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Outstanding Volunteer Attorney Awards

The Center for Arkansas Legal Services and Legal Aid of Arkansas honor outstanding pro bono attorneys each year. The Arkansas Access to Justice Commission honors these attorneys in its Annual Report published online and in the Arkansas Lawyer. Read about this year’s exceptional pro bono attorneys below.

David Bridgforth
Jefferson County VOCALS Attorney of the Year
Ramsay, Bridgforth, Robinson and Raley LLP 


VOCALS would like to honor David Bridgforth of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, as the  Jefferson County “VOCALS Attorney of the Year” for 2015. Mr. Bridgforth is a  partner of Ramsay, Bridgforth, Robinson and Raley in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. In  1991, he earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Arkansas at Little  Rock after receiving his Bachelor of Science from Louisiana Tech University in  1988. As an undergraduate, he served as the President of Phi Delta Phi  fraternity. He is a member of Jefferson County, Arkansas, American bar  associations, as well as the American Agricultural Law Association. Mr.  Bridgforth handles a variety of issues for pro bono clients, including divorces  from abusive spouses, guardianships over adult family members, wills and  estates issues, and adoptions. In addition to his service to pro bono clients, he serves on the Board of Directors for the Economic Development Alliance of Jefferson County, Arkansas. 

Jack Butt

Arkansas Volunteer Lawyers for the Elderly Service Award

Davis, Clark, Butt, Carithers & Taylor, PLC


In observance of Law Day, May 1, 2016, Legal Aid of Arkansas announces that Jack Butt of Fayetteville has been chosen for the Arkansas Volunteer Lawyers   for the Elderly Service Award.  The Arkansas Volunteer Lawyers for the Elderly   program is a division of Legal Aid of Arkansas that serves clients over the age of sixty. The award recognizes outstanding volunteerism and service to elderly   residents. Mr. Butt donated his pro bono hours exclusively to elderly clients who were in need of assistance on foreclosure issues.

Mr. Butt was admitted to the Virginia bar in 1975 and the Arkansas bar in 1981. He received his B.A. in 1972 from the University of Virginia and his J.D. with Honors in 1975 and LL.M. in Taxation in 1979 from The National Law Center of George Washington University. He joined the firm Davis, Clark, Butt, Carithers & Taylor, PLC in 1981 after four years’ practice with the Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps and two years’ private practice in Fairfax, Virginia.

Mr. Butt has been rated AV-Preeminent by Martin-Hubbell since 1994 and is listed in Best Lawyers in America in Trusts and Estates and in SuperLawyers in Commercial Litigation. He received the Arkansas Bar Association’s Outstanding Lawyer Citizen Award for 1999-2000. Butt is a member of the Washington County and Arkansas Bar Associations, and is admitted to practice before the United States Tax Court and the United States Supreme Court.

Mr. Butt is married to Anne Butt and has 3 children, Mary Claire York, Anna Harper, and Jackson Butt. He enjoys golf, hunting, hiking, canoeing, and snow skiing. He also plays the piano to unwind.

 Christopher Hays

 Tenth Judicial District Attorney of the Year

 Attorney at Law


 Christopher Hays is the 2015 “Attorney of the Year” for the Tenth Judicial  District of Arkansas. He runs a solo law practice in Dumas, Arkansas. In 2015,  Mr. Hays donated his time and attention to several low-income clients with  family law issues in Desha County. Before entering solo practice, he was a  Deputy Prosecutor as well as an attorney for Johnson & West. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from the University of Arkansas in 1990, where he was a member of the Delta Upsilon Fraternity. Mr. Hays then received his Juris Doctor from the William H. Bowen School of Law in 1997. 

The Center for Arkansas Legal Services is grateful to Mr. Hays for his public service and his appreciation of the importance of pro bono. Mr. Hays says of his pro bono service, “it is a privilege to be able to volunteer to help those who are without the resources typically necessary to hire private counsel.” He also states, “as attorneys, society places its trust in us to serve justice, and to deserve that trust, we should always take time to seek justice for those who are less fortunate.” 

R. Scott Morgan 

Pulaski County VOCALS Attorney of the Year 



Scott Morgan is a valuable and appreciated member of the VOCALS pro bono   panel. He began accepting pro bono cases from VOCALS in 2011. In those five   years, he has taken 22 cases and served over 154 hours helping VOCALS   clients. He consistently volunteers to take adult guardianship and family law   cases. He is a committed and zealous advocate for VOCALS clients. 

Mr. Morgan is an attorney at PPGMR Law, PLLC. His private practice focuses on civil litigation defense, employment law, and administrative law. He obtained his J.D. from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock School of Law after earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Business from the University of Arkansas. He is a member of the Arkansas Association of Defense Counsel, Defense Research Institute, as well as the Pulaski County, Jefferson County, Arkansas, and American bar associations. He is an active member of the Arkansas Bar Association, where he served as the chair of the Young Lawyers section and served two terms on the Executive Committee. 

 W. Ray Nickle 

 Equal Access to Justice Panel Outstanding Publich Service Award

 Nickle Law Firm


 In 2015, W. Ray Nickle demonstrated his commitment to serving low-income  individuals by volunteering pro bono service to the citizens of Arkansas in the  Legal Aid of Arkansas service area. On Law Day, May 1, Mr. Nickle is being  recognized with the Overall Outstanding Service Award for work done in 2015.  The award, given each year by Legal Aid of Arkansas, recognizes an attorney who best personifies the ideals of volunteerism and professionalism in the 31 counties Legal Aid serves.

Mr. Nickle grew up in Wyoming and attended Augustana College then graduated with high honors from Idaho State University in 1983. He received his Juris Doctorate in 1986 from the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville. “To simply give back and help people” is what motivates him to volunteer his time with Legal Aid of Arkansas clients.

Mr. Nickle is married to Sharon Nickle and has 2 sons, John and Greg. He enjoys golf, hunting and attending sporting events. His practice, Nickle Law Firm, is located at 301 W. Matthews, Jonesboro, AR.

Benjamin Poole 

Outstanding Medical-Legal Partnership Attorney of the Year 



In observance of Law Day, May 1, 2016, Legal Aid of Arkansas announces that   Benjamin Poole is being recognized for his outstanding volunteerism for the   Medical-Legal Partnership with Arkansas Children’s Hospital and Legal Aid of   Arkansas. Mr. Poole donated over 23 hours of pro bono service to medical-legal   partnership clients during 2015. His donation has a conservative value of   $4,600 to the community.

Poole graduated from the University of Essex (UK) in 1999. During his junior year of college he interned in Senator Edward Kennedy’s office. He received his then Juris Doctor from the University of Arkansas School of Law in 2003. He has been practicing law since 2004 and is currently employed by Walmart. “Walmart’s Pro Bono Program is exceptionally well organized and administered. It makes serving deserving clients easier with such great support. Legal Aid of Arkansas does a great job of helping us receive worthy and important cases from Arkansas Children’s Hospital” says Mr. Poole.

Mr. Poole is married to wife Libby and they have a daughter, Evie. Poole enjoys traveling, running and music.

 Shelton E. Sargent

 River Valley Volunteer Attorney Project Attorney of the Year

 Attorney at Law


 Shelton E. Sargent is the recipient of the 2015 “Pro Bono Attorney of the Year  Award” presented by the River Valley Volunteer Attorney Project. During 2015,  as a solo practitioner in Fort Smith, he donated 40 hours of legal services to a  low-income Sebastian County resident, who was a victim of domestic violence.  His having received the “Pro Bono Attorney of the Year Award” in 2003 evidences his dedication to pro bono legal services.

Mr. Sargent received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 1981 and his Juris Doctor from the University of Arkansas in 1983. He practices in Arkansas and Oklahoma. His law practice focuses on contract law, providing legal representation to parents and guardian ad litem services to children in dependency-neglect cases, and other family law matters. 

Mr. Sargent is a member of the Sebastian County, Arkansas, and Oklahoma Bar Associations. He attends the Grace Community Methodist Church in Fort Smith. He is married to Jacqui Sargent, who is a Registered Nurse at Peach Tree Hospice in Fort Smith. Shelton and Jacqui have two daughters, Audra and Ember. Ember is a sophomore at the University of Arkansas and Audra is in her third year at the University of Arkansas School of Law. 

 Other Volunteers

In addition to the honored attorneys, the Arkansas Pro Bono Partnership is proud to list all the pro bono and contributing attorneys from each year. Click the links below to view the full listing from previous years.

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