Nicholas Georgakopoulos comes at the question from one angle. I want to come at it from another angle.
1. The Association of American Law Schools is not an accrediting agency, so nothing bad would happen to our students if we didn't belong.
2. Our students would benefit because (a) the school would save money by not having to pay the membership fee or subsidize law professor travel to whatever boondoggle places the AALS holds its various meetings and (b) faculty would not be disappearing on periodic boondoggles.
3. The AALS has zero interest in real intellectual diversity. Are you a member of the Federalist Sociery? Too bad, you can't hold a meeting at the AALS annual meeting or even use their hotel. Are you a member of the Christian Law Professor fellowship. Too bad, you can't hold a meeting at the AALS annual meeting or even use their hotel.
4. Are you only going to attend one session at the AALS meeting at which you are an invited presenter? Too bad, you still have to register and pay the full fee.
5. Are you annoyed by an organization run by and for the benefit of left-wing busybodies? Too bad, because that's what the AALS is.
6. Do you like academic conferences where the panels are informative and engaging? Too bad, because that doesn't describe very many AALS panels (if any).
And so I'll repeat something I wrote back in 2012:
The best thing we could do with the AALS is to disband it:
- It helps the ABA maintain the law school monopoly on legal training, which perpetuates the lawyer monopoly on provision of legal services.
- It creates a monoculture in which all law schools are obliged to comply with an ever growing set of rules. Schools with particular reasons for differentiating themselves from the pack, such a religiously affiliated schools, face pressure to conform to the standard left-liberal, secular humanist model that informs AALS policies and politics. As such, the AALS lacks any real room for institutional pluralism.
- Speaking of politics, it serves mainly as a talking forum for left-liberals (most of whom are so well paid that they're in the top 1 or 2 %) to whine about how they're victimized by society.
- It does a really lousy job of serving as a learned society.
I can't think of one useful thing the AALS does except to provide a massive schmooze fest for faculty to network at taxpayer and student expense. And while that's fun, it doesn't justify the organization's existence.
While it seems unlikely that the AALS will ever do the honorable thing and fall on its sword, if I were a law school dean, I'd bail on it.