The Section sponsors a program at the AALS Annual Meeting. Although specific 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 will find more information about past programs.
In 2006, prior to the formal organization of the Section, the AALS sponsored a full-day Workshop on Balance in Legal Education as part of its Annual Meeting. The Workshop attracted hundreds of attendees, and solidified the desire of the organizers to petition to form a new Section on Balance in Legal Education.
The Section has sponsored engaging and provocative sessions at each of the successive AALS Annual Meetings:
- 2007 AALS Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.:
Balance in Legal Education One Year Later.
- 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).
- 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. 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.
Materials provided by the speakers are available through the AALS website. To locate the materials, click on the link for the 2009 Annual Meeting, select “View Program, ” and navigate to the session for Balance in Legal Education Program. Once you click on the session, you will find a full program description and links to each of the speakers’ materials.
- 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 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 Magee shared some personal reflections as well as some of the results of her research and guided participants through a short meditation.
- 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.
A podcast of the program is available through the AALS website. To locate the podcast, click on the link for the 2011 Annual Meeting and select the “Podcasts” tab.
- 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.
A podcast of the program is also available through the AALS website. To locate the podcast, click on the link for the 2012 Annual Meeting and select the “Podcasts” tab.
- 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.
- 2013 Annual Meeting in New York
The Many Connections Between Well-Being and Professionalism in the Practice of Law