Many pre-law advisors assume their roles because of passing interest, arm-twisting, or forcible assignment. A mix of academic advisors, career counselors, faculty, staff, and community organizers who take on pre-law advising in addition to their other responsibilities, at best, they are enthusiastic participants who lack the time or resources necessary to devote to mastering and keeping current on issues related to legal career counseling, law school selection, and the complexity of the law school application process.

To support and improve pre-law advising, the University of Arkansas, Little Rock’s William H. Bowen School of Law, in partnership with Hendrix College, hosted the inaugural Arkansas Pre-Law Advisor Meeting on November 16, 2018. The purpose of the meeting was to bring together pre-law advisors, career counselors, and faculty who advise students about attending law school and pursuing legal careers to discuss the legal needs of Arkansas, exchange best practices, and network.

The conference featured introductions of Dean Theresa Beiner of UA Little Rock, William H. Bowen School of Law and Dean Margaret Sova McCabe of University of Arkansas School of Law; a presentation of Arkansas’s legal needs from Jordan Rodgers, Program Director at Arkansas Access to Justice; an overview of LSAC pre-law services from Vivian Bowden, Senior Vice President for Schools and Institutions at the Law School Admission Council; and a collaborative discussion led by Amanda Moore, Assistant Director, Graduate & Professional School Connections at Hendrix College’s Office of Career Services and Matthew Kerns, Assistant Dean of Admissions, Scholarships, and Enrollment Data at the UA Little Rock, William H. Bowen School of Law.

Because Bowen is my old stomping ground, I can tell you that Bowen recruited many of its best students from Hendrix, a wonderful little liberal arts college (full disclosure: my daughter’s alma mater!). But Bowen didn’t stop its partnership at Hendrix. In recognition of the diversity of experience and support from their respective colleges and universities, the inaugural Arkansas Pre-Law Advisor Meeting brought representatives from a third of Arkansas’s 40 institutions of higher education together to learn and collaborate to find solutions to common pre-law advising problems.

The long-term goal of the meeting is to address Arkansas’s profound access to justice needs by supporting pre-law education in the state.[1] This is the first time a meeting has been held to focus specifically on supporting Arkansas’s pre-law programs.

The Arkansas Pre-Law Advisors Meeting is another step in Bowen’s support of pre-law programming in Arkansas. It is an extension of Bowen’s Admissions 360 Initiative which seeks to provide access to the resources that can help make pre-law candidates successful applicants regardless of whether they or their undergraduate school have the means to support their goals.

[1] So far this year, applications are up 20% in Arkansas, but, of course, it is hard to know the cause. The only other states that have seen such a large increase are Alabama, Montana and North Dakota.