I write today to announce that the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) is relocating its 2018 Conference on Clinical Legal Education from Austin, Texas, to Chicago, Illinois. It will be held there on April 29 to May 2, 2018. AALS has decided to make the move, and will not hold any other meetings in Texas because of actions by the legislature to discriminate against individuals seeking to immigrate to the United States and against members of the LGBTQ community.
The AALS, founded in 1900, is a nonprofit association of 200 member and fee-paid law schools. Its members enroll most of the nation’s law students and produce the majority of the country’s lawyers and judges, as well as many of its lawmakers. The mission of AALS is to uphold and advance excellence in legal education. Now in its 41st year, the annual AALS Conference on Clinical Legal Education attracts more than 600 legal educators for interactive professional development and networking opportunities.
Our decisions were not made lightly, and withdrawing from the clinical conference in Texas comes at a substantial financial cost to the association. We made these decisions, nonetheless, because we are deeply concerned with the legislative actions recently taken in your state. As you know, Texas SB-4 which goes into effect on September 1, 2017, authorizes local police to inquire about immigration status when an individual is detained, regardless of being charged with a crime. SB-6, if passed, would require that bathrooms in schools must be designated for, and used only by, persons based on the person’s “biological sex.”
Many of our member law schools have clinical programs that serve individuals seeking to immigrate to the United States or members of the LGBTQ community. AALS is concerned about the impact these laws will have on the non-discrimination and due process rights of individuals in violation of the association’s core values. AALS Bylaws specifically prohibit “discrimination or segregation on the grounds of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, gender (including identity and expression), sexual orientation, age, or disability.”
We hope that our action will encourage Texas state lawmakers to reconsider these policies. We look forward to returning to Texas when they do.
President, Association of American Law Schools