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University of Arkansas School of Law

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Established in 1924 and located in Fayetteville, Arkansas, the University of Arkansas School of Law is the flagship law school of the University of Arkansas system. It recently moved up from the Third Tier of USNews and World Report rankings to 94th overall.  However, in at least one regard, the University of Arkansas is considered a top-10 law school, the primary one of these instances being its 9th-place finish on the SubtleDig First Annual Party Law School Rankings. 

Admissions & tuition

While the University of Arkansas School of Law doesn't have any specific cutoffs for admission with respect to GPA or LSAT, the median numbers of admitted applicants in the most recent cycle were 3.53 and 155. Students with numbers above these should feel confident about their chances for admission (especially if they are Arkansas residents), whereas students with numbers below the University of Arkansas's 25th percentiles-3.25 and 153-will need perfectly crafted personal statements and substantially compelling letters of recommendation if they wish to have any realistic chance of gaining admission.

The University of Arkansas has a more competitive admissions process than many similarly ranked law schools. Most recently, they admitted only 31% of applicants, and between 2001 and the present they have averaged only a 34.5% acceptance rate. This suggests that, possibly due to the high demand sparked by being the best law school in the State of Arkansas, even students with competitive numbers should pay attention to all aspects of their application package and present themselves as well as possible.

As with all public law schools, tuition and fees at the University of Arkansas vary in accordance with a student's state of residency. The cost for an Arkansas resident for one academic year is roughly $10,750. For non-residents, the figure is closer to $21,450. It should be noted that not only is the in-state tuition a bargain, but the out-of-state price is thousands less than most public law schools charge their out-of-state students.

Employment prospects & bar passage

The vast majority of University of Arkansas grads opt to take the Bar in the state of Arkansas, and for this endeavor they are prepared: Most recently, 79.6% of graduates passed the Bar on their first attempt, only .5% worse than the statewide average of 80.1%. Although University of Arkansas grads do not always outperform the statewide average, they generally are in line with it: Between 2001 and now, they have averaged a first-time Bar passage rate of 77.8%, compared with 77.3% statewide. This strong correlation, however, is likely due to the fact that a very substantial percentage of all takers of the Arkansas Bar are graduates of the University of Arkansas.

A relatively small percentage (less than 5%) of Arkansas graduates end up working for NLJ250 "biglaw" firms, however much of this is possibly due to self-selection of students wishing to stay and work in their home state. Nevertheless, it is safe to say that a University of Arkansas student wishing to work for a big firm in a major city would absolutely have to be at or very near the top of his or her class, grade-wise. A far greater percentage of University of Arkansas School of Law graduates, unfortunately, do not wind up with any sort of employment whatsoever. The law school does not release data regarding the percentage of their students employed at the time of graduation, but a full nine months later, nearly 8% of their most recent crop of graduates lacked employment (with another 6% feeling the need to get an another degree). This statistic paints a grim picture of life for those graduating in the bottom third of their class at University of Arkansas. Also somewhat grim is another statistic: The average private-sector salary of University of Arkansas graduates: $49,750. While this should be balanced against the low cost of living in Arkansas, it is more comparable to 4th-Tier schools than schools in the top-100.

Academics

The University of Arkansas School of Law places a strong emphasis on developing professional skills, and this tends to be reflected in the classroom experience for students. They offer a number of clinics and programs to give students hands-on experience before they hit the job market, which many potential students might find to be a plus. Arkansas also offers the nation's only agricultural law program, so for students with that interest, that could potentially be a huge draw. There are a number of student publications, including the Arkansas Law Review, The Journal of Food Law and Policy and The Journal of Islamic Law & Culture.

Quality of life

Fayetteville, AR, approximate population 72,000, is a classic Southern college town. Fayetteville routinely finds itself on "best cities" or "most livable cities" lists, including ones made by Forbes and Money Magazine. While those accustomed to big-city life will no doubt find Fayetteville a bit dull, it is chock-full of amenities for students and doesn't lack for any of the basics. Furthermore, fans of college sports will enjoy being able to spend law school cheering for the Razorbacks.

Synopsis

Although University of Arkansas is probably not the ideal law school for someone chasing biglaw and big bucks, low in-state tuition and great access to the legal market in Little Rock and around the state make it a fine choice for Arkansas residents looking to stay and practice in their home state.

Quick reference

U.S. News Ranking: 94
LSAT Median: 155
GPA Median: 3.53
Application Deadlines: July 1st
Application fee: $0
Yearly Tuition: ~$11,000 (in-state), ~$22,000 (out-of-state)
Bar passage rate: 79.6%
Median Private Sector Salary: $49,750 (Class of 2007, 75% reporting)