HISTORY OF THE MIDWEST BUSINESS LAW ASSOCIATION

             As one of eleven regional affiliates of the American Business Law Association (Renamed ALSB in 1990), the Midwest Business Law Association (renamed MALSB in 1991) has a mailing list membership of nearly 250.  Annually in the mid-1980s the MALSB has averaged 88 – 95 members in attendance at its annual meeting, at which there have been 50 – 60 papers scheduled for presentation at each of these meetings, as well as at least two panel discussions This trend with some deviation continues through to today. 

            The Midwest Business Law Association was established in response to the American Business Law Association’s 1958 encouragement that regional organizations be formed.  The following year thirteen members met in St. Louis on April 16, 1959, setting initial dues at $2 per year (in comparison to the current $35 combined dues/registration fee).  In the initial years, the MALSB scheduled its meetings in conjunction with the Midwest Economics Association meeting.  The MALSB’s ties to the Midwest Business Administration Association (MBAA, founded in 1964, renamed MBAA – International in 2005), however, stretch back to the early years of the latter organization.  Having followed the MBAA from Chicago to St. Louis and back again, the MALSB has met annual at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago throughout the 1980s and 1990’s and into the 2000’s. For 2007-2013 MBAA – International was meeting at The Drake, and returns to The Palmer House for the 2014 meeting.

            Particularly noteworthy is the MALSB’s sponsorship of a national blind refereed law review journal entitled the Midwest Law Journal (formally Midwest Law Review).  MALSB members, such as Doug Whitman and Mike Litka were instrumental in initiating the publication.  Begun in 1981 under the leadership of its first Editor-in-Chief, John Gergacz of Kansas University, this semi-annual publication has recently become indexed in Cabell’s Directory, the Business Periodicals Index and the Index for Legal Periodicals. It is the only journal published by a regional that is available on both WestLaw and LexisNexis  It continues to grow in stature, as national reviewers and contributors are attracted. In 2005 the Midwest Law Review was renamed the Midwest Law Journal

            For a number of years the MALSB had a cooperative arrangement with the Tri-State Regional, including an agreement whereby MALSB conference papers can be submitted to the Tri-State Regional for inclusion in its Proceedings. MALSB now has its own blind peer reviewed Proceedings and MALSB Conference papers are now published there. In 2005 MALSB offered the Best Paper in the MALSB Proceedings the right to be published in either the MALSB Proceedings or the Midwest Law Journal.  In addition, the MALSB presents three awards annually, the Midwest Award of Excellence (for a conference paper since 1981), the Best Article in the Midwest Law Journal and the Best Article Any Source.

            Past officers and long time members of the MALSB, such as Jack Jozwiak of Loyola University (Chicago) (long time Treasurer), Judge Tom Wynn (Chicago), Curtis Terflinger and Phil Scaletta, Jr. (Purdue University) recall the early years when a hand full of members could meet in the hall to decide who would hold what office.  At one point during the early years there was a temporary split of the Midwest with a Chicago sub regional.  At some time in the past, there were joint meetings of the two regionals (Tri-State and Midwest).  With the aid of Tri-State members, such as Mike Litka (University of Akron, Ohio), the Midwest Business Law Association became a viable and growing organization, particularly since the 1980’s.  By 1977, MALSB membership had grown to 30 members.  Today the MALSB is one of the larger ALSB regional organizations with nearly 60 members in attendance at the annual meeting.

            At the initial meetings of the MALSB (1959 – 65), founders discussed the role of business law in the business curriculum and, as one member commented, “the problem of teaching objectives is an old topic in the ALSB.”  Discussions in the early 1960s reflected concern over large class sizes, government regulation being taught by economists or other laymen, low prioritization of law curriculum (especially in graduate programs).  Even then there were strong advocates for the teaching of legal ethics and law as a projection of “social philosophy and regulation of social ethics.”  The more things “change,” the more they stay the same.

            Begun in 1929, the American Business Law Association (ALSB) is the National umbrella organization that MALSB is a regional of..  Closely linked to its eleven regional organizations, the ALSB sends representatives to each regional meeting and each regional sends delegates to the national meeting.  In 2007 there are approximately 1000 ALSB members compared to 250 in 1959).  The national organization is active in representing the interests and concerns of business law/legal environmental professors before the AACSB, ABA and CBA organizations.  In the past the ALSB officers have joined with similar organizations abroad to establish an international business law organization.  The ALSB sponsors two national blind refereed and national indexed journals:  American Business Law Journal (begun in 1962) and the Journal for Legal Studies Education (begun in 1982-83).