|Darby Dickerson, UIC John Marshall Law School (since January 2020)|
|Judith Areen, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer|
Darby Dickerson, UIC John Marshall Law School, President
Vincent D. Rougeau, Boston College Law School, President-elect
The Association of American Law Schools (AALS), formed in 1900, is a non-profit organization of 179 law schools in the United States. These member schools enroll and graduate most of the nation's lawyers. AALS incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational organization in 1971. Its headquarters are in Washington, D.C.
In August 1905, a new quarterly law publication was announced in the annual meeting held in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Henry Wade Rogers, Dean of Yale law served as the President and 25 law schools were represented.
The plenary legislative body of AALS is the House of Representatives, composed of one representative from each member school, selected by faculty from that school. A 10-member Executive Committee leads AALS. It is composed of the President, Immediate Past President and President-Elect, six other elected members and, ex officio, the AALS Executive Director. The Executive Committee has the responsibility for conducting the association's affairs in the interim between the annual meetings of the House of Representatives, which elects the officers and other Executive Committee members.
The AALS Annual Meeting is a four-day gathering of law teachers, librarians, and administrators from law schools in the U.S. and other countries. Since the 1970s, the conference has taken place in early January, rotating its location among several large U.S. cities including New York City, New Orleans, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. Programs at the conference explore professional development topics, legal issues, and administrative concerns. Legal educators use the conference to connect with their colleagues from other law schools and countries around matters of common interest.
AALS hosts a number of events throughout the year. The annual AALS Conference on Clinical Legal Education has become a mainstay of the association's activities with the 2015 conference having almost 700 clinicians in attendance. The conference's sessions focus on practice areas and common areas of concern for clinicians.
Every summer, AALS offers the New Law School Teachers Conference in Washington, D.C. This meeting provides professional development and networking opportunities to law faculty in their first few years of teaching, including clinical and legal writing teachers.
AALS periodically holds other meetings focused on professional development concerns. Recent topics have included torts, environmental law, constitutional law, intellectual property, family law, and business law.
AALS disseminates news and information about law schools' innovations and acts as a voice for legal education to prospective law students, faculty, the media, and the public. The association leadership is frequently called on to articulate issues in legal education, from the value of a law degree to what law schools are doing to support diversity. AALS engages with the media and the public on the latest changes and challenges facing the law academy and how law schools are responding.
The association's YouTube channel hosts content from member schools, select AALS Annual Meeting sessions, and other videos related to legal education.
AALS publishes the AALS Directory of Law Teachers, the "desk book" of deans and law teachers. The directory lists by school the full-time faculty and professional staff of all AALS member and fee-paid law schools, and contains biographical sketches of 10,000 full-time teachers.
The Journal of Legal Education, published by AALS since 1948, addresses issues confronting legal educators, including curriculum development, teaching methods, and scholarship. It serves as an outlet for emerging areas of scholarship and teaching. Currently, the journal is co-published by Northeastern University School of Law and University of Washington School of Law, with the schools providing editorial leadership and administrative support.
AALS also jointly sponsors the Clinical Law Review, a semi-annual, peer-edited journal devoted to issues of lawyering theory and clinical legal education. The Review is edited, administered, and financially supported by New York University School of Law and jointly sponsored by the Clinical Legal Education Association (CLEA).
Four times a year, AALS publishes AALS News, a newsletter that keeps readers informed of AALS activities and topics of interest to the legal academy.
Each year, AALS compiles the Faculty Appointments Register (FAR) from information submitted by candidates for entry-level, tenure-track law teaching jobs. Law school hiring teams review this information and invite candidates to screening interviews at the Faculty Recruitment Conference held each fall in Washington, D.C. Successful candidates are then invited to interview at the schools interested in hiring them. Resources are available online to help new candidates with their applications.
AALS also publishes the Placement Bulletin which lists available faculty and administrative positions, as well as positions related to legal education outside of law schools. Individuals who are registered for the FAR may access the Placement Bulletin online; others can order the publication separately.
The AALS requires its members to follow a nondiscrimination policy regarding "race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, or sexual orientation," and for member law schools to require this of any employer to which it gives access for recruitment.
The United States Armed Forces "don't ask, don't tell" (DADT) policy was seen by the AALS as impermissible discrimination. However, the AALS excused its members from blocking access to the military since the passage of the Solomon Amendments, which denies federal funding to the parent university of a law school as well as the school itself if military recruiters are not given full campus access. However, the AALS at the time required schools to take "ameliorative" measures when allowing military recruiters on campus, including placing "warning" signs on campus when military recruiting takes place, scheduling interviews off campus away from "core" areas, "prohibit[ing] entirely the delivery of discretionary support services" to military recruiters, charging military employers who use law school resources "reasonable fees for use of law school staff, facilities and services," etc. The AALS at the time encouraged law schools to deny benefits to military recruiters that they would ordinarily provide employers, such as coffee and free parking. Specifically, the AALS wrote in a memo to all law school deans in the United States:
The main point of this Report therefore is that reasonable access does not dictate equal access. Though schools should conduct themselves professionally regarding the military on this issue, the language of the law does not obligate schools to do anything else beyond providing reasonable access; within the bounds of professional conduct, reasonable access does not in the Section's view imply that schools are obligated to provide other free services or amenities (such as, perhaps, scheduling appointment times, collecting and transmitting resumes, free parking, endless supplies of coffee, snacks or lunches and the like). Beyond providing the "reasonable access" mentioned in the law, schools should avoid entanglement with military on-campus activities and devote their energies and resources to maximizing amelioration.
The AALS engaged in litigation challenging the Solomon Amendments as violative of the First Amendment (see e.g., Rumsfeld v. Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights, Inc.). In an interesting coincidence, The Judge Advocate General's School of the United States Army is a fee-paying nonmember of AALS.
Although DADT has been ended, and although President Barack Obama called upon college campuses to welcome military recruiters during his State of the Union Speech (1/25/11), some law professors have questioned why the AALS has issued no statement declaring an end to its recommendations.