Profile: Prettyman ’71 Devotes Career to Legal Aid

“It’s a great feeling when I take a difficult case and win,” says attorney Marshall Prettyman ’71, who recently helped a mentally challenged man to retain ownership of his home. “The landlord took advantage of my client and got him to transfer his house to another party. I got the deed set aside. His whole family hugged and high-fived me.”

Prettyman has served as director of litigation for Legal Aid of Arkansas for more than 20 years, handling a caseload in family law and landlord-tenant law, as well as management of six offices that cover one-third of the state. He has argued many times before the Arkansas Supreme Court.

“Making a major difference in someone’s life happens on a regular basis,” he says. “The challenge is that far more people seek services than we can handle.”

Also an adjunct professor of landlord-tenant law at University of Arkansas School of Law, he is the school’s representative on the 10-person Governor’s Commission Study on Arkansas Landlord-Tenant Law. He gained recognition as being one of the top tenants’ advocates in the state.

“In 2006, Arkansas had passed a new landlord-tenant statute,” he says, “which was purportedly based on the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act but they ripped out the pro-tenant provisions. I gained notoriety for writing a Law Review article pointing that out.”

A history graduate who earned his J.D. at Rutgers University, Prettyman became a legal aid lawyer in New Jersey. Arguing before the New Jersey Supreme Court for the first time was the highlight of his career. “It was exciting, intimidating, and rewarding,” he says.

Prettyman credits Lafayette for sparking his professional aspiration. “I developed critical thinking in class through the history department. Professor Jacob Cooke’s U.S. Constitution and Political History Origins of Law class piqued my interest in law.”

He is the son of William Marshall Prettyman Sr. ’41 and nephew of Lewis Head ’34 and James Head ’35. His stepfather is Frederick Broadfoot ’41.

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