Charles Fried used a Jan. 3 op-ed column to attack the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) as an organization committed to left and far-left views. His attack was unfounded. This year's AALS annual meeting, which began yesterday, includes more than 75 programs on a range of topics and viewpoints.

Prof. Fried attacked one AALS panel he hadn't even heard and reduced its members to one-dimensional figures such as "gay rights and disability rights activist," "former lawyer for the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund" and "critical race theorist."

In addition to this typecasting of distinguished panelists, he got his facts wrong. No panel member has ever worked for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund. Perhaps Prof. Fried assumed that Gerald Torres, the vice provost from Texas, must have worked for that fund because he is Latino.

Equally troubling, Prof. Fried omitted mention of three other panelists: Deborah Merritt, a former law clerk to Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg; William Paul, president of the American Bar Association; and Louis Pollak, a federal judge and former dean of both the Yale and University of Pennsylvania law schools. Perhaps their presence undercuts his false insinuation that the AALS excludes organizations from its meeting based on their viewpoint.

Because of limited space, groups that had not been meeting in AALS hotels prior to 1988 have been restricted to programs in other hotels. These groups include the Animal Defense Fund, Women and the Law Project and Pro Bono Students of America--hardly the conservative groups that Prof. Fried believes bear the brunt of the AALS policy.

The Association of American Law Schools is committed to diversity in legal education and has defended the legitimacy of using race as one factor in the admissions process, but this position has not doomed it to irrelevance, as Prof. Fried maintained.

The plenary session of our meeting is open to all, including Prof. Fried. It also was informed by the facts.



Association of American Law Schools


Executive Director

Association of American Law Schools