Law Alumni Society 2022 Awards
The University of Arkansas School of Law Alumni Society Board of Directors has announced the 2022 Commitment to Justice and Career Champion award recipients. The awards were created to recognize individuals and organizations who, through personal achievement and service to the community and the university, bring national and local prominence to themselves and the University of Arkansas School of Law.
This year, the board will honor the accomplishments and contributions of six alumni and two law firms. Lonnie Powers (J.D. ‘70) will receive the Commitment to Justice Award, Dalton Person (J.D. ’16) and KenDrell Collins (J.D. ’18) will be given the Early Career Award, Kandice Bell (J.D. ‘97) and Autumn Tolbert (J.D. ‘06) will be given the Public Service Award, Col. Conley Meredith (J.D. ‘70) will be given the Veterans Award, Rose Law Firm will receive the Career Champion Award – Large Firm (10+) and The Law Group of Northwest Arkansas will be given the Career Champion Award – Small Firm (less than 10).
Commitment To Justice Award
Lonnie Powers is a graduate of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, earning his Juris Doctor from the University of Arkansas School of Law in 1970. He earned an LL.M. from George Washington University in 1979. Powers founded and served as Executive Director of Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation since it was established in 1983. He has more than 41 years of policy and legal experience at the state and national levels, having devoted the majority of his career to establishing, building, sustaining and revitalizing legal aid organizations. In his role as Executive Director, Lonnie’s primary responsibilities include increasing funding for civil legal aid; enhancing partnerships with the bar, the legislature, the judiciary, and the public; and strengthening legal aid programs across the Commonwealth.
Throughout his career he has been actively involved with the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission, the Massachusetts Equal Justice Justice Fund, the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth Justice Bridge Incubator Program, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial and Trial Courts, the American Bar Association, the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, the Massachusetts Bar Association, and the Boston Bar Association. In 2018, Powers received the Great Friend of Justice Award from the Massachusetts Bar Foundation in 2018 and the Lifetime Commitment to Justice Award from the Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action. The Massachusetts Bar Association honored him with the Special Recognition Award in 1991.
After retiring as Executive Director of MLAC, he started Lonnie Powers Consulting where he serves as a consultant to organizations and individuals engaged in expanding social justices. Powers began his legal career in his native Arkansas, first with the Attorney General’s Office and later with Legal Services of Arkansas, where he served as Executive Director. He lives in Newton, Massachusetts with his wife, Nancy Israel, and daughters Amanda and Jessica.
Early Career Award
KenDrell Collins (J.D. ’18) works to create an Arkansas that is more just and more equitable. He serves as a trial attorney at the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Eastern District of Arkansas, which aims to ensure that no person is disadvantaged simply because of their inability to afford private legal counsel. He grew up in Osceola, Arkansas, and moved to Little Rock in 2011. There he earned a degree in economics at UA Little Rock and minored in Writing. KenDrell graduated from the University of Arkansas School of Law in 2018. During law school he served as a summer fellow at the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund in New York City and a summer fellow with the Rural Summer Legal Corps. Additionally, he has played an integral role in the School of Law’s Constitution Days program in Osceola, AR and serves on the Dean’s Executive Advisory Board.
Prior to becoming an Assistant Federal Defender, he worked as an associate at a private immigration law firm where he was an advocate for immigrant rights.
KenDrell serves as a Commissioner for the Arkansas Sentencing Commission. He is a board member for the New Leaders Council, where he currently serves as Co-Chair for the Institute/Curriculum and was a Fellow in 2020. He also serves as a board member for the Dunbar Historic Neighborhood Association and the Arkansas chapter of New Leader’s Council. He was named as a Dowline Emerging Leader for 2019-2020.
Early Career Award
Dalton Person is a graduate of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, earning his Juris Doctor from The University of Arkansas School of Law in 2016. Prior to attending law school, Dalton earned his Bachelor of Science from the University of Chicago in 2013.
Person joined the firm of Jones Jackson Moll in 2017 following a term clerkship with U.S. District Judge P.K. Holmes, III. His practice includes commercial litigation, commercial transactions, business organizations, contracts, real estate, and employment law. He advises small businesses and individuals alike in the initial organization and ongoing operations of their businesses. Dalton graduated magna cum laude from the University of Arkansas School of Law in 2016, finishing in the top five-percent of his class. During law school, he was the managing editor of the Arkansas Law Review, served as a judicial extern for Senior U.S. District Judge Robert T. Dawson, and was a legal research and writing teaching assistant.
Dalton serves as a board member for Fort Smith Public Schools, Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Fort Smith, First United Methodist Church of Fort Smith and Fort Smith Boys and Girls Club. He is actively involved in the Sebastian County Bar Association and served as the president of the organization in 2020-2021. In 2019 he was named a 20 in their 20’s by Arkansas Business and a Fast 15 by Northwest Arkansas Business Journal. He was a member of Leadership Fort Smith in 2018.
Colonel Conley Meredith
Conley Meredith is a graduate of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, Meredith earned his Bachelor of Science degree in business administration in 1967 and his Juris Doctor from the University of Arkansas School of Law in 1970. After graduation he began his military career as assistant staff judge advocate at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida. During his military career Meredith attended Squadron Officer School (1979) Air Command and Staff College (1981) and Air War College (1984).
Meredith retired as a colonel from the United States Air Force after completing over 27 years of active duty. At the time of his retirement, he served as the Staff Judge Advocate at Air University. He is from North Little Rock, Arkansas. He earned his commission through the Air Force Reserve officer Training Corps program at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. During his Air Force career, he served five times as a staff judge advocate. Meredith counts working with the outstanding men and women in our Reserve JAG and Paralegal programs as the highlight of his active duty career. He also served as the Staff Judge Advocate and central manager for the Air Force Reserve, Judge Advocate General program at the Air Reserve Personnel Center in Denver, Colorado.
During his military career Meredith was awarded with the Legion of Merit Award with one oak leaf cluster, Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Air Force Outstanding unit Award with three oak leaf clusters, National Defense Service Medal and Air Force longevity Service Ribbon with silver oak leaf.
After retiring from the Air Force, Meredith served as Senior Administrative Law attorney for the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, located in San Antonio, Texas. He served as the principal advisor to the Staff Judge Advocate and headquarters staff on ethics law, information and privacy law and related areas. While serving as an Air Staff attorney for HQ USAF, Administrative Law Division, he was primarily responsible for the legal review and update of all USAF Instructions impacting Morale, Welfare and Recreation(MWR) operations worldwide. His greatest impact was on Child and Youth Programs involving children with special needs including reasonable accommodation and the limits on care that can be provided to children with special needs in AF Child and Youth Programs IAW the Rehabilitation Act. He helped draft, edit and finalize what became the Air Force Child and Youth Program Policy for Children with Diabetes to assure uniform treatment and accommodation. He was also primarily responsible for the preparation, revision, and review of Commercial Sponsorship agreements and gifts that resulted in the receipt of over $7 M dollars to help support AF MWR programs and events for military members and families.
Col. Meredith is married to the former Charlotte Kathleen Denham of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He believes that his marriage to his wonderful wife Charlotte was the best decision he ever made. Deciding to serve as an Air Force Judge Advocate was his next best decision. Conley and Charlotte reside in San Antonio, Texas.
Public Service award
Kandice Bell is a graduate of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, Bell earned a Bachelor’s degree in political science in 1994 and earned her Juris Doctor from the University of Arkansas School of Law in 1997. Kandice Bell is employed at the Office of Governor Asa Hutchinson where she serves as the Governor’s senior counselor and district representative to Southeast Arkansas.
Bell was selected to serve as special judge at Pulaski County District Court in 2002. She was appointed by the Pine Bluff City Attorney to serve as an Assistant City Attorney in the Jefferson County District Court in 2016; Bell was appointed to the Arkansas Supreme Court as a special justice in a case by Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson in 2016, and has served as special judge in the Jefferson County Circuit Court-Juvenile Division with appointments in 2017-2018.
She represented the Jefferson County Bar Association in the House of Delegates in 2015, and was elected from her district to serve on the Board of Governors in 2018, both are the governing bodies to the State bar. On the recommendation by the Chief Justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court, the Disaster and Emergency Preparedness Committee was formed in 2019, and the bar president appointed Bell to chair the committee.
The Chief Justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court appointed Bell to serve on the Civil Justice Reform Team, where Bell has served on the subcommittee on complex litigation. She has been reappointed to serve on the association’s Ethics, Law-Related Education, Benefits, and Law School Committees.
Bell is a member of the Arkansas Bar Association. She was appointed by two past bar presidents to the association’s House Advisory Committee to advise the presidents on Federal legislative matters impacting the bar. She currently serves as the chair of the Commission on Diversity and Inclusion. The Arkansas Bar Association presented Bell a 2019 Golden Gavel award for her exceptional contributions as co-chair of the bar benefits committee.
Bell is the former two-time elected president of the Pine Bluff Newcomer’s Club in 2014-2016; the 2016 recipient of the J. Thomas May Scholarship to Leadership Pine Bluff, and a past volunteer to the Pine Bluff Community Theater. She is a board member to the Pine Bluff Salvation Army and past president of the auxiliary. She has served on the advisory board to the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Arkansas and the board of directors to the Arkansas Community Foundation, both have local affiliates in Pine Bluff.
Bell has dedicated her personal time to giving back to her home communities of White Hall and Pine Bluff by serving as a keynote speaker, presenter or facilitator at UAPB’s Upward Bound, White Hall High School Career Day, For Colored Girls Fall Retreat, Sisters in Service (SIS), Full Circle 360, Jobs for Arkansas Graduates, and a Summer Youth Enrichment program at St. Luke United Methodist Church. Bell has also mentored UAPB college students over the past four years.
Bell was born in Pine Bluff. She resides in the city of White Hall, and her family has resided there for over 40 years. She is a graduate of White Hall High School, a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and a member of Family Church Pine Bluff.
Public Service award
Autumn Tolbert is graduate of the University of Arkansas, receiving her Bachelors degree in political science in 2003 and her Juris Doctor from the School of Law in 2006. Autumn’s public service activities began while in law school, participating in the Innocence Project Clinic and clerking with the Public Defenders Office for the Fourth Judicial Circuit. Following graduation she became a Deputy Public Defender, serving in Washington and Benton counties where she worked for 6 years before becoming a private practioner, in this role she focused on criminal defense of indigent and immigrant populations, specifically the Marshallese community.
Autumn worked with other attorneys and organizations in the area in an attempt to end the 287(g) program in the Washington County jail. In her current role with the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Autumn helps to coordinate legal clinics for the Marshallese congregants and assists with other projects such as the LGBTQ Teen Camp hosted by the church during the summer.
She is the recipient of a Partnership Award from the Arkansas Coalition of Marshallese and the President’s award from the Arkansas Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys. Autumn coached the traveling trial team at the University of Arkansas School of Law for several years and is a board member for Pantry Gift, the non-profit arm of the Little Free Pantry program. She is an award winning columnist for the Arkansas Times, often drawing on her legal experience in her columns.
Rose Law Firm
CAREER CHAMPION AWARD – LARGE FIRM (10+)
Rose Law Firm is dedicated to enhancing legal education and providing opportunities for students to work within the firm. Each year Rose Law Firm provides extern and clerkship opportunities to students. They participate in on campus interviews and a large percentage of their attorneys are University of Arkansas School of Law alumni. Many members of the firm have been guest lecturers in the classrooms.
In addition to their volunteer service activities, Rose Law Firm is a generous financial supporter of the law school. In 2020 in honor of the firms 200th anniversary, they made a commitment to the University of Arkansas School of Law's Public Service initiatives through a pledge to the law school. The funding will promote and provide experiential opportunities for students with public service and pro bono interest. The award will support two summer public service fellowships and an annual pro bono fellow at the School of law for three years.
Rose Law Firm is the oldest law firm west of the Mississippi River, which traces its origin to November 1, 1820, before Arkansas statehood, when Robert Crittenden and Chester Ashley entered into an agreement for a “Partnership in the Practice of Law.” This partnership agreement hangs on the wall of the firm’s boardroom as a reminder of the long and storied history.
The firm strives to create long-term value for their clients by providing innovative, personalized legal solutions delivered through their commitment to excellence.
The Law Group of Northwest Arkansas
CAREER CHAMPION AWARD – SMALL FIRM (LESS THAN 10)
The Law Group of Northwest Arkansas has been a long-time supporter of legal education at the University of Arkansas School of Law. Founded by alumni, the firm has exclusively hired U of A School of Law graduates. Both K.C. Tucker and Kristy Boehler have served as adjunct faculty members and been huge supporters and contributors to the Food and Agricultural Law Program. The firm’s financial support to the program has provide opportunities for students and administrative flexibility for the program’s faculty.
The Law Group of Northwest Arkansas LLP represents individuals, families, small businesses, cooperatives, and large corporate clients in a wide range of litigation and general legal advice areas, serving as corporate counsel to a variety of Arkansas companies. With attorneys licensed in Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Virginia, we offer services in food and agricultural law, banking and bankruptcy, criminal and juvenile delinquency law, employment law, environmental law, estate planning, family law, and insurance defense.