Alumni Updates

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University of Arkansas School of Law alumni are located in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, two territories and 20 countries. The school’s friends broaden its reach further. Here, you can find information on what individuals, corporations and foundations are doing to support the School of Law and its strategic objectives.

May 2018

Peter G. Estes Jr. (J.D. ’73) is the subject of a profile article in the March-April edition of Butterfield Life. Estes discusses the importance of family, his love of practicing law and the significance of practicing law with family over the course of his 47-year legal career. Estes is the son of Peter G. Estes Sr. (J.D. ’43) (1916-90) and is the father of Amy Estes Turner (J.D. ’98) and Peter G. “Tripp” Estes III (J.D. ’01).

Allison Elko (J.D. ’98) has been named to the fellows program of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity. The organization includes more than 285 corporate chief legal officers and law firm managing partners who are dedicated to building a more open and diverse legal profession. Elko is a partner at Dallas-based Bell Nunnally and Martin LLP and specializes in real estate law.

Bryan Fisher (J.D. ’13) is the newest partner at Neal and Newman in Springfield, Missouri. The firm announced the advancement in March. Fisher specializes in appeals, banking and finance law, business and commercial litigation, business organization and employment law.

Brian Gaither (J.D. ’10) is the host of “What’s the Verdict,” a comprehensive, easy-to-understand, layperson's, “In Your Face” podcast that provides a detailed insight to the legal field, legal concepts, and how these different legal concepts affect the community. Episodes are available on iTunes, SoundCloud and Podbean. Gaither is an assistant solicitor general in the office of the Fulton County Solicitor General in Atlanta.

Michael Hornback (J.D. ’02) has joined Littler as special counsel. He is based in the firm’s Lexington, Kentucky office and specializes in defending companies in a wide range of employment matters, including discrimination, harassment and retaliation claims, and issues involving breach of non-compete agreements and other contracts.

Nicholas Jackson (J.D. ’08) has joined the board of Williamsville Sears Management Inc. The company, a diversified holding corporation with a primary focus on real estate, mining, transportation, entertainment and technology, made the announcement through a press release dated April 4. Jackson is the founder of James Edgar LLC, a consulting firm specializing in business planning.

Kasey McCall-Smith (J.D. ’01) has co-edited Linkages and Boundaries in Private and Public International Law, a forthcoming volume from Hart Publishing. According to the publisher, the book, co-edited by Veronica Ruiz Abou-Nigm and Duncan French, is a collection of works exploring the “interface between private and public international law and the synergies that a joint approach brings to topical issues in some key fields of this modern era such as corporate social responsibility and environmental law.” McCall-Smith is a lecturer in public international law at the University of Edinburgh Law School.

Duke McLarty (J.D. ’09) has been named the director of government and community affairs for Aimco, a Denver-based real estate investment trust (REIT). McLarty will manage government relations in the 22 states where the company is active. Aimco is an S & P 500-listed company and one of the largest owners and operators of apartments in the country.

Bruce Phillips (J.D. ’93), along with Hall of Fame songwriter Steve Dorff, was at the School of Law on April 27 to talk about song writing and the business of music. Phillips is an entertainment law lawyer based in Nashville and represents clients in the music industry. He has also served as an adjunct law professor at the School of Law. The pair were in Northwest Arkansas as part of the Power of Music Festival, held in Bentonville April 26-29.

W. Kirk Turner (J.D. ’89) has joined Tulsa-based McAfee and Taft as a shareholder. The firm announced the move in a press release dated April 19. Turner specializes in employment law and is a frequent speaker and author on workplace issues. Prior to joining the firm, he served as a director and the leader of the Labor and Employment Law Group at Newton, O’Connor, Turner and Ketchum in Tulsa.

Billy Jack Gibson (J.D. ‘13 ) and Stacy Coonce Gibson (J.D. ’14) welcomed Calvin Graham into their family in March. Calvin weighed eight pounds, 15.6 ounces and was 21.25 long at birth. When asked what they will do if Calvin lives up to his namesake in the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip, the couple said “I think that is what we are anticipating.” Billy Jack Gibson Practices law in Malvern. Stacy Coonce Gibson is a lawyer at Sanford Law Firm in Little Rock.

In Memoriam

Terry Ray Ballard (J.D. ’81) of North Little Rock died April 9. He was public defender in North Little Rock, city attorney for Mayflower and an instructor at Pulaski Technical Institute. He is survived by his mother, Daisy Allen Hill; fiancé, Beci Keller; daughter Shawn Ballard; son Chad Ballard. Read the obituary from Roller-Owens Funeral Home.

Fines Batchelor, Jr. (LL.B. ’50) died on April 22 in Fort Smith. He was a resident of Van Buren and practiced law at Batchelor and Batchelor, a firm founded by his father. The Western Arkansas Trial Practice Seminar honored Batchelor for his outstanding service to the legal profession in 2014. As part of the recognition, the seminar made a generous contribution to the scholarship fund at the University of Arkansas School of Law in Batchelor’s honor. The Hon. Jim Spears (J.D. ’73) makes the 2014 presentation on behalf of the WATPS. Batchelor was preceded in death by his wife, Elizabeth “Betty” Batchelor. He is survived by two daughters: Lee Vlademar of Fort Smith and Frankie Shearon of Poteau, Oklahoma. Read the obituary from Edwards Van-Alma Funeral Home.

The Hon. Robert “Bobby” F. Fussell (LL.B. ’65) died May 1 in Little Rock. He was born Jan. 1, 1938, to James V. Fussell Jr. and Dorothy Hall Fussell. He was a U.S. Army officer and an attorney for the National Labor Relations Board in Kansas before opening a private practice in Little Rock, specializing in labor relations. Federal district judges appointed Fussell U.S. bankruptcy judge in 1983, and he soon became the state’s chief bankruptcy judge. When Congress created a divisional bankruptcy court in northwestern Arkansas, Fussell resigned as chief judge and took the new judgeship in Fayetteville. He served as a bankruptcy judge for 20 years, retiring in 2003. He never married and had no children.

David B. Horne (J.D. ’67) died April 9 in Fayetteville. Horne began his career practicing law on the Fayetteville square with Hugh Kincaid (J.D. ’59). He served as city prosecutor and assistant city attorney during the 1960s and the 1970s. Bass Trumbo (LL.B. ’59) later joined the firm, which became known as Kincaid, Horne and Trumbo, and was located in Fayetteville’s historic Walker Stone House. Later in his career, Horne practiced with Darren Gibbs (J.D. ’09). Horne played baseball for the Razorbacks, lettering for two years. He coached softball and Little League baseball teams for his children. He is survived by his wife, Cathy Suzanne Horne; son, Jon-David Horne; two daughters, Sarah Elise Bailey and Cambre Anne Horne-Brooks; and four grandchildren. Read the obituary from Moore’s Chapel.

Michael Joseph Nicodemus (J.D. ’13) died April 19 in Fayetteville. He was the founder of Fayetteville-based Nicodemus Law Firm and specialized in family, estate and transactional law. He is survived by his wife, Lauren Roberts Nicodemus; parents, Joe and Sue Nicodemus, of Springdale; and sister, Jennifer Pianalto, of Springdale. Read the obituary from Nelson-Berna Funeral Home.

April 2018

Bernitha Anderson (J.D. ’07) has been promoted to offshore human resources and organization area manager – Gulf of Mexico and North Atlantic at Saipem. In her new role, Anderson will manage offices in the United States, Mexico, Guyana, Panama and Trindad and Tobago.

Samantha Barker (J.D. ’17), Adrian Frank (J.D. ’17) and Adam Thompson (J.D. ’17) have joined the office of the Missouri State Public Defender. Baker works in Chillicothe and is assigned to an office that covers 11 counties in Missouri. Frank works in Rolla and serves clients in Crawford County. Thompson is assigned to the Carthage District and represents clients in Newton County.

Kelsey Bardwell (J.D. ’12) is the recipient of the 2018 Harrison Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Rising Star of Honor Award. She was selected for her efforts to combat the impression others may have of the community. She and her eighth-grade son made goodie bags to hand out to visiting sports teams. Bardwell has been the managing partner of Sprott, Golden and Bardwell since 2014.

Cornelius Boone (J.D. ’07) is the new vice president of team member services at American Airlines. The company announced his hiring in a press release on March 28. Most recently, he was vice president of field hourly talent management at Walmart where he supported more than 1 million associates in the United States. In his new role, Boone will oversee all human relations functions at support American’s 120,000 team members.

Rebecca L. Caldwell (J.D. ’06) has been promoted to European Union Data Protection Officer and Legal Counsel at Garmin International. She has been with Garmin since 2008, serving most recently as in-house IP counsel in the Schaffhausen, Switzerland and Kansas City offices. She is responsible for advising on compliance with European Union General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and other European privacy laws and matters. Her office is in Munich.

Niki Cung (J.D. ’96) headlined a post-performance discussion about immigration experiences in conjunction with the new TheatreSquared production of Vietgone on April 1. The play, written by Qui Nguyen and directed by Kholoud Sawaf, is a love story set against the backdrop of newly settled Vietnam War refugees relocated to Fort Chaffee, Arkansas. Cung, who is a partner in the Fayetteville office of Kutak Rock, came to the United States in 1975 as a refugee from Vietnam. She was the first Vietnamese American in Arkansas to be admitted to the bar.

Steven L. Grady (J.D. ’14) joined the Harrison firm of Sprott, Golden and Bardwell in March. His practice areas include estate planning and probate, personal injury, banking and business transactions. He is a native of Louisiana and is licensed to practice law in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Anthony Martinez (J.D. ’09) has been promoted to partner at Shook Hardy & Bacon. The firm announced the promotion in a press release dated March 12. Martinez, who works in the firm’s Kansas City office, specializes in environmental and toxic tort litigation. He is also dedicated to pro bono service. As a guardian ad litem, he works with Rule 13 Certified Students at the University of Missouri at Kansas City.

John P. Perkins III (J.D. ’03) has joined the Washington, D.C., office of McGuire Woods as senior counsel. Perkins specializes in electric energy law, oil and gas pipelines and commercial litigation and has extensive experience advising energy companies seeking market-based, stated and formula rates. He also advises clients filing complaints and comments with respect to Regional Transmission Owners. Prior to joining McGuire Woods, he was top litigator at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. In addition to his J.D., Perkins holds an LL.M. in energy and environmental law from The George Washington University Law School.

Brian Blackman (J.D. '02), Amy Blackman and big sister Emsley have welcomed Ellery Noel into their family. Ellery was born premature on Oct. 28, 2017, weighing 2 pounds, 7 ounces. She is now prospering and weighs roughly 9 pounds. Ellery is the granddaughter of the Hon. Keith Blackman (J.D. ’74) and Elaine Blackman. Brian Blackman is chief operating officer at WACO Title.

In Memoriam

Joseph N. Peacock (J.D. ’72) died March 5 in Little Rock. He was a long-time resident of McCrory where he practiced law and served as city attorney from 1972-2010. In 1974, he was elected to the Arkansas House of Representatives and served eight years. Gov. Jim Guy Tucker (LL.B. ’68) appointed Peacock to the Arkansas State Claims Commission in 1995, and he served as commissioner until 2014. He was also appointed to the Arkansas Parole Board by Gov. Mike Beebe (J.D. ’72) and served from 2008-14. Peacock was preceded in death by his wife, Ann Reed Peacock. He is survived by sons Nelson Peacock (J.D. ’95) and Denver Peacock (J.D. ’98) and their families. Read reporter Bill Bowden’s tribute in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Online or the obituary from Thompson-Wilson Funeral Home.