Paul Prater’s career path has moved from magic to law school and a legal practice to building custom props for magicians and operating a tour of buildings that are reportedly haunted.
The 37-year-old White Hall resident’s day job involves serving as the continuing legal education director for the Arkansas Bar Association. Throw in a paranormal event now and then and you pretty much have described his work week.
Growing up in Sherwood, he said he was interested in magic. However, even magicians have to earn a living, so he enrolled at the Hendrix College at Conway, followed by a law degree at UALR’s William H. Bowen School of Law.
He said he began practicing law with a Little Rock firm in 2001 and made partner, then managing partner, but left the firm in January.
“I was burned out on the practice of law,” he explained. “I wanted to spend more time with my wife (Jamie) and our daughter (Ruby).
“It was a minimum 50-hour week. There were not many 40-hour weeks. It was stressful.”
The bar association’s continuing education program involves some travel and seasonal demands, but provides the time he needs to be home with his family.
It also provides him time for his other interests.
“I’ve loved magic since I was a kid,” Prater said. “Over the years he put together stage shows that incorporated “side show things and mind reading.”
Next week he is doing a stage show as part of a benefit for Hot Springs’ Levi Hospital.
While building props for magicians, he got to know Edward Underwood, who wrote a book entitled “Haunted Jonesboro” and launched Jonesboro Ghost Tours.
Underwood recently took a job in Springfield, Mo., and asked Prater to keep the tours going through Saturday. “It sounded like fun,” he explained, and he agreed.
The ghost tour is a walking tour in downtown Jonesboro, with stops at various historic locations. At each location the audience hears stories and some history about the Northeast Arkansas city. He also shares “with you the tales of ghostly apparitions and paranormal manifestations that are attributed to these places,” the promotional material says.
A ghost tour is simply unique entertainment built around storytelling, he explained, that involves the group walking a mile during a tour, Prater explained There will be laughter and an occasional scream.
“It is not a Halloween haunted house with individuals jumping out to frighten those on the tour,” he emphasized. “If you are looking for a Scooby Doo episode, don’t go on a tour. It’s entertainment with history and mystery thrown in.”
While he does private groups or parties, ghosts, tragedy and murder are not appropriate for children.
Séances are sometimes requested by groups and he will schedule them, Prater said. It is known as a “paranormal show” and can turn a little creepy, he added.
He said he did two séances recently and has another scheduled Nov. 7.
Prater said he is interested in establishing a ghost tour in the Little Rock area, perhaps with a Civil War angle.
“I love the audience interaction,” he said with a smile. “It takes people to make a stage show successful.
“There is security in having a full-time paycheck. You don’t have the security in entertainment.”