JONESBORO - An area designated for students, which includes a lounge and a reference and seminar room named in honor of two local attorneys, will be dedicated in a special ceremony Friday, Feb. 10, at noon at Arkansas State University.
(from left) Board of Trustees member Stacy Crawford, Tom Womack, John Phelps, Board of Trustees chair Ron Rhodes and Arkansas State University Chancellor Doug Whitlock.
The Humanities and Social Sciences building will house the John V. Phelps and Tom D. Womack Pre-Law Center on the third floor. The Arkansas State University Board of Trustees unanimously approved the resolution in September.
The dedication followed a special luncheon highlighted by the presentation of the Board's framed resolutions by A-State Chancellor Doug Whitlock and board members Stacy Crawford and Ron Rhodes to Phelps, his wife Dianne (a 1969 A-State graduate) and children Bradford Phelps and wife Crystal of Little Rock, Lauren Phelps Preston and husband Alan of Jonesboro, and also to Womack, his wife Linda (a 1972 grad), and children Drew Womack and wife Andrea of Olive Branch, Miss., and Derek Womack and wife Claire of Miami, Fla.
"Both Tommy and I recognize the continued vigor of idealism that Arkansas State brings to all its students," said Phelps. "Because of our own experiences of that educational enthusiasm, we wanted to specifically encourage those who are evaluating participation in our beloved profession of law. We hope the Pre-Law Center will attract the best and brightest from a myriad of backgrounds who want to serve others and provide the civic virtue that sustains all our better instincts."
"We are so grateful to Mr. Phelps and Mr. Womack for their generous gift," stated Dr. Will McLean, chair of the Department of Political Science. "These two gentlemen are distinguished attorneys and have been recognized by their peers throughout their legal careers for the fine work they have done.
"I am proud, as alums, they have chosen to give back to students where they both started their academic journey. Thanks to the generosity of the Phelps and Womack families, this new, well-funded, dedicated pre-law center puts our students far ahead of their peers at other institutions. We will work hard to insure that the gift is used to promote and instill the high standards established by these two distinguished attorneys throughout their careers. It is a true honor that, going forward, students from A-State will be forever linked with Phelps and Womack Pre-Law Center."
The Board resolution honors "individuals who have significantly distinguished themselves through service to and support of the university. Their outstanding contributions to Arkansas State University are of a magnitude worthy of special gratitude and lasting recognition."
Phelps and Womack are principals in the firm of Womack, Phelps, Puryear, Mayfield and McNeil of Jonesboro.
Phelps is from Brookland and attended Arkansas State where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with distinction in 1969 and received his Juris Doctor with honors at the University of Memphis School of Law in 1972.
While in law school, Phelps served as editor-in chief in 1971-72 of the University of Memphis Law Review. He has been named among the Best Lawyers in America (personal injury litigation) from 2013-16, and named among Mid-South Super Lawyers from 2006-12. Mid-South Super Lawyers also listed him among the top 50 attorneys in Arkansas from 2006-10. He is also past national president of the American Board of Trial Advocates.
Phelps and Womack's firm was ranked "Tier 1 Best Law Firm" in 2015 by U.S. News-Best Lawyers(r). Rankings are based on an evaluation process peer review from top attorneys in their field.
Womack earned his degree in accounting from A-State with distinction in 1968 and his Juris Doctor from the University of Memphis School of Law also in 1972. Additionally, he has done academic work at the University of Mississippi.
Womack received the Champion of Justice Award in 2012 by Legal Aid of Arkansas. Legal Aid of Arkansas presents this award in recognition of the attorney who best personifies the ideals of volunteerism and professionalism in the 31 counties Legal Aid serves.
He is also a recipient of the Charles L. Carpenter Award for extraordinary service to the Arkansas Bar Association. A past president of the Arkansas Bar Association, he is also a past president for the Craighead County Bar Association.