Steps to Becoming a Lawyer in Arkansas

Along with two Clintons, the State of Arkansas has produced more than a handful of outstanding legislators and officials over the years. As the state’s population continues to grow, so does the number of lawyers in the state. As of 2022, more than 6,000 lawyers are licensed to practice in Arkansas. Salary ranges for experienced lawyers in the state are between about $104,000 to more than $140,000, depending on what part of the state and the type of practice that a lawyer is employed in. If you’re contemplating becoming a lawyer in Arkansas, read the following information about how to become one.

Pre-Legal Education

Like every other law school, there are no standards or guidelines for an undergraduate degree that have been set by the Arkansas State Board of Legal Examiners, but at a minimum, a four-year bachelor’s degree is required to gain admission into law school. It doesn’t really matter what a law school candidate’s degree is in. Arkansas law school are going to be looking at an applicant’s grade point average and his or her logical and reasoning abilities. That bachelor’s degree must be from either a college or a university that is accredited by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs. A law school applicant’s undergraduate degree can range from English Literature to Engineering or Sociology to Psychology.

The Accredited Law School Requirement

Aspiring lawyers will want to graduate from a law school that is accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA). Graduation from an unaccredited law school won’t get them admitted to practice in Arkansas. There are more than 200 law schools in the United States that are accredited accordingly, and two of them are in Arkansas. Those are the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. For purposes of sitting for the bar exam, any other ABA accredited law school graduate is eligible to take the exam.

The law School Admission Test

Admission to an ABA accredited law school requires that every candidate take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). As law school admission candidates will be competing at a national level, it’s strongly recommended that they enroll in a preparation class for this six hour exam. Several of them are available in the state. Candidates will be tested in the following categories:

  • Reading comprehension.
  • Analytical reasoning.
  • Logical reasoning.

The test is offered four times per year at different locations throughout the state at a cost of $190. Scores can range from 120 at the lowest end to 180 at the high end. Results are released about three weeks after each test. If a test taker isn’t satisfied with their score, he or she can arrange to take the test again. The average score of somebody who wants to attend the University of Arkansas is in the low 150 range.

Applying for Admission to Law School

Assuming that you believe you scored satisfactorily on the LSAT, you can start applying to law schools. The ABA requires applicants to use the Credential Assembly Service of the Law School Admission Council. This service combines an applicant’s undergraduate transcripts along with supplementary documents with LSAT scores and forwards them to the various law schools that a candidate for admission applies to. The basic cost of the Credential Assembly Service is $215, and it’s payable online.

Upon Admission to Law School

A full-time ABA accredited law school program is three years in length. Part-time students might take four years or even longer. No specialty law degrees are awarded, but law students can enroll in a wide variety of specialized coursework. At the University of Arkansas, every graduating senior is awarded the degree of Juris Doctor. During a law student’s course of study, an internship program may or may not be required.

The Arkansas Bar Exam

After being awarded a Juris Doctor degree, graduates are eligible to take the Arkansas bar exam. Again, like the LSAT, it’s strongly recommended that bar exam test takers enroll in a test preparation program. We won’t recommend a specific preparation program, but if you ask around, you’ll quickly learn where just about everybody who will be taking the exam are gravitating to. You’ll likely want to put yourself there too. The Arkansas bar exam is given twice a year in February and July in Little Rock, and it’s a two day test. The exam is rigorous, and its current cost is $500. It has a pass rate of about 64% which is somewhat lower than most of the other states. The Multistate Performance Test is given on the first day, and the Multistate Essay Exam is given on the second day. Applicants to the Arkansas bar must also successfully complete the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam with a minimum score of 85. This test lasts about three hours.

Successful candidates for admission to the Arkansas bar are notified of the date, time and location of their swearing in proceedings. One they raise their right hand and put it down again, they’ve become a member of the Arkansas bar and licensed to practice in any state court proceeding anywhere in the State of Arkansas.