Oklahoma’s Turkey-Slinging Trial Lawyers
David Bernstein, Noble McIntyre, and Hugh M. Robert donated meals to those in need in 2011, and haven’t stopped since
Super Lawyers online-exclusive
By Jessica Ogilvie on November 20, 2023
It’s turkey time, and that means folks across the country gearing up to cook their favorite dishes, enjoy some pie, and spend quality time with their family and friends.
But for Oklahoma attorneys David Bernstein, Noble McIntyre, and Hugh M. Robert, it also means it’s time to organize their biggest event of the year: a turkey giveaway and a hot-cooked meal the weekend before Thanksgiving for those in need.
“I started the event in Norman, Noble did it in Oklahoma City, and Hugh did it in Tulsa,” says Bernstein. “We raised money through other lawyers and ourselves to buy turkeys and give them away to the less fortunate.”
The three began their effort in the wake of two of Oklahoma’s largest food bank operations losing funding within two years of one another. The first setback happened in 2009, when the sponsor for a Tulsa food pantry’s Thanksgiving turkey giveaway fell through at the last minute.
According to Bernstein, an email was sent to local attorneys asking for financial help, and the event was saved.
The following year, a different organization took over the work of collecting monetary donations from attorneys, but that company soon went out of business.
That’s when Bernstein, McIntyre, and Robert decided to step in. They founded a new nonprofit, Lawyers Fighting Hunger, in 2011, and began reaching out to their networks. Over the years, donations have come from other trial lawyers, attorneys involved with the Association for Justice, and other members of the community.
On the day of the giveaway, individuals associated with Lawyers Fighting Hunger gather in the early morning along with groups of firefighters. The firefighters start up about 10 grills, says Bernstein, and get to work cooking hot dogs and hamburgers.
In years past, people have started lining up for the meal and turkey during the night.
“We’ll have people come the night before at 3 in the morning and get in line,” says Bernstein.
For Bernstein, the idea of giving back to his neighbors in need was a no-brainer.
“We have all been pretty blessed in our law careers,” he says. “We’ve never had any trouble putting food on the table that we’ve seen other people have, so we thought, ‘What can we do that will help the community?’ And we thought feeding the less fortunate would be a good goal.”
Nothing has slowed the team down over the years; not even COVID-19. During lockdown, Bernstein says, they continued to host their Thanksgiving events outdoors, only with the addition of face masks and social distancing.
“People still need to eat, even during pandemics,” he says.
Until recently, events were held in Norman, Oklahoma City, and Tulsa, but this year, the group will hold events only in the latter two cities. Organizers with the Tulsa event asked interested individuals and families to preregister; organizers with the Oklahoma City event, which will be held in a large church parking lot, did not.
Information and excitement about the event is drummed up by McIntyre, who Bernstein calls “a big marketer.”
“He has all the news stations promote it, so it’s all over the airwaves,” Bernstein says. “So we get word out pretty well.”
This year, Bernstein estimates that they’re on track to give away 3,000 turkeys altogether.
“We just love giving back to the community,” he says. “It’s been a great deal. And I think it helps … people think lawyers are doing well financially and just take, and we want to show we give, too.”
Other featured articles
Six attorneys on the ups and downs of going solo
How Richard Shevitz put his class action know-how to use for Holocaust victims
Carl Poplar is still tougher than anyone else
Find top lawyers with confidence
The Super Lawyers patented selection process is peer influenced and research driven, selecting the top 5% of attorneys to the Super Lawyers lists each year. We know lawyers and make it easy to connect with them.Find a lawyer near you