John V. Phelps


Office: 870.932.0900
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John V. is proud of his farming upbringing in Brookland, Arkansas, and his graduation from Arkansas State University in 1969.  His wife, Dianne, was President of her sorority and he was President of his fraternity, which is how they met.  They were married in June, 1969.

He and Tom Womack have recently endowed the Pre-Law Center at Arkansas State University in tribute to the opportunities and doors opened for them there.

He graduated from the University of Memphis School of Law in 1972 with his classmate, Tom Womack, whom he met on his first day of law school there.

John V. practiced a couple of years in Memphis with some fine people, and then came to practice with Tom in Jonesboro in 1974, in part so he could be close to his aging parents whom he revered.

His practice has always been civil jury trial litigation, primarily for defendants, but sometimes for selected plaintiffs.  He has tried over 150 cases and has won 95% of those he should have won, and lost 95% of those he should have lost.  To him, this proves the worth and merit of the jury trial system.

He has devoted much of the last 25 years of his career to the American Board of Trial Advocates,, which is an invitation only national trial lawyer organization.  The entire purpose of ABOTA is to preserve the Constitutional 7th Amendment right to trial by jury in civil cases.

In 2006, he served as National President and that commitment continues by his National Board participation and Masters in Trial Presentations.

Further to ABOTA’s efforts at professional idealism, he supports the ABOTA programs advocating lawyer “civility” and the movement to include a commitment to civility within the oath of each lawyer admitted to practice in every state.

He subscribes to the notion that all lawyers at all times should be “ladies and gentlemen” in their conduct towards one another and that such an attitude is a component of professional integrity and a commitment to justice and civic virtue.

John V. has represented clients in every area of litigation and has worked hard to keep from being pigeonholed in any particular area.  As his listed accomplishments confirm, he has enjoyed the practice of law which was his childhood dream.  It has given him the opportunity of many friendships and taught him a little bit about a lot of things.

He recommends it to others.

Practice Areas

  • Products Liability
  • Personal Injury
  • Torts
  • Construction Law
  • Professional Litigation

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • American Bar Association
    • Faculty, National Trial Academy, TIPS, 2003
    • Fellow, American Bar Foundation
  • Tennessee Bar Association
  • Arkansas Bar Association
    • Board Member, Arkansas Bar Foundation, 2019-2020
    • Fellow, Arkansas Bar Foundation
  • Craighead County Bar Association
  • American Board of Trial Advocates
    • National President, 2006
    • National Board of Directors, 1997 – Present
    • Trustee, ABOTA Foundation, 2001 – 2004
    • National Masters in Trial Award, 2001
    • President, Arkansas Chapter, 1993 – 1994
    • Faculty, ABOTA National Trial College at Harvard Law School, 2014 and 2012
    • Faculty, ABOTA National Trial College at Princeton University, 2010
  • Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers
  • Fellow, International Academy of Trial Lawyers
  • Senior Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America
    • Member, Trial Law Institute
    • Member, Diversity Law Institute

Awards and Distinctions

  • Arkansas Supreme Court Special Justice, 1988 and 2015
  • Outstanding Defense Attorney, Arkansas Association of Defense Counsel, 2011
  • Best Lawyers “2019 Lawyer of the Year” – Personal Injury Litigation, Defendants
  • Best Lawyers in America – Personal Injury Litigation 2013 – 2019
  • Mid-South Super Lawyers 2006-2018
  • Top 50 Attorneys in Arkansas by Mid-South Super Lawyers 2006-2018
  • Top 50 Attorneys in the Memphis Area by Mid-South Super Lawyers 2006-2016
  • The Lawdragon 500 Leading Lawyers in America
John V. Phelps


  • University of Memphis School of Law, Memphis, TN, 1972
    • Juris Doctor
    • Law Review, Editor-in-Chief, 1971 – 1972
    • Honors: With Honors
    • Honors: Moot Court Justice
  • Arkansas State University, 1969
    • Bachelor of Arts
    • Honors: With Distinction

Bar Admissions

  • Tennessee, 1972
  • Arkansas, 1974

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John V. Phelps

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