Minutes of the LSA Board of Trustees Meeting, St. Louis, Missouri

May 28, 1997


President Carol Greenhouse called the meeting to order at 2:20 pm. Members attending: Officers: Carol Greenhouse, Susan Silbey, Howard Erlanger, and Robert Kidder. Officers-Elect: Lauren Edelman, Marie Provine (non-voting) Trustees: [Class of '97] Marianne Constable, Jonathan Simon, Susan Sterett; [Class of '98] Jonathan Casper, Elizabeth Chambliss, Sanford Levinson, Michael McCann, Elizabeth Mertz, Takao Tanase, Louise Trubek, Lucie White; [Class of >99] Roger Cotterrell, Patricia Ewick, Laura Gomez, Carol Heimer, Eliane Junqueira, Harry Scheiber, Ronen Shamir, Marjorie Zatz. Editors: William O'Barr and Nancy Reichman; and Executive Officer: Ronald Pipkin (non-voting).


Minutes:

The minutes presented in the meeting materials were approved.


 

President's Report:

Carol reported on her activities as President during the past year, including attending the COSSA board meeting. She also reported on the Strategic Study Committee, which was set up by Susan Silbey when she was President, for focused discussion of issues for the future of LSA. Over the past year, the SSC has been constituted as subcommittees to work on areas targeted in earlier discussions of the SSC and at the 1996 meeting of the Board of Trustees. The SSC subcommittees are: Revenue/Budget; Education; International Activities; Publications; and Program (their reports follow). The purpose of this work has been to define issues and help inform and focus the conversation. The SSC will dissolve as each subcommittee completes its report.

David Engel, President-elect, was not able to attend the meeting because of a family emergency. Carol announced that David has asked Craig McEwen to be program chair for next year=s meeting, and that Craig has accepted.


 

Executive Officer's Report:

Ron reported that membership has been fairly steady, but for two years now, there has been a slight downward trend. The main source of growth is international members and students. Library subscriptions had been falling, but have now stabilized. Last spring the Executive Committee undertook an effort to write as many lapsed members as possible, reminding them of the virtues of membership and asking if they would be interested in rejoining. The effort was very successful, resulting in 30 renewals. Nonetheless, a lot of the financial planning of the Association has been based on the expectation of an expanding membership, which is not something we can continue to count on.

The Glasgow meeting was a financial success. This year=s meeting, however, has substantially fewer participants than expected--25% below expectations. This may result in a charge from the hotel for rental of meeting rooms. There was discussion of the reasons for the decline, with a focus on the question of whether it is an aberration, or the indicator of a trend. The sense of the Board was that several factors, all of them hopefully unique, contributed to the decline this year:

Ron presented a proposed budget for next fiscal year, discussion of which is reported below.


 

Reports Received without Discussion:

The Board received the reports of the 1997 Summer Institute (Michael Grossberg, chair), the 1997 Graduate Student Workshop (Mindie Lazarus-Black, chair), the Latin American Participation Committee (Eliane Junquiera, chair) (discussion postponed for report of the SSC International Activities subcommittee), the Kalvin Prize Committee (Joel Handler, chair), and the Article Prize Committee (Donald Brenneis, chair).


 

Reports Received and Discussed:

Program Committee:

The Program Committee (Joseph Sanders, Chair) report included a preliminary report from the Program Subcommittee of the SSC, which included an invitation to the Board to submit suggestions and questions. In response, discussion focused on participation and program planning. In light of the low attendance at the current annual meeting, the Board discussed ways meeting attendance might be improved. Many Board members were surprised to learn that each year about one third of previous participants do not return, and are replaced by others. It was the sense of the Board that future Program Committees should take this factor into account, and be certain that there is wide publicity about such matters as who can propose a panel, how panels are formed, etc. There were also various suggestions about innovations for the meetings, such as panels that discuss previously published material, either of a specific author, or on a particular theme. It was noted that there is a wealth of information in the reports of previous committees, and that there might be innovative ideas that have not been tried or that are worth trying again. It was the sense of the meeting that the President should encourage new program chairs to peruse previous reports for ideas. It should be noted that this discussion was about the annual meeting in general, and was not a critique of the work of this year=s Program Committee. The Board expressed its appreciation to Joe Sanders and his committee for their extensive efforts in preparing the program for the current meeting.

Ad Hoc Committee on Development:

The committee (Austin Sarat, chair) reported on its efforts to develop ideas on how to educate foundations about the importance of law and society research, communicate funding opportunities to members, work with colleges and universities, and raise funds for the Association. It was moved and seconded that a permanent committee on development be established. This committee should work closely with the President and other committees as appropriate. The motion passed.

Ad Hoc Committee on a AWorkshop for Law Teachers@:

The report of the Ad Hoc Committee, chaired by Louise Trubek, was discussed at length, and great support was expressed for the general approach the committee has taken. It was the sense of the Board that the efforts of the committee should be continued, and should be expanded to consider a wide variety of techniques to develop and encourage Acontinuing socio-legal education,@ including such activities as didactic seminars and an extensive mentoring program, such as done in American Sociological Association.

Nominations:

The report of the nominations committee (Elizabeth Mertz, chair) was presented. A variety of issues were discussed, and the importance of diversity on the board was reaffirmed. It was also agreed that there should be more extensive transmission of information from each year=s committee to the next. The Board voted, by secret ballot, to rank the nominees for President-elect. The Board also accepted the nominated slate for Trustees, with one addition.

LSR Editors' Report:

The nomination of Susan Silbey as editor-elect was approved on the listserv. She will assume the duties in June and be responsible for Volumes 32-34 of the Review. Mack reminded the Board that over the years the editorial office has been heavily subsidized by the editor=s institution, and that the Board should be prepared for the fact that this support has proven harder to obtain each year. It was the sense of the Board that the Review is one of the core activities of the Association, and that it should be given full financial support. The Board expressed its great appreciation to Mack for the outstanding job he has done editing the journal. Nancy Reichman, Book Review Editor, reported on her progress in continuing the development of the review section, including two innovations she will be using this year. The Board expressed its thanks to her for her efforts.


 

STRATEGIC STUDY COMMITTEE SUBCOMMITTEE REPORTS:

Publications Subcommittee:

The committee has undertaken an analysis of the prestige of the Review, and found that the journal has substantial status and impact, especially when one considers that it is not core to any particular field, each of which has its own journals. The Board discussed the question of whether the Review should accept a contract offered by West Publishing to put the journal on-line in Westlaw. Because of concerns about whether this would reduce either library or individual subscriptions, the proposal was referred back to the Publications Committee for more study.

Education Subcommittee:

This committee was charged with considering the efficacy of the Graduate Student Workshop and the Summer Institute relative to their costs. The committee reported that these activities did not just constitute outreach to the Astudents,@ but that they also functioned to connect the faculty to the Association. They also serve as an opportunity for faculty at non-research institutions to interact with advanced Astudents.@ The committee noted the consistently positive evaluations of the programs by participants and, in the case of SI, by a previous committee established by the Trustees. The committee concluded that the GSW is likely to be the more efficacious of the two activities, because it is more focused. The SI is more expensive and we probably cannot continue to support it annually in its current form. Various suggestions were offered regarding the SI, including shortening it and tying it to the annual meeting, as is the GSW.

International Activities:

There was extensive discussion about the importance of outreach to the international sociolegal community. It was the sense of the board that these efforts should be encouraged and promoted as much as possible, subject to budgetary limitations.

Budget and Report of the Budget and Revenue Subcommittee of the Strategic Study Committee:

Investments and Association Savings.

Before beginning discussion of the budget, a question was raised from the floor as to whether the Association should pursue a more aggressive investment strategy for its savings, which currently are kept in money market funds and Certificates of Deposit. After some discussion, the Board decided to ask that incoming President David Engel appoint a committee to investigate other investment options and make specific recommendations to the Board as to whether other investment strategies should be pursued by the Association.

Turning to the budget for FY 98, Ron Pipkin explained that the proposed budget was based on continuing the activities of the Association as they have been in previous years. He noted that this would mean a deficit of $16,000 next year. The deficit for the current year is estimated at $21,000, including the estimate overrun for the current meeting. Last year, the deficit was $22,400. Last year the board decided that we should not continue in a deficit position, as our once comfortable reserves are being rapidly depleted. Hence the Budget and Revenue Subcommittee of the SSC was formed to consider ways to cut the budget. The Board discussed the possibility of saving money by making the preliminary program available on-line only. It concluded that implementation of such a plan must await more general accessibility and use of the Web. It was moved and seconded that the in-person meeting of the Program Committee take place at the previous annual meeting, and that the budget of the Program Committee be reduced. The motion passed unanimously. Other committee meetings were not discussed, as, except for the Executive Committee meeting, most LSA committees now do their work primarily through e-mail, telephone, fax, and regular mail. The Revenue subcommittee independently reached the same conclusion as the Education subcommittee, about the GSW and SI. Hence it proposed that there be no SI in 1998. The Board approved this proposal. It was moved and seconded that a Committee on continuing Sociolegal Education be formed to plan long run continuing education activities, including but not limited to, the SI, and the workshop for lawyers. As part of its work, the committee may, but is not charged with responsibility to, propose an activity to take place in summer 1998 in conjunction with the annual meeting subject to the approval of the Executive Committee. The motion was approved.

The subcommittee=s proposal for a new dues level, at $110 per year for members earning over $80,000, was approved. The subcommittee=s proposal for automatic renewal of membership, for those members requesting it, was approved. The subcommittee=s proposal for a $5 (dom) and $7 (int=l) increase in the library rate for subscription to LSR in each of the next three years was approved. The subcommittee=s proposal that in the future, there be no sharing of royalties with authors when LSR articles are reprinted, was approved. [Authors remain free to reuse their own material without limit.]. The subcommittee=s proposal that a $25 processing fee be charged for participation in the annual meeting program [$5 for students] was approved. The fee will be due at the time of submission of a proposal for participation. It will be credited towards the meeting registration fee and is not refundable.

The subcommittee=s proposal that each annual budget show no deficit, and that in addition each annual budget include a Contingency Fund to insulate against the possibility of a deficit, was approved. It was the sense of the Board that if the financial situation of the Association were to become significantly more positive, this practice could be reconsidered.

The subcommittee=s proposal that an endowment fund be created was referred to the Development Committee.

The Budget was approved as amended, by a vote of 19-1


 

New Business:

Book Prize:

The Board voted unanimously to name the Association=s Book Prize in honor of Herb Jacob.

Dissertation Prize:

The Board voted unanimously to create a dissertation prize, with a rolling period, looking back at least to dissertations completed in 1997. The Board asked the incoming President to appoint a committee to work out the details of the prize.


 

The meeting was adjourned at 9:20 pm.

Respectfully submitted, Howard S. Erlanger, Secretary

 


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