The University of Arkansas School of Law
1 University of Arkansas
Academics & Programs: The University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville is “a smaller school” that offers a “five-star, New York restaurant quality education for a McDonald’s price.” “In choosing a school that has very low in-state tuition, I gained an extremely valuable education at a fraction of the cost I would have paid at other institutions,” brags a miserly 3L. “It’s a pretty unbelievable education for the cost.” “Various trial and counseling competitions are a few of the greatest strengths” here. Clinical courses and certified skills courses offer “excellent opportunities to get hands-on experience with the actual practice of law.” In addition to traditional judicial externships, there are legislative externships and corporate counsel externships. A “strong legal writing program” is another plus. “You’ll hear the students whining about it around the time appellate briefs are due,” promises a 3L, “but we finish the program with excellent practical writing skills.”
“The faculty is comprised of both older professors using more traditional teaching styles such as the Socratic Method, and younger professors that bring helpful insight[s] into today’s practice of law into the classroom,” explains a 2L. While a few professors here “would be better suited to write articles all day long and not get anywhere near the classroom,” “the quality of the instruction is fantastic” overall. “Most of the professors are really energetic and relevant,” says a 1L, “and they encourage lively discussion.” This faculty is also “devoted” and “almost always accessible” outside of class. The “very accessible and accommodating” administration is “always putting the students first” and “committed to raising the school’s profile.” “I have never had a problem too big or too small for them to address,” reminisces a 3L. “It has been great.”
Upper-level students can choose from a range of elective courses in fields like health law, refugee and asylum law, entertainment law, and immigration policy, though some students would like the school to “add more electives” to the program.
Career Services isn’t perfect but the staff is generally “wonderful” and employment prospects are reportedly excellent. Starting salaries are lower than what you’ll find in more populous places. Arkansas is very inexpensive, though, and it’s one of those states where everybody seems to know everybody else. Consequently, “the networking abilities within the city and state” are definitely a strength. Also, with Wal-Mart and gargantuan food conglomerate Tyson “just down the road,” Northwest Arkansas is a relatively booming area of the country that “provides many unique opportunities for employment with both law firms and major corporations.” “We have some students who go ‘big law’ in the major cities; we have some students who set up shop in rural Arkansas; we have some who go in-house; and we have a lot of government employees, too,” says a 3L.
Campus Life/Facilities: “The facilities are old in some areas but brand-new in others,” and there are “lots of small nooks to study in.” The old classrooms that are still used for nearly all of the firstyear classes are “okay” at best. “The wood paneling is dark and depressing and reminiscent of an old station wagon,” describes a 2L. A newer wing has “ergonomic and aesthetically pleasing” classrooms that are “technology-friendly.” “The research facilities are great” in the “comprehensive” library. There’s an onsite coffee shop, too, “which is great for study breaks when you need to recaffeinate.”
Some students describe the academic atmosphere as “very competitive.” It’s “cutthroat” during the first year, they allege. Other students dispute that characterization. “Students here are pretty laid-back,” rejoins a 1L. “We work hard but it’s not a cutthroat environment where people are trying to claw their way to the top of the class no matter what.”
According to one view, social life can be hard for transplants because a lot of students come preequipped with their own cliques. “People who went to undergraduate school here seem to hang out with each other,” says a 3L. “Many of the groups do not appear to be very inclusive of other students not in their normal social circle.” Other students describe the environment as “very communal.” “You get to know your fellow students and professors very well,” says a 2L. Socially satisfied students also point to the “wide availability” of clubs and organizations and the fact that the student bar association is “active in providing events outside of the law school to…[help] get your mind off of classes.”
Campus sporting events are another big draw—especially football—and the surrounding Ozarks provide plenty of options for adventure activity. Fayetteville is very much a college town with “a unique feel that allows for people of many different cultures and backgrounds to feel at home.” Dickson Street, the hub of Fayetteville nightlife, adjoins the campus, so you can revel with party-hardy undergrads any time you want to blow off your cases.”
* The Princeton Review is not affiliated with Princeton University.