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Two LR law firms operate in Washington: Clinton's presidency leads to greater opportunity in nation's capital.

AT LEAST TWO OF THE largest law firms in Arkansas have the opportunity to take advantage of one Arkansas lawyer's influence in Washington, D.C.

Mitchell Williams Selig Gates & Woodyard and Arnold Grobmyer & Haley, both of Little Rock, have offices in Washington.

Of course, Washington is the new home of President Clinton, a lawyer and former Arkansas governor.

Both firms had Washington offices before Clinton announced his run for the presidency in October 1991.

Arnold Grobmyer & Haley opened its Washington office in 1985. Mitchell Williams Selig Gates & Woodyard opened its Washington office 18 months ago.

"There were a couple of reasons we opened an office there," says Nick Thompson of the Mitchell firm. "One, we have a client who had some substantial work for us up there. And two, we have a rather substantial nationwide insurance regulatory practice. We have seen the advent of federal regulation in insurance slowly creeping into the system and we felt like it would be good to have a presence there.

"Of course, our Washington office is growing now as a result of |Clinton~ being president of the United States."

Mark Grobmyer says his firm has always done a lot of securities and banking work, which is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve Board. Those regulatory bodies are based in Washington.

"That made it convenient for us to have an office in Washington to serve our clients better," Grobmyer says. "Also, we have some Washington clients. We've done some work for the National Association of Securities Dealers and MasterCard and Visa."

Arnold Grobmyer & Haley also has offices in Memphis, Tenn., and Dallas.

Friday Eldredge & Clark of Little Rock is the largest law firm in Arkansas with 72 lawyers, 14 lawyers more than Wright Lindsey & Jennings of Little Rock.

The largest firms outside the Little Rock area are Warner & Smith in Fort Smith and Bridges Young Matthews & Drake in Pine Bluff. Each has 14 lawyers.

Monroe Works in Washington

Since Clinton's election, Ark Monroe, former managing partner of the Mitchell firm, chose to spend 4-5 days a week in Washington. With his heavy Washington workload, Monroe resigned as managing partner of the Little Rock firm.

Monroe is a cousin of Vice President Gore and longtime supporter of Clinton.

John S. Selig took over the firm Jan. 1.

"The firm management decided that because of the new president, at least in this initial stage, that Ark is the best person to be in Washington," Thompson says. "Ark is also a former administrative aide to Sen. |Dale~ Bumpers. He knows his way around Washington."

Monroe concentrates in the insurance regulatory section of the Mitchell firm, along with two other former state insurance commissioners, Bill Woodyard and Bob Eubanks.

In Washington, the Mitchell firm represents the District of Columbia superintendent of insurance in his regulation of the district's Blue Cross & Blue Shield plan.

"The Virginia Blue Cross plan is negotiating with the D.C. plan to merge the two together," Thompson says. "That would make it the third-largest Blue Cross plan in the country."

Thompson says the Mitchell firm, in its insurance regulatory practice, competes for clients against some of the largest firms in the country, including Lord Bissell & Brook of Chicago and LeBoeuf Lamb Leiby & MacRae of New York.

Several other Arkansas-based firms have offices outside the state.

The most notable probably is Jack Lyon and Jones, with a thriving office in Nashville, Tenn., representing entertainment clients. Some of its more prominent clients include the Country Music Association, Randy Scruggs, David Allan Coe and Shenandoah.
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Title Annotation:Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates and Woodward and Arnold Grobmyer and Haley; Little Rock, Arkansas; Washington D.C.
Author:Smith, David (American novelist)
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Feb 15, 1993
Previous Article:Money in the making.
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