Of course, the AIPLA is not the only organization that does this. The AALS also has rules that prevent active participation at AALS events if your school is not an AALS member. Many of my colleagues used to be active with the AALS. They were interested in presenting papers and panels at the meeting, but were also willing to do scut work that goes with running an academic organization. With the exclusionary system now in place, faculty from non-AALS schools need not try to present papers as their work is automatically rejected. Even those of us who are willing to roll up our sleeves to do the behind the scenes work are excluded.
This limitation on participation is unjustifiable. Great scholarship can come from anywhere in the legal academy (or, dare we admit it, from those outside of the academy). As an example, think of Dean Erwin Chemerinsky of U.C. Irvine. If we follow the standards being used by the AALS, he was a great scholar when he was at Duke as it has both ABA and AALS recognition, but when he became the founding Dean at U.C. Irvine, he immediately became worthless as a scholar as it did not have either ABA or AALS accreditation when he joined. Even today, his scholarship is apparently substandard to the AALS as his institution, like my own, is only provisionally approved by the ABA and is years away from being eligible for AALS membership.
If the AALS (or AIPLA) are intent on being true academic societies, the “no one does it as well as our members” snobbery needs to go (except for the few elected officer positions where membership may be appropriately required). If the AALS is truly a “learned societ[y]” as its web site suggests, it needs to start acting like an academic-based organization — one that is open to all scholars who produce quality work.