Justice Robert L. Brown Community Support Award  1st presented in 2010

Justice Robert L. Brown
Associate Justice, Arkansas Supreme Court
AR JLAP Liaison, 2000-2013.

Justice Bob Brown became the first Supreme Court liaison to the newly formed lawyer assistance program, called ArLAP, at the time. Justice Brown, who, of course voted affirmatively, along with his colleagues, for the program in 1999, became an active supporter of and for the program. He was our voice on the court. He was the court’s interpreter to the program. In this way, he helped guide the way through the many new per curiam orders that refined the program as the years moved on.  Not the least of these was a name change, dear to Justice Brown’s heart, from ArLAP, Arkansas Lawyers Assistance Program to JLAP, Arkansas Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program. He was always available to the directors (Gail Harber, the first program director, and Dr. Sarah Cearley, the second and current director), listening to our questions, providing a calm, positive response or plan, when one was required. It was vital to the creation of the strong program we have today that from those first years, Justice Brown was supportive, pragmatic, and firm every step of the way.

He appears on our JLAP video, recounting the beginnings of the program and the court’s support of it. The video still resides on our website, providing core information to those who are interested and might call us with their problem.

He has never wavered in his belief of the program’s importance to the court’s regulation of the practice of law. It is to that end that he oversaw the building of a strong program with Court Rules that stand the test of time.

Justice Robert L. Brown Community Support Award 1st presented in 2010

Jim Smith

Original JLAP Committee Member
Chair, JLAP Foundation

Jim Smith was one of a few lawyers, belong to the International Lawyers in Alcoholics Anonymous (ILAA) who brought the concept of a Lawyer Assistance Program to Arkansas back in the early 1990s. (Lawyers from ILAA had created LAPs in several other states by that time.) The idea was to help their colleagues suffering from substance abuse and mental health problems so their lives could become better and their clients, as well as their practices, would be safe from harm stemming from those problems.

Jim worked tirelessly for years to make this idea a reality. His small group talked to a lot of lawyers, judges, and bar associations. When a couple of tragic events occurred in the state involving lawyers, the outline of the program was ready; the Pulaski County Bar and the Arkansas Bar petitioned the Supreme Court and the program came to life in December 1999. Jim’s passion for having such a place in Arkansas for his peers to get help never dimmed. He was appointed to the first JLAP Committee by the Supreme Court and after an extended term he moved to the newly formed JLAP Foundation as Chair of the Board to continue to improve and enlarge the work of the program he believed in.


Justice Robert L. Brown Community Support Award


Christopher Thomas

Executive Secretary, Board of law Examiners
Director, Office of Professional Programs
Original Member, Arkansas JLAP Committee

Chris Thomas was a part of the backbone of JLAP, writing many of the per curiam orders that created and moved the program forward between 1999 and 2012. He was appointed by the Supreme Court as one of the original JLAP Committee Members. He persistently advocated for years to have the state’s two law schools included in the program. Along with JLAP committee members, he wrote the petition that resulted in a per curiam order to allow a three-year pilot program in the law schools that began in November 2010. (Postscript: The court voted to keep the law school program with in the purview of JLAP permanently in 2013.)

To the program’s two directors, Gail Harber and Dr. Sarah Cearley, Chris was a never-ending and always available source of guidance in legal, administrative, and programmatic matters. Chris died barely two months after receiving this award. We at JLAP continue to miss his wisdom, wit, support, and constant belief in the importance of the JLAP program.


Justice Robert L. Brown Community Support Award


Justice Annabelle Imber-Tuck
Associate Justice Arkansas Supreme Court 1997-2009
Public Service Fellow and Jurist-in-Residence,
UALR William H. Bowen School of Law
ArJLAP Foundation Board Member 2011-present


Justice Imber-Tuck was sitting on the Supreme Court during the years that Jim Smith and his friends were talking about creating a lawyer assistance program in Arkansas. When the petition at last came before the court, Justice Imber-Tuck was an early proponent for the program. It then made perfect sense to ask her to serve on the JLAP Foundation Board when she retired from the court. She immediately agreed and set about to bring the full force of her energy, passion for the work, and her great Arkansas connections to bear for the good of the program that she helped create. Justice Imber-Tuck has continued on the foundation board, bringing steady judicial eye to our policy and program questions and projects. She is our institutional memory and strength. She and her husband Henry Tuck have remained sponsors of the Advocates Dinner every year.

Arkansas JLAP Humanitarian Award (later named Distinguished Service Award)


Wright, Lindsey & Jennings LLP

The law firm of Wright, Lindsey, Jennings (WLJ) has supported JLAP in very significant ways since 2010, when Justice Annabelle Imber-Tuck and Dr. Sarah Cearley first reached out to them. Justice Tuck had worked at the firm before serving on the bench. She had also recently retired from the Supreme Court and had begun, almost immediately, to serve on the JLAP Foundation. They presented to the firm’s gift committee and were informed that WLJ wanted two things as a donor: 1) for the money gifted to go to good use for clients, and 2) for lawyers in their firm to be involved with the workings of JLAP itself. With those caveat’s in mind, WLJ has been a consistent donor at the Sustainer Level, but as important, has always had a lawyer from their firm on the JLAP Foundation Board and actively working as volunteers. In addition, JLAP has presented to the firm at their retreats on more than one occasion. Our connection with WLJ has been steady and true. We are proud of the tradition that began in 2010 and, we expect, will continue into the future.


Justice Robert L. Brown Community Support Award


Tom Barron

Partner, Barron & Tucker
JLAP Committee Chair

Tom Barron, is the winner of the award this year for his 10+ years of service and dedication to JLAP, serving as chair of the Committee, appearing in our JLAP video, serving as an active volunteer, always saying yes to mentoring others when asked by JLAP, sponsoring our Advocates’ Dinner many times, and continuing to carry on the mission of JLAP. Tom guides by who he is, what he does for others, and his ever present pleasant demeanor. All of us involved in JLAP are grateful that Tom Barron is a part of this program.

Arkansas JLAP Humanitarian Award


Pulaski County Bar Association 
Pulaski County Bar Association (PCBA) was signatory on the first and final petitions to the Arkansas Supreme Court in 1999 that led to the creation of the Arkansas Lawyer Assistance Program (now JLAP). Without PCBA, JLAP, as we know it today, would not exist. In addition, over the years, this local bar has helped JLAP raise awareness by offering more opportunities to present to lawyers than any other state entity.


Pulaski County Bar Foundation 
The Pulaski County Bar Foundation (PCBF) has been supportive through their early donation to the JLAP video, which was our first media attempt to raise awareness throughout the state and now resides on www.arjlap.org. Like their sister organization, the PCBF reached out to JLAP to offer it’s support in our efforts to raise awareness of the program. With PCBF’s help, through this video, we can reach lawyers and judges all around the state. That is real community spirit.


Justice Robert L. Brown Community Service Award Winner


Honorable Alice Lightle
Judge, District Court, 1st Division 2007-present
ArJLAP Foundation Board Member 2010-2016


Judge Alice Lightle has been an active member of the JLAP Foundation Board for eight years. She has been a sponsor of every Advocates Dinner and provided popular auction items (like political memorabilia) that bring us funds every year. She also has consistently volunteered to help on committees when opportunities arose, including Arkansas Bar Association committees, Lawyers Helping Lawyers and Senior Lawyers. She supports and attends our spring retreat, Camp JLAP, which brings the JLAP community together. And most importantly, she has stepped up to help suffering lawyers when she saw a need.

From JLAP’s beginnings in the early 2000s, Judge Lightle has been a source of on-going support for the JLAP staff, helping us to improve outreach and responsiveness. All in all, Judge Lightle has been a good friend not only to JLAP, but to Arkansas’ entire legal community.

Arkansas JLAP Distinguished Service Award


Arkansas Bar Association

The Arkansas Bar Association was a signatory (along with the Pulaski County Bar Association) on the final proposal to create JLAP that was accepted by the Arkansas Supreme Court in 1999. In 2011, the Board of Governors gifted JLAP with $1500 toward the making of the JLAP video that still resides on our website and tells our story. The Bar provides free advertising in every quarterly edition of The Arkansas Lawyer and has printed (they make the offer) 3 articles by and about JLAP in the past two years. They give us a steep discount on the exhibit table at the bar convention and provide us with innumerable speaking opportunities every year. The director, Karen Hutchens, was among the first of our trained JLAP volunteers. In 2014 the Bar Lawyers Helping Lawyers Committee also invited the director to work with them on issues concerning senior lawyers and cognitive impairment. And finally, they awarded JLAP’s director, with the 2010-2011 Presidential Award of Excellence.

All in all a pretty stunning array of support.


Justice Robert L. Brown Community Support Award


Justice Karen Baker
Associate Justice Arkansas Supreme Court 2010-present
Supreme Court Liaison to AR JLAP  2013-present


Justice Baker became the second liaison for JLAP when Justice Robert L. Brown, who had been the liaison from the start of the “ArLAP” program, retired from the Supreme Court.  Even before she embraced her new duties with us, Justice Baker was a proponent and supporter of the program and the work that we do. Justice Baker understood the need, not only for lawyers, but for anyone with an addiction, mental health, or family problem, to find confidential help so they can move through their difficulties to better health and life. Justice Baker saw JLAP’s work as an integral part of the Supreme Court’s regulation of the practice of law, understanding that a return to health and wellness for lawyers, judges, and future lawyers protects the public from mistakes of those who are not mentally well.

Beginning early on as JLAP liaison, Justice Baker “went to bat” for the law student program which was then at the end of the three-year pilot program. JLAP and the law schools had done good work and we had good data of student usage of the program as well as the schools’ financial participation and how they opened doors for JLAP. However, it fell to the advocacy of Justice Baker to make sure that the law student program became permanent. 

As time, issues, and needs have arisen, Justice Baker actively has worked for them. Whether it is administrative things, such as a change in the budget or increased staff, or with more nuanced connection building areas, she is without exception available for the task. She has come to every Advocates Dinner since she became liaison, bringing with her, first Justice Hart, and last year, two more justices—Justices Wynne and Goodson. Over half the Court attending JLAP’s signature event is a powerful supportive statement made by our Supreme Court. 

Justice Baker is an invaluable advocate for JLAP. The JLAP Board and Committee did not want to wait, as so often happens with awards, until sometime later to publicly honor Justice Baker for all she has done, does now, and will continue to do for JLAP and the folks we help. Now, as JLAP is growing and improving it services, the on-going efforts of our liaison are part of each step we take, and now is the time that we are proud to honor that.

JLAP Distinguished Service Award:



University of Arkansas School of Law


UALR William H. Bowen School of Lawbowen

JLAP began a pilot program in both law schools in 2010, but several years before that both schools and their deans had already begun to do what they could to get help for their students. They had JLAP and Chris Thomas, as Secretary of the Board of Law Examiners, present to the students about the problems they faced with the bar application questions and the “character and fitness” snags they could face if they weren’t aware of this and proactive for themselves. They also sent us a few students (under the radar) who had no money or resources and big problems. It was Deans Cynthia Nance and John diPippa who worked with Mr. Thomas and Dr. Cearley throughout the summer and fall of 2010 to prepare and present our case to the Supreme Court.  In fact, it was only when the two deans appeared personally before the justices that they gave their final consent. A three-year pilot program was approved; we had to show them it was viable in that time.

During those three years, the new deans (Dean Michael Hunter-Schwarz and Dean Stacy Leeds) at both schools embraced the program and got their staff, faculty and students on board to bring JLAP into the schools. They oversaw and supported wellness initiatives, such as the formation of Student JLAP (SJLAP) organizations and school events where SJLAP would be a part and highlighted. Because the schools embraced JLAP—and JLAP embraced the schools—we are a real presence in both institutions. From the students walking in the Chris Thomas Walk in memory of a student who died by suicide last year, to a student bar-b-que, to the Mood Food and Stress-less Fests in both schools before finals, SJLAP is there. The students seek us out and get the help they need. 

The school’s associate deans and some faculty continue to help their students by referring them to us, either formally or informally, or to suggest to the students that they call us themselves. Deans and faculty have always provided financial support, by sponsoring the Advocates Dinners. In addition, Bowen created a fall term JLAP fee and Fayetteville has now raised thousands of dollars for JLAP through their SBA Golf Scramble.

All of this continued up to and past the three-year probationary period when the court agreed (with Justice Karen Baker’s (JLAP liaison) advocacy) that JLAP was a viable and vital part of the education of law students in Arkansas.  None of that would have happened without the on-going work of the deans, staff, faculty, and students in our two state’s law schools.

Because JLAP, wellness, and getting help for problems, early if possible, Arkansas’ law schools have begun sending men and women into the profession already aware of recognizing need for help and knowing that there is a place—confidential and free—where they can go.