When Lorena Rivas first arrived at Fry & Elder in the fall of 2015, longtime divorce and child custody attorney Robert G “Hap” Fry Jr. quickly figured out that the young immigration lawyer would do great things at the firm.
“Lorena came right in and just put her nose to the grindstone,” Fry said. “I could tell right away that she had a tremendous work ethic, and she’s grown into a top-flight attorney in her field of immigration law. I could not be prouder of her.”
Of course, Fry is also a bit sad today.
Rivas, along with fellow attorneys and law school classmates Mary McMillen and Sara Schmook are leaving Fry & Elder to launch a firm in Tulsa’s diverse Kendall Whittier neighborhood on June 1. Immigration attorney Elissa Stiles will also join Rivas’ team.
“Today (is) bittersweet for me,” Rivas said on a recent social media post. “About 5 years ago, I joined the law firm of Fry & Elder. I was still a baby attorney then and was still getting my bearings set and ducks in order. During these last few years, I have been blessed and honored to be a part of Mr. Fry’s team.
“I have learned quite a bit from this man, from how to run a law firm to how to move past bumps in the legal profession to how to dance to a waltz. While I’m excited for what my future will hold in Kendall Whittier, I sure am going to miss the comfort of being at Fry & Elder. I’m glad I will still be able to count on Mr. Fry as my mentor and friend.”
The feelings are mutual.
Fry said his door at 1630 S. Main Street will always be open for any questions Rivas may have down the road and that he is looking forward to visiting her new office digs in Kendall Whittier and hopefully enjoying some street tacos for lunch with her staff.
“As difficult as it for me to see her go, it’s an excellent opportunity for Lorena,” Fry said. “She’s going to do great. Though we were only together for about five years, we really became close and we went through a lot of things together. She’s a throwback in many ways which I can appreciate. I never had a formal, written contract with her because her word was always her bond and that’s always impressed the hell out of me.”
Rivas literally blossomed into a superstar immigration attorney at Fry & Elder.
She’s been named to Super Lawyers® Rising Stars the past three years and has been the recipient of many local and national accolades.
One of Rivas’ most notable achievements came in 2018 when she won the Fern Holland Award which is awarded to a lawyer who advocates for human rights or the empowerment of women.
Rivas also delivered a riveting speech in 2019 at the American Heritage Awards in Orlando with her speech titled “This is America,” to close out the gala.
The highly-sought after immigration attorney has also traveled to Washington D.C. multiple times to meet with state and national legislators to discuss and advocate for immigration law reform.
As prominent as Rivas has been on the national stage, she has never lost site of her Oklahoma roots. Rivas’ Oklahoma allegiance was on full display in 2017 when she delivered an emotional speech at the University of Central Oklahoma’s Pre-Law Society Meeting.
Rivas discussed her upbringing in tiny Mutual, Oklahoma and what inspired her to become an immigration attorney. Her father being injured on an Oklahoma oil field when she was 4.
“We were a low-income family, but I remember who came to the rescue for (my parents) and it was an attorney,” said Rivas, a first-generation Mexican-American. “Somebody who took up their case, fought for them and got us some funds. Did we get a lot? No, probably not … But it was something to keep us going and allowed us to keep our house, keep food on the table and keep us dreaming. That is (when) I got my first taste of what an attorney is and how important they are to people.
“After seeing the importance of a lawyer, I knew I wanted to be somebody that important to somebody in their life and help them out.”
Fast forward some 25 years later and Rivas has become just that – someone who plays a very important role for many seeking immigration relief first at Fry & Elder and now at Kendall Whittier.
Best of luck Lorena Rivas!