Allen Chosen to Help Lead Association of American Law Schools

School of Law Interim Dean Alena Allen
University Relations

School of Law Interim Dean Alena Allen

The University of Arkansas School of Law Interim Dean Alena Allen has accepted the position of deputy director at the Association of American Law Schools, commonly known as AALS, effective August 1. She will remain a tenured professor on the faculty with a reduced teaching and service load, but will conclude her role as interim dean June 30.

“Dean Allen has thought deeply about the challenges facing law schools from a variety of vantage points so is the ideal person to contribute to the advancement of legal education at this critical time,” said Judith Areen, executive director of AALS. “We are fortunate to have such an innovative leader join us to help AALS support law schools and their faculty, staff, and students.”

“AALS has flourished under Judy’s leadership and has recently released the American Law School Dean Study which highlights the challenges facing law deans,” Allen said. “I look forward to working with Judy, the talented staff at AALS, and educators to tackle challenges and advance excellence in legal education.”

Allen joined the School of Law in 2021 as associate dean for research and faculty development and professor of law. Prior to joining the U of A, she spent 10 years teaching family law, health law electives, torts, and feminist jurisprudence at the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law at the University of Memphis. She also served as co-lead of the University of Memphis campus-wide Eradicating Racism Initiative, Memphis law school faculty senator (2020-21), director of diversity (2017-18) and director of faculty research for Memphis Law (2020-21). 

Allen’s research interests include the intersection of health policy and critical feminist theory. Her work has been published in the North Carolina Law Review, the Fordham Law Review, the Ohio State Law Journal and the Cardozo Law Review.

Nathan G. Gordon Professor of Law Cynthia Nance will serve as the School of Law dean, effective July 1. Nance previously served as the school’s dean from 2006 to 2011.

Cynthia Nance

“Clearly, Dean Alena Allen is recognized among her professional peers for her expertise and contributions to legal education and are delighted that U of A Law students will continue to benefit from her unique and valuable skillset and thank her as she embarks on her next challenge,” said Terry Martin, Interim Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. “We are also grateful to Dean Nance for stepping in during this important time to assure continuity of leadership and a steady guiding hand. Her deep experience with, and respect of, the legal community will serve the School of Law well.”

“I am honored to serve as dean of the law school again and grateful for the support of my law school colleagues,” Nance said. “I look forward to working with the staff, faculty, and our alumni to continue to develop our academic programs, promote student success and wellness, strengthen our relationships across campus, and guide the law school through the accreditation process. I would like to congratulate Dean Allen on her new role and thank her for her leadership and service to the law school.”

A national search for the new dean will begin at a later date. Details will be announced in the coming months.

About the School of Law: The law school offers a competitive J.D. as well as an advanced LL.M. program, which are taught by nationally recognized faculty. The school offers unique opportunities for students to participate in pro bono work, externships, live client clinics, competitions, and food and agriculture initiatives. The school strives to identify, discuss, and challenge issues of race, color, ethnicity, and the impact(s) they have on students, faculty, and staff members in an effort to achieve a diverse, inclusive, and equitable community. From admitting the Six Pioneers who were the first African American students to attend law school in the South without a court order to graduating governors, judges, prosecutors, and faculty who went on to become President of the United States and Secretary of State, the law school has a rich history and culture.


Yusra Sultana, director of communications
School of Law


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