Friday, June 12, 2020
Call for Proposals
AALS Section on the Empirical Study of Legal Education and the Legal Profession
in Cosponsorship with AALS Sections on Student Services, Academic Support, and
PreLegal Education and Admission to Law School
January 2021 Annual Meeting in San Francisco, CA
Disrupted Gatekeeping: An Empirical Look at How Gatekeeping Influences Access to Legal
Education and the Legal Profession & How This Decision-Making Has Been Impacted By COVID-19
The Section on the Empirical Study of Legal Education and the Legal Profession is organizing a
panel featuring newly emerging empirical research related to gatekeeping, key decision making
stages that affect students’ admission to law school, success during law school, and entry into the
legal profession. In light of the pandemic underway across the United States and world, we
encourage presenters to present empirical research on these critical gatekeeping moments and to
discuss how this gatekeeping may be, is being, or has been impacted and disrupted by
In short, our goal is for panelists to present: (1) first, empirical research on gatekeeping, broadly
defined, that influences access to law schools, law student engagement and success, and entry
into the legal profession, and (2) second, to theorize, hypothesize, discuss, or present data on
how these processes may be disrupted, impacted, or altered by COVID-19.
1. Gatekeeping. Panelists will first present research spotlighting one of three critical
gatekeeping stages in a law student’s career. While not an exhaustive list, possible topics
for discussion might include any of the following, including how any of these
gatekeeping stages impact members from underrepresented and disadvantaged
Getting into Law School : Proposals examining the use of data to determine access to and
admission to law school. Possible topics might include the use of LSAT, or other exam
scores in admission determinations, policies and practices in the award of financial aid or
scholarships, access to legal education (pipeline) programs and topics relating to the
affordability of legal education. Proposals may also examine change in the number of law
school applications over time, and change in the composition of these applications.
During Law School : Proposals examining data related to the law student well-being and
the impact of legal education on student learning, growth, belonging, decision-making,
trajectories, or success. Possible topics might include changes in law students’ perception
of career paths and opportunities including movement away from prior public interest
practice goals (i.e., public interest drift), and the extent to which institutional decisions
and practices or law teaching, grading, and clinical experiences influence law student
well-being, learning, belonging, growth, or trajectories. Possible topics may also include
gatekeeping to student services and prestigious opportunities within law school.
After Law School : Proposals examining either the use of data or data related to law
school graduates’ entry and engagement in the profession. Possible topics might include
empirical analysis relating to bar exams and licensure systems, use of data in hiring and
employer selection processes, the data collection practices and reporting by trade and
accreditation organizations, and debt and income considerations in career pursuits.
2. Disruption. In light of the disruption produced by COVID-19 in legal education and
within our communities and home life, we encourage presenters to discuss how this
gatekeeping may be, is being, or has been disrupted or changed by COVID-19. We
encourage participants to theorize, hypothesize, discuss, or present data on how
gatekeeping decisions may be disrupted, impacted, or changed by COVID-19, and/or
how this disruption may be overcome.
Last year, we jointly sponsored a successful program on leadership co-sponsored by the Sections
on Leadership, Professional Responsibility, Pro-Bono & Public Service Opportunities, and
Student Services, which attracted a large and diverse audience. This year, we seek to develop a
program that has similar breadth and appeal. The Journal of Legal Education has graciously
agreed to consider for publication papers presented in connection with our program, with
particular consideration given to papers exploring changes to legal education and the profession
engendered by the response to COVID19.
Proposals. Proposals should contain an explanation of both the substance of the presentation and
the methods used in it. The planning committee would prefer to highlight talent across a range of
law schools and disciplines and is especially interested in new and innovative research. Please
share this call with colleagues—both within and outside of the legal academy and the academic
Proposals must include the following information:
1. A title for your presentation.
2. A brief description of the objectives or outcomes of your presentation.
3. A brief description of how your presentation will support your stated objectives or
4. An explanation of how your presentation can accomplish its goals in an allotted
5. A description of both the substantive content and the presentation techniques to be
employed, if any, to engage the audience.
6. Your current CV.
Proposals will be reviewed on a rolling basis, so please send yours as soon as possible, but
no later than Monday, July 1, 2020 to Professor Jennifer Gundlach. If you have any questions,
please email email@example.com or call (516) 463-4190.
Section on Empirical Study of Legal Education and the Legal Profession
Program Chair: Jennifer A. Gundlach, Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University
Section Chair: Victor D. Quintanilla, Indiana University Maurer School of Law
Secretary: Joel Chanvisanuruk, University of Cincinnati College of Law
Catherine Christopher, Texas Tech University School of Law
Meera Deo, Law School Survey of Student Engagement
Neil W. Hamilton, University of St. Thomas School of Law
Trent Kennedy, Georgetown University Law Center
Rachel F. Moran, University of California, Los Angeles School of Law
Jeremy Paul, Northeastern University School of Law