Executive Director & Chief Executive Officer
Association of American Law Schools (AALS)
The Association of American Law Schools (AALS), a non-profit membership organization of 176 law schools which also serves as the learned society for legal educators, seeks a visionary leader as its next Executive Director & Chief Executive Officer ("Executive Director").
Since its founding in 1900, AALS has served as the convener and resource for the improvement and advancement of legal education through the exchange of ideas, the dissemination of information and resources, and the provision of opportunities for networking among law school faculty, professional staff, and deans. In addition, AALS is the principal representative of legal education to the federal government, other national higher education organizations, other learned societies, and law schools around the world.
Since 2013, the AALS has been very ably led by Judith Areen, a former long-serving law school dean at Georgetown and former AALS President. The next Executive Director will join a globally recognized organization and will be responsible for overseeing the activities of the Association.
The Search Committee was appointed by AALS President Mark Alexander (Dean, Villanova Law), who will also serve on the Committee. The Committee includes AALS Past President Erwin Chemerinsky (Dean, UC-Berkeley Law), Renée McDonald Hutchins (Dean, Maryland Carey School of Law), Kevin Washburn (Dean, Iowa Law), and AALS President-Elect Melanie Wilson (Dean, Washington & Lee School of Law), all of whom currently serve on the AALS Executive Committee. Dean Washburn will chair the Search Committee.
This document describes the organization, the challenges and opportunities facing the Executive Director, and the personal and professional characteristics that the ideal candidate should possess. The AALS has retained an executive search firm, LeaderFit, to assist in the recruitment of the Executive Director. For more information on the Association of American Law Schools, please visit www.aals.org
The Association of American Law Schools was founded in 1900 with thirty-two charter members. Professor James Bradley Thayer, Harvard Law School, was its first president. Professor Michael H. Cardozo of Cornell University Law School became the Association's first Executive Director in 1963 and established the organization’s national office in Washington D.C. Today, the AALS is an extensive membership network of law schools around the country aimed at improving and advancing legal education. AALS carries out its mission by promoting the core values of excellence in teaching and scholarship, academic freedom, and diversity, including diversity of backgrounds and viewpoints. The AALS seeks to foster justice and to serve our many communities--local, national, and international. In support of its mission, AALS serves as both the institutional membership organization for law schools, and as the learned society for law faculty.
The Association provides many forms of professional development programming for law school faculty, staff, and deans. These include conferences, workshops, publications, faculty recruitment, and representation for its members in major higher education organizations including the American Council of Education and the American Council of Learned Societies.
The most significant of its programs is the Annual Meeting, which attracts as many as 2,000 law faculty each year. At this meeting, the Association’s 106 Sections present one or more programs. AALS Sections are groups composed of members of the faculty and professional staff of AALS member schools. Sections also provide electronic newsletters for their membership and conduct on-line activities of interest to their members including mentoring programs, discussion groups, and list serves. Each section selects its own officers.
The Association also sponsors an annual meeting on Clinical Legal Education, and a separate one for New Law Teachers. The AALS also publishes the Journal of Legal Education and co-sponsors the Clinical Legal Education Journal.
MISSION AND CORE VALUES
The Association has codified its “core values” in its bylaws. The Association values and expects its member schools to value:
(i) a faculty composed primarily of full-time teacher-scholars who constitute a self-governing intellectual community engaged in the creation and dissemination of knowledge about law, legal processes, and legal systems, and who are devoted to fostering justice and public service;
(ii) academic freedom;
(iii) diversity of viewpoints;
(iv) excellent scholarship;
(v) excellent teaching;
(vi) a rigorous academic program in the context of a dynamic curriculum that is both broad and deep;
(vii) a diverse faculty hired, promoted, and retained based on meeting and supporting high standards of teaching and scholarship and in accordance with principles of nondiscrimination;
(viii) competent and professional staff to support the mission of the law school;
(ix) selection of students based upon intellectual ability and personal potential for success in the study and practice of law, through a fair and nondiscriminatory process designed to produce a diverse student body and a broadly representative legal profession; and
(x) honesty, integrity, and professionalism in dealing with students, faculty, staff, the public, and the Association.
The Association is comprised of 176 member law schools.
ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE, GOVERNANCE, AND FINANCE
From two people in 1963 (including the Executive Director), the AALS full-time staff has grown to a staff of 28, including the Executive Director. The staff is based at the national office in Washington, D.C. This office supports the members and the Executive Committee and administers the communication, financial, and technical needs of the Association.
The Association’s plenary legislative body is the House of Representatives, composed of one representative from each member school. The faculty of each member school selects the individual who is to represent the school in the House. The House meets annually during the Association's Annual Meeting. The ten-member Executive Committee, elected by the House, meets four times a year and has the responsibility for conducting the affairs of the Association in the interim between the annual meetings of the House of Representatives.
The officers and Executive Committee members of AALS are the President, President-Elect, the Immediate Past President, and the Executive Vice President. The Executive Director also serves as the Committee’s Executive Vice President and the Association’s Secretary. The officers, along with six members elected as committee members, form the Executive Committee of the AALS. The new Executive Director will report to the Executive Committee and assist the Committee in discharging its powers and duties. The Executive Director also assists the Association’s other committees and member schools to attain the mission of improving and advancing legal education.
The Association has an annual operating budget of approximately $5.5 million, most of which comes from membership dues. It has stable and prudently managed finances that allow it to effectively staff and implement programs of quality and breadth.
The next Executive Director will be expected to:
- Provide visionary leadership to improve legal education;
- Ensure that all the professional programs, projects and activities of the Association reflect the core values of the Association;
- Think and plan strategically;
- Balance mission and resources;
- Understand and appreciate the needs, interests and concerns of the diverse constituent groups involved in legal education;
- Build consensus among the diverse constituencies;
- Work closely with the Executive Committee to develop strategies for the organization’s role in improving legal education;
- Effectively communicate with member law schools and their faculties about emerging issues in legal education and the work of AALS;
- Seek diverse volunteer leaders and a diverse and talented staff;
- Strengthen the role of the Association as a learned society;
- Support the Committees and projects of the Association;
- Communicate effectively, and work collaboratively with other organizations committed to legal education and higher education including AccessLex, the American Council of Education (ACE), the American Council of Learned Societies, the Council of the ABA Section on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar, the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), and the Washington Higher Education Secretariat
- Develop ways for member law schools to increase links to law schools in other countries for recruitment of faculty and students, exchanges of curricula, and improved understanding of the role of law in different cultures.
PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL QUALITIES
The Search Committee seeks a distinguished legal educator and scholar. While no one candidate will embody all of these traits, the successful candidate will bring many of the following qualifications and personal attributes:
- Distinguished record of intellectual and administrative accomplishments;
- Broad knowledge of legal education;
- Ability to thrive in a fast-paced environment with frequent complex issues arising that need to be studied and resolved;
- Sound judgment including a sophisticated understanding of politics, and the ability to work in a nonpartisan manner;
- Ability to think and plan strategically;
- Demonstrated ability to communicate effectively with and build consensus among diverse constituencies;
- Ability to lead a team of people with complementary skills, to delegate effectively, and to communicate high expectations and accountability;
- Excellent written and oral communication skills including experience dealing with the media;
- Skill and experience in coalition-building, collaboration and inclusive decision-making;
- Experience on a law faculty;
- Deep-seated commitment and strong leadership experience in promoting diversity in the law profession;
- Appreciation of the implications of new technologies for teaching and learning, and;
- Significant law school management experience is required and experience as a dean is preferred.
APPLICATION, NOMINATIONS, AND QUESTIONS
The Association of American Law Schools is an equal opportunity employer committed to inclusive hiring and dedicated to diversity. Applications should be submitted online by October 1, 2023. Nominations and questions may be addressed to Katie McNerney at LeaderFit: firstname.lastname@example.org
For additional information on the Association of American Law Schools, visit its website at www.aals.org