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 place where future lawyers acquire the knowledge and skills they need to uphold the founders’ vision and to protect the rights it guarantees to the people. Our legal education system is a model for the world. Many countries send their most talented legal minds to American law schools to pursue legal degrees.
The heart of legal education’s mission is to prepare those who will practice law in the United States, including representing and guiding individuals, businesses and institutions; helping to shape public policy; defending, prosecuting and deciding legal cases; and strengthening the rule of law.
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 176 law schools that educate most of the nation’s lawyers and judges and many of its legislators. Another 19 schools pay fees for their faculty and deans to participate in AALS programs. AALS law schools prepare their graduates not only to practice law, but to become problem solvers and leaders in government, business, and the legal academy.
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 the association’s most visible role is serving as a voice for legal education, our greatest service may be bringing faculty together to explore the full panoply of issues that challenge both public and private lives.
The AALS Annual Meeting each January on average draws more than 2,000 faculty, deans, and senior administrators from law schools around the United States as well as from other countries. It constitutes one of the world’s largest gathering of law faculty to exchange scholarly insights and participate in the 106 sections that discuss in-depth discrete areas of law. Other AALS forums and services assist faculty as they begin their careers, provide venues for clinical faculty, and assist law schools in recruiting and appointing faculty.
The association also serves as the learned society for law faculty. With this responsibility in mind, AALS in recent years has produced several major research reports and shared findings with interested readers in legal education and higher education more broadly.
In 2017, AALS looked into undergraduate views of law school. As part of Before the JD, survey data was collected by Gallup from 22,189 undergraduate students and 2,727 first-year law students. The resulting dataset provides important insights into the factors contributing to an undergraduate’s decision/intention to pursue a graduate or other professional degree in general and law school in particular.
In 2019, we began the American Law School Dean Study that was completed in 2022. The goal of the study is to help universities, law schools, and the legal profession better understand pathways to the law school deanship, the key attributes of those in the role, and the challenges facing law school leaders today.
We invite you to explore this website to learn more about AALS, what we do, and how law schools are responding to the challenges facing legal education and our world.