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This Week: Craig S. Lair: Managing Partner at the Rose Law Firm of Little Rock.

The Rose Law Firm is the oldest law firm west of the Mississippi and has about 65 employees.

The Rose Law Firm's 200th anniversary will be in 2020. Are you making plans to celebrate? Absolutely. We have a committee and are making plans consistent with the magnitude of the date, and the incredible cast of characters who have practiced law here.

How has the firm managed to stay in business for nearly two centuries? Our firm began with two attorneys who wrote a two-page partnership agreement to agree to practice law together in Arkansas before it was a state. Since then the firm has survived primarily due to talented attorneys creating innovative solutions to difficult problems and guiding clients through difficult moments in their life or stage of business. Good clients also help, and we have also had the good fortune to assist some of the most innovative entrepreneurs and companies in our state, including some that we have represented for nearly a century.

What impact has Hillary Clinton being a former partner at the Rose Law Firm had on the firm? During her time here, Hillary was a very talented attorney primarily representing businesses. Her later political career sometimes misleads outsiders into thinking our firm has a certain political leaning. Early on, one of our founders (Robert Crittenden) got into a heated political dispute over an election in 1827 that ended up as a duel in Mississippi. Since then, we have tried to stay politically neutral as a firm. After all, duels are not the most efficient means of solving problems.

Where is the growth coming from in your firm? What practice areas are declining? Fiduciary litigation, class-action litigation, transactional work and mergers and acquisitions are all very busy. The increase in governmental regulations in environmental, health and safety has created more demand in certain areas. And there will also always be disputes needing litigators. On the other hand, the commodity practice areas are in decline due to technology and other innovations changing those markets. And Google and internet search have changed or eliminated what many lawyers spent their first year or two doing--basic research or basic form drafting.

How has the availability of electronic records for discovery changed the practice of law? The low cost of storage sometimes has a hidden cost, as any large company that has been through a discovery battle knows. Privacy and security concerns are changing the ways businesses think about records they can and should keep. Electronic records have also increased the need for computer proficiency and informational technology skills at all levels--attorneys, paralegals and other paraprofessionals. In short: a lot.

Do you think Arkansas should elect judges? We practice in front of some judges who are appointed and some who are elected. Impartial and fair judges are crucial to the rule of law. We are hopeful that the better nature of our public processes will continue to produce qualified candidates who are willing to serve. We also need a system that fairly compensates judges and encourages the most talented and successful members of the profession to aspire to the office.

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Title Annotation:Exec Q&A
Publication:Arkansas Business
Geographic Code:1U7AR
Date:Jan 1, 2018
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