Report from the AALS Annual Meeting

2020 AALS Program

Pro Bono and Public Service: Pillars of Democracy and the Legal Profession

At the AALS Annual Conference, in Washington, DC, on January 4, the AALS Pro Bono and Public Service Opportunities Section sponsored a panel on Pillars of Democracy in the Legal Profession. The panel was a great reminder of the importance of pro bono in upholding the rule of law and in preserving our democracy, no small tasks these days. Acknowledging that pro bono is a pillar of democracy, Stephen Rispoli moderated an engaging session with some leaders in our field:

David Bienvenu, Chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service
Betty Bali Torres, Executive Director, Texas Access to Justice Foundation
Darcy Meals, Assistant Director of the Center for Access to Justice at Georgia State University School of Law
Jim Sandman, former Director of the Legal Services Corporation

Additional photos available, here: https://baylor.box.com/s/rgw63qz1uagfga8q6t962p4ocpdedf1w

While all the panelists were great, by the end of Mr. Sandman’s comments, many of us were singing the national anthem with our flags in tow – and I can assure you, many of us are not the flag-waving type. While he provided some basic facts and figures and made clear that the law schools could/should be doing more to expose students to the access to justice gap, he did it in the context of democracy, liberty and more. It was quite moving. At the end, we had a lively question/answer period and all left with more things to do at our schools.

Their conversation was insightful, motivational and encouraging for our future. I encourage you to read the transcript or listen to the audio. Here is a link to the transcripts and audio files: https://baylor.box.com/s/pwbmlz4xzilz20jb900zkxwy7nx7d198

Disclaimer: These transcripts were created using a third-party technology company that transcribed the audio files. We include the transcripts not to be the authority on what the authors said – you can listen to the transcripts for that – but to allow you to quickly read through the transcripts of the panels. If you have any questions, please let us know. 

Co-Sponsored Programs

During the annual meeting we also co-sponsored three other section programs:

  • AALS Section on Empirical Study of Legal Education and the Legal Profession, “An Empirical Look: How Well Are We Preparing Law Students to Become Ethical Leaders Who Serve Others.”
  • Leadership Section, “Learning from Lawyer-Leaders throughout the Profession”
  • Pro-Bono & Public Service Opportunities Section, “Pro Bono and Public Service: Pillars of Democracy and the Legal Profession,” also co-sponsored by Empirical Study of the Law & Legal Education

Click here for photos from the event: https://baylor.box.com/s/rgw63qz1uagfga8q6t962p4ocpdedf1w