Dear Colleagues and Friends of Legal Education:
As the Constitution of the United States is the cornerstone of democracy, America’s law schools are the wellspring where future attorneys acquire the knowledge and skills to uphold the founders’ compact and to protect the rights it guarantees to the people. Our legal education system is a model for the world. Indeed, many countries send their most talented legal minds to American law schools to pursue legal degrees.
But the heart of legal education’s mission is to prepare those who will practice law in the United States, representing and guiding individuals, businesses and institutions; helping to shape public policy; defending, prosecuting and deciding legal cases; and solving quarrels and societal problems outside the courtroom as well as inside.
For more than a century the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) has worked to advance excellence in legal education by supporting outstanding teaching and scholarship, encouraging innovation, and promoting diversity of backgrounds and viewpoints.
AALS represents the deans and professors of 179 law schools that educate most of the nation’s lawyers and jurists and many of its policymakers. Another 19 are fee-paid law schools. AALS law schools prepare their graduates not only to practice law, but to become problem solvers and leaders in government, business and the private sector in positions that do not require a J.D. degree.
Law faculty and students grapple with questions that affect everyone, from justice and civil rights to property and taxation, to intellectual property and international law. While perhaps the AALS’s most visible role is representing the interests of legal education in the higher education councils in Washington, our greatest service may be bringing faculty together to explore the full panoply of issues that vex both public and private lives.
The AALS Annual Meeting draws more than 3,000 faculty, deans, and senior administrators from the United States and other countries each January; it constitutes the world’s largest gathering of law faculty to exchange scholarly insights and participate in the nearly 100 sections that discuss in-depth discrete areas of law. Other AALS forums and services assist faculty as they enter the academy, provide venues for scholarly discussion and debate, and assist law schools in recruiting and interviewing faculty.
Although the contributions law schools and their graduates make to society are evident, we operate in an era when all of higher education is taking a hard look at costs and student debt. AALS member schools are devising and implementing strategies to reduce the cost of the J.D. degree and to provide more opportunities for law students to gain real world experience as an integral part of their education. Faculty and students are also contributing to law reform and to strengthening justice in our society. We invite you to explore this website to learn more about the history of AALS, what we do, and how our member schools are responding to the challenges facing legal education and our world.