Established in 2006, the AALS Triennial Award for Lifetime Service to Legal Education and to the Law recognizes career contributions by an outstanding faculty member or retired faculty member at an AALS member school.



Kimberlé Crenshaw

Columbia Law School & University of California, Los Angeles School of Law


Headshot of Professor Crenshaw, 2021 Triennial Award Honoree

Press Release Newsletter


Professor Crenshaw’s career has been defined by her numerous contributions to the advancement of civil rights, critical race theory, feminist legal theory, and race and the law. She is known for establishing the concept of intersectionality, which examines how class, gender, race, and other characteristics overlap and compound to help explain systemic discrimination and inequality in society.



Michael Olivas

University of Houston Law Center


Headshot of Michael Olivas, 2018 Triennial Award Honoree

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Spanning nearly 40 years, Professor Olivas’ career has been defined by his numerous contributions to teaching, scholarship, and leadership. He is the William B. Bates Distinguished Chair in Law (Emeritus) and previously served as director of the Institute for Higher Education Law and Governance at the University of Houston Law Center before retiring in 2019. “Being a law faculty member at UHLC all these years has been an honor and has enabled me to serve this institution I love, and to which I have dedicated my career,” Olivas said in a press release from UHLC. “We all live to serve our students, and to advance scholarship in our fields, and I have never looked back. There is so much work to do, and so many legal needs. This opportunity for service has always animated and inspired me.”



Herma Hill Kay

University of California, Berkeley School of Law


Headshot of Herma Hill Kay, 2015 Triennial Award Honoree

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Spanning more than 50 years, Professor Kay’s career was defined by her enormous contributions to teaching, scholarship, and leadership. Professor Kay started her career at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law in 1960, at a time when there were few women law professors. She became dean of the law school in 1992 and served in that position until 2000. Professor Kay was widely recognized for her teaching and public service. At the 2015 AALS Annual Meeting, she was presented the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Lifetime Achievement Award by Justice Ginsburg herself. “I couldn’t imagine anyone in the world I would rather have receive this award than Herma Hill Kay,” Justice Ginsburg said. “She’s a grand human in all respects.”



Derrick Bell

Harvard Law School


Headshot of Derrick Bell, 2012 Triennial Award Honoree

Newsletter (PDF)


The Association is proud to announce the late Professor Derrick Bell as the 2012 recipient of the AALS Triennial Award for Lifetime Service to Legal Education and to the Law. Professor Bell was deeply engaged with lawyers and students, concretely demonstrating why law teaching should become their calling. As one of the many scholars who credit Bell with her entry into law teaching puts it: “He was so unqualifiedly selfless that many of us called him Father Derrick… because he was such a wise provider to those of us stumbling about in a professional world that was new, inscrutable and not altogether welcoming. He was a mentor before we had a word for it.”



Guido Calabresi

Yale Law School


Headshot of Guido Calabresi, 2009 Triennial Award Honoree

Newsletter (PDF)


Professor, Dean and Judge Calabresi’s service “to the law” is best exemplified in the body of his scholarship which transformed our profession’s thinking about tort law. Two of his four books earned recognition from the American Bar Association, and one received the Order of the Coif’s Triennial Book Award. The American Bar Foundation honored him with its Award for Outstanding Research in Law and Government. He has received the Morton A. Brody Distinguished Judicial Service Award and continues his active judicial service after fifteen years as a Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.



Norman Dorsen

New York University School of Law


Headshot of Norman Dorsen, 2006 Triennial Award Honoree

Newsletter (PDF)


In recognition of his contributions to the law and to legal education, Professor Norman Dorsen, New York University was awarded the first AALS Award for Lifetime Contributions to the Law and to Legal Education. Professor Dorsen served as president of the American Civil Liberties Union 1976-91. Earlier, while general counsel to the ACLU 1969-76, he participated in dozens of Supreme Court cases, arguing among others those that won for juveniles the right to due process, upheld constitutional rights of nonmarital children, and advanced abortion rights. He was the author or editor of many articles and books (sometimes with others), including The Evolving Constitution (1987), Human Rights in Northern Ireland (1991), Democracy and The Rule of Law (2000) and The Unpredictable Constitution (2001).