The University of Arkansas-Fayetteville School of Law is one of two law schools in the state both of which are connected to the state university. In the 1940s, Arkansas Law became the first law school in the south to admit an African-American student although he died of natural causes before graduation. Five more African-American students entered the law school the next year and collectively became known as the “Six Pioneers.” Today, the law school’s student body reflects the diversity of the state with a minority population of over 15%. The school is pioneer in law related to food and agriculture. The law school has graduated numerous political and judicial leaders since opening its doors in 1924. It has also had a number of notable faculty members. For example, both former President Bill Clinton and first lady Hillary Clinton served as law professors at the school.
The first-year curriculum at Arkansas Law is grounded in the core courses of American legal education: civil procedure, constitutional law, contracts, criminal law, property, and torts. These courses lay the foundation for all future coursework at Arkansas Law. In conjunction with these core academic subjects, students also take two semesters studying the skills of legal research and writing. In their upper-level years, students are only required to take a course in professional responsibility as well as satisfy the requirements to complete a major writing project as well as six hours of experiential learning. The state of Arkansas also mandates that all students take a non-credit course covering Arkansas’ mandatory child reporter laws.
Arkansas Law offers students a wide and constantly updated set of electives to choose from as they prepare for their professional careers. The school also offers certifications in business law and criminal law. Certifications require students to complete specific courses and demonstrate a mastery of the core subject matter prior to beginning their professional careers. Arkansas Law is also one of the leading law schools for the study of food and agriculture law.
Arkansas Law offers several additional degree programs for a range of students. To compliment their Juris Doctor program, the law schools also offers a Master of Laws (LL.M) degree with a concentration in food and agricultural law. The law school has been a pioneer in this field for over three decades. In this program, students complete 24 hours of coursework on the subject as well as complete a major research project. Particular attention is spent on shaping food and agricultural policy. Admission is open to students who have earned their J.D. or its international equivalent.
Juris Doctor candidates at Arkansas Law may also combine their legal studies with another professional degree from four other colleges at the University of Arkansas. These joint degree programs require admission to both programs separately. However, once admitted, students pursue both degrees concurrently. This approach allows students to share courses to satisfy graduation requirements for both programs, saving time and money to complete both degrees. Joint degrees include a joint J.D. and M.B.A. or a joint J.D. and a Master of Social Work degree.
Undergraduate students with an exceptional academic record may also opt into the school’s “3+3” program which allows students to spend their final year of undergraduate studies as a first-year law student. The program allows students to complete both degrees in a total of six years.
Career and Career Services
Based on recent graduating classes, approximately 85% of all graduates of Arkansas Law are employed within 10 months of graduation. The majority of employed graduates find careers that either requires a law license (72%) or prefer a Juris Doctor degree (24%). A small percentage of students opt for other professional careers or pursue additional graduate education. Employed graduates gravitated towards careers in small law firms of 1-10 attorneys (35%) or careers in the business sector (30%). Midsize and larger law firms accounted for 18% of graduates’ career choice. Over 85% of graduates chose to begin their careers in either Arkansas or Texas.
The Arkansas Law Career Service Center (CSC) offers students and alumni a range of career related services. Primarily, the CSC provides individual counseling to all students to help students design and accomplish their career and life goals. The CSC also provides yearly programming and skill-based workshops to help students work on resumes and interview skills. Regular panel discussions introduce students to various career options and allow them to build their professional networks. The CSC also administers on-campus interviews and job fairs as well as offers students access to various online job postings.
Experiential Learning/Distance Education
Founded in 1975 by future First Lady Hillary Clinton, the University of Arkansas six in-house legal clinics allow law students to learn real-world legal skills while also serving the underrepresented legal needs of Northwest Arkansas residents. The clinics operate as law firms that represent clients in many legal areas. Students engage with clients in all facets of their case while receiving supervision and feedback from faculty practitioners. The clinics help students apply classroom studies in to the actual practice of law.
Arkansas Law also offers students the opportunity for external field placements–also known as externships–that allow students to spend a semester working in a legal office in the surrounding region. The externship programs offer many of the same benefits of the clinical program while also offering a much broader range of practice areas for student.
Arkansas Law also offers a number of practical simulation courses each semester that are grounded on teaching hands-on skills through the simulation of real-world legal problems such as contract drafting or advanced mediation skills.
At Arkansas Law, student life is mixed with tradition and progress. Since 1905, law school graduates have been part of the tradition of etching their names onto the famous “senior walk” at the university. The law school many traditions include annual running races and theater events. Students also come together in the many student organizations which provide the school with numerous programs as well as serve the community through pro bono work. The larger university offers students countless recreational, health, and wellness facilities.
Fayetteville, Arkansas is located in the heavily forested northwest corner of the state. Students are immersed in one of the country’s most unique college towns in America. The university dominates the landscape and the Arkansas razorbacks are a major draw for the region. The Ozark mountains surround the town and offer students numerous outdoor recreational opportunities. The small town (the population is less than 80,000) is full of quaint and vibrant restaurants and shopping. Housing is notably affordable in the area.