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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

AALS: A Learned Society still Learning!

I am happy to align myself 100% with Paul Horwitz in his magnificent post (a Jerry Maguirean Manifesto, perhaps?).   Yes, yes, and again yes, to everything he says.

Having insisted, with Mark Tushnet, that the AALS is a trade ass'n advocating vigorously on behalf of its member schools, Paul (and Orin, too) rightly insist that the organization can and should function as a learned society, this for the benefit of the hard-working law profs whose skills, energies, and commitments are essential to our collective mission.  To be sure, "can function" doesn't mean "does function" and the extensive constructive suggestions about to improve both the performance of the AALS and, in particular, the annual meeting, should be welcome by anyone -- especially by the volunteers who after all configure nearly every one of the panels and also the meeting's theme -- who cares about our learned profession.  Let's all get to work on making the meeting great . . . nope, I won't go there.

Where I would like to pivot next, in some other posts, is how the association's role as advocate for its member law schools can be reconciled with two important considerations: (1) the welfare of the community of law profs who work within these schools; and (2) the problems that exist and persist within AALS member schools.  Paul raises shrewdly just this point when he raises the question -- more of a challenge really -- of how the AALS can advocate energetically for law schools qua law schools while also advocating on behalf of legal education and the values for which our educational endeavors stand.  These two complex considerations can reveal tensions in AALS mission, and also its performance.  We would do well to unpack, and not elide, these tensions.  

Posted by Dan Rodriguez on January 17, 2017 at 07:19 PM in Life of Law Schools | Permalink


You had me at "Jerry Maguirean." (Although, at least in the short term, maybe I should be a little concerned.)

Posted by: Paul Horwitz | Jan 18, 2017 10:08:32 AM

Thanks, Dan, really looking forward to your future posts.

One minor clarification: I don't insist that the AALS should also be a learned society. To the contrary, I would be delighted if the AALS were solely a trade association and left the learned society role to other groups (still as of yet unformed?). It's the mixing of roles that strikes me as problematic, which is why I particularly look forward to your future posts.

Posted by: Orin Kerr | Jan 18, 2017 12:04:41 AM

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