"Value" is a legitimate focus (not to mention a frequent buzzword) in today's business world.  At the risk of sounding cliché and immodest, Watkins & Eager exemplifies value.

Our lawyers are regularly recognized by their peers, clients, and national professional publications for excellence in their respective practice areas.  Moreover, some have backgrounds in public service; others are leaders in advancing the legal profession; and others have gained invaluable experience serving in chambers as judicial law clerks.  Yet all of our attorneys pride themselves on delivering legal services to our clients as efficiently as possible.  That formula--(high competence + cost-effectiveness = value)--sets Watkins & Eager apart.

Public Service

Lawyers of Watkins & Eager have made contributions to the State of Mississippi in numerous ways, not the least of which is through government service.  The importance of quality public servants is self-evident, as the effective delivery of services, whether through the discharge of executive responsibilities, judicial administration or participation in the legislative branch, is critical to the well-being of our nation, state and community. Watkins & Eager is rightfully proud of the service in the public realm of its attorneys.

U.S. Senator Thad Cochran, the former senior U.S. Senator from Mississippi and former member of the firm, served his country with distinction, and was widely regarded as one of the more effective members of Congress. Well liked, Senator Cochran was respected on both sides of the aisle.  Senator Cochran began his practice of law at Watkins & Eager in 1966 and left the firm after election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1972. 

Judge Charles C. Clark, former Chief Judge of the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals served for twenty-three years in the federal judiciary.  After retirement from the judicial branch, Judge Clark returned to the private practice of law, practicing with Watkins & Eager for some 17 years before his death in 2011.  Early in his career, Judge Clark had worked in the office of the Attorney General of Mississippi where he handled significant cases involving constitutional rights.

James E. Higginbotham served as an Administrative Law Judge with the Mississippi Workers Compensation Commission.

In addition to these prominent former members, Watkins & Eager currently has numerous attorneys with significant governmental service.

Gregg Harper served for five terms from 2009 to 2019 as the U.S. Representative for Mississippi’s 3rd Congressional District.  During his time in Congress, Gregg served as a member and a Subcommittee Chairman of the influential House Committee on Energy and Commerce.  During the 115th Congress, Gregg was selected by Speaker Paul Ryan to serve as Chairman of the Committee on House Administration, a standing committee with vast oversight and administrative responsibilities in the House of Representatives and other institutions.  Gregg also served as Chairman of the Joint Committee on the Library of Congress and served two terms on the Committee on Ethics.

Peyton D. Prospere was Legal Counsel to former Governor Ronnie Musgrove and then served as State Treasurer when the incumbent stepped down. He also served as general counsel to the Mississippi Development Authority. Peyton served for ten years as the Honorary Consul for Germany in Mississippi for which he was appointed by the President of the Federal Republic of Germany. In that capacity, Peyton attended to consular services and duties in Mississippi, reporting to the German Consul General in Atlanta.

Betty Ruth Fox served as Senior Attorney with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and as a Trial Attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice/U. S. Trustee Program in civil bankruptcy enforcement.

Timothy L. Sensing worked in the State Auditor's office of the State of Mississippi.

J. Scott Gilbert served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Criminal Division of the Southern District of Mississippi, where he litigated white-collar criminal matters, including health care fraud, money laundering, Bank Secrecy Act, bank fraud, asset forfeiture, and public corruption. 

Collins Wohner is currently serving as the Honorary Consul for Germany in Mississippi.

Waverly Harkins served as a Special Assistant Attorney General assigned to the Mississippi Development Authority.

In addition to those named above, many of the firm's attorneys have served specially as appointed Assistant Attorneys General for the State of Mississippi, special criminal prosecutors, appointed criminal defense attorneys,  judicial law clerks, U.S. Congressional aides and in the U.S. Armed Forces.

While affording these attorneys the opportunity to engage in important issues at high levels of government, this public service now benefits these practitioners, as well as their clients, through first-hand, practical knowledge of the innermost workings of state agencies, public bodies and local government.  The insights and experience gained through this service result in a more nuanced understanding of the pertinent law and its application.

Bar Service

In addition to a long history of zealously serving and representing our valued clients, attorneys at Watkins & Eager have long been committed to service to the bar and the legal profession and to preserving and promoting our system of justice.  Watkins & Eager has a reputation for commitment to the profession and for having the respect of other lawyers and the judges before whom we appear.  This reputation is demonstrated by our leadership in the bar and other legal organizations and by recognition for our service. 

Our attorneys have been and continue to be leaders and active members in national, regional, state and local bar associations and legal organizations.  Through their service, our attorneys have made significant contributions to the profession and to our communities.  Watkins & Eager attorneys understand that these experiences and opportunities for service deepen our understanding of the ever-expanding world around us and enable us to better serve and represent our clients.

Our attorneys have served as president of the Defense Research Institute, the Mississippi Bar, the Capital Area Bar Association (formerly the Hinds County Bar Association), and the Jackson Young Lawyers and many more have been recognized for all manner of service to various bar associations and legal organizations related to specific areas of practice in which our attorneys excel. 

Click below to see the Watkins & Eager attorneys who have served in prominent roles in the following organizations:






Judicial Clerkships

Serving as a judicial clerkship is an invaluable start to a legal career. Working with a judge and the other clerks and court personnel provides unique insight into how courts make decisions.  It provides the clerk a year of intensive writing experience, exposure to practicing lawyers at their peak performance, and a network of colleagues who share the bond of working under the same mentor. 

Before a lawyer becomes focused and experienced in a particular area of practice, a clerkship year offers a glimpse of the vast array of issues that courts must decide; it is a reminder that lawyers must also remain versatile and nimble to best serve their clients and the Court over time. 

Appearing in Court for the first time is bound to be intimidating for most lawyers.  For the law clerk, however, it is already familiar territory.  A clerk knows the essential value of preparation, how to get the Court's attention quickly, when to concede a contrary point and, above all, how to maintain credibility with a judge. 

At Watkins & Eager, we encourage law students to spend that year of public service with the Court because we value the lessons to be learned there: how to behave with courtesy toward all Court personnel, how to craft concise opinions, and how to practice with personal integrity. 

Emily G. Barr The Honorable David C. Bramlette III, United States District Court, Southern District of Mississippi
Robert B. Ireland The Honorable Sharon L. Blackburn, United States District Court, Northern District of Alabama
Caroline K. Ivanov The Honorable Leslie H. Southwick, United States Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit
Erin A. McManus The Honorable Selene D. Maddox, United States Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of Mississippi
W. Abram Orlansky The Honorable Rhesa H. Barksdale, United States Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit
Robert H. Pedersen The Honorable Orma R. Smith, United States District Court, Northern District of Mississippi
Brian C. Smith The Honorable Rhesa H. Barksdale, United States Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit
Susan L. Steffey The Honorable Rhesa H. Barksdale, United States Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit
J. Matthew Tyrone The Honorable David C. Bramlette III, United States District Court, Southern District of Mississippi
Jimmy B. Wilkins The Honorable William H. Barbour, Jr., United States District Court, Southern District of Mississippi
J. Collins Wohner The Honorable William H. Barbour, Jr., United States District Court, Southern District of Mississippi