Each year, the Association of American Law Schools honors one or more of its sections with the Section of the Year Award (SOTY) at the AALS Annual Meeting. The SOTY recognizes excellence in member support and other activities that promote AALS’s core values.

Previous winners are not eligible to win for the three years following their receipt of the Award. The winner(s) will be given their priority timeslot for the 2025 Annual Meeting.


Nominations must include:

  • Section name
  • Name, position, and contact information of person submitting nomination
  • Detailed description of the work of the Section you are nominating and why you believe this work advances the Association’s core values and deserves recognition.



Section on Alternative Dispute Resolution

The AALS Section on Alternative Dispute Resolution was selected for their commitment to excellence in teaching, preparing members on the NextGen Bar Exam, developing engaging programing, collaborating with Mitchell Hamline School of Law to digitize dispute resolution teaching resources, and increasing outreach to law faculty.

“I am thrilled to see our Section recognized with this AALS honor. The members of the Executive Committee worked tirelessly this year to create a mentorship program for junior scholars and put infrastructure in place to help law faculty prepare students for the NextGen Bar exam,” said Donna Shestowsky, Professor of Law and Director of the Lawyering Skills Education Program, University of California, Davis, School of Law. “Given that the bar exam will now test dispute resolution concepts, teaching materials that ADR faculty already develop and share in a spirit of collaboration will help a much broader set of faculty members as they update their courses to reflect this major change.”

The AALS Section on Alternative Dispute Resolution provides opportunities for early career scholars to present their work to receive feedback and recognition for their scholarship through the New Voices mentorship program and an annual works-in-progress conference. The section also presents two annual section awards: the New Voices in Dispute Resolution Award and Best Scholarly Article.


Pre-Law Education and Admission to Law School

The AALS Section on Pre-Law Education and Admission to Law School engaged members and allied organizations in several initiatives. The section partnered with the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) to create a program on the changing landscape of law student demographics that was hosted at the 2023 AALS Annual Meeting. This past spring, the leadership held two webinars on the use of the GRE in law school admissions following changes in ABA standards. The section also expanded its executive committee to allow more voices from section to be heard.

“The Section for Prelaw Education and Admission to Law School is honored to receive this award” said Section Chair Matthew Kerns, Associate Dean at Widener University Commonwealth Law School. “Our section recognizes the immense transformations occurring throughout legal education. We believe many of these changes must begin before a student steps foot on campus. AALS provides a space to candidly discuss structural improvements to how law schools recruit, admit, and retain students. As the gateway into the legal profession, the impact of the section’s work extends beyond our professional careers because today’s law school candidates become the lawyers, judges, professors, and deans who lead the profession tomorrow. We are humbled by the association’s recognition of the programming, leadership, and service of the section’s members.”

Technology, Law and Legal Education

The AALS Section on Technology, Law, and Legal Education engaged with members by hosting a summer webinar series with 11 sessions covering topics including artificial intelligence, classroom tools and technology, cybersecurity law, teaching hybrid classes, and virtual reality. The leadership also held an open discussion forum where members were able to share and learn about innovative projects led by fellow section members.

“The Section on Technology, Law, and Legal Education is honored to be a recipient of the AALS Section of the Year Award,” said Section Chair April Dawson, Associate Dean at North Carolina Central University School of Law. “This year’s recognition is built on the work of visionary leadership and member effort since the creation of the section in 2015. As technology continues to disrupt, influence, and impact the way lawyers practice and what lawyers practice, law schools need to more rapidly adjust law school curricula to ensure law students receive the necessary legal tech training in the form of both law practice technology courses and technology law courses. The work of this section is vital. This year, the section continued to increase member engagement, provide teaching support to the entire academy, support technology-related legal scholarship, and lead and support efforts to improve legal education.”


Pro Bono & Public Service Opportunities

The AALS Section on Pro Bono and Public Service Opportunities has supported its membership with several new initiatives. An Educational Enrichment Committee was formed to produce programs about access to justice and to educate members about new issues. The section also organized a series of discussions with law school administrators to foster connections within membership. This year, the section introduced new awards that were presented at the 2022 Annual Meeting for lifetime achievement, access to justice, and emerging leadership. In addition, a newsletter was produced to inform members about upcoming events, news, pro bono project ideas, resources, and more.

“The Section on Pro Bono and Public Service Opportunities is proud to accept this award to honor the hard work and inspired leadership of our members who are always focused on how the legal profession can serve those in need,” said Susan Schechter, Field Placement Program Faculty Co-Director, University of California, Berkeley School of Law. “In these dire times with so many people lacking access to justice, it is critical that law schools train, support, and inspire our students and our law school communities to step up, step in, and meet our professional and moral obligations to do pro bono work. We are grateful to AALS for acknowledging our section, and we look forward to continuing to highlight the important pro bono work done within law schools.”

Property Law

Over the last year, the AALS Section on Property Law developed several new programs. The section highlighted junior faculty by providing them a “works-in-progress” space to present their research and to receive feedback from more senior faculty. The section also launched informal discussions amongst junior and senior faculty members to help build connections. In addition, a program was offered at the AALS Annual Meeting to share ideas about how faculty could incorporate issues of race, class, and indigenous people to their lessons to provide a more impactful experience for law students.

“The Section on Property Law is honored to receive this recognition of our efforts this past year,” said John Infranca, Chair of the Section and Professor at Suffolk University Law School. “This year we introduced a number of new programs to support and to strengthen the bonds between members of our section. In the spring, we introduced a series of lunch discussions on pedagogy and developments in the law. We also launched a new mentorship program and held our first section pedagogy program at the Annual Meeting. I am very grateful to the many section members who came forward to plan and facilitate these programs.”


Associate Deans for Academic Affairs and Research

Over the past five years, the Section on Associate Deans for Academic Affairs and Research developed Annual Meeting programs focused on building and sustaining alliances. The section’s “Wednesday Webinars” were created to provide a forum for members to discuss the many issues they encounter in carrying out their positions. The section’s discussion list included conversations about law school curricula and scheduling, staffing, and academic freedom, as well as interacting with students, staff, and faculty with professionalism and integrity. The section also opened its discussion list to be used as a place where law school administrators can reach out when in need of substitute professors due to the risks and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Section for Associate Deans of Academic Affairs and Research is so honored to receive this award.” said Mary Garvey Algero, chair of the section and Associate Dean at the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law. “This year has brought many challenges to law schools around the country, from the urgent need to modify law school programs for online course delivery, to the critical need to appropriately and sensitively address racial and social issues in and out of our law schools. The section has done its best to support fellow associate deans, law school leaders, and faculty through these unprecedented challenges by providing opportunities to discuss the tough issues, invitations to support each other across law schools, and resources developed by section members. Our goal has been to build community across law schools and this award encourages us to continue this work. Thank you again from our executive committee and our hardworking section members.”

Balance in Legal Education

The Section on Balance in Legal Education hosted workshops and call for papers on issues related to well-being, supporting, and promoting members’ scholarly and professional activities, mentoring scholarship, distributing a Section newsletter, and continuing their “oral history” project. Section activities also addressed racial injustice and well-being in the law school community, particularly as the COVID-19 pandemic altered the usual way that the community. The section led a 21-Day Racial Equity Habit-Building Challenge, provided a section statement against systemic racism, and created the ad hoc Committee on Conscious Living in the Age of Coronavirus. The section also provided new teaching resources and opportunities for members to connect and cultivate teaching ideas through newsletters, websites, and online discussion lists.

“The Section on Balance in Legal Education is honored to accept this award.” said Jarrod F. Reich, chair of the section and Professor at University of Miami School of Law. “Our Section is humbled by the association’s recognition of the programming, teaching, service, and scholarship of the section and its members. This has been the most challenging year, which has underscored the need for each us of to promote and prioritize our well-being and the well-being of those around us. We are proud of our work this year to promote the sense of balance and justice that the dystopia of 2020 has disrupted in so many ways. And, personally, I am incredibly grateful to and proud of the members of the section, whose commitment to work and scholarship on law student and lawyer well-being inspire me in ways I cannot put into words.”


Environmental Law

“The Section on Environmental Law is honored to accept this award,” said Sharmila L. Murthy, Associate Professor of Law at Suffolk University and Chair of the Section on Environmental Law. “We have a vibrant and dedicated leadership team. Our current activities build on the great foundation laid in prior years and the establishment of traditions like having a field trip at the AALS Annual Meeting.”

Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research

“The Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research is elated to be a recipient of the AALS Section of the Year Award. This honor reinforces the importance of legal research and writing in legal education and validates the extraordinary work of the section leadership,” said Wendy-Adele Humphrey, Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Assessment & Strategic Initiatives at Texas Tech University School of Law, and Chair of the Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research. “From stellar programming at the AALS Annual Meeting to innovative outreach events and diversity initiatives, the section has demonstrated remarkable engagement in AALS and the legal research and writing community. We sincerely thank AALS for recognizing the activities of the section.”


Alternative Dispute Resolution

“The AALS Committee on Sections believed that the Section on Alternative Dispute Resolution stood out as offering its members a varied range of programs and avenues of support and recognition, while additionally emphasizing teaching quality in ADR courses,” said Anita K. Krug, interim-Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at the University of Washington Bothell, and Chair of the AALS Committee on Sections.

The AALS Section on Alternative Dispute Resolution was honored for a wide variety of section activities including encouraging excellence in scholarship and teaching through its works-in-progress conferences and its Legal Educators’ Colloquium. The works-in-progress conference offers a supportive environment for feedback and the exchange of ideas designed to improve the scholarship of those attending. Starting this year, the section hosts an award for Best Article of the Year, which recognizes outstanding scholarship in the field.

In addition, the section has developed Annual Meeting programs that appeal to audiences outside of section membership. The section frequently collaborates with other sections as co-sponsors or conducts joint programs to appeal to a wider audience while showcasing the most pressing issues in the field of alternative dispute resolution.

“The AALS Section on Alternative Dispute Resolution is pleased and honored to receive this recognition,” said Ellen E. Deason, chair of the section and professor at the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. “Since our section was founded in 1984, it has benefitted from the stewardship of many dedicated leaders. For initiatives in recent years, special thanks go to Andrea Schneider at Marquette, who started our highly regarded annual works-in-progress conference, and Jill Gross of Pace, who introduced our new Best Article of the Year Award. Thanks to AALS for providing a platform for our activities and programming.”


Clinical Legal Education

The AALS Section on Clinical Legal Education was honored for its engagement through webinars and other activities, strong leadership structure, encouraging the use of technology in teaching, robust mentoring program, and promotion of excellence in scholarship. The section also presents two annual awards: the William Pincus Award, recognizing scholarship, program design, and other activities advancing clinical legal education and justice, and the Shanara Gilbert Award, honoring outstanding teaching and service to the community and clinical legal education.

“The Section on Clinical Legal Education is delighted to receive this recognition. This award reflects the extraordinary level of clinical faculty engagement in AALS activities that benefit our community,” said Lisa R. Bliss, Clinical Professor and Associate Dean of Experiential Education, Georgia State University College of Law and Chair of the AALS Section on Clinical Legal Education. “Our section has 18 energetic committees doing the hard work that has resulted in our receipt of this award. Their efforts support the professional development of clinicians by facilitating scholarship, teaching, and the creation of other important resources.”

Women in Legal Education

The AALS Section on Women in Legal Education was recognized for a variety of programs including a “speed mentoring” session each year at the Annual Meeting; the oral history project to record and preserve interviews with accomplished senior female faculty; and a lifetime achievement award (named after inaugural winner and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg) at the section’s Annual Meeting luncheon. The section also hosts a hospitality suite for candidates at the AALS Faculty Recruitment Conference, and a welcome breakfast at the AALS Workshop for New Law Teachers.

“The AALS Section on Women in Legal Education is thrilled to receive this award,” said Kerri L. Stone, Professor, Florida International University College of Law and Chair of the AALS Section on Women in Legal Education. “We are one of the largest sections of AALS, but we have a long and rich history of programming and endeavors that make the section feel intimate. This group has enjoyed decades of strong, dedicated leadership. This year, I am exceptionally lucky to be working with an Officer Board and an Executive Committee that are extraordinarily involved, smart, and committed to creating opportunities for our membership to meet, learn from, and celebrate one another.”