Nine Arkansas Lawyers Who Know White-Collar Crime

by Kate Knable  on Monday, Jul. 4, 2011 12:00 am  

Tim Dudley, left, Blake Hendrix, Erin Cassinelli, John Wesley Hall, Chuck Banks, Jeff Rosenzweig and Jack Lassiter are central Arkansas' go-to lawyers for white-collar cases.

The FBI loosely defines white-collar crime as “lying, cheating and stealing,” and when the federal government suspects a business executive or government official of such a crime, it’s time to call a lawyer who knows his — or her — way around the federal court system.

Scores of Arkansas attorneys represent clients, white-collar and otherwise, in federal cases, but a few names crop up regularly in the most high-profile white-collar cases.
Arkansas Business recently interviewed nine of the best-known white-collar defenders, presented here in alphabetical order:

Charles A. Banks

Most of Chuck Banks’ caseload is civil, but if he wades into criminal defense, it is only for white-collar cases. In U.S. District Court, Banks has defended notable names such as Little Rock attorney Mona Mizell, former Sheridan Police Chief David Hooks and former North Little Rock Alderman Cary Gaines. And he stood by his client Lu Hardin earlier this year as the former president of the University of Central Arkansas pleaded guilty to bilking the college to settle gambling debts.

“It’s a really serious challenge to represent someone charged with white-collar crimes,” Banks, 64, said. “I didn’t set out to do it. I can’t even remember my first case, but I always liked the challenge.”

Banks graduated from the University of Arkansas School of Law at Fayetteville. He began practicing in 1974.

Early in his career, Banks participated in the pilot Arkansas public defender program and later served as a deputy prosecutor in Mississippi County. He was subsequently the U.S. Attorney in Little Rock from 1987-93.

Banks Law Firm PLLC is in Little Rock, with white-collar criminal defense comprising about 25 percent of his practice.

Banks said he tells clients to expect to pay $50,000 to $100,000 to fight white-collar charges, particularly if they plan to go to trial.

Often, people charged with white-collar crimes are shocked to find themselves indicted in federal court because they think of crime as a violent act or theft, Banks said.
He has represented clients without criminal records or even recent traffic tickets.

“It’s a shock to their system because sometimes they don’t realize the ramifications of some of the actions that they’re taking that could be violating federal law,” Banks said.

When choosing clients, Banks considers how plausible a person’s case is, whether he thinks he can help and how open the potential client is to building a trusting relationship with him throughout the stressful months of court proceedings.



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