James Smith

James W. Smith

Founding Partner



Prior to co-founding Smith Hurst in 2011, Jim practiced law for nearly two decades with the largest Arkansas based law firm, where he was a partner in its Corporate and Securities, Mergers and Acquisitions and Private Equity and Venture Capital practice groups. He is also a licensed Certified Public Accountant (registered inactive) and serves as a Commissioner on the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and as a member of the Board of Trustees of Arkansas Tech University under appointment by Governor Asa Hutchinson. Mid-South Super Lawyers has named him one of the top fifty lawyers in Arkansas. In the inaugural edition of The Arkansas 200, published by Arkansas Business in 2017, he was recognized among Arkansas’s top influencers. The publication was increased to become The Arkansas 250 in 2018 and 2019 and he has also been recognized in each of those editions.

Jim’s practice experience is extensive and spans the full range of business advisory and transactional law. He routinely counsels companies across diverse industries in a myriad of business matters including capital raising, advising Boards of Directors, senior management, executives and controlling shareholders regarding governance and fiduciary duty matters, compliance with regulatory obligations, ordinary course of business contracts, executive compensation and compensatory plans, financial and lending matters (including private placement of securities), venture capital, private equity and commercial lending matters, taxation, mergers and acquisitions and real estate related matters. A meaningful part of his practice is also devoted to the representation of angel investors, private equity investors and venture capital firms in making investments in business enterprises.


New York University School of Law
Masters of Law (LL.M.) in Taxation (1995)

University of Arkansas School of Law
Juris Doctorate, cum laude (1994)
Arkansas Law Review, Member

Arkansas Tech University
Bachelor of Science, Accounting, cum laude (1991)
Recipient of 1991 Wall Street Journal Award as the Top Student in the School of Business
Member, 1988 AIC Champion Baseball Team

Recognition, Awards and Honors

Since 2007, Jim has been recognized in Best Lawyers in America™ in its list of the best lawyers in Arkansas in the field of Mergers and Acquisitions. During this time period he has also been recognized in Chambers & Partners USA as a leading lawyer in the fields of securities, corporate taxation and corporate law. In referring to his high-level practice and commitment to the needs of his clients, 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,” ”diligent,” “great to work with” 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.”

In addition to his recognition as a top Mergers and Acquisitions attorney, Jim is also recognized in Best Lawyers in America™ in its list of the best lawyers in Arkansas in the fields of Tax Law, Corporate Law, Banking and Finance Law, Securitization and Structured Finance Law and Securities and Capital Markets Law.

Jim was recognized by the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal in 2017 as part of its C-Suite Honors, an award given to the top business executives in the region.

Since 2009, Jim has also been listed in Mid-South Super Lawyers in the field of Mergers and Acquisitions, including multiple recognitions as one of the Top 50 Lawyers in the State of Arkansas.

For over a decade, Jim has maintained an AV ethics rating by Martindale-Hubbell which is the highest rating available for a lawyer’s legal ability and professional ethics.

In 2000, Jim was named to the Arkansas Business 40 Under Forty list and the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal 40 Under Forty list, and in 2001, he was inducted into the Arkansas Tech University Hall of Distinction.

Community Service and Activities

Jim has been appointed by Governor Asa Hutchinson to serve as a commissioner for the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and as a member of the Board of Trustees of Arkansas Tech University. Jim also currently serves on the Dean’s Business Advisory Council for the University of Arkansas School of Law.

In 2002, Jim served as legal counsel in the creation, formation, development, and organization of the University of Arkansas Technology Development Foundation which manages and operates the Arkansas Research and Technology Park in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Since its creation, he has served as its general counsel and as a member of its Executive Committee.

In 2012, Jim served as legal counsel in the creation, formation, development, and organization of ARHealth Ventures, Inc., a supporting organization of the University of Arkansas Medical School (“UAMS”), and its subsidiary, BioVentures, LLC. BioVentures is a medical science and technology-based incubator that is responsible for furthering and transferring technology created within UAMS or that is otherwise associated with UAMS.

Since 2004, Jim has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Arkansas School of Law where he currently teaches Private Equity Law and has previously taught courses in Mergers and Acquisitions, Securities Regulation, and Corporate Practice Ethics.

In 2018, Jim served as the chairman of the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce and he continues to serve on its Executive Committee. He has also 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. Additionally, he has 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 an Arkansas Bar Foundation Fellow.

Jim is a former chairman of the Fayetteville Community Foundation, and a former President of the Arkansas Rice Depot and the University of Arkansas Law Alumni Society. He has also 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 (Member, Tax Section, and Business Law Section), a Sustaining Fellow of the Arkansas Bar Association (Member, Tax Section and Committee on Diversity) and a member of the Arkansas Society of Certified Public Accountants.


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.

Debt Cancellation Contracts: A Forgotten Asset, 112 The Banking Law Journal 9, 918, October, 1995.

SEC Lifts Ban on General Solicitation, Adopts “Bad Actor” Rules and Proposes Changes to Regulation D and Form D, 2013 Ark. Law Notes, at http://media.law.uark.edu/arklawnotes/2013/07/24/sec-lifts-ban-on-general-solicitation-adopts-bad-actor-rules-and-proposes-changes-to-regulation-d-and-form-d/ (Jul. 24, 2013).

Practice Areas

Business Transactions
Corporate Finance
Corporate Law
Entrepreneurial Services
Executive Compensation
Financial Institutions and Banking
Health Care Professionals, Practices and Ambulatory Surgery Centers
Informational Technology and E-Commerce
Mergers and Acquisitions and Reorganizations
New Market Tax Credits
Professional Service Companies and Professionals
Real Estate
Retail and Consumer Products and Services
Trade Secrets and Employee Mobility