It was at the 1979 AACRAO meeting in Chicago that a group of law registrars and admission officers gathered at a workshop to follow-up on the previous year’s decision to create a professional organization that would specifically serve law school administrators. In 1980, the group convened again in New Orleans and the idea of a professional organization became a reality. NNLSO got its first name: The National Network of Law School Registrars and Admission Officers. The group appointed a 10 person steering committee to build a structure and recruit members.
In 1980, there were approximately 170 ABA approved law schools and the steering committee set out to sign them up with NNLSO. A forerunner to The NNLSO Journal, The National Newsletter was created to communicate with the membership and to offer a platform that did not previously exist. The first edition of the Newsletter was mailed to all ABA-approved schools in June 1980
In the early years (like any new organization), NNLSO lacked financial resources and did not have a formal treasury. Supporting universities and law schools provided in-kind services such as postage, printing, and staff dedicated to NNLSO-related work. In an effort to raise revenue, the steering committee decided to charge institutional dues.
The name The National Network of Law School Registrars and Admission Officers was changed to its current name: The National Network of Law School Officers. The name change reflected a recognition that issues and responsibilities facing law schools went beyond respective admission and registrar offices. The intent was to make NNLSO inclusive to other law school administrators. The name change was formally adopted in 1985.
NNLSO’s Constitution and By-Laws were established and approved at the 1985 AACRAO Annual Meeting in Cincinnati. The Constitution provided for the establishment of an Executive Committee and created the positions of Executive Director, Assistant Executive Director, Journal Editor and Secretary/Treasurer and Board members. In subsequent years, the Secretary and Treasurer became separate positions, and the Board added the Web Editor and Regional Representatives positions.
To maximize communication with its membership, NNLSO created its list serve in the mid-1990’s. The list serve continues to be an important resource. In 2000, the first NNLSO web page was introduced. At the same time, The Journal was redesigned to showcase a professional image and contain more substantial content in its articles. In 2013, NNLSO entered the world of social media and created a Facebook page. NNLSO-sponsored sessions, at the annual AACRAO meetings, had a more focused topical relevance to law school administrators.
Today, NNLSO’s members represent 134 ABA approved law schools. The organization continues to create initiatives to better serve its membership:
- The Vanguard Prize recognizes individuals for outstanding professional achievement in support of student services.
- First time annual conference attendee grants encourage attendance at the annual NNLSO meeting held in conjunction with the annual AACRAO annual meeting who otherwise cannot attend due to budgetary constraints at their institutions.
- Research grants supporting publishable research papers.
- Surveys – such as the staff/salary survey empowering members to make reasoned requests to their senior administrators for their own staffing needs.
- Funding to support sponsorship of regional NNLSO meetings.
Many of the issues facing the law school administrators back in 1979 (such as late grade submission) continue even today. However, new challenges such as dwindling enrollment, staff retrenchment, reduced resources, emerging technologies and revised ABA standards are changing the work environment. NNLSO will continue to provide the support and networking needed to meet those challenges, just as it has been doing since that first group meeting in 1979.