Bowen scholarship luncheon recognizes Richard Bell and Suzanne Penn for public service

Richard Bell and Suzanne Penn

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law will honor alumnus Richard Bell and Professor Suzanne Penn for their outstanding public and professional service during its annual scholarship luncheon on Thursday, Oct. 26. 

The luncheon will begin at 11:30 a.m. at the Marriott Grand Ballroom, 3 Statehouse Plaza in Little Rock.

This year’s honorees include Bell, a 1981 graduate of Bowen who serves as president and CEO of Bell & Company. Bell & Company has established foundation scholarships, work-study programs, and mentoring groups for college students. They have also created the Bell and Company Endowed Law Scholarship at the UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law.

“We believe that investing financially, by providing a scholarship to a law student, will generate a return many times over as the student will hopefully pass on the same opportunity to another in the future,” Bell said. “One of our greatest accomplishments each year is to meet, for the first time, the scholarship recipient as we share their journey through education and eventually through their career.”

The second honoree, Penn, is an associate professor of clinical law at Bowen. This year, Penn received the Faculty Excellence Award for Public Service from UA Little Rock, recognizing her dedication to serving individuals who do not have access to legal assistance.

Penn leads the Delta Project, a two-course, public service clinical experience where students travel to the Delta region of Arkansas to educate low-income residents about grounds for divorce and what is necessary to obtain one without attorney representation. Law students also conduct client interviews, perform fact investigations related to case success, and prepare divorce complaints and motions for fee waivers for clients.

Tickets for the event are $100, of which $60 is tax-deductible. Sponsorships begin at $1,500 and include 10 tickets, recognition in the event program, and your name on your company’s table. Other sponsorship packages are available. Net proceeds benefit Bowen student scholarships.

To sponsor the program or purchase a ticket, contact Emily Terry at emterry@ualr.edu or 501-324-9967.

More information about the honorees:

Richard Bell

Throughout his career, Richard Bell has developed a passion for helping others achieve their career and financial goals.

In his professional capacity, he has been dedicated to improving both his chosen field through publication and teaching, and his clients’ livelihoods by addressing matters important to them. Part of his life’s work has been helping financially distressed companies to restructure, regain viability, and become profitable companies that provide jobs for employees and their families.

Within the Little Rock community, Bell and his colleagues at Bell & Company are active in giving back through firm donations and staff time commitments in serving the underserved and the homeless in the community. The Bell firm was recognized nationally as the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) Public Service Firm of the Year for 2011, a recognition at this time only 11 firms have received.

Bell & Company has established foundation scholarships, work-study programs, and mentoring groups for college students. Bell attributes his success to his childhood encouragement and support of his parents; his wife of 40 years, Lee; the Bell firm members; and highly respected mentors. His sister, Nell Sterling, is a partner at Bell & Company, and they have practiced together for 30 years.

Bell and Lee have two adult children, Clayton and Jennifer. Jennifer is an attorney and CPA who is one of the firm partners and manages the Conway location. Jennifer serves on a local bank advisory board and the Community Foundation for Faulkner County. Clayton is a doctor who is on the medical staff at the University of Tennessee with practice emphasis on integrative medicine. Clayton is also nationally recognized for his volunteer work in Haiti through a nonprofit organization he established, Where the Stars Still Shine.

Suzanne Penn

Suzanne Penn is an associate professor of clinical law at William H. Bowen School of Law. Her commitment to public interest law began while she was in law school, where she founded, organized, and was the first president of the Tulane Public Interest Law Foundation.

Her practice experience includes positions at Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, the Arkansas Department of Human Services, and the Center for Arkansas Legal Services. She has handled a variety of civil cases, but her specialties are family, juvenile, and disability law. She has served on the board of the Arkansas affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, and she is the past president of the board of Mainstream, an advocacy organization for persons with disabilities.

In 2014, her dedication to public service, her community, and her students led her to create a clinical experience for law students in the Delta region of Arkansas, an area that has long been underserved by attorneys.

The Delta Project is comprised of two courses: The Delta Experience and the Delta Clinic. In the Delta Experience course, students travel to the Delta to educate low-income residents about grounds for divorce and what is necessary to obtain one without attorney representation.

In the Delta Clinic course, students travel with Penn to Desha and Chicot counties to conduct client interviews, perform fact investigations related to case success, prepare divorce complaints and motions for fee waivers for clients. The students appear in courts as needed to represent their clients and also observe sessions of the courts.

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