The next day promised to be a really busy day.  There were ten events on my itinerary for the day.  It’s always a little crazy like that because in addition to the substantive sessions (for example criminal law, administrative law, agricultural law, labor law, immigration law) there are broader sessions about the academy itself.  There are also sessions on development, so it’s always sort of a scramble to try to get to the different sessions and to choose between a substantive program and, for example, curricular re-design or legal education more generally.

The conference began Wednesday morning with the welcome by John Garvey, Dean of Boston College and the presiding President of the AALS.  The plenary session that morning was on “Race and Gender in the Legal Academy” and that ran from 9:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.  I was on my way downstairs to register because they pretty much strictly enforce the fact that you have to have your badge, or at least show it, to get into the sessions (and I had to go register because as you know I skipped it the night before) and I bumped into D’lorah Hughes, one of our newest faculty members.  She is a lot of fun and has become a wonderful new addition to our law school community.  We ended up having breakfast and catching up.  So I missed that first session, but did get to the second part of that plenary session on “Race and Gender in the Legal Profession.”  In that session, the panelists reported on recent research on gender and race in the legal profession, drawing especially on new findings of the “After the J.D. Project,” and discussed how to incorporate such research into teaching programs consistent with the Carnegie Foundation’s mandate in Educating Lawyers.  The panelists for this session were Ronit Dinovitzer, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; William D. Henderson, Indiana University – Bloomington; Sam Kamin, University of Denver; Melinda S. Molina, St. John’s University; and the moderator was Bryant G. Garth, Southwestern Law School.

That afternoon, my next session started at 2:00 p.m. and that was the “Workshop on Redesigning Legal Education” and I think I’ve talked about that before on the blog.  The panelists for this session were:  Paul L. Caron, University of Cincinnati; Anne Colby, Senior Scholar, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Palo Alto, California; William D. Henderson, Indiana University, Bloomington; John Mayer, Executive Director, Center for Computer Assisted Legal Instruction, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Ellen S. Podgor, Stetson University; Susan Westerberg Prager, AALS Executive Vice-President and Executive Director; Nancy B. Rapoport, University of Nevada, Las Vegas; Maimon Schwarzchild, University of San Diego; and William M. Sullivan, Senior Scholar, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Palo Alto, California.    This session addressed some of the most promising – and most troublesome – possibilities in legal education; the integration of academic and skills training, the use of technology in the classroom and beyond, the assessment of student learning, the lessons that pedagogic theory offers about standard, often unexamined legal teaching methods, and the appropriate level of formality or informality between the classroom teacher and the students.

At 5:15 p.m. that evening I went to the meeting of the House of Representatives of the AALS.  Our official law school delegate to the House was Prof. Hughes.  All the Deans attend that session as well though because you find out what’s going on with the Association.  The schools all receive an agenda in advance for the business session so we pretty much know what will be covered in the meeting.  The agenda for this first business session included a call to order, adoption of the agenda, the report of Susan Westerburg Prager who is the AALS Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, as well as the report of President John Garvey, and the report of Prof. Adrian Wing who was Chair of the Membership Review Committee.  One of the most exciting things that happened during the meeting is that someone near and dear to us, Len Strickman, Dean of Florida International University College of Law, saw his law school admitted to the AALS.  Prof. Wing moved that Florida International be admitted and the vote was unanimous.  A number of the FIU faculty members were there along with Dean Strickman, who gave a brief statement about the accomplishments of the school and invited everyone to the Florida International reception that evening from 7:00-8:30 p.m. in the Marriott Hotel.

One of the things that also takes place at the first business session is the acknowledgment of members of the legal academy who have passed away during the year.  Several of those were people that I had come to know over the years.  It’s always a very solemn occasion during which the names are read while everyone stands silently.  Afterwards there is a moment of silence.

After the business meeting, there were a number of receptions including the LSAC Board of Trustees reception.  This is the first year in many years that I went as a non-volunteer with LSAC.  It was a strange feeling, but it was really good to see all of my friends – Kent Lollis of LSAC; Dan Ortiz of Virginia; Ellen Rutt of Connecticut; Athornia Steele, the new Dean at Nova; Dan Bernstein, the CEO of LSAC; Joan Van Tol, the Chief Counsel of LSAC; and a number of other good friends I made during my many years of service in the organization.

I also popped in to the Widener University School of Law reception.  I always like to go by there and say hello to my fellow Dean, Linda Ammons.  In addition, there was the Florida International University College of Law reception, and you know there was no way that I could miss that reception.  It was fun to celebrate with Len over FIU’s recent ABA accreditation and admission into AALS.  It was also great to see Danielle and a number of FIU faculty members that I’ve come to know there over the years.

I ended the evening with the University of Iowa College of Law reception.  It always feels like going home.  I really love to see everyone.  I’ve developed good friendships with some of the newer (since I graduated) faculty, including Peggie Smith, Marcella David as well as Dean Carolyn JonesMike Green came to the reception.  He’s at Wake Forest now, but he was my torts teacher.  Joe Knight was there.  He is the former Dean at Seattle and is now teaching there.  He taught me commercial law or at least gave it a valiant effort.  Anyway, it’s always quite a reunion, and a fun event which capped off my evening.  Later that night there was a Deans Dessert sponsored by Cumberland School of Law and Dean John Carroll aboard the yacht America that was moored at the Grand Hyatt, but after all the receptions and sessions it was just too much so I called it an evening.