ABA Standards – Tour 3: Council Meetings

The ABA Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar meets four times each year, typically in February, May, August, and December. The Council meetings take place in large hotel conference rooms in cities around the country.

Meetings last for two or three days. The first two days of a three-day meeting are devoted to executive session (i.e., no observers) to hear accreditation reports on various law schools and to decide accreditation issues. When the executive session concludes, the Council meets in open session. (Those of us attending the meetings have little idea when this switch from executive to open session will take place, leading to numerous hours of loitering outside hotel conference rooms.)

During meetings, the 25 Council members, the Consultant, the Deputy Consultant, and some key ABA staffers sit around a conference table arranged in a large rectangle. During the open session, affiliate representatives and other observers sit in chairs behind one end of the table, at the back of the room. Affiliates and members do not participate in the discussion, but merely observe.

At the end of the Council’s meeting, affiliate representatives may be invited to address the Council briefly. Some reports last 10-15 minutes, but most are quite short. (When I was the legal writing liaison, I limited my reports to two minutes.) The goal of the reports is to keep the Council informed of the affiliates’ activities. As an example, in one report for legal writing I might tell the Council about LWI’s recent conference, the new issue of the ALWD journal, and the AALS program at the annual meeting. Sometimes affiliates offer their views on substantive topics before the Council, but in my experience the Council has not looked favorably on that practice.

During breaks, affiliates and observers are free to talk to Council members, and after attending meetings for years, we develop strong relationships with Council members and other affiliates’ representatives.

Suzanne E. Rowe
University of Oregon
School of Law