45th Anniversary Barrister Gala

45th Anniversary Barrister Gala

This year marks 45 years as University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law and 55 years as the night program of the University of Arkansas Law School. To celebrate, Bowen invites you to the 45th Anniversary Barrister Gala on Friday, October 22.

This exciting evening will include a cocktail hour, seated dinner, presentations of the 2021 Distinguished Alumni Awards, live music, and dancing.

Nominate Distinguished Alumni

To be considered for one of three Distinguished Alumni Awards, an individual must have at least one nomination; you may self-nominate. Any individual, group, organization, or board may initiate nominations. Please note the online form is single-use and cannot be saved prior to submission. Entries must be complete in order to warrant evaluation by the selection committee.

Please submit nominations no later than Monday, June 21.

Eligibility is limited to alumni of Bowen School of Law.

The online nomination form can be found here.

Nominee Selection Process

The selection committee will be comprised of up to twelve Bowen alumni. Event co-chairs Michelle Ator and Hon. Dustin McDaniel will preside over the committee. Alumni sitting on the selection committee will be ineligible to receive a 2021 award. No full-time law school staff or faculty employee will vote as a member of the selection committee nor have any decision-making part in the honoree selection. After the selection committee has met, Assistant Dean Hoover will notify the finalists no later than July 30.

Tickets & Sponsorships

Tickets for the 2021 Barrister Gala are $250 ($125 is tax deductible). Tickets and tables can be reserved by contacting Assistant Dean for External Relations Wanda Hoover at wghoover@ualr.edu or 501-690-1159. Please find the table sponsorship opportunities here.

Event Co-Chairs

Michelle Ator, ’95

Friday, Eldredge & Clark, LLP, Partner

Michelle heads the Medical Malpractice Group at Friday, Eldredge & Clark, LLP. Her practice is focused on representing doctors, hospitals and other medical care providers in malpractice litigation. Michelle has been the recipient of a number of professional awards including the Vincent Foster, Jr. Outstanding Lawyer Award, the Pulaski County Bar Association’s President’s Award, an Ike Scott Fellowship by the Pulaski County Bar Foundation, and the Arkansas Bar Foundation Award for Excellence in Legal Writing. Michelle is a Past President of the Pulaski County Bar Association and remains actively involved in service to the bar and community.

She has served two terms as an appointed member of the Arkansas Supreme Court Committee on Civil Practice. She is a Master of the Bench and Past President of the Henry Woods American Inn of Court and has acted as trial skills faculty at the American Board of Trial Advocates National Trial College. She is currently serving as Chancellor for the Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church. Michelle is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, an Associate of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), and a member of the International Association of Defense Counsel (IADC), DRI and Arkansas Association of Defense Counsel.

Before joining Friday, Eldredge & Clark, Michelle served as a Division Chief in the Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado where she was a President’s Leadership Class Scholar, and her Juris Doctor with Honors from the Bowen School of Law where she worked as an Associate Editor on the UA Little Rock Law Review.

Michelle is married to Col. (Ret) Rob Ator, Air Force pilot and former commander of the 189th Airlift Wing, Little Rock Air Force Base. He is the current Director of Military Affairs, Arkansas Economic Development Commission and is serving as Program Manager for Arkansas’s Covid-19 vaccine distribution efforts. She is also mother to two wonderful adult children and Avi, an overweight golden retriever.


Dustin McDaniel, ’98

McDaniel, Wolff & Benca, PLLC, Partner

Dustin is an attorney based in Little Rock and licensed in Washington, D.C. representing some of America’s largest companies in their interactions with state attorneys general from both parties. From 2007-2015, Dustin served as Arkansas’s 55th Attorney General. Dustin helps clients manage AG investigations, administrative law issues and multistate litigation involving antitrust, consumer, tobacco, gaming, Medicaid fraud, digital privacy laws and more. McDaniel Wolff & Benca, PLLC is now recognized for having one of the most successful state attorney general practices in the United States. In addition to his national practice, Dustin actively represents Arkansas clients in a wide range of litigation, regulatory affairs, and public policy matters.

Dustin graduated with honors from the Bowen School of Law, where he served as Honor Council Prosecutor and as Assistant Articles Editor for the UA Little Rock Law Review. The law school presented Dustin with its “Young Alumnus Award” in 2002 and its “Distinguished Alumnus Award” in 2019. He is a graduate of the Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas and served on the National Board of Directors for the University of Arkansas Alumni Association from 2015-2021.

Dustin served the in the Arkansas House of Representatives from 2005-2007. He was the first Arkansan appointed to a Rodel Fellowship in Public Leadership at the Aspen Institute in 2007, and he currently serves as National Co-Chair of the Society of Attorneys General Emeritus (SAGE) and is a member of 50 For the Future, the Pulaski County Justice Coordinating Committee, the UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law Dean’s Advisory Council, the Our House Board of Directors and the U.S. Hemp Authority Board of Directors. Before law school, Dustin was a patrolman with the Jonesboro Police Department and continues to serve as a volunteer Sheriff’s deputy in Poinsett County, Arkansas.

Dustin and his wife Bobbi have three children. Bobbi works as a client advocate and development officer at the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance.

Gold Sponsors

Silver Sponsors

Arkansas Municipal League • Crews & Associates, Inc • Delta Dental of Arkansas •  Friday, Eldredge & Clark, LLP • Gill Ragon Owen, P.A. • Randi & the Honorable Tim Hutchinson • James Law Firm • Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard, P.L.L.C. • Walmart Legal • Wright, Lindsey & Jennings LLP