Monday, January 18, 2010
In its call for proposals last year, the Legal Writing Institute noted that "[p]oster presentations are an increasingly popular way to present scholarly and pedagogical ideas" but that "poster presentations are a relatively new format for the legal writing community." The same applies to the legal academy as a whole. "At the 2005 [AALS] Annual meeting in San Francisco, the AALS Section on Professional Responsibility sponsored posters on empirical research." Thereafter, "[t]he AALS Committee on Sections and the Annual Meeting was delighted by this innovation and decided that all AALS Sections should have the opportunity to sponsor posters at the 2006 AALS Annual Meeting." The way I see things, though, not enough professors have availed themselves of this innovation. There are probably a variety of reasons for this insouciance, probably not the least of which is that the poster presentations are scheduled for the same time as AALS panels, meaning that attendees either have to leave panels early or attend panels late to be able to interact with poster presenters during their designated hours. The AALS later posts PDFs of these posters to its Annual Meeting sites (see here, here, and here), but I'm guessing that not many people visit these sites after these conferences are over, making them sort of like the Ark of the Covenant at the end of "Raiders of the Lost Ark." Besides, if you download one of these posters, all you have is the poster, not the presenter's reason for creating it or explanation of it.
Thus, this year, I decided to start the AALS Poster project. Pursuant to this project, I studied each of the posters at the conference and interacted with each of the presenters during their designated hours. I asked the presenters about why they created their posters, the thesis of their posters, how the posters fit into their scholarship, etc. Over the next few weeks, I will spotlight each of these posters and their presenters on this blog, and I hope that these posts draw some of the attention that these posters and presenters deserve. Of course, nothing substitutes perfectly for the real thing, and I would recommend that attendees at successive AALS conferences stop by during the designated hours and discuss the posters with their presenters. I found such discussions to be very rewarding.