What is the job market like for graduates of Arkansas law schools?
"Tough," says Susan Schell, director of career services at the University of Arkansas Law School in Fayetteville. "People are finding jobs, but not at great salaries. It's not as bad this year as it was last year, but it has definitely gotten worse than it was two or three years ago."
The Fayetteville law school typically graduates between 125 and 130 students a year. A survey of the class of 2009 that was done last February showed 94 percent of those whose status was known were either working as lawyers or seeking advanced degrees of some sort. (Some others had jobs, but not as lawyers.) Starting salaries ranged from $30,000 to $70,000, Schell said.
At the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Law School, Dianna Kinsey, assistant dean for career services, said 85 percent of the 127 members of the class of 2009 found work as lawyers or chose to pursue advanced degrees. In 2008, the figure was 95 percent; in 2007, it was 98 percent. As the economy worsened, "We saw more of our legal employers being more hesitant to take on new employees," Kinsey said. Salaries declined too, she said. The mean salary of $58,000 in 2008 dropped to $54,600 in 2009.
It may be worth noting that some question the accuracy of law school statistics on salaries. The law schools get their information from their graduates, and skeptics say those who make very little tend not to reveal it, thus skewing the averages upward.
CORRECTION: Cynthia Nance, dean of the University of Arkansas Law School at Fayetteville, says that a survey showed 94 percent of the school’s 2009 graduates were either working as lawyers or seeking advanced degrees. An Arkansas Times article Nov. 18 quoted a law school administrator as saying the survey showed that 94 students, or 75 percent of the class, were either working as lawyers or pursuing advanced degrees.