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Sunday, June 05, 2011

Good to be back

Greetings, Prawfs readership. It is a pleasure to come back in the summer and share my thoughts on white collar crime, corporate wrongdoing, and the legal profession and academy. I just came back from Law & Society, one of the large conferences I regularly attend. For me, the conference is particularly useful because my scholarship tends to focus on multiple fields and draws from several disciplines. So it is a form of one-stop shopping for me. Usually, I leave the conference with a keener idea of what I want to write over the next eighteen months. So let me register one very odd sounding complaint: next year, the conference is in Hawaii. Yes, I am complaining about that. First, it vastly increases the cost of the trip for many of us, which our schools may or may not cover, depending on various policies (yes, it may be cheaper for my west coast friends, but they already benefitted from the fact that the conference was in San Francisco this year). Second, it lengthens unnecessarily the amount of time many of us have to spend away from our families through extra travel (and no, I cannot bring my family because my kids are still in school at the beginning of June). And third, I think it undermines the seriousness of the conference with our respective home school administrations. We are, after all, asking our schools to pay the costs of our attendance because we believe the conference will further our research agendas and contribute to our understanding of other disciplines. I don't think it helps us when the conference takes place in such an obvious resort/vacation spot. That is not to say that we shouldnt enjoy the home city in which the conference is held (San Fran was great, except it was really cold!). But I don't think it has to be such an obvious vacation locale. Am I in total left field on this one?

Posted by Miriam Baer on June 5, 2011 at 08:18 AM | Permalink


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Law & Society, SEALS, and the January AALS all seem to be more about having fun in a nice locale than serious academic substance. SEALS is perhaps the most over the top in its boondoggle-to-substance ratio; I went once and felt so guilty about it that I haven't gone back (although I'm trying again this summer; I guess I needed a vacation).

Posted by: Orin Kerr | Jun 6, 2011 1:47:34 PM

I disagree gently. While most people could fly into NYC or SF more cheaply, the lodging in SF or NYC is more expensive to have conferences in terms of lodging/restaurants/taxis, etc.

Also, I think when the conferences are in cities that are destination cities, it actually conduces to more people actually spending time with each other during the interstices of the conference. By contrast, when you're in a city like NYC or SF or DC, the conference is at risk of serving as a vehicle for visiting family/friends there under the guise of a professional conference.

Here's some good evidence: SEALS is a conference held at a resort-y place each year and people stay and bond and meet new people there, and on average I find the intellectual content at SEALS over the last few years to equal or exceed the content of AALS (which has improved the last few years too) and LSA generally (which seems as random as ever, some very good and some not). So maybe the question I have is whether the issue is: resort or far away? If it's the latter, that might be more of an issue than the resort-y thing

Posted by: Dan | Jun 5, 2011 5:18:00 PM

I agree totally. I think the only way I could justify the expense to my state school is if I organize what amounts to a mini-conference in my area at Law and Society next year. And since I am on the east coast, the trip out there is going to be a real nightmare.

Posted by: Franita Tolson | Jun 5, 2011 10:29:15 AM

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