and very dear friend of mine and there are no words to describe his loss to me personally or to our law school that he loved. Bill touched people, and he will be deeply missed.”

At the Oklahoma City University School of Law Awards Gala in November, Bill received the Justice Marian P. Opala Award for Lifetime Achievement in Law. The award bearing Justice Opala’s name is given to an individual deserving accolades for their excellence and overall contributions to the legal community. It was also announced at the Awards Gala that the courtroom at the new law school downtown campus will be named in his honor. The announcement was a surprise to Bill and he was extremely touched by the recognition.

In addition to being the Distinguished Lecturer in Law at the law school, Bill was also the General Counsel Emeritus for the university, having served as the General Counsel for eight years. Bill said recently that the best years of his life have been at Oklahoma City University School of Law.

Among his numerous professional accolades, Bill was a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers, Master Emeritus and Past President of the William J. Holloway Jr. American Inn of Court, received the International Academy of Trial Lawyers Commendation Award in 2005 and he has been listed among the Best Lawyers in American and Oklahoma Super Lawyers. Bill served as Oklahoma Bar Association (OBA) President in 2008, and has received the John E. Shipp Award for Ethics and the OBA President’s Award for Outstanding Service to the Bar.

Some of his other legal activities include serving as a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation and a Trustee and Benefactor Fellow of the Oklahoma Bar Foundation. He also served as the Oklahoma County Bar Association (OCBA) President and spent two terms as a director of the OCBA.

Bill’s memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on Monday, January 7, 2013 at the Bishop W. Angie Smith Chapel on the Oklahoma City University campus. He is survived by his wife, Sherry, their three daughters Christen Conger, Jennifer Bentley and Erin Welch and three grandchildren, Parker and Julianne Bentley and Vivian Welch.

Bill Conger will be greatly missed by everyone at Oklahoma City University School of Law.

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Photo Caption: Bill Conger and Dean Valerie K. Couch are pictured at the Oklahoma City University School of Law Awards Gala 2012 held November 3, 2012.