- James W. Smith
- Founding Partner
Areas of Practice: Entrepreneurial Services including Business Formation, Governance, Contracts and Transactions, Mergers and Acquisitions and Taxation, Banking Regulatory and Commercial Financing Transactions, Venture Capital and Private Placement of Securities, e-commerce, Sustainability, Real Estate, Technology, Software and Communications Law including Digital and Social Media
Prior to co-founding SMITH HURST, Mr. Smith practiced law for over sixteen years in the Mergers and Acquisitions practice group of the largest Arkansas based law firm. From June 1995 through August 2000, Mr. Smith worked in the law firm’s Little Rock home office. However, in August of 2000, Mr. Smith was entrusted with opening the law firm’s first office outside of Little Rock and, accordingly, opened the Fayetteville, Arkansas office of the law firm with a litigation colleague.
Since the mid-1990s, Mr. Smith has served as lead counsel on several of the largest and most well known business transactions and financings in the region and the State of Arkansas. Some of these transactions were the first of their kind in Arkansas. In 2004, for example, Mr. Smith represented the University of Arkansas Technology Development Foundation in the development and construction of the first LEED certified building in Arkansas which was the Innovation Center at the Arkansas Research and Technology Park. He also represented the University of Arkansas in 2008 with respect to its first joint venture with a private entity which was the development, construction and operation of the Enterprise Center at the Arkansas Research and Technology Park. The financing of the Enterprise Center was structured as a New Markets Tax Credit transaction, one of the first of its kind in the State of Arkansas.
Since 2007, Mr. Smith has been recognized in Best Lawyers in America as one of the best Mergers and Acquisitions lawyers in Arkansas and the nation and in Chambers & Partners USA America’s Leading Lawyers for Business in the fields of securities and corporate law. That highly acclaimed research-based directory writes of him, “James Smith focuses primarily on M&A and is described as a great lawyer by market sources.” It has also stated that “in advising clients in the area of M&A, corporate tax and securities regulation he has been referred to as ‘bright, capable and good with clients’,” and that he is a “prominent figure in Northwest Arkansas and has led a number of the large business transactions at a first-class level.”
Since 2008 Mr. Smith has also been recognized in Best Lawyers in America as one of the best Tax lawyers and Trusts and Estates lawyers in Arkansas and the nation and since 2009 he has been listed in Mid-South Super Lawyers in the field of Mergers and Acquisitions.
Mr. Smith has substantial experience in a myriad of business matters including entity organizational and governance matters, mergers and acquisitions, taxation, securities and regulatory matters. He also provides substantial legal counsel to financial institutions regarding regulatory and lending matters and real estate developers regarding the acquisition and development of commercial and residential real estate.
Mr. Smith obtained his Masters of Law in Taxation degree (LL.M.) from New York University School of Law in 1995 and has been a licensed Certified Public Accountant (registered inactive) since 1994. He is a 1994 honor graduate of the University of Arkansas School of Law where he was a member of the Arkansas Law Review. He attended Arkansas Tech University on a baseball and presidential leadership scholarship, was a member of its Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference champion baseball team in 1988 and graduated cum laude in 1991 as the recipient of the 1991 Wall Street Journal Award as the top student in the School of Business. In 2000, Mr. Smith was recognized in the 40 Under Forty lists in Arkansas Business and the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal and in 2001 he was inducted into the Arkansas Tech University Hall of Distinction as its first outstanding young alumnus.
Mr. Smith currently serves on the Arkansas Board of Advisers of Noro-Moseley Partners, a premier Southeast venture capital firm based in Atlanta and Charlotte and the Board of Advisers of the Arkansas Tech University College of Business. He also serves as a member of the Executive Committee of the University of Arkansas Technology Development Foundation. Since 2004, he has been an adjunct professor at the University of Arkansas School of Law where he currently teaches the law of Mergers and Acquisitions and previously taught Securities Regulation and Corporate Practice Ethics.
Mr. Smith has served as the co-chairman of the Arkansas Venture Capital Forum, the chairman of the Tax Section of the Arkansas Bar Association and the co-chairman of Arkansas’s Federal Tax Institute. He has also served on the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of the Arkansas Venture Forum, the Board of Directors of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce and as the President of the Board of Directors of the Arkansas Tech University Foundation where he also chaired its Finance Committee. He is also a former chairman of the Fayetteville Community Foundation, a former President of the Arkansas Rice Depot and of the University of Arkansas Law Alumni Society and previously served on the Board of Directors of Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Northwest Arkansas, the Northwest Arkansas Museum Foundation, and the Northwest Arkansas Symphony. He is a 2002 graduate of Leadership Fayetteville and is a member of the American Bar Association and a Sustaining Fellow of the Arkansas Bar Association.
Mr. Smith is the author of Campbell v. Commissioner: The Eighth Circuit Adds Uncertainty to the Tax Treatment Regarding the Receipt of a Profits-Only Partnership Interest in Exchange for Services, 61 Tax Notes 11, December 13, 1993 and the co-author of Debt Cancellation Contracts: A Forgotten Asset, 112 The Banking Law Journal 9, 918, October, 1995.
Notable Transactions and Representation in which Mr. Smith Acted as Lead Legal Counsel
Representation of Acumen Brands, Inc. in its $83 million Series C investment round led by General Atlantic, which is the largest private equity investment within the State of Arkansas
Representation of Field Agent, Inc. in its investment by Five Elms Capital, LLC, a venture capital group out of Kansas City, Missouri
Representation of Kent Dobbs Hyundai and Hyundai of Bentonville in their sales to Crain Automotive in its expansion into the Northwest Arkansas market
Representation of Celebrate Publishing Group, LLC, an Austin, Texas investor group led by Brian Henley, in its acquisition of Celebrate Publishing Group, a media, magazine and event company and owner and publisher of Celebrate Arkansas magazine baesd in Rogers, Arkansas
Representation of Southwind Hospitality Holdings, LLC, in its acquisition of the Cosmopolitan Hotel, a 15-story hotel in Fayetteville, Arkansas now operating as the Chancellor Hotel, through the use of New Market Tax Credits
Representation of Rockfish Interactive, Inc., a digital and social media technology and innovation company in its sale to an affiliate of WPP, PLC, an international company, publicly traded on the London Stock Exchange
Representation of Plassotech, Inc., a Calabassas, California-based company in its sale to AutoDesk, Inc., a NASDAQ listed corporation
Representation of the first formalized Arkansas-based angel fund network when he represented Venture Capital Investors, LLC in its formation, organization and operation in the late 1990s, which was comprised of several of the most prominent business leaders in central Arkansas
Representation of an Arkansas-based venture capital firm in making investments in Arkansas-based entities
Representation of the Arkansas Development Finance Authority in its implementation of the Arkansas Venture Capital Investment Act of 2001, in its relationship with the Arkansas Institutional Fund, an Arkansas-based fund-to-fund investment company, and in investments made by the Arkansas Risk Capital Matching Fund
Representation of Williams Tool Company, a privately held company involved in the oil drilling industry, in its acquisition by Weatherford International, Inc., a New York Stock Exchange listed publicly traded company
Representation of Delta Plastics, Inc., a privately held and Arkansas-based plastics manufacturing company, in its acquisition by Stonebridge Partners, a premier private equity firm based in White Plains, New York
Representation of DMD Industries, Inc., an Arkansas-based retail vendor, in its sale to a San Francisco-based competitor
Representation of ThompsonMurray, Inc., an Arkansas-based marketing and advertising firm, in its sale to Saatchi & Saatchi, a France-based company with its United States office headquartered in New York City
Representation of Dent-A-Med, Inc., an Arkansas based sub-prime financing company, in its sale to a private equity company based in Alabama
Representation of multiple financial institutions in commercial lending transactions in an aggregate transaction amount in excess of $3 billion
Representation of several ambulatory surgical facilities throughout Arkansas
Representation of several emerging and high growth companies based in the Arkansas Research and Technology Park that are involved in the industries of electronics, power generation, LED lighting, nanotechnology, biotechnology and life science