This year the UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law will celebrate 45 years since the Arkansas General Assembly enacted legislation making it the University of Arkansas at Little Rock School of Law. This also marks the law school’s 55th year as the night program of the University of Arkansas Law School.
Event co-chairs are Michelle Ator (’95), a partner at Friday, Eldredge & Clark, LLP, and The Honorable Dustin McDaniel (’98), a founding partner at McDaniel, Wolff & Benca, PLLC.
“It has been two years since the alumni have hosted an event to raise money for Bowen due to COVID-19. Since then, our faculty and administration had to reinvent legal education using virtual technology for everything from staff meetings to classes to clinics. We should all be extremely proud of the creative and unwavering dedication they demonstrated during this unprecedented time,” McDaniel said. “Our current graduates will never know what it was like to practice before the advent virtual court rooms, and Bowen has prepared them for the future. I am honored to cohost this year‘s Gala to celebrate the past 45 years of excellence at Bowen, and I hope that we all do what we can to support the amazing work our law school is doing today.”
Although legal education has existed in different forms in Little Rock since 1868, it was not until 1975 that the Arkansas General Assembly enacted legislation making the Little Rock Division of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville Law School into the University of Arkansas at Little Rock School of Law. The legislation allowed the Law School to continue its part-time program but also to enroll full-time students.
The School of Law graduated its first full-time class in 1978. In 1992, it moved into its present location at the edge of MacArthur Park in downtown Little Rock and, in 2000, it became known as the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law, in honor of its former dean, Bill Bowen.
“For almost half a century, Bowen alumni have had a positive impact on almost every aspect of life in Arkansas. Our alumni provide wise counsel in business, leadership in government service, and play key roles in helping all of us navigate the challenges of day-to-day life,” Ator said. “The importance of educating skilled, ethical lawyers to serve our communities cannot be overstated. The gala is a great opportunity to celebrate 45 years of achievement, to see old friends, and to support the success of the next generation of Bowen-trained lawyers.”
The law school currently plans to celebrate at its 45th Anniversary Barrister Gala on Friday, October 22. This exciting evening will include a cocktail hour, seated dinner, dancing, and presentations of the 2021 Distinguished Alumni Awards.
Any individual, group, organization, or board may nominate a Bowen alumna/alumnus to receive a Distinguished Alumni Award. Nominations must be made no later than May 31. The selection committee will choose three honorees from those nominations.
“We are excited to mark this occasion and celebrate Bowen’s history as Little Rock’s law school,” said Dean Theresa M. Beiner. “Our alumni are daily examples of Bowen’s core values of access to justice, public service, and professionalism. To us, they are all distinguished; but that would make for a very long ceremony.”
Tickets for the 2021 Barrister Gala are $250 ($125 is tax deductible). Tickets and tables can be reserved by contacting Assistant Dean for External Relations Wanda Hoover via email or by calling 501-916-5425.