We had a chat with Bourgon Reynolds, managing member of Rose Law Firm’s Northwest Arkansas office, who has been with the firm since 2012. Reynolds was named to the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 class in 2019 and is a Leadership Arkansas Class XVII member. She was also the firm representative to the Northwest Arkansas Council, a Leadership Benton County alumnus, and she chaired Rose Law Firm’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee.
Bourgon concentrates her practice on business, antitrust, and class action litigation. She has represented clients in a variety of disputes, such as contract litigation, insurance coverage disputes, personal injury defense, probate litigation, and appeals. She also defends clients against government actions and investigations at the state and federal levels.
Q: Where did you go to law school? And what about your experience in law school do you think best prepared you for the actual profession of law?
A: “I attended law school at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. I had a wonderful adjunct professor, who is now my fellow partner, Rick Donovan, who recruited me to do a clerkship. Law school taught me how to think like a lawyer. Once I got into actual practice, I learned how to be a lawyer.”
Q: What was your career path after law school to get you where you are now?
A: “I accepted an offer to join Rose Law Firm after my second year of law school. After graduating, I joined Rose Law Firm as an associate and practiced with the firm for three years. I then went to work for our Attorney General’s office in their Civil Litigation department, where I spent almost two years. I stayed home for a year after my second child was born, and during that time we relocated in Northwest Arkansas, where I am from originally.
About the time we relocated in 2018, my mentor at Rose Law Firm reached out to me and told me they were opening a Northwest Arkansas office, and asked if I would consider coming back. I was excited to get back to work and I happily accepted. When I came back on, I was Of Counsel, and I eventually became a Member in 2020.”
Q: What are your areas of specialty at Rose Law Firm?
A: “As a litigator, I handle a wide variety of civil disputes, both in and out of the courtroom. I also love the work I do in the appellate courts, as writing is one of my favorite parts of this career.”
Q: What is your approach at a 30,000-foot-view level for commercial business litigation clients? How would you describe that?
A: “The first thing I want to do is understand their goals. They are experts in their business. So, it is my job to understand the business from their perspective and then work with them to formulate a plan based on their business and their goals.
For example, one of my clients had a dispute with their property management company and was considering bringing suit. Working with them, I learned relevant parts of their business, discussed their goals, and the pros/cons of pursuing legal action from a holistic perspective, such as not only the cost of the case but also the likelihood of success, potential for media attention, and the interruption that litigation can cause to business. They ultimately decided not to go forward and that was a good result for them.
It is with all of these perspectives in mind that I can assist my clients in making the best decision for themselves. And, of course, once a client decides to go forward, we start planning strategically about how we are going to win.”
Q: Is there a consistent type of advice you would give to businesses to lessen the chance that they end up in those situations?
A: “Yes, in the commercial litigation space, always make sure you have a solid contract in place, as reviewed by an attorney who understands your business. It is worth the investment.
Next, I often work with clients after litigation has commenced. For businesses, it is best practice to treat your work emails as work and refrain from mixing your personal life and informality into business emails. And this includes text messages, too. An awareness in businesses of how discovery develops in litigation can save them significant headaches down the road.
Relatedly, on the policy side, I would advise clients to understand their record retention requirements and to have in place automatic deletion policies, absent special circumstances, where they can. With the volume of electronic information we all generate in today’s day and age, it is prudent to think of these issues on the front end.”
Q: You say it’s important to have an attorney review a contract. Can people develop a contract without attorneys being involved?
A: “Yes, but it is like that adage: just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. There are numerous companies that will offer you a purchase agreement, operating agreement, and now, with AI, a bot that can draft it all for you. But you need to have someone who not only knows the law in your jurisdiction but your business, too. Attorneys know what should not be included and, just as importantly, what should be included.”
Q: How do you want business owners and the business community as a whole to think about lawyers and law firms?
A: “Good lawyers should be thought of as trusted advisors with practical solutions. Now, they’re expensive advisors, no doubt. But an attorney who knows your business, knows you, and who you trust to give you their honest best is worth their weight in gold. Mix with that an attorney who, based on a holistic view of all those factors, gives you a practical solution to your issue? Invaluable.
Q: What experience do you have in administrative and regulatory investigations?
A: “While I was at the Attorney General’s Office, I became familiar with all manner of the investigatory powers enjoyed by our state government and its agencies. That experience has translated to private practice, where I defend individuals and companies who have been subpoenaed or received notice of a civil investigative demand from the Attorney General’s Office. That includes investigations from other state agencies too, such as the Arkansas State Medical Board and even healthcare systems.
Those matters in particular feel very impactful, as your clients are at risk of losing their job or licensure- something they have sacrificed so much for. Similarly, I also defend clients against investigations by other state attorneys general and the United States Department of Justice.”
Q: Do you have any advice for clients under investigation on the front end?
A: “I would say as soon as you become aware that you or your company are being investigated, consult with a lawyer. Often, important steps need to be taken immediately to ensure that your interests are protected.”
Q: Can you tell us about your experience with probate and trust litigation?
A: “Yes, I really enjoy this area, particularly on the appellate side. With the holistic approach I described earlier, it may not come as a surprise that my first order of business in those cases is to get a feel for the family dynamics, history of the parties in the dispute, and the relevant family history at play. Typically, when I come into these cases, the parties have been trying to work things out, but it’s reached a point where a court will have to figure it out for them. Given how long the dispute may have been going, and the fact families are forever, you are well served to invest some time understanding the basics of the dynamics at play.”
Q: This is an emotionally charged area of law. How do you approach these cases to help your clients through the emotional parts?
A: “Yes, I have experienced loss myself, and I understand the emotions involved in family dynamics and grief.
To best help these clients, you must be both empathic but neutral. It is not your job to be wrapped in emotion right along with them- it is your job to be the trusted advisor. Balancing emotion and logic is tricky, but it is oh so important to be the best advocate for your clients in these situations.”
To learn more about probate and trust litigation, visit our Services Page or call 501-375-9131.
Click here to read Bourgon Reynolds’ full bio.