Friday, June 30, 2006
Remember when a "poster" used to be a visual display on a large piece of stiff paper poster board, not someone who posts a message on a listserve or blog? Well, it's the old-fashioned type of poster that this message is about. In many academic disciplines, posters have long been a way for conference or meeting participants to share their research with each other. This year for the first time, the Association of American Law Schools introduced poster presentations to the panoply of activities at its annual meeting in January. (Both of the co-editors of this blog had the honor of having their posters selected to represent the Section on Legal Writing, Research, and Reasoning.)
At the AALS annual meeting in January 2007, this Section will once again have the opportunity to present a few posters from its members. The deadline to submit a proposal is September 1, 2006, and proposals must be sent by e-mail to Gehan Girguis, AALS Executive Assisstant at firstname.lastname@example.org. The topic of a poster can be anything related to legal writing in the academy, including pedagogy, the doctrinal substance of legal writing, or the status and political issues inherent in teaching legal writing. More information is available at the AALS website.
The key to creating a good poster is to keep it simple. Figure out what core concept you would like to communicate and how, in the fewest words and with minimal graphics or pictures, you can draw in passersby and leave them with your main point. Think of creating the glossy magazine ad for your research or scholarship project. Once you catch someone's interest, then they can take the citation to your article with them, look up the full text, and read all the details.
Consider working with an expert to design the look or visual style of your poster. A graphic designer or commercial artist can flesh out your visual idea to make your communication as quick and clear as possible. If your school won't give you funds to pay a professional, consider asking an academic colleague in an art or design department, or their graduate or undergraduate students, for assistance. In particular, a professional artist can be enormously helpful in knowing how to best transport your poster. (I can attest that AALS and its hotel do a very good job of helping you receive and set up your poster once at the annual meeting site.)