Judy Simmons Henry has been engaged in an active business litigation practice for 33 years and serves in management of the firm as its business litigation chair. She joined Wright Lindsey Jennings in January of 1988 after serving in the federal judiciary for three years. Her practice centers on complex litigation including fiduciary and trust matters, corporate reorganizations, banking and class action litigation and sports and entertainment law. Henry has served as a National Football League Players Association Certified Contract Advisor and is the firm’s sports law group leader, representing D-1 coaches and student-athletes. Most recently, Henry has led the charge for Name-Image-Likeness/Publicity Rights representation of businesses and athletes across our State and regionally.
Outside of her legal practice, Judy dedicates a great deal of time working with community- and faith-based non-profit organizations.
Henry’s recent experience includes:
- Lead counsel for physician providers in underpayment of insurance claims in five states and federal courts with a $10,000,00.00 jury verdict during the pandemic in federal court in Arkansas in September 2020.
- Lead counsel in the successful defense of utility charges class action case in state court.
- Lead counsel for the successful defense of the NCAA in university penalties litigation in federal court.
- Lead counsel in healthcare understaffing litigation in federal court.
- Lead local counsel for national shoe companies in multiple class action cases in federal court.
- Lead counsel for five class action cases involving a variety of issues including mortgage servicing, lender changes and recording fees.
- Lead local counsel for a national bank in defeating class certification in alleged wrongful bank deposit account charges.
- Lead counsel in alleged wrongful death defense case with successful dismissal with prejudice.
- Lead counsel for dozens of commercial and residential foreclosure actions in state and federal courts, many involving class action and successful defense of lender liability claims.
- Lead counsel for national trust companies in successfully defending breach of fiduciary duty claims in state and federal courts.
- Counsel for state’s largest healthcare provider in successfully defending antitrust claims at federal, circuit and U.S. Supreme Court.
- Lead counsel for numerous state business entities in general business issues, contract negotiations and collection actions.
- Negotiated offensive and defensive NFL player contracts from 2009 through 2018.
- Successfully closed 9 NIL transactions for businesses and athletes since the NCAA lifted the right to work ban on athletes on July 1, 2021, with many more transactions in process.
Before joining the firm, Henry served as an intern to United States Senator David Pryor in Washington, D.C. (1982) and as a Law Clerk in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern and Western District of Arkansas for Judge James G. Mixon (1985-88).
In 2009, Henry was certified as an NFL Players Association Contract Advisor. She currently represents D-1 college football coaches, as well as student-athletes and Arkansas businesses in NIL contracts. She is a member of the American Bar Association (Business Law Section). She has also held several positions within the Arkansas Bar Association, serving in the Debtor-Creditor Rights Section as Chair from 2002-03 and as Vice Chair from 2001-02, as well as in the Business Law Section as Chair from 2004-05, Vice Chair from 2003-04, and Secretary/Treasurer from 2002-03. She is a member of the Pulaski County Bar Association and the Debtor-Creditor Bar Association of Central Arkansas where she served as president in 1991 and Vice President in 1990. She is also a Fellow of the Arkansas Bar Foundation. Henry was appointed by former Attorney Generals Mark Pryor and Dustin McDaniel to serve as an alternate member of the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission from 2001 until 2014, and was recently selected to serve as the third member on the Arkansas Judicial Ethics Advisory Commission beginning in 2016. She is a charter faculty member of the Arkansas Professional Practicum. She has also served as a Special Justice to Arkansas Supreme Court.
In 2021, Henry was featured in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s “High Profile” section highlighting her legal career and dedication to the community. Also in 2021, Arkansas Business featured her in sports-related articles, including “NIL Law Shows Arkansas Players The Money” and “Attorney Judy Henry Understands Twists of Fate.” Her sports law practice was also profiled by Arkansas Money & Politics magazine in the article, “Jerry Maguire, J.D.? LR Attorneys Judy Henry and Jason Browning Prominent in Sports Law.” In 2020 and 2021, Judy was named to Arkansas Business’ “Arkansas 250,” recognizing the 250 most influential Arkansans in the business community.
Henry was named as one of The Best Lawyers in America© (2005-2021) in the categories of Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights / Insolvency and Reorganization Law and Commercial Litigation, and an Outstanding Lawyer in America (2003-05). She was also inducted as a Fellow of Litigation Counsel of America (2008) and recognized for Arkansas Best of Continuing Legal Education by the Arkansas Bar Association (1998-2006, 2013-2017). In 2016, she was honored by the Arkansas Bar Association at its annual meeting with a special CLE Award. Henry has been recognized by Mid-South Super Lawyers for Business Litigation (2006-2020), named as a Top 50 Arkansas Lawyer (2006-2020) and Outstanding Mid-South Female Business Litigation Lawyer (2012-2020). Since 2009, Chambers USA America’s Leading Lawyers has recognized Henry for her business litigation practice. She is also rated AV® Preeminent™ 5.0 out of 5 Peer Review Rating through LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell, www.martindale.com/ratings.
Henry’s publications include, “An Agent’s Perspective on Football’s Return,” Arkansas Business, p. 21 (2011, September 5); Henry and Coleman, “Bankruptcy 101 – Starting Over”, The Arkansas Lawyer, Vo. 40, No. 4, Fall 2005; Recovery of Creditors’ Costs From the Bankruptcy Estate: Reasonable, Necessary, and…Uncertain?, 18 U. Ark. Little Rock L.J. 199 (1996); and Henry and Babin, “Don’t Let Your Bankruptcy Cases Bankrupt You—Keeping On Top of Bankruptcy Cases”, The Community Connection, Arkansas Community Bankers Association (1/94). She also served as editor/writer for the Debtor-Creditor Bar Association of Central Arkansas Newsletter (1988-2002); contributing writer, Arkansas Debtor/Creditor Relations Handbook (Arkansas Bar Association 1994); and contributing editor, Arkansas Bankruptcy Handbook (Arkansas Bar Association 1994). Judy is currently co-authoring an article about the NIL and Arkansas’ new law that will go into effect January 1, 2022.
Henry currently serves as Chair for the Baptist Health Board of Trustees, where she is a member of the Executive and previously served on the Governance Committee and as Chair of the Audit & Compliance Committee and on the Board for 20 years. She completed more than a decade of service as a Board Member of Arkansas Health Group, and began a term as Secretary-Treasurer of the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation in 2019. Henry has served the community in the following ways: Central High School PTSA (2001-07); Gibbs International Studies & Foreign Language Magnet School (PTA Board, 1994-98, Vice President, 1997-98; 1998-99; 1999-2000); Volunteers in Public Schools (1992-2005); Arkansas Children’s Hospital, Committee for the Future (1989-1991); Riverdale Soccer Coach (1994-95); Second Baptist Church, Little Rock, Trilogy 2000 Long Range Planning Chair, Ordained Deacon, 2005 Constitution and By-Laws Revision Committee Chair, Human Resources Committee (2005-07, 2016-2018, 2019-2021), former Finance Committee Member; The Children’s Museum of Arkansas (Board of Directors, 1995-97, Membership Committee Chair, 1995-96).