Byron Eiseman retires from teaching after 50 years
June 11-17, 2018
Friday, Eldredge & Clark Attorney Byron M. Eiseman Jr. is retiring as an adjunct professor of tax law with the UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law after 50 years of service.
On Thursday, May 17, the school hosted a reception in his honor to celebrate his contribute to the school and the legal profession.
As an adjunct professor since 1968, Eiseman has taught approximately 3,000 students in classes related to accounting, income tax law, business and corporate taxation, estate planning and estate and gift taxation. The impact of his 50-year teaching career is evident in the success of many of the attorneys he taught; some of whom went on to practice law with him at Friday, Eldredge & Clark, LLP, where Eiseman is still an active partner.
For Eiseman, teaching did not stop when he left the classroom. For many in the firm, his continued involvement in their careers has been an invaluable experience.
“To be able to learn from and work with that kind of attorney has been really amazing,” said Attorney Sarah Cotton Patterson referring to Eiseman as the go-to tax attorney in Arkansas.
“He has been a tremendous mentor my entire time here, but in particular when I was a young lawyer.”
It is that commitment to the firm’s legacy that compels the now former professor to mentor others.
“He is without peer as a mentor and teacher,” said Price Gardner, who has been with Eiseman at the firm for nearly 30 years. “Even to this day he is a resource for our tax lawyers with his knowledge and experience. Working with Byron allowed you to get involved early with clients and helped guide you through the application of the law to the facts and personalities involved. The lessons learned from watching him work with clients and people on the other side were more valuable than anything he taught you from the Internal Revenue Code. I think that practical experience made him a tremendous asset to the law school and those students that were fortunate enough to have him as a teacher.” Gardner added he has known Eiseman for 45 years having first met Eiseman when he taught his Sunday school class as a child.
Another attorney who has known Eiseman since childhood is Katie Watson Bingham, an associate with the firm. Bingham describes Eiseman as a “great and patient teacher, an encourager, a mentor and a friend.”
“He has enriched my life, and I count myself blessed to know him and to work with him,” she said.
Eiseman began his career as a tax lawyer in 1964, when the firm was known as Smith, Williams, Friday & Bowen. He started teaching only a few years later, when the school was an extension of the University of Arkansas and only a part-time program.
It was at that time when the Dean of the University of Arkansas Law School, Ralph Barnhart, approached William H. Bowen to teach an accounting class for lawyers at the Little Rock school. But it was Eiseman who got the job.
“Bill told me I was the CPA and he wasn’t, so I was going to teach the class … and you didn’t argue with Bowen,” Eiseman said.
By 1975, Eiseman had been a partner for five years in the firm and the school became a unit of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock which was later named after Bowen in 2000.
One of the legacies Eiseman leaves behind at UA Little Rock Bowen School of Law is the formation of the law chair professorships. “He was instrumental in creating, negotiating and fundraising for these professorships and because of them we have kept valuable faculty here at the school,” said Theresa Beiner, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at UALR School of Law. On June 30th, Beiner will become the Dean of the law school.
Among them is The Byron M. Eiseman Distinguished Professor of Taxation Law which he established in 2000. Professor Philip D. Oliver has held the professorship since its creation.
Oliver said Eiseman’s 50 year contribution to the law school will leave a profound legacy. “He has just given an enormous amount of his time to the law school. His legacy will be remembered not only at the law school, but in the broader legal community as well,” he said.
Over the past 50 years, the school changed names three times and moved locations four times, but a few constants remained – Byron Eiseman and his Tuesday night tax law class. “His estate and gift taxation class is a classic here at Bowen and held on the same evening each semester,” Beiner added.
Oliver, who works on the schedules for the law classes each year said, “When I first started out making the calendar, I was told to always write in pencil because things change so much. Byron’s class was the exception. I always wrote in ink to block off Tuesday night for Byron’s class.”
“Most of my Tuesday nights have been spent teaching, so it is going to be interesting having those nights free,” Eiseman said.
What is he going to do now? Golf, watch TV, take up a new hobby? No, Eiseman wants to continue giving back to his profession. “I want to work on pulling all the firm’s history together and maybe publishing it into a book,” he said.
It might be an end to Eiseman’s teaching career, but there is still work to be done and a story to tell. Now, the next chapter begins.
About Friday, Eldredge & Clark, LLP
Friday, Eldredge & Clark serves business, non-profit, governmental and individual clients in Arkansas and across the United States. It is one of the oldest law firms in the state and has been the largest Arkansas-based law firm for nearly 50 years. Friday, Eldredge & Clark is led by managing partner, J. Shepherd Russell III, who is also head of the Public Finance Practice Group. The firm has additional practice groups focusing on General Litigation, Class Action & Business Litigation, Railroad, Labor and Employment, Medical Malpractice, Healthcare, Estate Planning & Probate, Employee Benefits, Real Estate/Commercial Transactions and Merger & Acquisitions. Friday, Eldredge & Clark has offices in Little Rock, Fayetteville and Rogers, Arkansas. For more information, visit www.fridayfirm.com.
Source: Friday, Eldredge & Clark, LLP
Byron Eiseman speaks at the reception on May 17 at the UA little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law celebrating his 50 years of service. (Photos provided)