A complete list of classes offered and descriptions can be found in the School of Law Catalog of Studies →
Required First-Year Courses
The first-year program is mandatory. It consists of required courses in broad areas of law to which all lawyers should have some exposure. The first year commences with an introductory program beginning the week before regular law school classes. During this week, students are introduced to the judicial process, legal history, legal writing, case analysis, the significance of precedent, the adversary system, and the role and responsibilities of the lawyer as an advocate. No separate academic credit is given for this week, but attendance is mandatory.
(4 credits, fall semester) – Study of the process of civil litigation from preliminary matters such as court selection and jurisdiction, through joinder of parties and discovery techniques, to disposition of cases and finality of judgments. Some attempt is made to cover the antecedents of modern procedure; where appropriate, suggestions for reform are developed in class discussion. Emphasis is on the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
(4 credits, fall semester) – Deals with the questions of what conduct society punishes through a criminal code and of the appropriate punishment for the forbidden conduct. In this context the course includes an analysis of the theories of punishment, the definitions of various crimes, the defenses available to one charged with criminal conduct, and the limitations placed by the Constitution on governmental power in the criminal law area. Throughout the course, special emphasis is placed on the legislature’s role in creating statutes alongside the judiciary’s corresponding role in interpreting those statutes.
Legal Research & Writing I
(3 credits, fall semester) – An introduction to the special problems posed by the legal analysis and the expression of the results of that process. The primary emphasis will be on basic legal analysis techniques, basic legal writing skills, and proper citation form. Students will complete a series of writing assignments.
Legal Research & Writing II
(3 credits, fall semester) – An introduction to the persuasive writing for trial and appellate courts. Emphasis will be placed on intermediate library research techniques and basic legal research using computers. Students will also engage in brief-writing and appellate argumentation.
(4 credits, spring semester) – This course deals with the creation and transfer of rights over property. The primary emphasis will be on entitlements in land. Subject to variations among professors, topics will include the rights of landowners to exclude and condition the entry of others, estates in land, co-ownership, landlord-tenant law, real estate and personal property transactions, and servitudes.
(4 credits, spring semester) – This course introduces the basic principles of constitutional law and current constitutional doctrines and problems. The focus is on the structure of the federal system and on the rights of individuals under the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the Fifth and 14th Amendments. Students also are advised to take the elective course, First Amendment, to complete their study of constitutional law. Constitutional Law must be taken in either the second or third year.
(4 credits, either fall or spring semester) – This class explains the formation and enforcement by litigation and commercial arbitration of commercial and family agreements. It covers mutual assent or consideration, third-party beneficiaries, assignments, joint obligation, performance, anticipatory breach, discharge of contractual duties, and the Statute of Frauds.
(4 credits, either fall or spring semester) – Tort law governs the protection of persons and property against physical harm, whether intentional or negligent, under a variety of doctrines, including trespass, nuisance, negligence, deceit, and conversion. A number of fundamental Anglo-American legal principles, such as duty; proximate cause; foreseeability; privilege; damages; injunctions; and functions of the advocate, trial judge, and appellate court, are developed in the context of the liability of builders, contractors, workers, manufacturers, dealers, railroads, and operators of motor vehicles.
Those students taking Torts in fall semester will take Contracts in spring, and vice versa.
Required Upper-Level Courses
(3 credits) – Explains the role of the lawyer as counselor, advocate, and public servant; the individual lawyer’s obligation to society and the profession as a whole; the ethical problems of the profession; representation of the unpopular cause and the undesirable client; the lawyer’s obligation to law reform; the lawyer and the press; the lawyer in public service; and aspects of law-office management. Professional Responsibility must be taken in either the second or third year.
In addition, before graduation, each student is required to take:
Any course for three semester hours which has been certified by the law faculty as a Skills Course, or any combination of certified Skills Courses which total at least three semester hours, and
Any course for at least two credit hours that has been certified by the law faculty as an Upper Level Writing Course.
Most of the curriculum in the second and third year is composed of electives. This elective system allows students to choose courses that interest them and that will be useful in the types of careers they choose. Students are required to consult an adviser before registering for upper-level courses.
Credit hours occasionally vary when a course is offered during the summer session, and not every course is offered every year.
The LL.M. program offers 24 credits of specialized agricultural law courses. Courses are taught by full-time agricultural law professors at the School of Law or by visiting scholars with national agricultural law expertise. Most students take all of the specialized courses. However, with the approval of the director, a student may substitute courses offered in the J.D. program (if not taken previously as a J.D. student) or courses offered for graduate credit elsewhere within the University of Arkansas, provided that they are substantially related to agricultural law.
Some LL.M. students have taken one or more international law classes offered in the J.D. curriculum. Graduate students may be allowed to earn up to six credits through alternative courses. An effort is made to accommodate each student’s particular areas of interest, and the director works closely with each student to develop their preferred curriculum. Credit may not be granted for courses taken at other law schools.
The specialized agricultural law courses in the LL.M. program are specifically designed to address the most current issues facing agriculture today. Therefore, the curriculum and the focus in each of the individual courses will vary year to year as professors incorporate new issues. Recently offered courses include:
Introduction to the Law of Food & Agriculture
(1 credit) – This course provides an overview of the legal and policy issues presented by the production of food and fiber, including a discussion of structural changes in agriculture, sustainability issues, and trends in direct marketing and consumer interest.
Agriculture & the Environment
(3 credits) – Agriculture is increasingly criticized for its impact on the environment. This course examines the tensions between the desire to produce food and fiber efficiently and concern for the protection of natural resources. The application of the major federal environmental statutes to agricultural operations will be presented, with discussion of the exemptions for agriculture and the impact of industrialized agricultural production on environmental regulation.
Administrative Law & Agriculture
(1 to 2 credits) – Administrative agencies play a critical role in implementing farm policy. In addition to addressing core administrative law principles, this course examines formal and informal adjudication of USDA disputes.
(2 credits) – This course examines the network of laws that govern food safety and food labeling and considers how well this network works to protect American consumers. Current issues in the news, e.g., mad cow disease, E. coli outbreaks, animal welfare issues, and the organic standards, are considered.
Selected Issues in World Agriculture
(1 credit) – This course explores selected issues in global agricultural trade, including human rights implications of U.S. and EU farm policies and the environmental consequences of the changing patterns of agricultural production throughout the world.
(1 credit) – This course examines the law governing the organization and operation of farmer-owned cooperatives, with an emphasis on “New Generation” value-added processing cooperatives. Among the topics covered are cooperative taxation and aspects of antitrust and securities law applicable to agricultural cooperatives.
Agricultural Finance & Credit
(3 credits) – Agriculture is a capital-intensive industry. This course examines the legal issues involved in the financing of an agricultural operation, including credit availability, farm real estate financing, secured transactions in agricultural personal property, and debt restructuring opportunities. Special attention is given to the institutional lenders that serve agriculture: the Farm Credit System, the USDA Farm Service Agency, and the commercial banks involved in farm finance.
(1 to 2 credits) – This course examines bankruptcy law as applied to agricultural operations, including Chapter 12 – Family Farmer Reorganization.
International Food Law
(1 credit) – The marketplace for the manufacture and sale of food is becoming increasingly globalized. This survey course examines the international organizations and standards that regulate and influence food law.
(1 credit) – This course examines the Packers & Stockyards Act, with a focus on the prohibition of unfair practices, animal identification, mandatory price reporting, and the protections provided for livestock marketing. The course also considers the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA) and its protections.
(1 to 2 credits) – Agriculture has a rich and varied history, and today’s issues are often best understood in the context of this history. This course examines a wide range of social and economic issues, considering their origin and how history is reflected in today’s policies. Topics considered include agrarianism, land tenancy issues, slavery, farm structure, early farm activism, the Dust Bowl, and migrant farm labor. Student participation is critical in this course.
Agricultural Labor Law
(1 to 2 credits) – This survey course examines the legal, social, and economic issues that arise from the extensive use of migrant labor in U.S. agricultural operations. This complex issue is analyzed from many perspectives. Discussion topics include agricultural exemptions from labor laws, the Migrant & Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, and agriculture’s reliance on undocumented alien workers.
Biotechnology & Agriculture
(1 credit) – Developments in agricultural biotechnology offer exciting opportunities but raise many concerns. This course examines laws governing biotechnology as applied to agriculture, combined with a discussion of the farm policy impact and analysis of regulations controlling the use of biotechnology in agriculture and whether these regulations have kept up with scientific developments.
(1 credit) – This introductory course examines agricultural business taxation issues, including the impact of business planning decisions on taxation.
Crop Insurance & Disaster Assistance
(1 credit) – This course addresses complex issues surrounding the use of crop insurance and disaster-assistance programs to support farm income in times of loss. It provides an overview of the programs available and the legal issues that arise from them. Policy issues, including the new concept of revenue insurance, are also addressed.
Agricultural Law Seminar
(1 credit) – This course allows for the intensive coverage of a specialized topic in agricultural law that is not covered in an existing law course. This seminar is for LL.M. students only.
Advanced Agricultural Law Research & Writing
(1 credit) – This is a practical course to assist students with research and writing skills, focusing on specialized agricultural law topics. This course is for LL.M. students only.
Master’s Thesis in Agricultural Law
(1 to 4 credits) – As part of the requirements for the LL.M. degree, each student must perform research in a specialized area of agricultural law and develop an article or other product suitable for publication. This course is for LL.M. students only.
Independent Research in Agricultural Law
(1-2 Credits) This course provides 1-2 credits for independent research in agricultural law conducted under the supervision of a faculty member. The final grade is based on the research project submitted by the student. There is no final examination.
Advanced Legal Research in Agricultural Law
(1 credit) – This is a practical course to assist students with research and writing skills, focusing on specialized agricultural law topics. This course is for LL.M. students only and is graded on a pass/fail basis.