Discussion Groups are a session format introduced by the Program Committee in 2016 to facilitate scholarly discussion and engagement. Discussion Groups do not feature formal presentations; rather, the objective is to facilitate a lively and engaging real-time discussion. Participants consist of a mix of the invitees identified in the original proposal along with additional individuals selected from this call for participation.
Submissions are now open for the 2024 Annual Meeting, held during the in-person AALS Annual Meeting from January 3-6, 2024 in Washington, DC.
2024 submissions closed September 11.
Can Companies Help? Furthering Racial Equity Through Corporate & Securities Laws and Disclosure
In the years since George Floyd’s murder, companies have made internal and external efforts around diversity, equity, and inclusion (“DEI”) initiatives such as increased board and C-suite diversity, pay gap reports, transparency around corporate political contributions, the end to concealment clauses that restrict employees from disclosing discrimination, and racial equity audits. Three years later, such efforts have been attacked by some politicians as subverting capitalism, weaponizing the term “woke” like a racial slur. This panel will discuss the regulation and disclosure regimes of U.S. companies related to anti-racism and racial equity to focus on whether such regulation and disclosures are helping dismantle white supremacy in the economy.
Democracy Demands Diversity
In June 2023, the Court effectively ended the consideration of race in admissions. This decision upends the admissions processes used by many law schools. Several states have already banned the use of affirmative action in public school admissions. In states that have already banned affirmative action, the immediate result after the ban was a decrease in law school diversity at public schools. Many fear that the same result will occur following the Court’s decision. The overall goal of the program is to brainstorm actions law schools can take to promote diversity within law schools and the legal profession after the Court’s decision.
Discussing Polarizing Topics in a Polarizing Time: Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?
Defending democracy requires the open exchange of ideas. And yet, our country appears to be at an apex of polarization. Talking across ideological chasms appears so challenging that it can feel safer and easier to refrain from discussing polarizing topics in the classroom. But our students and our institutions are demanding that we engage with pressing issues, cases, and movements. It feels timely and necessary to ask ourselves how we, as educators, mentors, and role models, should address the many newsworthy, unsettling, and emotionally challenging events and legal decisions of our times.
From Scholarship to Impact: Breaking Out of the Ivory Tower at the Speed of Tech
Law schools are a tremendous repository of knowledge, including many of the country’s leading experts on virtually every policy or regulatory subtheme. However, there is a pervasive difficulty in translating legal scholarship into tangible policy outcomes, both because of a lack of incentives among faculty to prioritize direct policy engagement, and broader structural obstacles that stand in the way of political engagement by non-commercial interests, the latter of which speaks to a broader trend in American democracy prioritizing access and resources over expertise. The purpose of this session is to engage in a constructive and inclusive conversation on avenues for external policy engagement and, in particular, ways to break down academic silos that limit the ability of faculty to translate their ideas into tangible social or regulatory change.
Leveling the Playing Fields in Legal Education & Legal Services Through Generative AI
The primary goal of this Discussion Group is to engage in a thoughtful exploration of how generative AI like ChatGPT can make essential functions in legal education and legal services more efficient, particularly for populations that may struggle with the dominant culture in a legal ecosystem. These populations are law students, law professors, and lawyers who are first generation, who learn or communicate differently, or who face resource constraints. By centering our discussion on these groups, we hope to foster a more inclusive and equitable approach to the integration of generative AI into legal education and practice.
Understanding Professional Identity Formation and Integrating Professional Identity Formation into the Required Curriculum (including in Professional Responsibility and Ethics Courses)
This discussion group focuses on the ABA’s addition of Standard 303(b)(3), which requires law schools to offer substantial opportunities for students to develop a professional identity. As stated in Interpretation 303-5: “Interpretation 303-5 Professional identity focuses on what it means to be a lawyer and the special obligations lawyers have to their clients and society. The development of professional identity should involve an intentional exploration of the values, guiding principles, and well-being practices considered foundational to successful legal practice. Because developing a professional identity requires reflection and growth over time, students should have frequent opportunities for such development during each year of law school and in a variety of courses and co-curricular and professional development activities.” This discussion group includes the leaders of the Holloran Center for Ethical Leadership in the Professions, which has been at the forefront of the national movement to foster greater intentionality in the profession formation of law students.