The results from the third Annual Survey of faculty and staff from AALS member schools show increases in reported usefulness of most member services, continuing a trend that started in 2017. Just as in 2017, this year’s respondents rated the Journal of Legal Education (JLE), membership in at least one AALS Section, the Directory of Law Teachers, and the Annual Meeting as the most useful of all AALS services. Three of these four were rated as even more useful than last year. Underscoring the significance of the findings, the 2018 survey collected nearly double the number of responses that the 2017 survey did.
The Journal of Legal Education
Nearly four in five respondents (79 percent) reported that the Journal of Legal Education (JLE) is somewhat or very useful. The modest increase (six percentage points more than in 2017) may be attributed to the increase in response rate, but also demonstrates continued engagement with this important resource.
Building on past efforts to make the JLE as accessible as possible, AALS instituted some important changes to the subscription process this year. In an effort to “go green” and produce fewer paper copies of the JLE, AALS invited member schools to reduce the number of hard copies of the journal delivered to their schools. Ninety-six AALS member law schools responded to the request, resulting in a 40 percent reduction in print production. The JLE remains accessible online at jle.aals.org and includes a searchable repository for current and past issues of the journal as well as subscription and submission information.
If you missed the chance to request a reduced number of copies, please email Maddi Durbin at
email@example.com to adjust for the next issue.
Membership in at least one AALS Section
AALS Sections continue to be useful to law school staff and faculty, with 75 percent of respondents reporting membership in at least one section was somewhat or very useful. This is up from 68 percent in 2017. AALS has 103 sections which, in addition to planning the majority of programming at the Annual Meeting, provide forums for law school faculty and staff to engage around affinity groups or specific areas of expertise.
As part of our effort to continue improving Section services, AALS added a dedicated staff member to strengthen and support Sections. New materials including newsletter templates and planning guides have also been introduced and revised to better assist Sections. This year more Section newsletters are being created, more Sections are using their community discussion lists, and programming for the Annual Meeting is more effective than ever before.
The Directory of Law Teachers
The Directory of Law Teachers (DLT) remains a valuable resource for faculty at AALS member and fee-paid law schools. Seventy percent of respondents to the 2018 AALS Annual Survey indicated that the DLT is somewhat or very useful. Its 70 percent usefulness rating matched 2017 results and it remains the third most useful AALS member service.
The Directory of Law Teachers is available online for deans and faculty to update their profiles. New in 2016, AALS debuted a multifaceted online search function featuring name, school, subjects taught, and tenure status. Faculty members in the Directory can adjust their privacy settings to specify what information they are willing to have displayed online.
Have questions about the DLT, or need to update your profile? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Annual Meeting
As the flagship AALS conference, the Annual Meeting continues to be one of the most meaningful gatherings for law school faculty and staff to connect with and learn from colleagues. Sixty-nine percent of this year’s respondents rated the Annual Meeting somewhat or very useful, compared with 59 percent of 2017 respondents.
Figure 1. Please note: responses not displayed here were “I do not use this resource” or “I am not aware of this resource”.
AALS holds several other meetings throughout the year for specific groups or audiences: the Annual Conference on Clinical Legal Education, the Faculty Recruitment Conference, and the Workshop for New Law Teachers. This means that in the general survey responses, many faculty and staff responded that they do not use these services. A closer look at these data (see Figure 2) reveals more about the usefulness of more focused meetings.
Of the 351 respondents who rated the Annual Conference on Clinical Legal Education, 57 percent indicated it was very useful. This is down slightly from 61 percent in 2017.
Of the 783 respondents who rated the Faculty Recruitment Conference and the related Faculty Appointments Register, almost 77 percent said they were very useful, up from about 70 percent in 2017.
And lastly, of the 484 respondents who rated the Workshop for New Law Teachers, 63 percent said it was very useful, on par with the 64 percent who did the same last year. Respondents who rated these more targeted meetings did not necessarily attend in the past year, so these data should be interpreted more broadly rather than as evaluations of 2017 conferences specifically.
When the Annual Survey was conducted for the first time in 2016, 52.3 percent of respondents indicated that they were aware of or used the quarterly newsletter, with 41.7 percent of all respondents reporting that they found it somewhat or very useful. The latest data show significant increases: 75.1 percent of faculty are now aware of and use AALS News as a resource, with 60.4 percent of survey respondents reporting that it is somewhat or very useful. These are the greatest increases in awareness and usefulness across all services.
AALS has dedicated resources and staff time to improving AALS News. The newsletter now contains original interviews with AALS section leaders and staff, opinion pieces from deans and faculty, and enhanced online content including videos, podcasts, and photo galleries.
The 2018 AALS Annual Survey was conducted in March. A brief online questionnaire was distributed to all deans and faculty of AALS member and fee-paid law schools asking them to rate the usefulness of nine AALS
member services. While this year’s survey was similar in structure to the 2016 and 2017 AALS Annual Surveys, the response rate was nearly double. The 2018 survey yielded 1,219 responses, compared with 660 in 2017 and 577 in 2016.
Want to learn more about AALS services? The AALS website, www.aals.org, showcases innovative and outstanding law school programs and faculty as well as current issues facing the legal academy. It also provides extensive coverage of current news about legal education and the legal profession and a calendar of upcoming symposia at member law schools. The site also features details on the association’s professional development offerings, its publications including an online version of AALS News, the Journal of Legal Education archive, and other popular services such as Faculty Recruitment Services and Sections.