Annual Meeting Theme
Pursuing Equal Justice: Law Schools and the Provision of Legal Services
Our society’s ideal of providing equal justice to all cannot be fulfilled until competent affordable legal representation is available for all who need it. The legal services programs for the poor are in turmoil as challenges to their fundamental mission of legal and social justice have intensified in recent years. The system of criminal representation is deeply flawed. Representation in death penalty cases has been exposed as a near sham in many cases, and inadequate representation is common throughout the criminal justice system. Recent studies on the systems of representation in juvenile delinquency cases have exposed entrenched incompetence. The field of public interest law is riddled with examples of inadequate or nonexistent legal resources for those harmed, whether they be children in foster care, persons with disabilities, migrant, low-wage, or displaced workers, communities exposed to environmental risks, and others.
Can we, through our scholarship, teaching, and service, offer useful ideas to ensure that all people are accorded fundamentally fair treatment in the legal system and its adjuncts? Throughout Academic Year 2000-2001, the AALS is sponsoring a series of regional conferences throughout the country to stimulate the production of scholarship, promote the creation of curricular materials, and encourage the formation of actual experimental models, all directed to renewing this society’s ideal of providing equal justice to all.
The 2001 Annual Meeting begins the Association of American Law Schools’ second century. It will provide an occasion to analyze what has been learned in the regional conferences about the academy’s role in addressing these problems and to explore ways that law schools and law professors are, or can be, part of a permanent network to lay solid theoretical and practical foundations for the evolving movement for equal justice and justice education.