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Oklahoma Lawyers Making Equal Justice for all a Reality

August 2016 Featured Volunteer: Pat Layden

Friday, August 12, 2016

  • By: Janet Roloff
  • Organization: Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Inc.

August 2016 Featured Volunteer:  Pat Layden

Mr. Layden is a 3rd generation attorney, and has been practicing law in McAlester, Oklahoma, for 28 years. He attended college at the University of Oklahoma, where he earned his Bachelor's Degree and attended Law School at the Oklahoma City University, where he earned his Law Degree.  Mr. Layden is a member of the Pittsburg County Bar Association and the Oklahoma Bar Association, and has been active in both Associations throughout his career.

Pat Layden, Attorney at Law
Pat Layden, a private practitioner in McAlester, Oklahoma, has volunteered many hours to promote equal access to justice in Oklahoma. He served Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Inc. as Board member and past President of the Board and as a pro bono attorney. Mr. Layden has always been a great resource for the staff of the McAlester LASO office, giving advice and providing sample pleadings. He always stands ready to assist, always answers our phone calls for help, and provides great encouragement to us at all times. Pat Layden puts into action the ideals of pro bono lawyering.

Typically we don’t ask volunteers to accept a hotly contested child custody case - contested custody cases are difficult, time consuming, expensive to pursue, and emotionally charged, but recently Mr. Layden responded to a true emergency.  A young mother, with a critically ill infant, was involved in a custody battle over her one-year old daughter.

When the young mother of the one year old was pregnant with a baby that the doctors knew would be born with significant life-threatening problems. The father of one year old, represented by an attorney, filed a petition for custody. On the day of the hearing, the mother had an appointment with a specialist physician concerning her soon-to-be-born baby, and she missed the hearing. On the next significant court date, she was in the hospital giving birth to this baby. A writ was issued for the sheriff to pick up the one-year old daughter. All this time, the mother had been representing herself, without counsel.

The mother came to the McAlester LASO office with her days old infant in her arms. The baby was predicted to not have long to live, and the mother was severely emotionally distraught having just learned of the writ to pick up her other child. The father lived in a remote state, and the young child had only seen the father two times before. The mother was without funds to hire a lawyer.


Pat Layden stepped in as a LASO pro bono attorney, and spent many hours on this very tough case. He had to file pleadings to vacate the default order, defend discovery including a deposition, and then had to fight in court for the mother to keep custody. After months of work, an order was obtained requiring the parents to share the time, with the child traveling back and forth between the parents’ domicile states. The case is ongoing, and trial is anticipated.

Pat Layden’s generous volunteering halted what would have been a tragic separation of a young mother from her very young child. He freely gave his time and the resources of this staff and private law office.  His volunteerism is a wonderful model to the rest of the attorneys in this community.

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