ARCHIVED: Foreign Comparative and International Law SIS History and Bylaws

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The Foreign, Comparative and International Law SIS (FCIL SIS) was originally organized in 1947 as the Committee on Cooperation with the Latin American Law Libraries. The name was changed to Committee on Foreign Law in 1950, and then to Foreign and International Law Committee in 1966. In 1985, an AALL Executive Board Resolution reorganized the Committee into the Special Interest Section.

The FCIL SIS serves as a forum for the exchange ideas and information on foreign, comparative and international law librarianship, and represents its members' interests and concerns within the AALL. The SIS strives to promote the participation of AALL members in its activities and takes a leading role in the education of a new generation of foreign, comparative and international law librarians.

The SIS and its predecessor have a long history of publication accomplishments, including the Union List of Basic Latin American Legal Materials and the creation of the Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals. More recently, the SIS sponsored the Directory of Foreign Law Collections in Selected Law Libraries (AALL Publications Series no. 41), edited by Ellen Schaffer and Thomas Bruce.

FCIL members served as organizers, faculty and participants in the five Institutes between 1993 and 1996 sponsored by AALL to train the next generation of foreign and international law librarians. The presentations were published by Oceana under the following titles: Introduction to Foreign Legal Systems, edited by Richard Danner and Marie-Louise Bernal; Introduction to Transnational Legal Transactions, edited by Marilyn Raisch and Roberta Schaffer; Introduction to International Organizations, edited by Lyonette Louis-Jacques and Jeanne Korman; Introduction to International Business Law, edited by Gitelle Seer and Maria Smolka-Day; and Introduction to Contemporary Practice of Public International Law, edited by Ellen Schaffer and Randy Snyder (due fall 1997).

The FCIL Newsletter is published three times a year. It carries news, announcements, committee reports, Chair's update reports, conference announcements and reports, as well as feature articles, survey reports, and bibliographies. It is the main vehicle of information that reaches all the SIS's members. It is available online at the FCIL homepage on AALLNET. As the occasion warrants notices are published in the Special Interest Section News of the AALL Spectrum, formerly the AALL Newsletter.

The SIS sponsors a number of educational panels and programs on foreign law at the annual meeting. It cooperates with AALL by providing member expertise for AALL institutes on foreign and international law librarianship. To provide the SIS members an opportunity to meet and exchange information with colleagues who have similar interests or expertise on more specific jurisdictions and topics, it has created working and issues groups on African Law, Asian Law, Latin American Law, CIS and East European Law, Teaching Foreign and International Legal Research, and Electronic Issues.

The SIS has three standing committees, in addition to the Nominating Committee. These are Education/Program Committee, Publications Committee, and Clearinghouse for Internships and International Personnel Exchanges. Ad hoc committees are also created to respond to current needs of the SIS and to implement charges from AALL.


Former Committee Chairs:

William B. Stern 1947/54
Lawrence Keith 1954/55
Kate Wallach 1955/56
William B. Stern 1956/57
Kurt Schwerin 1957/63
Meira G. Pimsleur 1963/66
Frank Lukes 1966/68
Kate Wallach 1968/69
Thomas H. Reynolds/Kate Wallach 1969/70
Igor Kavass/Adolf Sprudzs 1970/72
Ivan Sipkov 1972/74
Mario Goderich 1974/75
Juan Aguilar 1975/78
Susanne Lee 1978/80
Anita Head 1980/81
Claire M. Germain 1981/83
Margaret A. Aycock 1983/84
Helena von Pfeil 1984/85



Chairs of the Section:

Claire M. Germain 1985/86
Linda Thompson 1986/87
Ellen Schaffer 1987/88
Daniel Wade 1988/89
Tim Kearley 1989/90
Janet Zagorin 1990/91
Amber Lee Smith 1991/92
Milagros R. Rush 1992/93
Jonathan Pratter 1993/94
Lyonette Louis-Jacques1994/95
Francisco Avalos 1995/96
Margareta Horiba 1996/97
William B. McCloy 1997/98
Maria Smolka-Day 1998/99
Katherine Topulos 1999/00
Jean J. Davis 2000/01
Tracy L. Thompson 2001/02
Kenneth E. Rudolf 2002/03


American Association of Law Libraries




(As Amended December 1993)

Article I: NAME

The name of this special interest section of American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) shall be Foreign, Comparative, and International Law Section.

Article II: OBJECT

  • Section 1.
    The object of the Foreign, Comparative, and International Law Section shall be to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and information on foreign, comparative, and international law; and to represent its members' interest and concerns within the AALL.

  • Section 2.
    It shall conduct its affairs in conformity with the Constitution and Bylaws of the American Association of Law Libraries.


Membership shall be open to any AALL member requesting affiliation with the Foreign, Comparative, and International Law Section as provided in the AALL bylaws. Membership shall be renewable each year.


  • Section 1.
    There shall be an annual meeting of the Foreign, Comparative, and International Law Section held in connection with or during the annual meeting of the AALL. The scheduling of the annual meeting during the annual meeting of AALL shall be cleared with the Convention Program Chairperson or as otherwise provided in the AALL Bylaws. Meetings shall be open to all members of the Association (AALL) but no person may vote in any meeting who is not a section member in good standing.

  • Section 2.
    A quorum shall consist of ten members.


  • Section 1. Officers.
    The officers shall consist of Chair, Vice-Chair/Chair-elect, and a Secretary/ Treasurer. The Vice-Chair shall automatically become Chair at the end of one year. The Secretary/Treasurer shall be elected biennially. Officers shall serve until their successors are elected.

  • Section 2. Duties of Officers.
    The Chair, Vice-Chair/Chair-elect, and Secretary/Treasurer shall perform the duties usually pertaining to their respective offices and such other duties as may be assigned by the Section's Executive Committee or the membership.

  • Section 3. Executive Committee.
    There shall be an Executive Committee consisting of the officers named above and the immediate past Chair.

  • Section 4. Committees.
    There shall be a Nominating Committee and such other standing or special committees as the Executive Committee or the membership shall create.

  • Section 5. Vacancies.
    Should the position of Chair become vacant, the Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect shall succeed immediately as Chair in advance of the next annual meeting. Any vacancy in the office of Chair that cannot be filled by the succession of the Vice-Chair or by extension of the term of the current Chair shall be filled on a temporary basis by the Executive Board of the AALL from among the members of the section in good standing.

    A vacancy in the office of the Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect shall not be filled until the next regularly scheduled election. The Vice-Chair's duties shall be assumed by the current Chair or a section member appointed by the Executive Committee. A vacancy in the office of Secretary/Treasurer shall, however, be filled by appointment of the Executive Committee.


  • Section 1.
    The Executive Committee shall appoint a Chair and two others to serve as a Nominating Committee. The members, whose terms shall be for one year, shall not be current officers or candidates at the next election. One candidate shall be nominated for the office of Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect and one for the office of Secretary/Treasurer. During the even numbered years there shall be an election for Vice-Chair. During the odd-numbered years there shall be an election for Vice-Chair and Secretary/Treasurer. In the event the Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect cannot assume the duties of Chair, the Nominating Committee shall also submit one name of a candidate for the office of Chair for the term of one year.

  • Section 2.
    The Nominating Committee shall submit the names of candidates together with their written acceptances to the Chair in sufficient time to enable the Chair to inform the members of the nominations prior to April 1, or as soon thereafter as possible, by publication in the SIS newsletter. In the event of nominations for the office of Chair after the April 1 deadline, such notification may be limited to the actual mail ballot itself along with an explanation for the exigent circumstances.

    Further nominations may be made upon written petition of five members. Such petitions, with the written acceptances of the nominees, should be filed with the Secretary/Treasurer not later than April 12. The Secretary/Treasurer shall prepare an official ballot, including nominations by petition.

  • Section 3. By April 15, the Secretary/Treasurer shall mail a copy of the ballots to each member of the section. The professional position of each nominee shall appear on the ballot. Ballots shall be marked, sealed in a plain envelope, and returned to the Secretary/Treasurer before May 10, in covering envelopes bearing on the outside the name and address of the member voting. The Secretary/Treasurer shall verify the validity of all votes against a list of individual voting members and shall count and tabulate all votes cast. The candidates receiving the largest number of votes shall be elected and shall be so reported at the annual meeting by the Secretary/Treasurer. All candidates shall be notified of the results of the election by the Secretary/Treasurer at the earliest possible time. In case of a tie vote, a run-off election shall be held at the annual meeting. Run-off elections shall be by secret ballot. The ballots shall be immediately counted and the candidate with the largest number of votes declared elected, provided there is a quorum. Should the run-off election result in a continuing tie, the candidates shall be named co-officers. In the event the Secretary/Treasurer is a candidate, the Chair shall appoint another member to perform all election-related functions with the exception of the preparation and mailing of the ballot.

    Any vacancy occurring between April 15 and the annual meeting shall be filled by nomination from the floor and election at the annual meeting. The candidates with the largest number of votes shall be declared elected, provided there is a quorum.

  • Section 4.
    If there are no challenges to the results of the election at the annual section meeting, the ballots may be destroyed by the Secretary/Treasurer after the meeting.


  • Section 1.
    Amendments to the Bylaws may be proposed by the Executive Committee or by a petition signed by 20 members in good standing of the Foreign, Comparative, and International Law Section.

  • Section 2.
    Proposed amendments shall become effective when approved by the AALL Executive Board, and by either of the following as specified by the Executive Committee:

    1. a majority vote of the members present and voting at an annual meeting, assuming a quorum is present, or

    2. a two-thirds majority of the votes cast by a mail ballot conducted by the Secretary/Treasurer.

With regard to method (a), notice of any proposed amendment shall be mailed the Section's members or be published in the Section's newsletter 30 days in advance of the meeting.

With regard to method (b), each ballot shall state by what date it must be returned.

Mailings sent with regard to either method shall not only state the text of the proposal, but shall also contain a brief explanation of the reasons for the proposal.


Robert's Rules of Order, in the latest edition, shall govern all deliberations of the section. The Executive Committee shall appoint a member in advance of the annual meeting of the section to serve as parliamentarian.