Then & Now: McClure approaches work, hobby with zeal

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 828 views 

Editor’s Note: The following story appeared in the Dec. 6 issue of the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal. “Then & Now” is a profile of a past member of the Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 class.

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Rogers attorney Ed McClure said the desire to help others has been a driving factor of his life.

“I want to be known as someone that tried to help people whether they were my clients or not,” he said in a recent interview.

For the past 35 years, McClure, 61, has helped many people through his work at the downtown Rogers law firm

Matthews, Campbell, Rhoads, McClure & Thompson, which launched 45 years ago as a small firm in Lowell. He is one of the firm’s partners among 14 practicing attorneys, and his practice focuses on general, family, corporate and civil law.

McClure is an “A”-rated attorney from the peer ratings of Martindale Hubbell, and he is admitted to practice in Arkansas, Missouri and New York.

Originally from Iowa, McClure graduated from Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa, in 1982. He worked for a year in the Iowa House of Representatives before attending the University of Arkansas School of Law, graduating in 1986.

While in law school, Matthews, Campbell and Rhoads hired McClure as a clerk in 1984. He joined the firm full-time after graduating and worked as an associate attorney for nearly four years before the firm offered him a partnership. He became managing partner in 1996, and the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal included him in its inaugural Forty Under 40 class in 1997.

McClure said his philosophy about his work is to take time and listen to clients. He said it’s a strong-held belief, and COVID made it challenging to achieve.

“They [clients] all have different concerns, and some have fears because they don’t know what it means to create a will or why you need to create a trust,” he said. “It’s crucial to listen to your clients and take the time to explain things and determine their needs.”

McClure is a familiar figure in Northwest Arkansas’ legal community. He has previously served as Rogers interim municipal judge, as well as on several professional associations, including the Arkansas Bar Association Board of Governors (2000-2003), House of Delegates (1998-2003) and the Benton County Bar Association (president, 1991-1992).

“I really love what I do,” he said. “I have great people at this law firm and an amazing assistant who puts up with me.”

As his career has been successful, McClure has pursued his hobby with equal enthusiasm — writing and acting for theater.

When organizers incorporated the Rogers Little Theater in 1986, the nonprofit group selected McClure as its first president. He was one of a group of 30 who attended the theater’s first organizational meeting, arranged by Kaye Cotton, an official with the Rogers Chamber of Commerce.

RLT today is known as the Arkansas Public Theatre (APT), and McClure’s support is just as devoted. He has served more terms as president of Northwest Arkansas’ only all-volunteer community theater, and there are few people, if any, who have appeared in or directed more of its productions.

“It’s something my wife and I enjoy doing together, and our son is in New York. And that’s what he does. It’s just a part of us,” said McClure, who serves on APT’s executive committee as the art director. “Many of the folks involved in Arkansas Public Theatre are part of my circle of friends; we go to church together. They’re just good people. Being a volunteer organization, we’re all working for the same thing and trying to reach the same goal, and that is to produce high-quality theatre that can be transformative in our community.”

The Arkansas PBS Foundation, which helps fundraise and coordinate volunteers for Arkansas PBS, the statewide public media network, elected McClure to its board of directors earlier this year. He’s also a member of the city of Rogers’ historic district commission and public art commission.

When asked what his advice to aspiring attorneys would be, McClure said to find a mentor, work harder than everybody else and never stop learning.

“And don’t be afraid to learn from attorneys you have cases against, even in a zealously contested matter,” he said. “Be respectful and cordial and understand you can disagree without being disagreeable. There is so much of that now, and we don’t have to be that way.”