For a new on-going feature, “Spotlight on Sections,” AALS sat down recently with the chair and chair-elect of the Section on Administrative Law to discuss the work that the section is undertaking and the value of becoming involved in an AALS Section.
What prompted you to become involved in the leadership of this section?
Emily Hammond: For my part, I’ve always enjoyed being a part of the section. It provides a real opportunity to get to know other administrative law faculty and learn about their projects, as well asshare information about the latest developments in the field. It’s also a way to welcome new people into our specific profession of administrative law teachers and scholars, and provide them with support as they get acquainted with what it is we do. I believe strongly in that aspect of the mission of the section, and it’s a joy to me to be able to participate in the leadership.
Kristin Hickman: When you participate in an organization and people ask you to get involved in the leadership of that organization, then we all have an obligation to step up and take our turn. I usually attend the AALS Annual Meeting and, as an administrative law professor, I attend the administrative law program. Liz Magill [Dean, Stanford Law School] approached Emily and me at the Annual Meeting about leading the section.
The Administrative Law Section is one of several AALS sections organizing works-in-progress sessions for new law school teachers at the Annual Meeting. The Administrative Law Section’s previous “New Voices in Administrative Law” series inspired works-in-progress sessions for several other sections. Can you tell me a bit how this series initially evolved and what you hope it looks like this year?
KH: Our “New Voices in Administrative Law” program is one of the reasons why this section is as strong as it is. The program provides a mechanism for senior scholars to give feedback to junior scholars to help develop their work, as well as a route for junior scholars to interact with senior scholars that is a little less intimidating. The program benefits junior scholars, and also solidifies and extends ties throughout the group of administrative law scholars across the country.
EH: One of the things I think the “New Voices” program has done is demonstrate our senior scholars’ commitment to mentoring junior scholars. This gives a way for the senior scholars to do something that I think they really crave, which is to bring up the next group that will carry forward and contribute to this ongoing conversation that we have within our particular subject matter.
You’re planning a session titled “Beyond Leg/Reg: Designing a Broader Regulatory Practice Curriculum” at the upcoming AALS Annual Meeting. What topics do you plan to explore at that program? Why was this issue chosen?
KH: When I was in law school, the choices were either litigation or transactional tracks for aspiring lawyers, but there is a third track these days: regulatory practice. We’re hoping to talk about different curricular ideas and ways of thinking about law teaching that are oriented towards students who will be going into regulatory practice.
A lot of attorneys really don’t do business transactions per se—and they don’t litigate—but they deal with agencies. You see this reflected in the curricular reform that a lot of law schools have pursued in terms of adopting Leg/Reg or something like it into their 1L curriculum or as a required class at some point during law school, recognizing the traditional Langdellian model of law school teaching doesn’t cover statutes, regulations, or other aspects of regulatory law very well.
I talked informally with other law professors at different schools who are developing clinics around notice-and-comment rulemaking and other sorts of upper-level classes dealing with various regulatory compliance topics. It occurred to me that trying to pull some of these voices together to talk about different ways of incorporating regulatory compliance into the JD curriculum beyond a single class, and that developing that third regulatory practice track was a conversation worth having.
What activities outside of the Annual Meeting does the section undertake?
KH: We have a very active listserv. It sounds minimal, but the administrative law section has constant conversations through the listserv, such as when a U. S. Supreme Court case comes down that has administrative law applications, information arises on new legislation, or any interesting agency actions that have taken place. It’s very informative and alerts members of the section to different things going on in this area.
EH: It’s a terrific listserv and another way that scholars can connect. Any section member can post, and it helps break down some of those perceived barriers between junior and senior scholars in the section. It’s a real resource when people seek advice on a research question, or ask about something they are working on in the classroom.
Why should law faculty consider joining AALS sections? And how have you personally and professionally benefited from your participation in the Section on Administrative Law?
KH: On a professional level, we’re in a business in which the exchange of ideas across law schools is incredibly important, both in respect to scholarship and to curricular development. The section facilitates conversations between other administrative law scholars from across the country, from the “New Voices” program to the programs on curricular development. Through those conversations, I feel like I’ve benefited tremendously both personally and professionally.
EH: For me, the sections are a really nice way to take the very large AALS community and create a meaningful experience for an individual scholar. Some law schools may only have a few administrative law professors, so it’s in important resource for them. Also, in terms of having support when I was teaching administrative law, especially in the first two years, I got so much out of learning from other professors’ experiences. It’s very stimulating to engage with people on what they’re working on.
What is the best way for people interested in Administrative Law to get involved with the section?
KH: If they are junior scholars, submit a paper to the “New Voices” program. If they are not junior scholars, volunteer to read and comment on a piece in the “New Voices” program. Just attending our panel is another way to get involved, but it’s more passive than the “New Voices” program, where you have to take part in the conversation.
EH: One message from the section and our activities, especially “New Voices,” is that the scholars in our section enjoy making connections with other scholars. I’m always happy when I hear from a new administrative law scholar to introduce themselves, send me a paper to read or ask a question about teaching. New administrative law professors can reach out to any of the section leaders by email to get involved. Also, anyone interested in a leadership position can informally let any of the current board members know as we hold elections at the end of our section meeting annually.
KH: Participating in the listserv is another way to get involved. Professors can sign up for the Section on Administrative Law listserv by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read this month’s other Spotlight on Sections interview with the leadership of the new Section on Associate Deans for Academic Affairs and Research.