Who We Are
The International Association of Law Schools is a private, non-political, non-profit, volunteer, collaborative, learned society dedicated to serving the world wide legal education community. It is an association of more than 160 law schools and departments from over 55 countries representing more than 7,500 law faculty members. Our primary mission is the improvement of legal education throughout the world. The idea for an international association of law schools emerged from several meetings of legal educators from around the world who recognized the growing inter-relationship of norms from transnational legal systems. The first such meeting was held in Florence, Italy in the year 2000, and consisted of 50 invited legal educators from twenty-seven countries. This meeting led to additional meetings of international legal educators, and during the May 2004 meeting in Hawaii, 130 legal educators from forty-seven different countries unanimously adopted a resolution to form the International Association of Law Schools. In May 2000, a select group of legal educators from fourteen different countries, representing all types of the world’s legal systems, gathered in Istanbul, Turkey, and agreed to the terms of a charter for the International Association of Law Schools. In October 2005, the IALS was incorporated under the laws of the District of Columbia in the United States of America. Click here to read our Charter.
What We Have Done
Since its transition in 2014 to a new charter and a truly independent Board of Governors, the Association has embarked upon an ambitious and innovative agenda of developing a global consensus on the fundamental principles, guidelines and outcomes of a legal education. To that end we have convened over 25 meetings, forums, conferences and workshops to ensure that all voices of our worldwide community of law teachers be heard and respected. These foundational documents could only have been concluded through such cooperative and consensus building efforts. Our discussions and decisions are informed by the mission and experiences of all our members. These discussions have resulted in the adoption of the:
- Singapore Declaration on Global Standards and Outcomes of a Legal Education
- Madrid Protocol on the Principles of Evaluation of a Legal Education
- Judicial Standards on a Legal Education
Regional Leadership Forums (Regional Law Deans’ Forums)
- Starting in 2018 our Regional Law Deans’ Forums will now be called Regional Leadership Forums. In the past our regional meetings have always been restricted to law school leadership (Deans, Vice-Deans, and Associate Deans, current and past). This year we will be expanding the invitees. They will now include the Chairs of each of our Doctrinal Study Group in the region. Judges will also continue to be invited. These annual forums adopt a workshop format and concentrate on topics of interest to the top leadership of the region’s law schools. These workshops serve to distill and focus regional perspectives on legal education. The forums are open to both member and non-member Deans, Vice-Deans, and Associate Deans (active and emeritus) from law schools and departments from each region.
- The Annual Meeting is IALS biggest event where everyone from each region around the world come together once a year to learn from each other followed with the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues from doctrinal study groups. Within the Annual Meeting plenary session speakers present innovative approaches and thought-provoking papers, which help advance legal education globally. The Annual Meeting is open to all member and non-member law faculty members, students, professionals, judges and other law organizations. The Association is engaged in a multiyear endeavor to set standards for a global legal education.
Global Law Deans’ Forums
- The Global Law Deans Forum occur every other year, in which law school leaders from around the world meet to exchange ideas in regards to the region they teach. With these efforts we are able to define goals and strategies for global legal education informed by the mission and experiences of all our members. The forums are open to both member and non-member Deans and Associate Deans (active and emeritus) from law schools and departments from each region.
Doctrinal Study Groups
- After adopting the Singapore Declaration and Madrid Protocol, our members have expressed a strong desire to build on these efforts and continue the process of employing these fundamental principles in improving legal education globally. Among these initiatives has been the formation of Doctrinal Study Groups. These Groups have actively engaged scholars in each field of inquiry enabling them to discuss among themselves, and to inform their colleagues as to a “core” set of knowledge, skill sets and values generally and specifically required to gain masterly of the subject matter.