Latest from IAALS Blog

In March, IAALS wrapped up our Pandemic Positives Speaker Series, bringing together a number of courts and legal service providers who, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, transformed their day-to-day operations to continue serving the public. These organizations quickly implemented new processes for providing both in-person and virtual services, ensuring access to information and assistance to those who cannot afford an attorney. With the pandemic still ongoing, and in an effort to share lessons learned across jurisdictions, IAALS hosted this speaker series to bring together innovators and attendees to learn about best practices. Videos and summaries of the last…
Last summer, I joined IAALS on an interim basis to lead the institute and to chair a national search for my successor. My interim role will end soon. With the help of Heidrick & Struggles, we recruited an exceptional leader, David Yellen. David and I are transitioning ahead of his June 1 start, and I am more excited than ever for IAALS’ future! To the uncommonly talented IAALS team, thank you for welcoming me while balancing life, work, and grief over the impacts of COVID-19 on friends, family, and ourselves. I have appreciated my colleagues’ virtual grace. In what…
Civil jury trials have been few since the pandemic began in March 2020. Cases stalled and slowed while courts and litigators worked to find a way to advance the docket. Phone conferences and Zoom replaced in-person hearings, case-management deadlines were extended, and lawyers struggled to effectively communicate with clients with whom they were no longer able to meet in person.  How did courts handle this tension between civil rules and procedure on the one hand, and the fundamental right to a jury trial on the other? And how will changes adopted by our courts permanently change the way cases are…
Illinois, like many other states, sees a high number of self-represented litigants in its trial courts. Many people navigating the courts without help fall into the not-so-sweet spot of earning too much money to qualify for limited legal aid and pro bono resources, but not enough to hire a traditional lawyer. As a result, they’re faced with the daunting task of going to court with no assistance at all—a strain not only on litigants, who are often unfamiliar with the complex processes and tasks associated with pursuing a case in trial court, but on courts as well. There are many…
IAALS, the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, announced today that it is awarding Anna E. Carpenter, Professor of Law and Director of Clinical Programs at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, the inaugural Alli Gerkman Legal Visionary Award. The award is designed to encourage and showcase innovators, risk takers, visionaries, and emerging leaders who bring a different perspective and a reform-minded approach to the improvement of our legal system, and who are early in their legal careers. S.J. Quinney College of Law Dean Elizabeth Kronk Warner, who nominated Carpenter, said she “is…
Two first-of-their-kind guides provide data-driven pathways for law firms and law schools to implement Foundations-based practices and foster a more diverse profession IAALS, the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, released two new guides—an Instructional Design Guide and a Hiring Guide—which detail innovative ways for legal educators and legal employers to implement data-driven, outcomes-based standards underpinned by IAALS’ Foundations for Practice research. The guides, which stem from a survey of 24,000 lawyers and working sessions with 36 employers and 4 law schools, provide law schools with a path to train better lawyers and employers a path…
IAALS, the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System at the University of Denver, announced today that Andrew Arruda has joined the organization as its first-ever entrepreneur-in-residence. “We are delighted to welcome Andrew to this new role at IAALS. He has been integral to the organization for years now, both in his formal role on our board of advisors and as a continued source of inspiration, insight, and innovation across the broad spectrum of our work,” said Sam Walker, interim executive director at IAALS. “IAALS’ mission is as strong as ever but as the world changes, we must…
The last twelve months have been an unforgettable crucible. At IAALS, we have taken a hard look at our work and what it will take to build a better legal system for everyone. In the end, our mission remains the same, but our vision for that system has been reframed. As America reckons with institutional racism, IAALS commits to ensuring that our work directly improves the lives of those who historically have not been treated fairly. We at IAALS—and we as a nation—must make the clarion call to address the manifest inequality in the legal system our own. Hand in…
Consider this hypothetical. Charles Trestle started working for Reliable Trucking in Colorado Springs as a part-time dispatcher when he was 20 years old. He worked his way up to vice president in charge of western trucking operations, a job he has held for more than 10 years. He loves his job and has raised a family of four children with his wife, LeAnn, who works as a certified nursing assistant at a hospital. Charles just turned 62. His boss, the company’s new president and son of its founder, has begun asking him a lot of questions about retirement. Charles has…
Earlier this year, licensed legal advocates (LLAs) in Arizona began training “to give limited legal advice on civil matters stemming from domestic violence.” These advocates, the first of their kind in the state, are learning to provide legal advice on topics such as protective orders, divorce, child custody, consumer protection, and housing. The #i4J Licensed Legal Advocates begin training today – the 1st non-lawyer advocates in the US empowered to give legal ✨ADVICE ✨to DV survivors thanks to AZ’s #regreform efforts. The advocates, their faculty and the research team are predominantly #womenofcolor. #futureoflaw — Stacy Butler (@stacyrbutler4) January 25,
Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack recently wrote: “Let’s not leave what happens next to chance. Also, all gas no brakes. This is a breakthrough moment for access to justice.” She was responding to Legal Services Corporation President Ron Flagg, who shared the chief justice’s view that while the pandemic may not be the disruption we wanted, it could very well be the disruption we needed to bring more access and transparency to our justice system. Rising to the occasion during the pandemic is on brand for the chief justice. She spearheaded efforts in her state to modernize the court system…
Utah Supreme Court Justice Deno Himonas and Utah attorney John Lund honored for their innovative leadership in increasing access to justice IAALS, the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, announced today that Utah Supreme Court Justice Deno Himonas and Utah attorney John Lund are the recipients of the organization’s 2021 Rebuilding Justice Award. The annual Rebuilding Justice Award recognizes individuals who exemplify the spirit of innovation and leadership that IAALS champions as we work toward building a legal system that is accessible, fair, reliable, efficient, and accountable. “Justice Himonas and Mr. Lund have worked tirelessly to…
From their inception in the 1970s and 1980s, state judicial performance evaluation (JPE) programs have been premised on the notion that judges should be evaluated on their adjudicative and administrative abilities rather than specific case outcomes. Central to that premise is collecting data from those who directly observe or interact with each judge. The most comprehensive JPE programs survey attorneys, jurors, litigants, witnesses, and court staff, seeking perspectives on the judge’s treatment of the parties, communication skills, courtroom demeanor, legal knowledge, and administrative skills. These surveys are supplemented with data on the judge’s docket management, as well as observations from…
Last month, IAALS kicked off our Pandemic Positives Speaker Series, bringing together a number of courts and legal service providers who, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, transformed their day-to-day operations to continue serving the public throughout this critical time. These organizations quickly implemented new processes for providing both in-person and virtual services, ensuring access to information and assistance to those who cannot afford an attorney. With the pandemic still ongoing, and in an effort to share lessons learned across jurisdictions, IAALS is hosting this speaker series to bring together innovators with other attendees to learn about best practices.…
In 2019, the 86th Texas Legislature passed House Bill 3040, creating the Texas Commission on Judicial Selection to study the “fairness, effectiveness, and desirability” of partisan elections for judicial selection in Texas and the merits of other judicial selection methods adopted by other states. On December 30, 2020, the Commission submitted its report to the governor and legislature recommending, by majority vote, against the current partisan elections method. However, Commission members did not agree on an alternative method for judicial selection. Commission members overwhelmingly support increasing judicial qualifications and placing monetary limits on elections. Representative Todd Hunter, the author…
At this point, it’s fairly trite to begin writing with a comment about the impact COVID-19 has on our lives and our legal system. But it’s an inescapable truth that the pandemic has forced us to rethink so much about how we do things and why—and one of the places where we’ve seen huge shifts is with the bar exam. It became clear last spring that the July 2020 bar exam—if it was going to be held at all—was going to look a lot different than it ever had before. Some states decided to remotely administer exams, some created rules…