Forty Under 40: Craig Cockrell

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 1,451 views 

Class of 2017 Forty Under 40 Craig Cockrell Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard PLLC Counsel

Craig Cockrell is a tax bond lawyer in Mitchell Williams’ business practice group, specializing in the intricacies of municipal bond financing. He helps cities, schools and other public entities borrow money for infrastructure. He also handles tax controversies, business transactional matters and trust and estate planning.

Cockrell was raised modestly in Monticello in south Arkansas. His third-grade teacher predicted his skill in disagreeing would make him a good lawyer. He hadn’t decided upon a career path when he set off for the University of Arkansas, so he majored in English literature.

A job posting in his fraternity house changed everything; he applied to be a runner at the Mitchell Williams firm in Rogers. While he served subpoenas and stocked sodas, he observed the lawyers and developed an interest in estate planning. He went on to graduate from the UA School of Law in Fayetteville (clerking at Mitchell Williams during summers), then earned a Masters of Law in taxation from the University of Florida School of Law and returned to the firm.

Since 2013, he has helped public entities throughout Arkansas to issue more than $600 million in bonds — including the $120 million issue for the UA’s Razorback Stadium expansion project.

Cockrell now jokes that translating tax bonds isn’t vastly different from analyzing Shakespeare.

As a board member for Northwest Arkansas Junior Achievement, Cockrell aligned with the local chapter of Court Appointed Special Advocates to teach financial literacy to teenage foster children aging out of the system —  practical skills like budgeting, creating resumes and using debit and credit cards.

“They’re about to roll out into the real world, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised how receptive they are,” Cockrell said. He’s also active with Mercy Health Foundation’s Planned Giving Committee.