Fast 15: Nicole Chapman

by Talk Business & Politics ([email protected]) 321 views 

As an undergraduate pursuing a psychology degree from the University of Arkansas, Nicole Chapman began

considering a post-graduate path studying law.

Her father, a native of France, suggested working as a courier might help reveal if that was something worth pursuing.

“My dad, being from France, he had a little different perception of the law profession,” she said. “He and my mom thought it might make me run.”

On the contrary, Chapman — who once thought she might become a psychiatrist — has embraced her profession. After graduating magna cum laude from the UA School of Law in 2011, she entered the Masters of Law (Taxation) program at New York University’s School of Law, earning her degree one year ago.

She immediately accepted a job offer from Jim Smith and Rebecca Hurst, who opened their firm in 2011. They had become familiar with Chapman while working for another local firm — the same firm where Chapman worked as a courier.

She was Smith Hurst’s first hire. Despite job opportunities in New York and her native Little Rock, Chapman joined the Fayetteville firm without hesitation.

“Having the opportunity to learn from Jim was a big factor,” Chapman said.

Chapman focuses her practice on issues facing entrepreneurs and the growing startup community. She is a board member of the Northwest Arkansas Entrepreneurship Alliance, and is involved with The ARK Challenge, a mentorship-driven business accelerator program.

She worked closely with two of the three winning companies last fall, earning each of them $150,000. Chapman’s
organizational skills also were leaned on heavily in the firm’s representation of the transaction earlier this year that landed Fayetteville e-commerce firm Acumen Brands an $83 million investment round.

“She easily satisfied the responsibilities of a fourth- or fifth-year lawyer,” Smith noted.

Chapman, a dual citizen of France and the U.S., was married last fall and enjoys traveling with her husband, Chance, also a Fast 15 honoree. She professes a guilty pleasure for rap music, but added her husband has never heard her sing any kind of song in their four years together.

“I’m doing us both a favor,” she joked.