The records of the ALSB are somewhat incomplete. However, a number of verified facts can be gleaned from the archives. The origins of the ACADEMY OF LEGAL STUDIES IN BUSINESS began with the 1924 American Association of Law Schools annual meeting in December, 1924 at the LaSalle Hotel in Chicago. At that meeting, a new group was formed called the ASSOCIATION OF INSTRUCTORS OF LAW IN COLLEGIATE SCHOOLS OF BUSINESS. Twenty-seven persons were present at the formation with Professor James C. Reed, University of Pittsburgh, elected as the first president.
No meeting was held in 1925 for this new group. But, it met again for a 1926 annual meeting in conjunction with the American Association of Law Schools at the LaSalle in Chicago. At that meeting, the group changed its name to the ASSOCIATION OF TEACHERS OF LAW IN COLLEGIATE SCHOOLS OF BUSINESS.
Holding annual meetings thereafter the ASSOCIATION changed its name again at the 1937 annual meeting in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The name – AMERICAN BUSINESS LAW ASSOCIATION – was proposed and adopted. Membership numbered less than fifty and monies were not available for either a newsletter or a journal, as some members had hoped.
Due to the war, ABLA annual meetings were suspended from 1942-1946. However, 1947 saw the annual meeting held at the Allerton Hotel in Chicago with President Essel R. Dillavou, University of Illinois, presiding. Membership approached one hundred with annual dues being three dollars. For some unknown reason, no annual meeting was held in 1951; but each year except for 1951, beginning with 1947, saw annual conferences convened.
In the meantime, another idea, whose time had come, was quickly evolving. In 1953, ABLA member Wesley Harter, Florida State University, began campaigning for regional associations. In 1954 the first ABLA Regional Association was formed in the South in conjunction with the Southern Economic Association meeting in Biloxi, Mississippi. The Michigan Regional, to be later renamed TRI-STATE, formed the following year in 1955 at Michigan State University. The other regionals soon followed suit. From the regional associations came the concept of the HOUSE OF DELEGATES which first met at the ABLA Annual Meeting in 1962.
The BULLETIN OF THE AMERICAN BUSINESS LAW ASSOCIATION appeared in 1956 serving as an infrequent newsletter. Moreover, the BULLETIN’S appearance paved the way for the advent of the AMERICAN BUSINESS LAW JOURNAL in the spring of 1963. ABLA President Dwayne Oglesby, Colorado State University, appointed Charles Hewitt, Indiana University, as the first editor-in-chief.
Kathryn (Kay) Duffy, University of Nevada, became the ABLA’s first woman president in 1964. Since then, Barbara George, Patricia Pattison, Brenda Knowles, Marsha Hass, Fran Hill, Caryn Beck-Dudley, Sally Gunz, Ginny Maurer, Nancy Kubasek, Terry Dworkin, Fran Zollers, Lynda Oswald, Kathleen Lacey, Janine Hiller, Connie Bagley, Carol Miller, and Cindy Schipani have been sworn in as ALSB president. Marisa Pagnatarro is currently in the officer rotation.
The direct ancestor to the current ALSB NEWSLETTER appeared in 1972, published by ABLA President Gaylord Jentz, University of Texas-Austin, although infrequent, mimeographed newsletters had appeared earlier.
The 1973 annual meeting at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville was celebrated as the 50th Anniversary Meeting celebrating the Academy’s 1924 founding. The occasion produced A HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN BUSINESS LAW ASSOCIATION (OR: A MISSION IN SEARCH OF A MEANS) by Fred Kempin, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania (West Publishing: St. Paul 1974).
The 50th anniversary year also witnessed the incorporation of the association. Befitting in that the ABLA had its origins at that 1924 Chicago meeting at the LaSalle Hotel, the association incorporated under Illinois law as a non-profit organization, the AMERICAN BUSINESS LAW ASSOCIATION, INC. The ABLA’s corporate birthday is March 20, 1973. Ten years later, 1983, saw the birth of the ABLA’s second journal, the JOURNAL OF LEGAL STUDIES EDUCATION with Terry Dworkin, Indiana University, serving as the first editor-in-chief.
The year 1988 saw another development within the structure of the ABLA, the first section was created. With the creation of the Ethics Section at the 1988 annual meeting in New Orleans, a new tradition began. The International Section was created two years later at the 1990 Toronto meeting, appropriately the first meeting to be held outside of the United States. The Feminist Jurisprudence Section and the Employment-Labor Law Section were officially recognized at the 1992 annual meeting in Charleston, South Carolina.
The year 1991 proved to be another watershed year in the history of the organization. With AACSB accreditation standards being revised, “business law” came under assault. The proposed new standards eliminated any specific reference to a “law” requirement in the business curriculum standards.
The ABLA mounted an extensive and intensive campaign to amend the proposed accreditation standards. The association contacted every, AACSB school of business deans with letters, position papers, and even The ABLA mounted an extensive and intensive campaign to amend the proposed accreditation standards. The association contacted every, AACSB school of business deans with letters, position papers, and even personal phone calls. Under the guidance of the ABLA’s AACSB liaison Gaylord Jentz, ABLA President Bill Shaw, and ABLA President-Elect Brenda Knowles, the ABLA proposed an amendment changing the standard “regulatory environment” to “legal and regulatory environment.” At the AACSB meeting in April 1991 in St. Louis, this amendment passed (and was the only amendment of twenty-four proposed amendments to pass) and was incorporated into the new AACSB standards.
Also in 1991, the membership, now with over 1,000 dues-paying members , voted overwhelming at the annual meeting in August in Portland, Maine to adopt the name ACADEMY OF LEGAL STUDIES IN BUSINESS. Filed with the state of Illinois, the official corporate name became the “AMERICAN BUSINESS LAW ASSOCIATION, INC. D/B/A/ ACADEMY OF LEGAL STUDIES IN BUSINESS,” ALSB for short.
The 1995 Annual Meeting in Milwaukee witnessed the election of the first non-U.S. citizen into the officers’ rotation: Sally Gunz from the University of Waterloo (Ontario) was elected. The meeting in 1996 saw the second annual meeting outside of U.S. borders and the first meeting in a non-English-speaking city, with the Academy meeting in Quebec City; in 2005, the ALSB met in Ottawa.
With three sections focusing on specific areas within the academy already created — Ethics, International, and Feminist — five more would be created between 1991 and 2000. The Employment-Labor Law Section came along in 1992; the Environment Law and Business Section was created in 1995; Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Section was created in 1996; Marketing Law Section in 1997; and, the Technology Section was created at the 2000 Annual Conference in Baltimore, the meeting which heralded the conclusion of the 75th anniversary year.