If you’re a law professor with young children, you’ve probably noticed that AALS has discontinued the previous practice of offering child care services to members attending the annual meeting, due to low enrollment in the past. Our understanding is that members in need of child care are simply being referred to the hotel concierges for making their own arrangements. This is very troubling to those of us who have relied on child care services at AALS meetings in the past. Making arrangements through the hotel is simply not an equivalent option. Such arrangements are likely to be more expensive as they will involve more one-on-one child care, instead of pooling the cost among parents (as it is difficult for individual members to coordinate group child care with other members at different schools in advance of the meeting). Moreover, AALS typically provided a dedicated room near the meeting area for child care with activities/game/structured schedules for the kids, rather than leaving parents to ask a babysitter to watch the child in a small hotel room.
This change in policy does not seem very family friendly, nor does it help to make the important AALS meeting inclusive. Indeed, this policy is likely to disproportionately affect faculty who are younger, female, and/or single parents, and it may preclude some members from even being able to attend the meeting. We have asked AALS to discuss reinstating the child care, but we have not received a response to our queries. If you are among the people affected by this decision — or just think it’s a bad idea — we urge you to contact AALS.
– Martha Ertman (University of Maryland School of Law), Victor B. Flatt (University of North Carolina School of Law), Joan H. Krause (University of North Carolina School of Law), Richard S. Saver (University of North Carolina School of Law