Arkansas Law Grads Still Finding Tight Market

Arkansas Law Grads Still Finding Tight Market
Michael Schwartz

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Bowen School of Law said it is reducing its enrollment for the fall because of the tight job market for new attorneys.

“We are shrinking things during this era in response to the employment trends,” said Michael Schwartz, the dean of the UALR Law School.

For the fall of 2013, there were 139 students enrolled in UALR’s law school, and it’s anticipating between 125 and 130 students this fall, he said.

Nine months after graduating, only 51 percent of UALR’s 2013 graduating class was employed in long-term, full-time positions requiring bar passage, according to statistics from the American Bar Association. That compared with 60.4 percent for the graduating class of 2012.

Schwartz said the numbers are a little distorted.

“We have so many students who graduate from our law school and stay in their current careers,” he said. Or the UALR students might have gone to law school to advance their current careers and weren’t interested in becoming attorneys, he said.

The American Bar Association reported in April that, nine months after graduating, 57 percent of the 2013 graduates of ABA-approved law schools were employed in long-term, full-time positions where bar passage was required, according to a news release from the ABA. That percentage was up only slightly from 56.2 percent for the graduating class of 2012.

At the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville, the employment percentage was 68.2 for the class of 2013, slightly lower than the class of 2012, which had 70.5 percent employed after nine months, according to the ABA.

Stacy Leeds, law dean at UA, said she prefers to use the number of graduates who were employed in positions requiring bar passage and where having a Juris Doctor degree provides an advantage in obtaining or performing the job, which was 84 percent for UA’s class of 2013, down from 85.6 percent the prior year.

“It’s a tight market, and we have to work very hard for the successes that we have,” Leeds said.

She also said that she is “seeing an uptick in the market, ever so modest here.”

Schwartz, the UALR law school dean, said he’s hopeful for future students. He cited national reports showing there will be a demand for attorneys nationwide in the next three years because a number of attorneys are retiring and fewer students are going to law school.

“The job market is going to boom again,” Schwartz said.