Founded as the first law school in the state, the University of Arkansas-Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law (UA Little Rock Law) served the state as both a public and private school into the sixties. After a period of inactivity, the law reformed as a part-time program in conjunction with the law school at the University of Arkansas. Due to its success and growing student body, the law school again became its own institution in 1975. As the school grew, so did its accommodations. Originally housed in an old courthouse in the downtown area, UA Little Rock Law moved into a new facility adjacent to MacArthur Park, the city’s historic downtown park, that was renovated for the school in 1992. UA Little Rock ALw has produced a number of Arkansas Supreme Court justices including Andree Layton Roaf, the first African-American woman on the bench.
The Juris Doctor program at UA Little Rock Law requires 90 hours of coursework for completion. The program may be completed through a full or part-time program. The goal of the first-year program (which takes part-time students two years to complete) is to prepare students for the rigors of the upper-class curriculum through the core academic courses of the American legal system: civil procedure, contracts, criminal law, property, and torts. In conjunction with these academic courses, students also begin to prepare for the practical work of lawyering with skill-based courses that cover research, writing, analysis as well as professionalism. This program completes a third of the required course hours.
Substantively, UA Little Rock Law requires four additional courses–constitutional law, evidence, criminal procedure, and a course on professional responsibility. All students continue building their practical skills through a two-semester course on lawyering skills that covers a range of legal skills required for courtroom practice, dispute resolution, and transactional work. All students must complete a substantial writing requirement, a course covering legal perspectives, a course covering advanced legal research, and an additional course in experiential education. To ensure preparedness for the bar exam, UA Little Rock Law also requires all students to complete and bar preparation course. Students who do not achieve a minimum grade are required to take additional bar prep courses.
The remainder of the J.D. program is elective. UA Little Rock Law offers a wide variety of focus areas to help guide students in their course selections as well as program specifically to help students to prepare to pass the bar exam.
All Juris Doctor candidates at UA Little Rock Law may also pair their J.D. with a professional degree. These concurrent degree programs demonstrate an interdisciplinary approach to the practice of law and help diversity a student’s skill set. In a concurrent degree program, students are admitted to both programs. Generally, students complete their first-year curriculum at UA Little Rock Law. Afterward, students work on both programs concurrently, sharing some course credits between both programs. This approach adds insight to the study of law and allows students to earn both degrees in less time than pursuing them separately. Joint Degree programs include combining the J.D. with a Master of Public Service from the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service or an M.B.A. from the UA Little Rock College of Business. Additional programs include joint degrees in the field of public health, pharmacy, and social work.
Career and Career Placement
Based on recent employment outcomes, over 86% of all graduates of UA Little Rock Law are employed within 10 months of graduation. Of those, 88% find long-term, full-time careers. Of all employed graduates, 93% find careers that either requires a law license or prefer a Juris Doctor degree. The remaining are employed in professional positions or pursue additional education. Over half of employed graduates opted for careers in a law firm setting with most opting for small law firms with less than 10 attorneys. UA Little Rock Law graduates also opted for careers in government (18%), the business sector (12%), and the public interest sector (11%). Over 80% of all graduates remain in the state of Arkansas to begin their professional careers.
The Career Services Office (CSO) at UA Little Rock Law works with each student to identify a path to a career that meets their professional aspirations but also incorporates their interests and strengths. The CSO works with students through counseling sessions and programming to help students prepare their professional resumes, develop effective interview skills, and create their online professional identity. The CSO administers the school’s mentorship program that pairs students with a practicing attorney to help guide their professional development. In addition, the CSO provides a substantial networking program that emphasizes the need for relationship building to be a successful attorney.
Experiential Learning/Distance Education
From their very first semesters, students at UA Little Rock Law receive practical, skill-based lessons on the ethical practice of law. In the classroom, the core of experiential education is the two-semester course in lawyering skills. In these course, students learn from practicing attorneys on how to be lawyers. The course covers a number of trial, pre-trial, and non-litigation skills. During the second semester, students work on an actual trial as they experience the practice of law first hand.
Once students have completed the lawyering coursework, they are eligible to continue their experiential learning in either a clinical setting or a public service externship. The law school’s clinical program houses seven unique clinics that each serve a different practice area where students can hone their legal skills while representing real clients. The law school’s proximity to the state’s legal center allows students innumerable opportunities to get hands-on learning in live cases. The clinic offers a range of practice areas including consumer protection, family law, and mediation.
In a public service externship, students are placed in external legal offices working in government agencies, judicial chambers, or a non-profit organization. These externships provide students with the opportunity to work alongside practicing attorneys in real-world cases. Students build their practical skills and their professional networks.
At this time, UA Little Rock Law requires residential coursework for its J.D. program.
From their academic and bar success programs to their diverse student organizations, UA Little Rock Law provides every student with a remarkable amount of support and opportunities to build a balanced approach to their academic careers. In the student organization program, students express the school’s diverse background and viewpoints through a range of groups. These groups also donate countless hours of pro bono work to the community. The law school also programs a number of events each year to support a variety of co-curricular activities including the school’s active trial advocacy and moot court teams. The law school also has its own fitness center on-campus and provides all students with a range of counseling and wellness programs.
In Little Rock, students live in the capital and largest city of Arkansas. The city blends southern and midwest culture in a unique setting. The law school sits adjacent to one of the city’s major parks and is minutes away from the thriving downtown community set on the banks of the Arkansas River. Housing is abundant and affordable throughout the city. The law school is also close to many of the city’s best restaurants and breweries. Within a short drive, students have access to the music of Memphis or the wilderness of the Ozarks. At UA Little Rock Law, students enjoy big city life at an affordable cost.