Lynda Henningsen, left, and Lorraine Boyd have dedicated nearly 30 years to telling the stories of the Omaha legal community in The Daily Record. They both won Public Service Awards from the Omaha Bar this year. (Photo by Antone Oseka)
Public Service Awards
Dedicated to Telling the Stories of the Omaha Bar Association
By Antone Oseka
The Daily Record
Two journalists have dedicated their careers to the importance of telling the stories of the legal community in Omaha.
Through their positions at The Daily Record, these two women have shaped the relationship between the Omaha Bar Association and the city’s daily legal newspaper, a relationship that stretches back to the beginning of both organizations in the late 1800s.
This year’s Omaha Bar Association Public Service Award honors The Daily Record publisher Lynda Henningsen and local news editor Lorraine Boyd.
The cooperation and camaraderie enjoyed by many members of the legal community today can be directly connected to these two influential and charismatic leaders over the last 30 years.
“The OBA Public Service Award is first and foremost an award for those who choose to serve and educate others on legal issues, and Lynda’s work at The Daily Record has exemplified that focus,” OBA Executive Director Dave Sommers said. “Lorraine has written countless articles on OBA events and members, and given a close look at so many parts of the local legal community. Through her writing and reporting, Lorraine has connected attorneys and judges with one another, and to the Omaha community in general.”
Henningsen joined The Daily Record in 1992, when her late husband Ron was the publisher. Since then, her focus has been ensuring the long-term success of the newspaper.
“I see this as an award for The Daily Record,” she said. “I was just the person running The Daily Record. Everything we did for the community was from The Daily Record, I was just the vehicle who did it.”
Henningsen wasn’t new to lawyers and the legal field when she came to the paper. Her career kicked off as a secretary in the Municipal Court division of the Public Defender’s Office, working with Joe Bataillon while he was still an attorney, before being promoted to the federal bench.
“She did a great job,” Bataillon said. “I always knew she was really talented and really smart.”
Their paths would cross again when Bataillon was president of the Omaha Barrister’s Club for a while, and the Henningsens were major sponsors of the club, as well as the Omaha Bar. They would also work together when Bataillon was president of the Nebraska State Bar Association.
“They did so much for the legal community,” Bataillon said.
He described their generosity to the Omaha Bar Association as likely unparalleled.
“The Daily Record provides a tremendous service to the Omaha legal community,” Bataillon said. “Their generosity, as far as the Omaha Bar Association events are concerned, really sets them apart from any other local paper, it seems to me. It’s a relationship that goes back even before Lynda, and she’s carried on that tradition.”
Lynda became publisher of the newspaper after Ron passed away in 2011. He is a previous Public Service Award recipient.
“When I saw the list of people who have received the award, it means a lot that Ron got it one year and now I’m getting it,” she said. “And I think that would please him. It means I’ve carried on, which is something I promised him I would do.”
The relationship between OBA and the newspaper has flourished, in large part to the relationships Henningen built personally as well as professionally.
“I’m proud to be associated with the Omaha Bar Association,” she said. “Heck, Mardee Korinek was one of my kids’ preschool teachers. She was with the Omaha Bar as the executive director forever. That’s how far back it goes. Those relationships go back a long way.”
Outside of running a newspaper, Henningsen volunteers with several organizations including Kiwanis and the Omaha Legal Professionals Association, along with working to raise awareness and eliminate human trafficking in Omaha.
“I never cease to be amazed at her ability to make it all work and to keep all the balls in the air, so to speak,” Bataillon said. “And to maintain the great relationship she had with the Omaha Bar Association was fun to watch.
“She does a wonderful job.”
For Henningsen, she’s happy with where The Daily Record is today.
“That was my mission,” she said, “to take care of it. I think I improved it.”
For nearly 30 years, Boyd’s bylines have graced The Daily Record with coverage of all types of Omaha Bar stories and events.
Her focus has always been to find the positive story and tell it.
“If you don’t tell your story, if you don’t tell the good things, who’s going to?” Boyd asked. “Plenty of people out there will bash the legal community, the lawyers. It seemed to me it was a great opportunity to tell the story of all these people I’ve met along the way who are doing so much good.”
She quickly built a reputation as a thorough, trustworthy voice in The Daily Record, said Federal
Senior Judge Laurie Smith Camp, the former Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court of Nebraska
“I’ve admired her writing over the years and the many articles she does where she’s gone above and beyond what would generally be expected in the articles and delving deep into character study,” Smith Camp said. “Her attention to detail is amazing, and she has been so faithful to coming to the different Bar events and making sure people in the legal community stay connected with each other through The Daily Record.”
In fact, Smith Camp has turned to Boyd to tell multiple stories. One important event, the 8th Circuit Judicial Conference, took place in Omaha in 2014. Smith Camp knew who would tell the story best.
“She did a terrific job, appearing at all three days of events and providing coverage in The Daily Record for the activities that took place,” the judge said. “Whenever we have brought something to the attention of The Daily Record, she’s followed through and done a fabulous job.”
Boyd strives to find good news, positive stories that tell the truth about all members of the legal community.
“I have great comfort dealing with Lorraine because I know it’s going to be accurate, good quality work and it’s going to be positive,” Smith Camp said. “What she does, does make people feel good. I have not seen her do anything that is negative.”
Smith Camp said Boyd’s efforts have contributed to the reputation The Daily Record enjoys in Omaha’s legal community.
“I trust The Daily Record,” Smith Camp said. “I would not hesitate to give an interview to The Daily Record. I know my words aren’t going to be twisted, I know there’s no hidden agenda. That has not always been the case with other news media.”
The judge also talked about how the communication in the newspaper, as well as the Omaha Bar newsletter that Boyd also produces, gives the attorneys a sense of camaraderie that is evident in a courtroom.
Boyd said she strives for that.
“They never let any animosity enter into the relationship,” she said. “It’s adversarial in court, but it doesn’t have to be adversarial after that. It makes for a wonderful place to work.”
She praised the constant efforts of the Omaha Bar Association.
“They really pour themselves into this,” she said. “They give up their time so willingly to make it all better, to bring in new people and make them feel welcome.
“It’s been a joy to write their stories.”