January 07, 2007
Reflections on AALS
Posted by Gordon Smith

The Annual Meeting of the Association of American Law Schools was held this past week in Washington D.C., and it was, as usual, a fun-filled event. AALS has more substance than it did 12 years ago, when I first started attending the meeting, though networking is still the star of the show. Some observations:

  • I very much enjoyed the Business Organizations sessions on Disney. We had one session on "Teaching Disney" and another devoted to Disney-related scholarship. Kudos to Deborah DeMott, who organized the sessions.
  • Last year I had some unkind words for the Section on Agency, Partnership, LLCs, and Unincorporated Associations. This year's program was a substantial upgrade, with our own Vic Fleischer leading off. Rob Stikoff's presentation on business trusts was excellent. I only wish Larry Ribstein had been left with more time batting cleanup.
  • The Wal-Mart panel was largely devoid of fireworks. I spoke about the value of using organizations, rather than doctrine, as the unit of analysis in teaching and scholarship. Scott Moss played the heavy, arguing forcefully that Wal-Mart is good for many of the small communities in which it is located. He also described his work on an employment class action against Wal-Mart, but noted (along with Frank Munger) that Wal-Mart is not the worst employer around. Congrats to Alexi Lahov and Kaaryn Gustafson for staging a successful panel.
  • Why is it that "progressives" think fiduciary duties are so great? I attended a concurrent session of the Section on Socio-Economics entitled "Corporate Governance, Fiduciary Duties & Social Responsibility" that started with the assumption that fiduciary law was broken and in need of repair. Ugh!
  • Great food! Madison has some good restaurants, but I enjoyed the opportunity to sample some other places in DC: Nora, Ardeo, New Heights, and Mourayo. And, of course, Lebanese Taverna for lunch (twice).
  • I started to lose my voice on Wednesday evening at the blogger reception hosted by Prawfs and Co-op, and by the time I gave my presentation at the Wal-Mart panel on Friday it was almost gone.
  • The conference ended on a sour note for me, as I came down with some sort of virus on Saturday morning. At first I thought it was food poisoning, but the symptoms seem more consistent with flu. In any event, it made for an exciting plane ride to Madison. I made a point of being seated near the restroom.

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