Lawyers come from all manner of backgrounds and experience, and they serve a number of important functions, from parsing state-specific legal hoops to making sure every “I” is dotted and “T” crossed on that contract waiting to be signed. Whether they are practicing corporate or criminal law, guiding families through tricky divorce proceedings, defending injured clients, or holding the powerful to account, lawyers of all stripes play a crucial part in keeping the gears of society turning smoothly.


There is a reason the word for “lawyer” in many languages sounds a lot like the English word “advocate.” The Latin root, advocare, means literally “to call for” or “to call to one’s aid.” Those who have poured over mountains of dense paperwork or tried unsuccessfully to smooth talk their way out of a speeding ticket knows just how hard it can be to take legal matters into their own hands. Those up against a corporation or other groups with a wealth of time and resources at their disposal, it pays, often literally, to call in the experts.


In criminal defense or personal injury litigation, the right representation can make the difference between a jail sentence and/or thousands of dollars’ worth of settlement money and getting off scot-free. No matter the area, the ins and outs of law are extremely complex, and having someone to navigate a maze of documents and procedures is worth its weight in prevented headaches.


According to the American Bar Association’s annual survey, there were a little more than 1.3 million lawyers actively practicing across the United States last year. That number has grown steadily over the past decade, increasing by 6.6 percent from 2012 to 2022. The field is also diversifying, slowly but surely. The percentage of female lawyers grew from 33 percent to 38 percent, while lawyers of color increased from 12 percent to 19 percent.


Arkansas’ share of that pool has stayed consistent at around 6,800, shaking out to about 2.3 lawyers per 1,000 residents. That is lower than the national average of four per 1,000 residents, making the role of Arkansas lawyers even more crucial as they defend clients in underserved and rural areas.


The legal profession is also especially sensitive to social, political and technological advances. In addition to staying sharp in the areas they know best, lawyers have to keep up with major changes that can alter their field of practice or create entirely new ones. Legal software company Clio recently singled out cybersecurity, cannabis, labor, elder law, energy, intellectual property, health and student loan law as the fastest-growing areas of law for the years ahead.


In its 2022 legal trends report, Clio also noted the demand for legal services reached record highs last year. Since early 2021, the rate of new casework has averaged 10 percent higher than the 2019 baseline, and in March 2022, new casework spiked to 24 percent. Paired with the fact that the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the legal profession to grow faster than the average for any other occupation at an anticipated 10 percent jump by 2031, it is clear the need for counsel of all kinds is not going anywhere anytime soon.


While the utility of legal liaisons cannot be overstated, there are a notable few who stand suit-and-briefcase above the rest. With that in mind, AY About You is proud to highlight the Arkansas Bar Association’s award-winning lawyers ahead of the association’s annual meeting and 126th anniversary celebration June 12 to 14, as well as readers’ picks for the best lawyers in the state.


Arkansas’ Best Lawyers – Arkansas Bar Association

AY About You’s Best Lawyers 2024