Carla Spainhour

Tax Lawyer and Partner

Friday Eldrdge & Clark

Little Rock

Carla Spainhour

Carla Spainhour has been juggling roles and smashing stereotypes since she began balancing ledger books back in the 1980s.

At 36, the Little Rock CPA is the first woman tax attorney for Friday Eldredge & Clark, the state's largest law firm. Breaking tradition at the 128-year-old law firm underscores a style that runs in the family.

Spainhour's husband, Tim Spainhour, traded a career as a high school band director in Greenland to become a lawyer at Acxiom Corp. Her parents, J.C. and Shirley Gunnels, left their roots in Crossett and have become west Little Rock neighbors to help raise the grandchildren.

Carla Spainhour has had three children during the past five years. She serves as president of the central chapter of the Arkansas Society of Certified Public Accountants.

"The main reason I am where I am is that I had a very stable family environment. My parents always encouraged me, whether it was competing in the swim team or going to law school," she says.

With an accounting degree from Northeast Louisiana University, Spainhour worked as a CPA for three years in south Arkansas before she earned a law degree from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and a masters in tax law from New York University. All of it has been a challenge.

"But trying to balance a career as a mom and being a young attorney has probably been the most difficult," she says.