A year after merger, lawyers split from Rose Law Firm for Conner & Winters

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 2,529 views 

Rebecca Hurst and Jim Smith have left Little Rock-based business law practice Rose Law Firm to work for Tulsa-based Conner & Winters as partners in the firm’s Fayetteville office.

Two prominent Northwest Arkansas business attorneys have changed law firms.

Rebecca Hurst and Jim Smith have left Little Rock-based business law practice Rose Law Firm to work for Tulsa-based Conner & Winters as partners in the firm’s Fayetteville office.

Their first day with the firm’s corporate and securities practice group was Monday (May 1).

“The addition of these well-regarded lawyers will further strengthen our firm’s profile in the region and elevate the services we offer,” Conner & Winters managing partner Kevin Redwine said. “We’re excited to have Rebecca and Jim join us in our ongoing mission to deliver legal services to our clients that are a step above the rest.”

Their departure comes a little more than a year following a high-profile acquisition. On April 1, 2022, Rose Law Firm acquired Smith Hurst PLC, a regional business law and private wealth law firm with seven attorneys in Rogers.

Hurst, Smith Hurst’s managing partner, became a Rose Law Firm member and was in charge of the firm’s two Northwest Arkansas locations. She also joined the firm’s executive committee. Smith initially joined the firm in an of counsel role. He had an in-house leadership role with Little Rock medical marijuana business Good Day Farm from June 2021 to July 2022 and did not actively practice at Rose Law Firm.

“We wish Jim and Rebecca well in their new endeavors,” Rose Law Firm managing member David Mitchell Jr. said in a statement to the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal.

Founded in 1820 before Arkansas statehood (1836), Rose Law Firm is the oldest business in the state and the oldest law firm west of the Mississippi River.

The company established its first satellite office in 2017 when Fayetteville attorneys Mark Henry and Adam Hopkins of the Henry Law Firm joined the firm.

Rose Law Firm maintains Northwest Arkansas offices inside the Hunt Tower in Rogers. The former Smith Hurst associate attorneys who joined the Rose Law Firm continue to work for the firm.

Mitchell said Rose Law Firm had appointed Bourgon Reynolds as its new Northwest Arkansas managing member. Reynolds focuses her practice on antitrust matters and general business litigation.  The Northwest Arkansas Business Journal named her to its 2019 Forty Under 40 class.

“Bourgon has been an instrumental part of the Rose Law Firm’s growth in Northwest Arkansas,” Mitchell said. “She is a strong advocate for our firm’s clients and a strong leader at the firm.”

Hurst and Smith started their law firm in the summer of 2011. They had previously worked at Friday, Eldredge & Clark in Fayetteville. Smith was one of two attorneys dispatched from central Arkansas to open the Little Rock-based law firm’s Fayetteville office in 2000. He later hired Hurst in 2004 after she had graduated from the University of Arkansas School of Law.

Smith Hurst started in downtown Fayetteville with an office on Dickson Street. In March 2017, the firm opened a satellite office at Hunt Tower. By the end of the year, the Dickson Street office closed, and Smith Hurst moved all its attorneys and staff to Rogers full-time.

“Jim and I are both very excited for the opportunity to practice together once again,” Hurst said.

Hurst’s background involves advising businesses on employment matters, corporate structure, financing and mergers and acquisitions. With roots in representing family offices for high-net-worth individuals, Hurst frequently is an outsourced general counsel for various business clients.

Smith’s transactional experience spans various business matters and transactions, including shareholder governance, investments, real estate, mergers and acquisitions, security offerings and new business formation, with a significant focus on venture capital, private equity, and angel investments.

Hurst and Smith have both been adjunct professors at their alma mater, the University of Arkansas School of Law, and they both received a Masters of Law in Taxation (LL.M.) from the New York University School of Law.

They are both active in local organizations and serve on multiple boards and advisory committees. They include the Northwest Arkansas Council, Arkansas Economic Development Commission, Arkansas Arts Council, Walton Arts Center Corporate Leadership Council, Arkansas Venture Capital Forum, Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce, and many others.

Smith is also chairman of the Arkansas Tech University Board of Trustees.

Conner & Winters is marking its 90th year in 2023 and has 12 attorneys practicing in its Fayetteville office, representing a broad range of multinational corporations, local businesses, individuals and entrepreneurs. The firm also has offices in Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Dallas, Houston and Washington, D.C.

The firm opened its Fayetteville office in the 1990s. Rob Walton, the retired chairman of Walmart Inc. and the oldest son of Sam and Helen Walton, was once a partner in the firm’s Tulsa office.