Cowhand, Esq.

Terry Tippens practices law so he can tend to his ranch       

Published in 2008 Oklahoma Super Lawyers — November 2008

Between two young grandkids, his "go-fast" boats, his 100 cows and the tinkering he does in his machine shop, it's hard to see how Terry Tippens manages to find time to practice law. And yet he's earned a reputation as one of Oklahoma's most respected attorneys and toughest litigators.

"The secret is good time management," he says with a chuckle before wrapping up a phone call to head out of the office of Fellers, Snider, Blankenship, Bailey & Tippens, where he's a senior partner. He'll start the weekend with family and boat on Lake Texoma.

Time management is a necessity when you own a hundred head of Brangus cows on a 450-acre farm that you basically run by yourself.

"I've got a guy who throws hay in the winter. God made 'em eat grass and take care of themselves in spring, summer and fall," he says of his herd. As for his own cattleman responsibilities: "I catch up on fence repair work in the winter and spread fertilizer in the summer."

Nothing to it, Tippens seems to say. He must feel like something of a layabout these days compared to the way things used to be, when he owned three ranches, had some 30 race horses and somehow found time to devote 20 to 30 hours a week to his agrarian pursuits.

All part of the plan, he says. "The reason I went to law school is so I could afford to ranch."

Tippens grew up in the country, and has never really left it. As he recalls, "I bought my first property within months of passing the bar."

Today, as much as 10 percent of his legal work is for the equine industry, one he knows well. "I was licensed to race horses in several states. There's very little I don't know about the horsing industry."

He's litigated what were the largest quarter horse farm bankruptcies in the United States, and worked on a central issue of parimutuel betting as it moved into Oklahoma: the financial split between the horsemen, the track and the state. Additionally, Tippens helped form and regularly works on behalf of the Oklahoma Quarter Race Horse Association and he's represented "many of the largest breeding farms and racehorse owners in the state."

It's not all about livestock, though. In many circles, Tippens is best known for taking on cases involving banking and the oil and gas industry, business and commercial litigation and partnership dissolutions. He's defended a few $100 million cases in the process.

But he doesn't seem to get too far from loamy nature. When not spreading fertilizer and birthing calves, Tippens takes care of a 27-acre property just north of Edmond, and spends summer weekends on the lake with the grandkids and whichever grown kids and brothers he can rustle up. In his less than abundant spare time, he's expanded the main home to seven bedrooms and four bathrooms for visiting family.

It's a lot of work, but it doesn't seem to have distracted him much from his personal life. He's been married for 42 years, and helped raise three kids. Now he plays granddad to two pre-schoolers.

So what's next? Tippens doesn't seem even remotely on the verge of slowing down, but when he mulls over what retirement might look like—however far down the road that might be—it doesn't take him long.

"I might buy a bulldozer and push dirt," he says.

It should surprise no one.        


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