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The Little Rock law firm of Williams & Anderson, which was founded 31 years ago and whose co-founder once served as president of the American Bar Association, is closing.

Peter Kumpe, one of the firm's founders, said Thursday that retirements that included co-founders Philip Anderson and David Menz as well as other departures left the firm with too much space in its offices in the Stephens Building.

"We had more space than we needed to continue the practice and we were going to have to relocate," he said. "We considered that as a firm but decided that there was not the energy to start off again in new premises and that therefore people would go their own way.

"I'm pleased to report that everybody has established positions, including our staff."

Most seemed to land at other Little Rock law firms. Two attorneys, including Philip Kaplan, went to the Little Rock law firm of Cross, Gunter, Witherspoon & Galchus. Others went to the Rose Law Firm and the Barber Law Firm, according to lawyers.

Another Williams & Anderson attorney, Alec Gaines, has joined Steel, Wright, Gray PLLC as a partner. John Kooistra is joining the same firm in an of-counsel role.

The decision came late last year, Kumpe said.

"We are conducting an orderly wind up," he said. "We are trying to vacate the premises by the end of the month. It's a monumental task."

The law firm was formed on Dec. 1, 1988. Its original four partners were Kumpe, W. Jackson Williams, David Menz and Philip Anderson.

"They represented established business entities in Arkansas as well as state and local government financing agencies," according to an online history of the law firm. "Their plan was to focus the firm's resources on business-related matters and provide their clients with superior legal services."

Its first decade included representing the Arkansas Democrat in acquiring the assets of the Arkansas Gazette in 1991. It also represented the University of Arkansas and the issuers of hundreds of millions of dollars for infrastructure, housing projects and student loan bonds for the system's flagship campus in Fayetteville and its medical school in Little Rock.

Other clients included the public facilities board that built what is now Simmons Bank Arena in North Little Rock and the Arkansas Highway Commission in its $575 million bond issue to help rebuild the interstate system in 1999.

The firm counted a U.S. District judge, J. Leon Holmes, and a U.S. magistrate, Beth M. Deere, as among its former partners.

Anderson was president of the American Bar Association from 1988-89, only the third Arkansan to hold that post.

"We're proud of our history," Kumpe said. "It's with real regret that we reached this decision."

Anderson retired last October after 60 years in the legal profession. Benz also has retired and Williams has been in a senior counsel role.

"I'm the last one that was at the beginning," said Kumpe, who was one of two members who owned the firm, the other being David Powell.

Kumpe said he would continue to practice law "at another location," but he said he wasn't ready to say where publicly as he was still notifying clients.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette has been a client of the firm since it's founding.

"It's a great firm," said Walter E. Hussman Jr., the newspaper's publisher. "It lasted over 30 years. I remember when they started the firm. They had a really good run, but things don't last forever."

Business on 01/10/2020

Print Headline: Little Rock law firm founded more than 30 years ago closes, founder says

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