Thursday, September 19, 2013

Favorable Report on the LL.M. Program

Over the past year, the LL.M. Program was reviewed according to the University of Arkansas and State of Arkansas program review process.  We are very proud of the results of the review.

The review process began last year with the production of a Self Study Report.  Excerpts from that Report are as follows:
The LL.M. Program in Agricultural & Food Law offered by the University of Arkansas School of Law continues to be the only advanced legal degree program in agricultural and food law in the United States. 
We offer the opportunity for an integrated study of our food system, including both the study of agricultural law and a study of food law.
The educational objectives of the Program are:  
to recruit well-qualified attorneys to the integrated study of agricultural and food law;
to introduce our students to the wide-ranging and complex law and policy issues associated with our food and agricultural systems;
to educate our students in a way that allows them not only to master an understanding of current agricultural and food law issues, but also prepares them to address these issues in a changing legal landscape; and
to graduate students who will use the education they received to serve at the highest professional level, enhancing the reputation of the LL.M. Program, the School of Law, and the University of Arkansas.

Since 2007, the Program has welcomed students with undergraduate degrees from 61 institutions and 45 law schools across the country and abroad. 
The average GPA of our students is 3.5 and 3.2 (on a 4 point scale) respectively, for undergraduate and law school performance. 
Our alumni are a diverse and accomplished group.  The majority practice law, working in large, mid-sized, and small firms. They also serve as in-house counsel to a number of agribusinesses, including Tyson Foods, Monsanto, Rabo AgriFinance, Roll International, AdvoCare International, and in professional positions at Walmart and with the Retail Industry Leaders Association.  
In addition to practicing law, our alumni have risen to leadership positions in the federal government, including Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development at USDA; Deputy Administrator for Farm Programs at USDA; Chief Minority Counsel for the Senate Agriculture Committee; Policy Advisor to the USDA Inspector General; Assistant General Counsel in the USDA Office of General Counsel; Senior Advisor to USDA Secretary Vilsack and Director of the USDA Office of Tribal Relations; and Director, Policy and Litigation Division, Packers and Stockyards Program, USDA GIPSA. 
On the state level our alumni serve as General Counsel to the State Departments of Agriculture in South Carolina, Oklahoma, and Illinois, with other state law positions including those in Indiana, North Carolina, and Arkansas. 
In academia, our alumni employment includes law professors at the University of Missouri, the University of West Virginia, and the University of Arkansas; professors at the University of Georgia, the University of Ottawa, the University of Saskatchewan, the University of Foggia in Italy, the University of Iasi in Romania, the University of Central Arkansas, and Marian College; a Research Associate at the University of Maryland’s Center for Agricultural and Natural Resource Policy; and a Fellow in the Food Policy Clinic at Harvard Law School. 
Some of our alumni work for non-profit organizations such as the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, the Heifer Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Keep Food Legal, and the ASPCA (Farmed Animal Welfare).  
We have judges, state senators, district attorneys, and special masters in our alumni ranks. 
An external review was completed by Professor Kenneth Margolis, Associate Dean for Experiential Education, Case Western Reserve University School of Law and Professor Thomas W. Mitchell, from the University of Wisconsin Law School in Madison, Wisconsin. The Faculty Senate Program Review Committee representation was provided by Dr. Thomas A. Costello, Associate Professor in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering. The UA Director of Program Assessment, Dr. William Warnock participated in all aspects of the review and coordinated the process.

The External Review Report was overwhelming positive, noting that the Program is “very efficient in delivering educational experiences” and that it meets all of its Program objectives.  Student retention has been “exceptional” and the graduation rate exceeds 90 percent.  The Program has produced “graduates that that are highly respected practitioners and many are employed in prominent positions of major government agencies.”

The Report credits the Program with “enhancing the national reputation of the University of Arkansas School of Law in a significant way.”  It observed that we have been receiving “more and more applications in recent years from law school graduates who attended top ranked law schools including Stanford, Georgetown, and UCLA,” and predicted that the Program was “likely to continue to contribute in a significant way to building the law school’s brand.”  It similarly notes the beneficial synergies between the Program and the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative.

The reviewers observed that
Agricultural and Food Law is a developing area of law and is needed not only locally and nationally, but globally as well. The University of Arkansas program is ideally positioned to be a leader in this field and currently has that status.  . . .There appears to be an increasing demand for legal experts in these fields and the demand for the program can be expected to increase.
Our appreciation is extend to everyone who assisted in the review process -  and special thanks to our alumni. You are the ones who really tell the story of our success.

No comments: