The Association of American Law Schools was founded in 1900 at Saratoga Springs, New York, with Professor James Bradley Thayer of Harvard Law School as its first President. In 1963, Professor Michael H. Cardozo became the Association's first Executive Director and established the Association's national office. The AALS was incorporated under the laws of the District of Columbia as a non-profit educational organization on February 2, 1971.
The AALS seeks to improve the legal profession through legal education and is the learned society for law teachers. In order to achieve this objective, the Association holds an Annual Meeting, sponsors professional development programs, produces a Directory of Law Teachers, sponsors teacher placement services, and compiles statistics.
The AALS is a
voluntary membership organization of 176 law schools.
The Association visits member law schools periodically
to review whether schools are complying with AALS
Bylaws and Executive Committee Regulations.
In 1989, the AALS realized that documents telling the story of American legal education were so numerous that a depository separate from the Association headquarters was necessary. The Association's records were assembled and placed in the University of Illinois Archives on July 1, 1989, to ensure their availability for future research.
AALS Archives includes substantial material about
legal education. It also includes materials about
academic and legal ethics, minorities and women in
law, and academic freedom and tenure. The archives
also includes biographical sketches of law teachers
and academic administrators and the papers of past
AALS presidents Vernon X. Miller (1951-52, 1957,
1962-66), Robert E. Mathews (1951-59), F. D. G. Ribble
(1952), Jefferson B. Fordham (1958, 1961-62, 1964),
Samuel D. Thurman (1961-64), William B. Lockhart
(1968-70), and Eugene F. Scoles (1974-81), AALS
secretary-treasurer Arthur T. Martin (1944-46), and
AALS Archives committee chair Roger F. Jacobs
(1987-89). The AALS Archives is a rich source for
research into the history and current status of legal
education in the United States and the development and
application of bylaws and regulations to law schools.
Access to the AALS Archives is
provided by means of a classification system of Record
Series with supplemental finding aids which give greater
detail as to the contents of the collection. As of July
2013, the AALS Archives contained 144 record series totaling
approximately 236.4 cubic feet of hard copy holdings (the
equivalent of over 157 filing cabinet drawers) and 11.9
gigabytes of electronic holdings.
Users may access the records based
on a three-level categorization of record series agreed upon
by AALS and the University Archivist.
Open record series are available
without restriction. To access restricted and confidential
record series, researchers must make application to and
receive approval from AALS headquarters. Records in
restricted series that are more than thirty years old are
treated as open records for the purpose of access. Materials
may not be removed from the Archives without the written
permission of the University Archivist or the AALS Executive
Director. For researchers unable to visit the Archives,
photocopies of documents may be secured following the
completion and approval of a User Application Form.
Access Policies and User Application Form
Open Record Series
Open Electronic Records
Restricted Record Series
Confidential Record Series