Earlier this year, AALS asked faculty and staff from AALS Member Schools for their opinions about the association’s activities, and to comment on what the organization could do to provide better service.
According to the members who responded to thesurvey, the four most used member resources are the Journal of Legal Education, the Directory of Law Teachers, sections, and the AALS Annual Meeting; 68 percent, 67 percent, 63 percent, and 62 percent of respondents found those four to be very useful or somewhat useful, respectively.
The Top Four
The Journal of Legal Education, which 68 percent of respondents said they find useful, publishes articles on important issues confronting legal educators—including curriculum development and teaching methods. It is also an outlet for emerging areas of scholarship. AALS recently partnered with BE Press to provide a new, permanent online home for the journal, which offers open access to issues dating back to 2009 and can be accessed at any time from www.aals.org/jle.
The association has also made improvements to the Directory of Law Teachers, simplifying the administrative process to update entries through a new technology platform. Law school deans, as well as tenured, tenure-track, long-term contract, and emeriti faculty can now update their biographical information at any time so that the directory is up to date when published. The directory is printed annually as a donation from West Academic Publishing and Foundation Press. Sixty-seven percent of respondents said they find the directory useful.
AALS Annual Meeting attendees have also noticed several additions and improvements to the 2017 meeting in New York City. More than 3,000 law school faculty, deans, and staff attended, and 63 percent of respondents to our survey found it useful to attend. In accordance with the theme of “From Challenge to Innovation: American Legal Education in 2016,” the programs at the January meeting focused on novel thinking and fresh perspectives on law and legal education during a time of profound change in the profession. Recent additions to the meeting include “Arc of Career” professional development programs, an opening plenary session, and new formats for sessions including discussion groups. In addition, AALS added a session for first-time meeting attendees. For a more complete overview of the most recent Annual Meeting, visit www.aals.org/highlights2016.
AALS has 100 sections organized around various areas of expertise for faculty members and professional staff of AALS Member Schools; 62 percent of survey respondents said sections are useful to them. Sections develop the majority of programming at the AALS Annual Meeting and may also provide support throughout the year via newsletters, mentorship programs, and discussion on discussion lists. The association has been focused on improving services to sections including a new AALS Section Councilor e-newsletter for section chairs and enhanced resources for section discussion lists and webpages.
Responding to Changes in Legal Education
Over the last few years, AALS has made an effort to communicate a more balanced and informed understanding of legal education to key groups outside the legal academy including policymakers, leaders of the bar and bench, the media, prospective law students, and the general public. Specifically, AALS has focused on improving public outreach efforts including the AALS website (www.aals.org), which now features sections that highlight current issues facing legal education, innovative and outstanding law school programs and faculty, public interest and public service activities, and an archive of current news related to law schools and the legal profession. In addition, AALS now connects with the legal community and public through its social media pages including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.
AALS has also been improving the content of AALS News, the official newsletter of the association, over the last year. AALS News is published four times per year and has included more original writing such as interviews with leaders and dynamic voices in legal education, and an ongoing “Spotlight on Sections” featuring Q & As with the leadership of the association’s sections. Recent issues and an archive of AALS News through 2009 are available at www.aals.org/aalsnews.