Young Lawyer Begins Pro Bono Service

emilyreynolds Emily Reynolds, of Warner, Smith, & Harris PLC in Rogers, has been practicing only a year and has already closed two pro bono cases, one in which she volunteered over 75 hours of time. She serves on the Equal Access to Justice Panel (EAJP), a cooperative effort with the Benton County Bar Association to provide free civil legal services to residents in Benton County. "This was one of the most rewarding of the cases I worked on this year," she says. "It involved a young mother who was seeking a divorce and full custody of her two children. As it turned out, there were some difficult aspects."

Reynolds grew up in Hot Springs and took her bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Arkansas where she served as editor of the Razorback yearbook. She chose law because she wanted to help people and has always been outspoken. While in law school at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, she served as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Food Law and Policy. "This publication is totally student run. I learned a lot about the FDA, recalls, and how the government oversees our food supply." She also gained experience through a judicial externship and clerkships with law firms in the state.

Upon graduation from law school in 2009, she began working as an associate in her present firm. "It has been a blessing to be at this firm, as I have gotten quick, hands-on experience immediately. I get to do a lot of writing, which makes me happy," she says. She is a member of the Benton County Bar Association, the Arkansas Bar Association, and the American Bar Association.

Her desire to do pro bono work is rooted in her long-time commitment to helping others. From the time she was in high school, she has been involved in mission work and community service. As a Methodist youth, she served in the Ozarks Mission Project. In college she continued these week-long trips as a driver. She says that she feels pro bono service has some similarity to this mission work.

When Reynolds received the referral from Legal Aid of Arkansas and met with her client, she says the young woman felt hopeless. She was involved in an abusive situation and wanted to get a divorce and full custody of the children. In the end, though it was a "bumpy road," they obtained the divorce, full custody, a favorable division of property, and child support with no visitation. Reynolds is still in touch with her client from time to time and says the children are happier and the family, more stable.

"From the time I began practicing law, I felt that pro bono was my way to give back. I thought it would be good for the firm, and they have been very supportive," Reynolds says. "It is truly rewarding and gratifying to see the outcome and know you have made a difference."

Reynolds is married to John Reynolds, who is a mechanical engineer and they live in Fayetteville. They enjoy tailgating, hiking, cooking, and tennis. They are members of Sequoyah United Methodist Church.