Then & Now: Hutchinson helps grow RMP litigation practice
Editor’s Note: The following story appeared in the May 8 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.
Tim Hutchinson Jr. is no stranger to the courtroom.
In his 23 years as an attorney, he’s represented area cities, large corporations and high-net-worth clients.
“I enjoy the competition,” he said. “Litigation is just that. It’s a competition.”
In a recent interview, Hutchinson recalled key cases in his career and discussed recent headlines about the Hutchinson family. On consecutive days in April, Hutchinson’s twin brother Jeremy, a former lawmaker, was sentenced to federal prison for corruption. His uncle, former Gov. Asa Hutchinson, announced he was running for president.
In 2002, the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal named Hutchinson to the Forty Under 40 class. Earlier that year, he’d established Williams & Hutchinson Attorneys at Law in Rogers with partner Ronald Williams.
Hutchinson, 49, worked there until 2012, when he became a partner at RMP LLP. He joined to help the boutique tax firm establish a litigation presence.
“I love the people here,” he said. “I knew the attorneys previously and liked the vision they had planned for the firm. It was an opportunity to expand my practice areas and grow a firm with people I enjoy being around.”
The firm has grown to comprise 14 litigators among more than 30 attorneys across offices in Bentonville, Johnson, Jonesboro and Little Rock. Hutchinson primarily works at the Johnson office and handles commercial, trust and employment defense litigation. He spends most of his time working on corporate investigations and employment defense.
Excluding trust litigation, most of his clients are businesses such as Walmart and Tyson Foods. Trust litigation typically involves high-net-worth families.
He represented the daughters of late Fort Smith businessman H.C. “Dude” Crain and helped them receive about $100 million, or half of his estate. That decision is being appealed, but he is cautiously optimistic it will be upheld.
Hutchinson successfully defended Gravette-based Hendren Plastics, owned by his cousin Jim Hendren, against drug-court program participants that it employed. In the wage dispute case, a federal judge initially ruled against the plastics plant, but the appeals court sided with the company.
When Hutchinson’s uncle announced running for president, he was in a jury trial at the Benton County Courthouse in downtown Bentonville.
“I couldn’t make it to his announcement, but … outside this courtroom was his announcement,” he joked. “During cross-examination … the band was playing patriotic music. I’ve never had that happen before.”
He’s excited about his uncle’s presidential run and will support him financially. He noted it would be an “uphill battle” and hopes his uncle can help shape the political debate.
The day before the announcement, Hutchinson’s twin brother, a former state senator, was sentenced to federal prison. Asked about his reaction, he described sadness and how other families have faced similar heartbreaking challenges. He’s prayed for and encouraged his brother.
“That’s all you can do,” Hutchinson said. “I can’t snap my finger and make this go away for him … .
“I don’t think his story’s over. We hope he’ll come out and make a positive difference in the lives of the people he touches. Confident he will.”
Hutchinson previously taught business and employment law as an adjunct professor at John Brown University for about six years and served as a Benton County election commissioner and legal counsel for Arkansas’ Secretary of State during legislative redistricting in 2011. He’s also represented area cities and served as their prosecuting attorney. Between 2005 and 2007, he was a state representative.
“I loved serving. I loved the session. I loved being on the judiciary committee,” he said. “But it was such a sacrifice from my family and financially that I couldn’t run for reelection.”
While he doesn’t plan to run again for political office, he said, “the great thing about being a lawyer [is] you can have a significant impact on public policy with the cases you bring.”
He and his wife, Julie, reside in Springdale. Their two sons are both University of Arkansas students.
Hutchinson serves on the Arkansas Supreme Court Committee on Professional Conduct. He enjoys fishing and golf.