Framing our Food System: Lawyers on the Front Lines

April 4, 2024  |  by Susan Schneider, University of Arkansas School of Law

Editor's Note: This article was republished from the blog of the LL.M. Program in Agricultural and Food Law.

Lawyers have many important roles to play in the food and agricultural sector. Graduates of the LL.M. Program in Agricultural and Food Law at the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville are active in all aspects of the food system – they serve in government, with business and industry, in private practice, in the nonprofit sector, and in academia. With 375+ attorneys in our alumni network, our graduates play an important role in each part of our food system, on all sides of the issues.

Working in Government

Government attorneys offer their agricultural and food law leadership in the federal branches of government and in state agencies by drafting legislation or regulations, administering programs, advising, enforcing the law, and developing policies. Examples are found in some of the current positions now held by Arkansas LL.M. alumni. These include:  

  • Deputy Assistant Director for Civil Rights, USDA
  • Attorney Advisor, Office of General Counsel, HHS
  • Deputy Administrator for Product Management, Risk Management Agency, USDA
  • Attorney, Federal Trade Commission
  • Agricultural Program Specialist, USDA
  • Attorney Advisor, Department of the Interior
  • Policy Analyst, Office of Inspector General, USDA
  • Attorney, Risk Management Agency, USDA
  • Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture
  • General Counsel, Oklahoma Department of Agriculture
  • Arkansas Deputy Secretary of Agriculture
  •  Senior Policy Manager, Arkansas Office of Energy and the Environment


Working in Industry

Food and agricultural law attorneys are also needed to advise industry in navigating the complex world of regulation, liability, compliance, and policy development. Again, our LL.M. alumni provide examples. High-level industry positions include:

  • Associate General Counsel, The Hain Celestial Group
  • Lead Senior Counsel, The Kraft Heinz Company
  • Associate Counsel, Nestle Purina Pet Care
  • General Counsel and VP of Regulatory Compliance, Simmons Foods
  • Corporate Counsel, Food, Walmart
  • Senior Manager for Consumer Protection, Global Governance and Ethics, Walmart


Working in Private Practice

Many food and agricultural law attorneys work in private practice at law firms, large and small. While boutique firms serve niche clientele such as start-up food and beverage industries, in recent years, many mid-sized and large law firms have sought to develop their agricultural and food law practices to better serve the industry. This makes good business sense: from farm to fork, agriculture, food, and related industries make up about 5.5% of U.S. GDP, contributing about $1.42 trillion to the U.S. economy in 2022. Because there are special laws that apply to this unique industry, special attorney expertise is needed. Many of our alumni provide that expertise.

We are proud to have dozens of our alumni working in private practice representing farmers and food and agricultural businesses large and small in all regions of the country. Arkansas LL.M. alumni now work in over 40 states and 18 international jurisdictions.


Working in Advocacy

Attorneys are also needed to advise and lead the many nonprofits, trade organizations, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that advocate for causes, policy positions, and under-served individuals in the food and agriculture space. Many of our alumni fill that role. Examples include an alumna who practices with the Land Loss Prevention Project, whose mission is “to be of service to Black, indigenous, people of color and limited resourced farmers and landowners in North Carolina seeking to preserve their farms, homes, land and rural livelihoods.” Other Arkansas LL.M. alumni examples include work with the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative, the Environmental Defense Fund, ASPCA, and Farm Bureau.


Working in Academia

In addition to careers in government, industry, and private practice, LL.M. alumni also work in academia, teaching and working in research centers and outreach education. Our alumni serve as full-time law professors and clinicians at Harvard, Penn State, UCLA, Drake, West Virginia, Nebraska, and our own University of Arkansas School of Law. Alumni run centers and perform valuable outreach education with universities including at Iowa State, the University of Maryland, and with the Arkansas Division of Agriculture.

In nearly every sector of the food and agricultural industry around the country and the globe, there are LL.M. alumni guiding clients, organizations, governments, and students on how to navigate the complex network of laws that regulate our food system. The LL.M. experience grounds attorneys in the substantive areas they need to know to best serve their clients and to connect them to a global network of LL.M. alumni. For current LL.M. alumni employment news, visit

The LL.M. Program in Agricultural and Food Law is offered 100% online with in-state tuition offered to distance students. The program can be completed in just two semesters (24 credits needed to graduate) with the option of up to four years to finish. Demand is increasing for attorneys who understand the complex issues covered in the program.

The program offers a full range of distance components to combine the educational benefits of classroom interaction with the efficiencies of remote participation. Distance students may participate in on-campus classes live through synchronous videoconferencing when scheduling permits. Classroom capture and online exercises provide a convenient alternative. In addition, the program offers innovative hybrid courses, self-paced, guided online study, and condensed on-campus opportunities.

Photo of Susan Schneider

Susan Schneider

University of Arkansas School of Law

Susan Schneider is the William H. Enfield Professor of Law and serves as director of the LL.M. Program in Agricultural and Food Law at the University of Arkansas School of Law. She is nationally recognized for her work integrating agricultural and food law studies and for a holistic approach to studying our food system. She is the author of the book Food, Farming, and Sustainability: Readings in Agricultural Law and many published articles on agricultural and food law issues. She grew up on a family farm in Minnesota and graduated with a B.A. in Political Science from the College of St. Catherine (Phi Beta Kappa, Pi Gamma Mu), earned her J.D., cum laude, from the University of Minnesota School of Law, and earned her LL.M. in Agricultural Law from the University of Arkansas School of Law.

Online Learner Blog Home


LL.M. in Agricultural and Food Law

The demand is increasing for attorneys who understand the complex issues covered in our LL.M. program in Agricultural and Food Law. Connections between food and health, food labeling and food safety, the impact of climate change on food production, farmed animal welfare, and environmental sustainability are but some of the emerging issues affecting all levels of our food system. For over thirty years, the U of A School of Law has led the nation in agricultural and food law education.

Program Page


Related Articles