Legal Aid Honors Attorneys for Volunteerism

In observance of Law Day, a day designed to celebrate the role of law in our society and to cultivate a deeper understanding of the legal profession, Legal Aid of Arkansas has announced awards for its top volunteers. According to Lee Richardson, Executive Director of Legal Aid of Arkansas: “Attorneys in Arkansas are selfless in their commitment to providing access to justice to those of humble financial means. Pro Bono volunteers allow Legal Aid to serve hundreds of individuals and families annually who would otherwise be standing alone at the Courthouse door.”

The Arkansas Access to Justice Commission joins Legal Aid in thanking these attorneys for living up to their professional duty to serve the impoverished, defenseless, and oppressed. Pro Bono service represents what is best about the legal profession and the Commission encourages all lawyers to follow the example of these honorees by giving back to their community.

2017 Outstanding Pro Bono Service Awards

Equal Access to Justice Panel-Outstanding Attorney

John Blair (Rogers)

Arkansas Volunteer Lawyers for the Elderly-Outstanding Attorney

Steven Davis (Harrison) & Ray Nickle (Jonesboro)

Medical-Legal Partnership-Outstanding Attorney

William Waddell Jr. (Little Rock)

Outstanding Pro Bono Attorneys

First Judicial District: Carter Dooley (Wynne) & Austin Easley (Forrest City)

Second Judicial District: Kevin Cole (Jonesboro), Christopher Jester (Jonesboro), Jeanette Whatley (Marion), Bill E. Bracey (Blytheville), & Jay Scurlock (Paragould)

Third Judicial District: Ed Boyce (Newport), Jim McLarty (Newport) & Joe Grider (Pocahontas)

Fourth Judicial District: Donald Tippett (Fayetteville) & Greg Cuzick (Springdale)

Fourteenth Judicial District: James Wallace (Flippin), Jodi Strother (Mountain Home), & Johnny Nichols (Harrison)

Sixteenth Judicial District: Scott Stalker (Batesville) & Mat Dellinger (Melbourne)

Nineteenth Judicial District: Joshua Meister (Rogers), Hadley Hindmarsh (Rogers), Will Prettyman (Rogers)

Twentieth Judicial District: Jerry Patterson (Marshall) & Donna Price (Clinton)

Over 50 Hours of Pro Bono Service

Ray Nickle (Jonesboro), Donn Mixon (Jonesboro), Jeanette Whatley (Marion), William Waddell Jr. (Little Rock), Harry Light (Little Rock), Jacob Worlow(Fayetteville), & Adam Lentz (Fayetteville)

Over 20 Hours of Pro Bono Service

Joshua Meister (Rogers), Joanne McCracken (Lowell), Mary Schneider (Rogers), Johnny Nichols (Harrison), Steven Davis (Harrison), Chris Flanagin (Eureka Springs), Ariel Snyder (Jonesboro), Roger McNeil (Jonesboro), Kevin Cole (Jonesboro), Christopher Jester (Jonesboro), Kevin Orr (Jonesboro), Megan Henry(Jonesboro), Justin Parkey (Jonesboro), Seth Williams (Jonesboro), Quincy Jaeger (Jonesboro), Lorie Whitby (Paragould), Jay Scurlock (Paragould), Blair Arnold(Batesville), Scott Stalker (Batesville), Bill E. Bracey (Blytheville), Michalene Connealy (Blytheville), Ben Hollowell (North Little Rock), Tory Lewis (Little Rock), Ann Faitz (North Little Rock), Jerry Patterson (Marshall), Donna Price (Clinton), Donald Tippett (Fayetteville), Raymond Smith (Fayetteville), Greg Cuzick (Springdale), Everett DePangher (Fayetteville), Kelly Freeze (Fayetteville), Kimberly Petrone (Fayetteville), Maggie Benson (Fayetteville), J. Timothy Smith (Fayetteville), Scott E. Smith (Fayetteville), George Butler (Fayetteville), D. Westbrook Doss (Fayetteville), Gail Segers (Fayetteville), Bob I. Mayes (Fayetteville), Greg Niblock (Stuttgart), Leigh Ann Yeargan (Fayetteville), Sarah Reyes (Rogers), Geoff Edwards (Fayetteville), Jennifer Quezada (Cave Springs), Tara Smith (Rogers), & Jeff McGinnis (Bentonville)

Caitlin Savage Named Recipient of Equal Justice Distinguished Service Award


Caitlin Savage, a devoted pro bono attorney and community volunteer, will be honored with the Equal Justice Distinguished Service Award at the upcoming 2017 Arkansas Bar Annual Meeting in June. The Arkansas Bar Foundation annually issues the award to an individual who shows a commitment to equal justice programs for the poor, including pro bono efforts through legal services programs.

Ms. Savage is one of the youngest recipients to have received this award, having just graduated from the University of Arkansas School of Law in 2013. Since becoming an attorney, Ms. Savage has volunteered for Arkansas Access to Justice, Legal Aid of Arkansas, and Center for Arkansas Legal Services in clinics to assist marginalized Arkansans with legal documents necessary to improve employment opportunities, preserve family stability, and obtain identity documents.

In 2016, Ms. Savage was appointed as the chair of the Pro Bono Committee for the Arkansas Bar Association’s Young Lawyers’ Section. As chair, Caitlin has worked tirelessly to serve the low-income citizens of Arkansas. She has assisted Legal Aid of Arkansas with its expungement clinic at St. Vincent’s Hospital through its Medical-Legal Partnership. She has also organized three separate Wills for Heroes Estate Planning Clinics across the state which specifically serve police, firefighters, first responders, and veterans.

Apart from her pro bono work, Caitlin is passionate about fundraising for local nonprofits. In 2015, she received a grant from the Southern Partners Fund to study “raising resources in the rural South.” In 2016, the Arkansas Association of Fundraising Professionals named her as the Chamberlain Scholar for her devotion to fundraising.

Since 2015, Ms. Savage has volunteered her time with Lucie’s Place, the only nonprofit in Arkansas that specifically houses and assists homeless LGBT youth. She now serves as the chair of the Fundraising Advisory Board, where she organizes and supervises several fundraisers throughout the year.

Last year, Ms. Savage served as the chair of the Merchants Lounge Committee for the Junior League of Little Rock’s Holiday House fundraiser. This event is the organization’s largest fundraiser, providing the bulk of the funding for their volunteer work throughout the community.

Caitlin also volunteered last year on behalf of the Arkansas Bar Association at Hall High School’s Law Day celebration, where she discussed the importance of Miranda rights with students.

Ms. Savage is an attorney with Wilson & Associates, PLLC, in Little Rock.

Katelyn Busby Honored for Pro Bono Service

Katelyn Busby, a Monticello attorney practicing at the Hashem Law Firm, was recently honored by the Center for Arkansas Legal Services as their Attorney of the Year for the 10th Judicial District. Each year, the Center selects an attorney practicing in the 10th Judicial District to receive this award. To receive the award, an attorney must participate in VOCALS, a program run by the Center which matches volunteer attorneys in private practice with low-income clients in need of legal assistance. Mrs. Busby was selected for the award based on her dedication to serving those in need and her active participation as a volunteer with the VOCALS program.

The Arkanas Access to Justice Commission joins the Center for Arkanas Legal Services in thanking Mrs. Busby for living up to the professional obligation all attorneys have to serve the impoverished, the defenseless, and the oppressed.

Jimmy Dill Named Jefferson County Volunteer Attorney of the Year

Jimmy Dill, of Pine Bluff Title Company, was recently named the 2016 Volunteer Attorney of the Year for Jefferson County. The award was presented by the Center for Arkansas Legal Services at the Jefferson County Bar Association’s December meeting. The Center is a non-profit law firm which represents low income individuals with legal problems. To be eligible for the Volunteer Attorney of the Year Award, an attorney must participate in the VOCALS program. This program allows the Center to serve more clients by matching attorneys in private practice willing to donate some of their time with indigent clients. Mr. Dill was selected for his dedication to service and willingness to assist clients through the VOCALS program.

The Arkansas Access to Justice Commission congratulates Mr. Dill on receiving this award and encourages all attorneys to show the same committment to giving back to their communties.

Nate Coulter Receives 2016 Equal Justice Distinguished Service Award

Former Arkansas Access to Justice Commissioner and Foundation Board Member Nate Coulter was honored at the June 2016 Arkansas Bar Annual Meeting with the Equal Justice Distinguished Service Award. The Arkansas Bar Foundation annually issues the award to an individual in recognition of their commitment to and participation in equal justice programs for the poor, including pro bono efforts, through legal services programs.

Over the course of his career, Coulter has played a major role in shaping the access-to-justice movement in Arkansas. In 2000, he convened and invited leaders in the Arkansas bar, bench, law schools, and other stakeholders to speak at the first symposium on the legal needs of low-income Arkansans and access to justice in Arkansas. This event resulted in the creation of an Arkansas Bar Association task force that petitioned the Arkansas Supreme Court for the creation of the Arkansas Access to Justice Commission. After the petition was granted, Coulter served on the Commission for eleven years. During his tenure, he was involved in initiatives to increase funding for civil legal aid and improve access to the civil justice system for all Arkansans.

Coulter has also demonstrated his commitment to access to justice through his service to other organizations. He has served as a member of VOCALS since 1987, and on the board of directors of the Arkansas Access to Justice Foundation (formerly Arkansas IOLTA Foundation) board from 2002 to 2016.

Coulter currently serves at the Director of the Central Arkansas Library System.

Foundation Board Member Gingerich Receives Kenneth R. Palmer Distinguished Service Award

James D. Gingerich, Director of the Arkansas Administrative Office of the Courts, recently was named recipient of the Kenneth R. Palmer Distinguished Service Award. The presentation was made during the joint meeting of the Conference of Chief Justices and Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA) during their annual meeting in Omaha, Nebraska. The award is presented every other year to a current or former member of COSCA who has demonstrated extraordinary leadership and excellence in judicial administration.

“Gingerich has diligently worked not only to improve the justice system at home, but he has contributed his formidable talents in so many ways to COSCA that it would be simply impossible to list them all,” West Virginia State Court Administrator Steven D. Canterbury said in a letter of nomination.

Among his colleagues, Gingerich is considered a “transformative leader,” helping the courts in his state advance in several areas, such as structural and administrative unification, court technology, problem-solving courts, criminal justice sentencing reform, court financing, access to justice, interpreter services, and court security and emergency preparedness. In 2012 he was inducted into the NCSC Warren Burger Society for his volunteer service with the International Programs Division to improve courts in Kosovo and Haiti.

Gingerich served as COSCA president in 2006 at which time he also served as vice-chair of the National Center for State Courts Board of Directors. He was appointed Arkansas State Court Administrator in 1988 and in that capacity, he also serves as the secretary/treasurer of the Arkansas Judicial Council. Originally from Stuttgart, Gingerich received degrees from the University of Central Arkansas, the University of Arkansas School of Law and the University of Bristol, England. He and his wife, Janet, now reside in Conway.

The Palmer Award was created in 2001 and honors Kenneth Palmer, the former Florida State Court Administrator. At the time of his death, Palmer was one of the longest serving state court administrators in the country.

COSCA is comprised of the chief executives of the court systems in each state, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories. The conference is committed to strengthening the judicial branch by improving the quality of state courts and increasing the public’s trust and confidence in the justice system. COSCA works closely with the Conference of Chief Justices, CCJ, which is made up of the top judicial official from each state and territory. The two associations promote the interests and effectiveness of state judicial systems by developing policies and educational programs designed to improve court operations. Both COSCA and CCJ act as the primary representative of the state courts before Congress and federal executive agencies.

The National Center for State Courts, headquartered in Williamsburg, Va., is a nonprofit court organization dedicated to improving the administration of justice by providing leadership and service to the state courts. NCSC provides executive secretariat work to COSCA. Founded in 1971 by the Conference of Chief Justices and Chief Justice of the United States Warren E. Burger, NCSC provides education, training, technology, management, and research services to the nation’s state courts.

Veteran Legal Aid Attorney Receives Equal Justice Distinguished Service Award


Center for Arkansas Legal Services Managing Attorney Dustin Duke is the 2015 recipient of the Arkansas Bar Foundation‘s Equal Justice Distinguished Service Award, according to the Foundation’s Executive Director Ann Pyle. The award, which was presented at a June 10, 2015 awards banquet, is given each year in recognition of commitment to and participation in equal justice program for the poor, including pro bono efforts through legal services programs.

During his 14 years of practice, Duke has served clients through both the Center for Arkansas Legal Services and Legal Aid of Arkansas. In his 11 years with the Center, he has handled more than 3,800 cases, 165 of which were in 2014.  Much of his case work has focused on family law and domestic abuse. In 2014, Duke was among a team of legal aid attorneys who succeeded in getting Arkansas’s criminal eviction statute overturned in the state’s most populous county.

“Dustin is often the first person to arrive at the office in the morning, and the last to leave in the evening,” said Center for Arkansas Legal Services Executive Director Jean Carter. “He works tirelessly to provide his clients with the best possible representation, and his colleagues respect his leadership and his commitment to obtaining justice.”

Commission Honors Legal Aid Advocates at Annual Staff Conference


The Arkansas Access to Justice Commission honored two legal aid staff members at the 2014 Statewide Legal Aid Staff Conference held October 15-17 at Lake DeGray State Park. Center for Arkansas Legal Services Managing Attorney Dustin Duke and Legal Aid of Arkansas paralegal Kathy Grady received the Commission’s Champion of Justice Award in recognition of their exemplary commitment to ensuring that disadvantaged Arkansans have access to civil justice through high-quality legal representation.

Duke, who works in the Little Rock office, has handled more than 3,800 cases during his ten years with legal aid. Much of his case work has focused on family cases involving domestic abuse. Grady is a veteran paralegal in the LAA Newport office, where she has worked for 34 years.


“Dustin and Kathy are both accomplished, passionate advocates who put their hearts and souls into serving Arkansas’s most vulnerable citizens,” said Commission Executive Director Amy Johnson. “They do it with no expectation of recognition or even thanks. They represent the very best of what the legal profession should be about.”

The Champion of Justice Award is given to an attorney or staff advocate who has worked for legal aid for three or more years; whose primary job responsibilities include direct service to clients; and who handles client matters with compassion, tenacity, and professionalism.

Friday Firm’s Harry Light Honored for Commitment to Access to Justice

Friday, Eldredge & Clark partner Harry Light has received the Arkansas Bar Foundation’s 2014 Equal Justice Distinguished Service Award. The award, which was presented at a June 11 awards banquet in Hot Springs, is given annually to recognize dedication to and participation in the equal justice program for the poor, including pro bono efforts through legal services programs.

Light, who practices in the areas of bankruptcy, creditors’ rights, commercial litigation, and trademark/copyright applications, has also served as the mayor of Cammack Village, Arkansas, since 1995.

Light has demonstrated an ardent commitment to improving access to justice in Arkansas through his pro bono service in the Arkansas Delta. In 2013 alone, Light donated more than 64 hours of his time to the medical-legal partnership in Clarendon, Arkansas, at Mid-Delta Health Systems. On the third Tuesday of every month, he interviews clients, provides advice, and takes cases.

“I am humbled each time I visit with legal aid clients in the Delta and am fortified by the strength and courage they exhibit in meeting life’s basic challenges with limited means,” Light said. “To be able to assist them in some small way is one of the most fulfilling and rewarding privileges of being an Arkansas lawyer.”

Light has been a member of the Volunteer Organization for the Center for Arkansas Legal Services (VOCALS) since 1990. He is also a member of Legal Aid of Arkansas’s Equal Access to Justice Panel (EAJP).

Light puts precedence on making personal connections through his pro bono work. In 2012, he handled a case involving a guardianship for two newborn twins. A twin himself, Light was eager to assist the babies’ grandmother in filing a petition. Over the Thanksgiving holiday that year, Light stopped by the Clarendon grocery store to pick up a gift certificate for his client, who was caring for two other grandchildren in addition to the twins. After visiting the family, he remarked to a colleague, “I never knew pro bono work could be so emotional.”

In addition to his pro bono work, Light volunteers for the Central Arkansas Rescue Effort for Animals (CARE), which he founded in 1998. He also serves on the boards of Metroplan and the Arkansas Better Business Bureau. Light has served on the Arkansas Bar Association’s House of Delegates and Board of Governors, and in 2009, he received the Association’s Golden Gavel Award for his work as the Chair of the 2009 Annual Meeting.

Arkansas Access to Justice Commission members Representative John Vines and D’lorah Hughes, as well as Arkansas Access to Justice Foundation board member Frank Sewall, were also recognized at the June 11 ceremony for their contributions to the legal profession.

Vines was awarded the Arkansas Bar Association Presidential Award. The award honors an individual who works to advance the administration of justice and promotes the principles of integrity, learning, and public service. Hughes received the Special Award of Merit for her substantial contributions to the education of future Arkansas lawyers through her work in the Juvenile Law Clinic at the University of Arkansas School of Law.

Sewall received the Arkansas Bar Foundation’s C.E. Ransick Award of Excellence. This award is presented to an attorney each year whom the Arkansas Bar Association recognizes for setting the bar of excellence and for demonstrating exemplary practice in and out of the courtroom.

Friday, Eldredge & Clark to Receive National Award for Pro Bono Service

Arkansas’s largest law firm—Friday, Eldredge & Clark—is among a handful of law firms nationally that the National Legal Aid & Defender Association has selected to receive its prestigious Beacon of Justice Award at a June 2014 ceremony in Washington, D.C. The firm will be receiving the award in recognition of its pioneering volunteer work with Legal Aid of Arkansas and an Arkansas Delta-based medical-legal partnership. Award recipients were selected using critera that assessed increased access to representation through the utilization of groundbreaking and original ideas, tools, and technology to create new delivery models and initiatives.

In 2012, the Friday Firm’s Commercial Litigation Practice Group began traveling to Clarendon, Arkansas, on the third Thursday of every month to meet with patients at Mid-Delta Health Systems. Since that time, they have “adopted” the clinic and now send a team of attorneys to meet with clinic patients twice a month to provide free legal assistance for issues ranging from family law to consumer matters. Their work has expanded to include another Legal Aid of Arkansas medical-legal partnership in another poor, rural area of the state: Lee County Cooperative Clinic in Marianna, Arkansas.

“The Friday Firm’s commitment to these projects has proven to be an innovative, high-impact way to help these rural clinics address underlying social issues that affect health outcomes of their patients,” said Arkansas Access to Justice Commission Executive Director Amy Johnson. The firm’s attorneys volunteered more than 300 hours in 2013 on this project alone, said Johnson. In total, Friday Firm attorneys performed a total of more than 1,700 hours of pro bono services statewide in 2013. At least two of the Friday Firm’s clients have supported these efforts, either by making financial contributions to the Arkansas Access to Justice Foundation or by sponsoring and providing employee support for pro bono events.

Harry Light—a Friday Firm lawyer who volunteers for the medical-legal partnership project—underscored the personal impact that this project has had on him: “I am humbled each time I visit with legal aid clients in the Delta and am fortified by the strength and courage they exhibit in meeting life’s basic challenges with limited means. To be able to assist them in some small way is one of the most fulfilling and rewarding privileges of being an Arkansas lawyer.”

Shep Russell, the managing partner at the Friday firm, noted how the firm’s young lawyers are drawn to access to justice issues:  “Our younger lawyers are busy establishing their practices, but they make time for pro bono work. It fulfills their desire to use their skills to improve the community, whether it be writing simple wills and powers of attorney for the parents of children who are patients at Arkansas Children’s Hospital or helping a grandmother become the legal guardian of her grandchildren.” He added, “We are humbled that the NLADA has recognized our firm for the pro bono work that our lawyers did because they wanted to make a difference.”

NLADA annually sponsors 13 awards honoring the distinguished men, women, firms and organizations whose outstanding service and achievements advance the cause of equal access to justice. Past awardees have included Brad Smith of Microsoft; Rick Cotton of NBC Universal; Legal Services Corporation’s Technology Initiative Grant program; Hillary Rodham Clinton, Legal Services Advocate and First Lady; New York Times; Daily Record; Hon. Janet Reno, Former United States Attorney General; Brooklyn (NY) Bar Association; State Bar of California; and many others advancing the cause of equal access to justice. Award winners will be formally honored at the NLADA Exemplar Award Dinner on Thursday, June 26, 2014, at The Mayflower Renaissance Hotel in Washington D.C.

As Arkansas’s largest law firm, Friday, Eldredge & Clark serves a diverse clientele across Arkansas and throughout the United States. The firm’s lawyers work closely, whether as local counsel or regional counsel, with some of the finest firms in America.  The firm is a member of the Southern Law Network, comprising many of the leading law firms with offices in 13 states.