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Planning for SEALS 2014

Planning for the Southeastern Association of Law Schools (SEALS) 2014 program is under way.  If you wish to submit a proposal for a panel or a discussion group, you can do so through a link on SEALS website at

Several things should be borne in mind about SEALS’ program creation process.  First, and foremost, SEALS strives to be a very “democratic” and very “participatory” organization.  As a result, you need not be a section chair (in fact, we don’t have formal sections like the AALS sections) or a section member to make a suggestion.  Instead, the program is created and driven by suggestions from professors at SEALS’ schools.  As a result, if you wish to organize a panel or a discussion group, just do it!  You can simply create the proposal and submit it through the SEALS’ website (unlike in past years, when it was possible to make program suggestions directly to SEALS’ Executive Director by e-mail), all proposals must now come through the SEALS website.  If you wish to discuss your proposal before submission, in order to have a good sense of whether it is likely to be accepted, please consult with SEALS’ Executive Director, Professor Russell Weaver at the University of Louisville.  Specific requirements for panels and discussion groups are set forth below.

SEALS realizes that some may not feel comfortable with the idea of organizing their own panel or discussion group.  If not, SEALS is creating a special page where you can indicate your interest in participating in a panel or discussion group on a particular topic, and try to connect with others who may have similar interests.  Hopefully, together, you will be able to create a panel or discussion group.

If you would like to organize your own panel or discussion group, but are not sure that you can find the requisite number of participants, or are not sure whether your proposal would have a good chance of acceptance, contact SEALS’ Executive Director.  He can provide you with advice regarding how to craft a suitable and appealing proposal.  In addition, he can send an e-mail to SEALS’ listserv seeking additional participants on your behalf, and it is possible for you to post a notice on the SEALS blog.

In order to receive full consideration, it is best to submit your proposal by the end of October.  Once you submit a proposal, it will be evaluated by SEALS’ Executive Director  who has the authority to accept the proposal. In an appropriate case, he may provide you with feedback, or make suggestions for change.  If the Executive Director believes that a proposal should be rejected, or needs more work, he will refer it to the Program Advisory Committee (PAC) which will make a final decision regarding how to proceed.  The PAC can recommend acceptance of a proposal, or (more commonly) work with the proposer to iron out any difficulties.  SEALS plans to distribute a draft program in mid-November.

Listed below are the types of programs that SEALS offers, along with the rules applicable to each such program.


Panels are the traditional presentations at most conferences. The time allotted is about an hour-and-a-half, and between 4 and 6 panelists do presentations around a central theme or subject.  You should leave time for questions or discussion with the audience at the end of the presentations.  There are some rules that govern panels.

-Panels must include at least four speakers.

-Panels must include both a title for the program, as well as a description of the program.

-If your proposal would fit into a workshop in a particular area (e.g., constitutional law, criminal procedure, business law, teaching), please indicate that fact in your proposal.

-The one-panel-per-person rule does apply.

-Before you list someone as a speaker, please confirm with that person to make sure that he/she is willing and able to participate.

-The one-panel-per-person rule. No attendee may serve on more than one panel.  This rule governs all kinds of panels and includes moderators and panelists. There are a couple of situations in which this rule will not apply: the Call for Papers presentations, discussion groups, mentors for new scholars, and programming in the other special workshops with attendance limited to special registrants (e.g., the workshops for new law teachers and prospective law teachers).

-Only one person per school can be on a panel unless the two people are co-authors. They are treated as one person for purposes of time.

-Over half the panelists (including the moderator) should be from Institutional Member schools.

-Every effort should be made to ensure diversity in the panel. Diversity is defined broadly to include ideological diversity, diversity in schools represented, and diversity based on identity characteristics like race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

Discussion Groups

Discussion groups usually include eight to twelve “discussants” and are scheduled in either two hour or three hour blocks. The discussants often have written papers on a central theme or have prepared some thoughts around several questions connected to that theme. The discussants circulate their papers or thoughts in writing before the conference, spend 3-5 minutes summarizing their points, and then discuss the theme in more depth along with all attendees in the room. Wide audience participation and discussion are the focus of this kind of programming.

-In order to propose a discussion group, you will need at least ten discussants.

-Discussion Group proposals must include a title, as well as a description of the discussion group.

-Before you list someone as a speaker, please confirm with that person to make sure that he/she is willing and able to participate.

-If your proposal would fit into a workshop in a particular area (e.g., constitutional law, criminal procedure, business law, teaching), please indicate that fact in your proposal.

-The one-panel-per-person rule does not apply.

-The one-person-per-school rule does not apply.

-Discussion group organizers must issue a call for participants

-The same efforts at diversity as for panels apply

Topical Workshops

Sometimes several pieces of programming are pulled together to create a workshop focused on a particular subject, like criminal law, labor and employment law, or health law, for example, that lasts a day or several days. Those kinds of workshops can be organized by anyone from an Institutional or Affiliate member school.

New Scholars Colloquia

Each member school is allowed to nominate a faculty member for the New Scholars program by sending the Executive Director and Chair of the New Scholars Committee the name of the faculty member and a title for the newer scholar’s presentation. Those new scholars are organized into groups of four, and each one is assigned a mentor with expertise in the subject of their presentation. New scholar panels may be loosely grouped thematically, where possible, and scheduled near similar subjects in the regular program, where possible. Each new scholar is given thirty minutes for presentation and questions/discussion. New scholar panels are all scheduled from 8 to 10 am so as not to compete with any other programming. All of this is done to ensure that more senior scholars, and not just mentors, are able to tell which panels to attend to offer support for new scholars in their area. The focus of this type of programming is support and constructive feedback for the newer scholars.

Programming Sponsored by SEALS Committees

Some SEALS committees put on special programming. For example, the New Scholars Committee has traditionally sponsored programming on teaching, scholarship, service, and self promotion, likely to be of special interest to those newer to teaching. The International Committee and Latin America Workshop Committee has put on programming relating to specific international initiatives or issues. Additionally, the Distance Learning Committee has organized programming related to that subject.

Other Special Workshops with Attendance Limited to Special Registrants

The last few years has seen a number of workshops limited to special registrants. To date, they have included three.

Empirical Workshop: This workshop provides two days of training in empirical methods.

Prospective Law Teachers Workshop: This workshop, designed for those interested in becoming law teachers, provides mock interviews and job talks, in addition to panels devoted to helping participants navigate the legal hiring market.

Beginning and Newer Law Teachers Workshop: This workshop, designed for faculty in their first year or so of teaching, provides programming that affords participants an in-depth introduction and specific tools to help them develop their classroom skills, scholarship, and record of service.


Russell L. Weaver
Professor of Law & Distinguished University Scholar
University of Louisville
Louis D. Brandeis School of Law

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