Teri Stafford and I left for the Union County Bar Association meeting from the Holiday Inn Presidential inRoad Trip Little Rock at 8:30 a.m. once I printed out my speech in the hotel business center and headed down on a beautiful sunny day to El Dorado. The drive was fantastic.
We arrived in plenty of time at the El Dorado Country Club. When we got there Raymond Higgins, one of our 50+ year alums, was waiting for us. He looked very dapper in his bow tie. I had a chance to sit quietly and visit with him before the bar meeting started. The meeting started at noon and we all had an interesting lunch. For the foodies out there, it was a soup aChattingnd salad bar. The soup was a broccoli cheese soup, but the salad bar had both regular salad and taco salad with either chicken or beef. The dessert was peach cobbler. I just had soup because I had to speak.

By the way, this was the largest attendance at the meeting in quite a while, and the wait staff had to bring in another table. We were very pleased to be able to fellowship with so many members of the Union County Bar, including many of our alums – Jack William Barker, O. Worth Camp Jr., Walter K. Compton, John Crisp, Robert L. Depper Jr., Ronald L. Griggs, JudgeSpeech David F. Guthrie, Albert R. Hanna, Susan O. Hickey, Raymond B. Higgins, Amanda Hurst, Andrew King, Henry Kinslow, Dr. Gary D. McDonald, James E. McMenis, Judge Bobby E. Shepherd, Matthew Joseph Shepherd, and Floyd Matt Thomas. At 12:20 p.m. Phil Pesek called the meeting to order and I gave a speech on the Rule of Law and our role in it as lawyers. Thanks very much to Prof. Steve Sheppard who helped in preparing these remarks. I couldn’t have done it without him. He provided me with a lot of background material. Thanks also to my research assistant, Stacia Alvarez. It’s very much due to their assistance and preparation that I was able to have a successful presentation. As it turned out, the members of the Bar on May 1 (which is Law Day) were going to talk to the high school about the Rule of Law and we were able to make copies of my remarks for them to take with them. In my speech, I focused on the requirements for the Rule of Law and talked about the role lawyers play in each. It was really good to visit with the Bar.

Matt and MattAfter that Teri and I made some visits around El Dorado. We started with Matthew Shepherd and Matt Thomas. Both are our alums and both are 2001 graduates. We talked to them about the El Dorado Promise Scholarships that were provided by Murphy Oil Company. The scholarships provide anyone who graduates from high school in the school district (it’s phased in based on the number of years you have attended high school there) with the financial support to attend college. Henderson College has agreed, if a student takes one of those scholarships, to match that or at least to provide the remainder of the balance that would be due to attend there. It is a wonderful opportunity. A high school graduate can attend any school in the country and there is no requirement to return to El Dorado. There has been a 10% increase in enrollment in the school district because people are moving there to take advantage of the wonderful opportunity provided by the El Dorado Promise.

Also, for students who are job searching, please know that Matt’s firm Compton, Prewett, Thomas & Hickey, L.L.P. is looking to hire. They would like for lawyers to come back to El Dorado to practice. The firm is particularly in need of estate planning and also just general practice lawyers, for those who would be interested in practicing in the area. So, Matt and Matt have promised to come up to spend a day in the library for the “A Day with a Lawyer” program to talk to students about the opportunities that are available. According to Matt, if you move to El Dorado, because there are so many fewer lawyers than for example in Little Rock and Northwest Arkansas, you are immediately able to hit the ground running in your practice with jury trials and extensive client contact. It’s a really good opportunity and they are lookLaw clerksing for lawyers.

After that, we went to visit with Judge Bobby Shepherd, our graduation speaker, in his new beautiful offices. We visited with his two law clerks who are also alums of the law school, Andrew King and Amanda Hurst. Judge Shepherd is looking to hire two new law clerks. He would like to meet students from the UofA, and encourages you to apply for clerkships in his office. We were very excited to hear about that and we have passed that on to Susan Schell and have posted info on my Facebook page. We had a lovely visit with Judge Shepherd during which I learned a lot about the functioning of the Eighth Circuit and also about the Eighth Circuit Judicial Conference.

Later, we went and checked into our hotel which was the Union Square Guest Quarters, a very lovely, small hotel with huge, huge rooms. I would highly recommend anyone who visits El Dorado to stay here. The hostess was town squarevery warm and accommodating and the rooms were fantastic. After checking in, Teri and I went for a walk around the Square. At 6:00 p.m., Raymond and Patsy Higgins picked us up near our hotel and took us to Mel’s Seafood Restaurant where we had a lovely dinner. We are grateful to them for their gracious hospitality. It was a joy to be with them. They are both wonderful and we very much enjoyed their company and we also thanked them for our meals. For the “foodies” out there, I had shrimp and catfish with a baked potato and salad. Teri Stafford had grilled shrimp and fried shrimp with steamed vegetables and salad. She chose a lothotel room healthier selection. Raymond had a lunch size shrimp plate and Patsy had the same meal as I, only she had onion rings. It was simply a lovely meal.

Afterwards they took us on a drive around El Dorado so we could see the new high school. They showed us where our alums lived in the different neighborhoods and also showed us their house and then brought us back to the hotel. They have extended an invitation for us to come down on a weekend so that we could visit the museum which is between Smackover and El Dorado. They also invited us to go to church with them and have lunch with them after church at a soul food restaurant called Sister, Sister, Sister Restaurant. We are looking forward to the opportunity to be able to do that. Our alums and members of the Union County Bar were so welcoming and it was a terrific trip. Thanks very much to everyone for their gracious hospitality. We thoroughly enjoyed visiting with you and we look forward to seeing you all at the dedication.