Citizen Potawatomi Nation member Reese Dollins accomplished a feat sought after by every hopeful lawyer when a prestigious firm hired him immediately following law school. At 25 years old, he began his career as an attorney with Smith Hurst, known for its practice helping businesses, entrepreneurs and investors in northwest Arkansas.
“Smith Hurst is a really specialized and niche corporate and business law firm. Given my background and the background of all the other attorneys that work here, it was really just a natural fit and mesh for me to step into this role. And I couldn’t have asked for a better situation, to be honest,” Dollins said.
School and experience
After graduating with a bachelor’s in business administration from the University of Central Arkansas, he began law school in fall 2017 at the University of Arkansas School of Law. He graduated magna cum laude in May 2020 after a three-year program and took the bar exam in July. Dollins described the moment finding out he passed as somewhat “surreal,” but he mainly looked forward to beginning his career.
“My goal going into law school was to incorporate my business background with my legal education and kind of provide services to a different sector of clients,” he said.
“It’s such a unique skill set that not everyone has, and once you sink your teeth into it, it really kind of consumes you. And I say it consumes you, I meant in a good way, and it’s all-encompassing.”
Driven by hard work, he focused on internships while attending law school and worked for the Arkansas attorney general’s office, corporations and served as a temporary clerk at Smith Hurst while he was a student. Dollins impressed the firm, and they invited him back for a full academic year before hiring him as a lawyer.
“I think having that kind of broad experience helped me focus in school on the subjects that I cared the most about and allowed me to devote more of my attention to those areas,” Dollins said. “To a large extent, I think that those internships and clerkships did their job in the sense of exposing me to things that I otherwise wouldn’t have been exposed to had I not taken them.”
While he learned law itself and legal theory, Dollins said experience makes an attorney a talented practitioner. He eagerly joined Smith Hurst for the chance to oversee and assist on various transactions.
“Jumping into it right off the bat, it was a little bit of a learning curve, a challenging and rewarding learning curve and one that I’ve appreciated greatly. I’ve stayed really busy, and I’ve been given great work and had the opportunity to develop my skills with clients,” Dollins said.
During his short time at Smith Hurst, he has helped close large stock purchases, merged privately held companies, and advised clients on expanding and growing their businesses.
Outside of work, Dollins also assists businesses as a member of the Rogers/Lowell Small Business Council, part of the area’s chamber of commerce. He enjoys meeting new people and helping those around him succeed.
“We help put small businesses on the map, pretty much. We advocate for them, what their needs might be within the community, where we think city spending could improve to help promote their small business interest and things of that nature. We’re just kind of the voice of the community on a smaller scale,” he said.
Dollins uses the the other side of his skill set while helping local businesses grow, and it allows him to be a part of something bigger than himself. His term as a member began recently, and his enthusiasm is high.
“I’m excited to meet new people and new small business owners, and hopefully it can lead us all somewhere that we want to be.” Dollins said.
His career goals meet those of many other beginning lawyers — become a partner at a firm.
“I think in due time, I would love to take on that kind of responsibility. I know that I’m a ways away from that, but I think Smith Hurst is providing me with a wealth of opportunities to develop my professional career and potentially achieve that kind of goal,” he said.
Dollins is the first lawyer in his family, and he hopes to pass along his skill set and passion for the law, and a sense of community responsibility.