Business Law Advisory Board
Members of the Business Law Advisory Board and responsible program staff will work together to ensure that the business law program at the School of Law delivers learning that is up to date and relevant to the practice of law, practice trends and needs, professional norms, technology, and hiring needs. The board will provide support and advice to academic programs, provide input on the development of new programs and the evolution of current programs. Board members will also serve as ambassadors to the program, providing a connection to and ongoing exchange of information and ideas with members of the legal community and beyond.
Curtis Box II (J.D. '14)
Senior Counsel - Apple
Austin, TX - Term Ends 2025
Curtis Box II is an Arkansas native and a 2014 U of A Law grad. Before law school, Curtis spent several years building business acumen as a financial consultant. During that tenure, he learned the value of serving others and supporting communities. He also learned first-hand how business, law and compliance directly impact the lives of individuals.
Early in his career, Curtis quickly realized that he was passionate about supporting businesses and business leaders at the cross-section of business and law. Over time he realized he wanted to pursue a career doing this as a technology lawyer.
After graduating from law school, he served as in-house counsel for Transplace where he supported senior business leadership in their endeavors of growing the company from a small logistics firm to an industry leader in logistics technology and consulting. After leaving Transplace, Curtis continued to develop his career as a technology attorney by way of working with some of the largest and most influential companies in the world including Amazon, Indeed, and JB Hunt.
Curtis currently lives in Austin, Texas where he serves as Senior Counsel for Apple. Outside the office, he spends his free time running, boxing, reading and enjoying time with his daughter. Curtis is thrilled to join the Law School Board and help support the growth and future of U of A Law and its student body.
Sanford “Sandy” Brown (J.D. '86)
Partner - Alston & Bird LLP
Dallas, TX - Term Ends 2024
Sandy is a co-leader of Alston & Bird's Financial Services & Products Group, counsels and represents financial institutions and specialty finance companies, as well as their shareholders and holding companies, in matters involving state and federal banking laws, regulations, and enforcement actions; in corporate transactions, such as mergers, acquisitions, securities offerings, and holding company matters; and on issues involving cybersecurity, privacy, and identity theft.
Sanford served in the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency from 1987 to 1989. His responsibilities included a wide range of matters relating to the regulation of national banks, including the development of banking policy in the areas of risk-based capital and dividends. He is a faculty member of the Southwestern Graduate School of Banking and a frequent speaker at regional and national banking seminars and educational programs. He is listed in The Best Lawyers in America© in the areas of Banking and Finance and Financial Services Regulation, including in the latter category as the Dallas/Fort Worth “Lawyer of the Year” in 2015, 2017, and 2021.
Theresa Fette (J.D. '03)
Founder & CEO - Provident Trust Company
Las Vegas, NV - Term Ends 2024
Theresa Fette is the founder and CEO of Provident Trust Group, a leading self-directed retirement plan administrator and alternative-asset custodian. In six short years, she has created exponential growth, increasing the organization's assets under custody from $300M to more than $5B. Her unique managerial and entrepreneurial style has been recognized by Fortune, honoring her as one of its most powerful women entrepreneurs for 2012. She is also a board member of Venovate Holdings, Inc., which further establishes her role as a thought leader in the alternative asset space.
Fette holds a LL.M. in Taxation from the University of Missouri - Kansas City, a Juris Doctorate, a Masters in Accounting and a Bachelor of Science in Accounting, each from the University of Arkansas.
Michael Lax (J.D. '83)
Of Counsel - Lax, Vaughan, Fortson, Rowe & Threet
Little Rock, AR - Term Ends 2024
Mike is a shareholder at Lax, Vaughan, Fortson, Rowe amp; Threet. He practices in the areas of taxation, including tax controversies, estate planning, probate, commercial and corporate law.
Mike graduated from the University of Florida with an LL.M. in Taxation In 1989, Mike left one of the oldest and largest law firms in Arkansas to become a founding member of the firm. He practices extensively in estate planning and probate, representing several individuals and families with among the highest net worths in Arkansas.
Mike also frequently serves as an advisor in tax, estate, trust, and probate litigation, and he also advises many professionals and business executives on contract, business, and tax related matters. He has advised clients on numerous acquisitions and dispositions of various business interests. He authored the Article, The Innocent Spouse Provision Under Section 6013(e) of the Internal Revenue Code: Relief or Refuse?, 12 U.A.L.R. L. J. 25 (1989-90).
Mike is a member of the American Bar Association, the Arkansas Bar Association, the Pulaski County Bar Association, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and the Arkansas State Society of Certified Public Accountants. Mike has been awarded the AV® peer review rating by Martindale-Hubbell. Mike is a native of Hot Springs, Arkansas.
Mark Plake (J.D. '84)
Chairman - Business Law Advisory Board
Managing Partner - The Added Time Investments, LLLP
Fayetteville, AR - Term Ends 2024
Mark retired from Holly Frontier LSP Holdings LLC in December 2020 where he served most recently as President. HollyFrontier LSP Holdings LLC is the owner of Petro-Canada Lubricants Inc; HollyFrontier Lubricants & Specialty Products, Red Giant Oil, and Sonneborn LLC. Collectively, these companies supply superior finished lubricants, specialty products (including white oils and petrolatum), greases, waxes, and base oils to companies in over 80 countries. Before being elevated to president of HollyFrontier, he spent nearly three years as President of Petro-Canada Lubricants, Inc., a leading producer of high-margin premium lubricants, specialty products and the top-quality base oils required to make them. He's been employed in the company since 2007, having started as a Chief Operating Officer, before spending nearly five years as Vice President of Marketing.Terry Pool (J.D. '94) Partner - Kutak Rock, LLP Rogers, AR - Term Ends 2024 Terry is the managing partner of the Arkansas offices of Kutak Rock LLP and is a member of the Firm's Executive Committee. Terry concentrates his practice in real estate and commercial transactions, including acquisition, disposition, leasing, construction, development, lending and equity financing regarding commercial real estate and asset based transactions. Terry has extensive experience in structuring complex commercial transactions to address tax, liability, operational and exit strategy issues with owners, investors, tenants, and lenders. Terry has represented numerous state and national lending institutions in various types of lending structures, including asset-based, equity-based and mezzanine-type loans. His national representation of several “big box” organizations and developers provides him with substantial advantages in working through common development, leasing and operational issues.
Marissa A. Savells (J.D. '13)
Chief Counsel, International and Corporate Governance - Tyson Foods, Inc.
Fayetteville, AR - Term Ends 2025
Marissa is Chief Counsel in the Office of the Secretary at Tyson Foods. Her team manages all aspects of the company's corporate governance, securities, and sustainability legal matters. In addition, she serves as committee secretary providing governance counsel to executive leadership and committees of the Board of Directors.
Prior to her current role, Marissa was the Chief Legal Officer's chief of staff for two years serving as a strategic advisor in the leadership, management, and oversight of 5000 team members and nearly a dozen functions. She also managed key priorities and actions for material issues the company faced during the pandemic, including crisis response, regulatory coordination, related investigations, and communications. Marissa first joined Tyson Foods in 2018 as a commercial attorney, where she advised operations and led the department integration of a $2B acquisition and drove completion of a $330M international acquisition. From there, she was selected to advise on newly acquired operations and corporate functions in Europe. Tyson Foods is ranked 73 on the Fortune 100 and has been named the World's Most Admired Company in Food Production by Fortune. With nearly 140,000 team members at over 150 facilities around the world, Tyson is raising the world's expectations for how much good food can do.
Marissa is a veteran having served in the United States Air Force as a Judge Advocate for nearly 10 years and attaining the rank of major. Her practice focused on government procurement, military criminal prosecutions, administrative law, and internal investigations.
Debbie Segers (J.D. '93)
Vice President & Chief Intellectual Property Counsel - FIS
Nashville, TN - Term Ends 2024
Debbie is the Vice President and Chief Intellectual Property Counsel for FIS. Debbie previously served in intellectual property roles with the SABRE Group and Arizona Chemical Company.
FIS™ is the world's largest global provider dedicated to banking and payments technologies. With a long history deeply rooted in the financial services sector, FIS serves more than 14,000 institutions in over 130 countries. Headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, FIS employs more than 42,000 people worldwide and holds leadership positions in payment processing and banking solutions, providing software, services and outsourcing of the technology that drives financial institutions.
FIS is ranked 426 on the Fortune 500 and is a member of the Standard & Poor's 500® Index. FIS has also been named the No. 1 overall financial technology provider in the annual IDC Financial Insights FinTech 100 rankings four years running - 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. Despite these achievements, we never lose sight of the fact that it's our clients that make us successful. That's why FIS' commitment to operational excellence and client satisfaction is at the forefront of our business strategies and top of mind with every decision we make.
Jim Smith (J.D. '94)
Partner - Conner and Winters
Fayetteville, AR - Term Ends 2024
Attorney James "Jim" Smith is a partner in the Fayetteville office of Conner & Winters. Jim's practice experience is extensive and spans the full range of business advisory and transactional law. He routinely counsels companies across diverse industries in a myriad of business matters including company formation matters and capital raising, advising Boards of Directors, senior management, executives and controlling shareholders regarding governance and fiduciary duty matters, compliance with regulatory obligations, ordinary course of business contracts, executive compensation and compensatory plans, financial and lending matters (including private placement of securities), venture capital, private equity and commercial lending matters, taxation, mergers and acquisitions and real estate related matters. A meaningful part of his practice is also devoted to the representation of angel investors, private equity investors and venture capital firms in making investments in business enterprises.
Before joining Conner & Winters, Jim practiced in Corporate and Securities, Mergers and Acquisitions and Private Equity and Venture Capital at the law firm he co-founded with Rebecca Hurst in 2011. Prior to that, Jim practiced law for two decades as a partner with the largest Arkansas-based law firm.
Jim Smith is a licensed Certified Public Accountant (registered inactive) and serves as a Commissioner on the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and as the current Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Arkansas Tech University, originally appointed by Governor Asa Hutchinson. From 2021 to 2022, he served as the President and Chief Legal Counsel of Good Day Farm, which is the largest multi-state operator of medical marijuana cultivation and dispensary facilities in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Missouri. For years, Jim has taught at the University of Arkansas School of Law as an adjunct professor in the areas of Mergers and Acquisitions, Private Equity, Corporate Ethics and Securities Regulation.
Jeff Thomas (J.D. '87)
Managing Partner - Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard, PLLC
Little Rock, AR - Term Ends 2024
Jeff serves as the firm's Managing Director. His practice focuses on insurance regulatory law and related matters. He has successfully led and managed complex regulatory and compliance issues for Fortune 100 companies on a national basis. His regulatory relationships and breadth of experience across all lines of insurance make him an effective advocate and trusted advisor for his clients on a wide range of business and public policy issues. Jeff advises on and manages public policy and legislative issues before state and federal insurance regulators, including the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and National Conference of Insurance Legislators.
He represents insurance companies on compliance issues in multi-state and single state market conduct and financial examinations, investigations and enforcement proceedings. He advises on and manages insurance holding company reorganizations, mergers and acquisitions, redomestications, insurance company formations and state expansions. He provides strategic advice and manages state and federal regulatory relationships for insurance companies and related financial institutions on a nationwide basis and counsels business clients on risk management issues including formation and use of captives and other risk management vehicles.