Little Rock Port Authority OKs legal-services contract with firm of former Little Rock Major Mark Stodola

The Little Rock Port Authority’s board of directors approved a resolution on Wednesday to enter into an agreement for legal services with the Barber Law Firm, where former Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola is of counsel.

The resolution was adopted in an unanimous voice vote of the board during a meeting.

Stodola, 73, is a former prosecutor who served as Little Rock’s major for 12 years, from 2007 through the end of 2018.

He declined to run for a fourth term and was succeeded by Major Frank Scott Jr. Stodola joined the Barber Law Firm in 2019 after leaving office.

The resolution approved Wednesday authorizes Bryan Day, the executive director of the port authority, to enter into a contract with the Barber Law Firm for legal services.

The Barber Law Firm’s proposal was one of six received by the port authority following a request for qualifications from individuals or firms, according to the resolution’s text. The firm proposed an affiliation with the law firm of Ernest Sanders Jr. as part of its response and was ultimately endorsed by a review committee.

Stodola, who attended the Wednesday board meeting, thanked members and said that he looked forward to the opportunity to provide “excellent” legal services.

“I am available on a cell phone anytime whether [it’s] during the day or in the evening,” he said. “I want you to know that you can contact me if any issues come up and of course I look forward to working with Bryan and his staff and all of the consultants to make sure that we can do everything possible.”

In an email exchange following the meeting, Day said the port authority would negotiate a rate with the Barber Law Firm. Officials hope to secure a fixed monthly rate as opposed to hourly rates, he said.

The port authority has spent approximately $65,000 to $70,000 on legal fees annually, according to Day. “I plan to spend less with [t]his contract,” he wrote.

Likewise, the length of the contract has yet to be determined. Day suggested that the initial term would be for “just a couple of years with an option to extend.”

The port authority has previously relied on Dover Dixon Horne for legal services after selecting the firm through a similar process seven years ago, according to Day.

Dover Dixon Horne recently merged with the law firm Wright, Lindsey & Jennings and reapplied for the port authority‘s latest legal-services contract, Day said.

“We had several strong proposals and all of them would have done a good job; however, the committee felt the Barber Law Firm Team was the best choice for the Port at this time,” he wrote.

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