AALS Programs
The Balance in legal Education Section sponsors engaging and provocative sessions at the AALS Annual Meeting. Although topics vary, each program seeks to engage a broad range of law school professionals in an active dialogue about student and lawyer well-being. Podcasts and other materials from many of the programs are available to law faculty and staff through the AALS website.

Below you can read about upcoming and past programs.

• 2016 Annual Meeting in New York City:
Finding Your Voice in the Legal Academy

Legal academics often come from practice, and just as often face the challenge of establishing their new academic voices in a number of different contexts -- in the classroom, in their scholarship, and in faculty governance. This is a process that can take years of personal and professional growth, and in this panel, we bring together different voices to discuss how best to accomplish this important task. The format will be interactive to allow for broad discussion and the exchange of experiences and ideas.

Presenters include Dustin Benham from Texas Tech University School of Law, Rhonda Magee from the University of San Francisco School of Law, Teri McMurtry-Chubb from Mercer University Walter F. George School of Law, Camille A. Nelson from Suffolk University Law School. Richard Reuben from the University of Missouri School of Law will serve as moderator.

The Wayne State Law Review has offered to publish papers based on the presenters’ remarks.

• 2015 Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.:
The Future of Educating Effective Lawyers

The 2015 program responds to the ABA’s increasing emphasis on the importance of practical skills development. Employers want “practice ready” new lawyers, but how do we best train and assess practice-ready students for careers in which they will need a variety of interpersonal skills, including the ability to balance work and personal commitments?

David Oppenheimer, who collaborated with Professors Marjorie Shultz and Sheldon Zedeck in their groundbreaking study of the predictors of successful lawyering, will present the latest findings from that research and will discuss its implications for law school admissions decisions. Heather Block will speak to the skills new lawyers need from the viewpoint of employers. Ms. Bock is the Chief Professional Development Officer for Hogan Lovells US LLP and oversees associate and partner training and development. She also is a visiting professor at Georgetown Law, and currently serves as Executive Director for its Center for the Study of the Legal Profession. Professors D'lorah L. Hughes and David C. Koelsch will moderate.

The Detroit Mercy Law Review has offered to publish papers based on the presenter’s remarks.

--New Law School Teachers Program on Pedagogy Sponsored by the Section
Pedagogy Promoting Practice-Ready Law Students: Lessons Learned from Recent Practice

This program will present the perspectives of newer faculty with recent practice experience, and their recommendations for ensuring that law graduates are practice-ready in the evolving legal landscape. Jennifer Brobst will moderate, and speakers will include Nermeen, Emily Chiang, Nicole Iannarone and Jarrod F. Reich.

—Contemplative Space
The 2015 Annual Meeting offers all conference attendees a quiet space, made available throughout the conference, for contemplative practice and reflection. Guided practices, such as mindfulness and yoga will be offered at scheduled times.

• 2014 Annual Meeting in New York:
The Many Connections Between Well-Being and Professionalism in the Practice of Law (Co-Sponsored by the Section on Teaching Methods)

This program explored the topic of how well-being contributes to, and may indeed be necessary for, the ethical, civil, and responsible practice of law. Presenter sand discussants considered the intersection between the growing research in the field of law student and lawyer well-being and traditional law school subjects such as professional responsibility, as well as practice-oriented classes such as clinical courses, legal writing, and trial practice.

The program consisted of two 90-minute parts. The first part was devoted to more theoretical presentations on what the psychological and sociological literature tells us about how problems with well-being might affect the professional development of law students and the responsible practice of law. Todd Peterson moderated the first part, and presenters included Elizabeth Mertz, Larry Krieger and Dave Shearon (president of Thriving Lawyers). The second part was devoted to presentations and demonstrations on how we can teach students to improve their well-being as part of an integrated approach to the development of a personally satisfying and ethically responsible professional identity. Michael Hunter Schwartz moderated, and panelists included Nathalie Martin, David Koelsch and Anneka Ferguson (Australian National University).

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock Law Review published a symposium issue which included papers based on some of the presenter’s remarks. A link to the symposium is available here.

• 2013 Annual Meeting in New Orleans:
Improving Student Well-Being Inside and Outside the Classroom

This program focused on the concrete steps professors can take to enhance student well-being, be it in the traditional classroom, in special courses, or through other activities. Speakers discussed a variety of approaches, including teaching methods that address some of the identified major causes of student distress, and others that focus on development of the often neglected human skills that are essential parts of fully competent lawyering. There was also a broader focus, in which participants explored institutional responses to the challenges facing law students in today’s environment, including multi-faceted initiatives in the law school and medical school contexts which aim to create humane and supportive learning environments.

Participants included Amy Bushaw, Todd Peterson, Dr. Ken Brummell-Smith (Professor and Chair of the Department of Gerontology at Florida State University College of Medicine), Susan Daicoff, Robin Wellford-Slocum, Corie Rosen Felder and Bob Schuwerk. Amy Bushaw and Bob Schuwerk moderated.

• 2012 AALS Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.:
Effective Faculty/Student Collaborations and Student Initiatives: Working Together to Enhance Students' Professional Identity and Personal Integrity.

This program presented a variety of innovative student initiatives and student/faculty collaborations to enhance student wellness, integrity, and professional identity. Presenters included faculty an d professional staff, and also featured remarks from students and recent graduates. Julie Sandine moderated the program, and speakers included Kimberly Ambrose, Victor Goode, Mary Dolores Guerra, Scott Rogers, Michele Storms, students Jane Gish, Amanda Leipold and Amy Sanders, and recent graduate Beth Bruno. The Touro Law Review published a symposium issue, 28 Touro L. Rev. 1141 et seq. (2012), which included papers based on some of the presenter’s remarks as well as related articles.

• 2011 AALS Annual Meeting in San Francisco (Joint Program with Section on Academic Support, Co-Sponsored by Student Services): Beyond Humanizing: Can – and Should – Law Schools Strive to Graduate Happy Students?
This program questioned whether law schools can, or should, strive to graduate happy students. Catherine Glaze, Mike Schwartz and Emily Scivoletto moderated the program. Presenters included Richard Delgado, Andrew Faltin, Rebecca Flanagan, Larry Krieger, Nancy Levit, Paula Lustbader, Paula Manning, Russell McClain, Deborah Rhode, Corie Rosen, Jean Stefancic and Laurie Zimet. The presenters explored the causes of lawyer distress and the role that legal education plays in producing unhappy law students and lawyers. The program wove together the thoughts of leading researchers in the field with practical demonstrations of techniques and approaches professors and student services professionals are using to address issues of law student dissatisfaction and distress.

• 2010 AALS Annual Meeting in New Orleans:
Who Am I? The Role of Legal Education in Shaping Professional Identities
This program combined perspectives from the fields of therapeutic jurisprudence, contemplative practice, collaborative law, critical race theory and the world of legal practice to explore the role law schools play in shaping the professional identities of their students. Marjorie Silver led participants through a values inventory exercise developed by Susan Daicoff. Mike Schwartz provided concrete examples of techniques he used to allow students to discover and connect with their values in the context of substantive law school classes. John McShane McShane (of the Law Offices of John V. McShane in Dallas, Texas) remarked on the role of professional identity and values in legal practice, and he discussed the importance of maintaining a focus on one’s professional identity throughout a professional career. Rhonda V. Magee shared some personal reflections as well as some of the results of her research and guided participants through a short meditation.

• 2009 AALS Annual Meeting in San Diego:
Educating Lawyers and Best Practices for Legal Education: A Mandate to Humanize the Law School Experience?

In this program, the speakers discussed two recent studies of legal education, the Carnegie Foundation’s report on Educating Lawyers and the Clinical Legal Education Association’s publication, Best Practices for Legal Education. The speakers explored whether those texts reinforce or conflict with the goals of the humanizing movement. Speakers included Larry Krieger, Mike Schwartz, Allison Martin, Leah Christensen and Denise Roy. Specific topics included law school grading systems and their effects on law students, helping students to take ownership of their education through course and program selection, and research about law students' levels of hope and optimism.

• 2008 AALS Annual Meeting in New York:
What Does “Balance in Legal Education” Mean?

Attendees report that the panelists’ remarks were electrifying. The Section’s scholarship committee decided to generate a symposium to capture some of those remarks, and invited presenters to contribute essays on the same theme. In August of 2010, The Journal of Legal Education published a symposium of the essays, which can be found at 60 J. Legal Education 107 (2010).

• 2007 AALS Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.:
Balance in Legal Education One Year Later.

Although AALS had not yet granted the Section permanent status, in 2006 organizers presented a program to follow up on the prior year’s day-long workshop.