Saturday, January 16, 2010
So would reducing the high AALS Annual Meeting registration fees affect attendance?
Maybe, based on our last poll (with not quite 140 responses): two-thirds of respondents said they would either be "much" (24%) or "somewhat" (43%) more likely to attend (or attend more often) if the fee were cut in half from its current $425; a third of respondents said their decision to attend would be unaffected. There is, of course, as a colleague at Texas pointed out, a "moral hazard" issue here, which might explain why even though more than 80% think the fees are too high, only two-thirds say a change in the fee structure would affect their attendance: namely, that the vast majority of those attending have their registration fees paid for by their school. Even so, the cost burden is real. Take a colleague at a major law school who tells me he has a $3,000 annual travel & books budget. If he goes to AALS (from the West Coast), spends three nights in New Orleans, and, of course, registers and has meal costs, he will easily have spent more than a third of his entire budget (perhaps half) for the year in the blink of an eye; the registration fee alone eats up nearly 15% of his yearly budget!
So do the fees really need to be so high? A commenter here reports that the AALS Annual Meeting is, in reality, a big money-maker for the AALS, generating one-third of its annual budget! This suggests, dare I say, that's it's not the "gala" reception or the bagels and coffee that explains the outrageous registration fees. It would be nice if one of the progressively-minded Presidents of the AALS finally addressed this issue directly.