Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System

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At Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell (WTO), we’ve been fortunate to have a front-row seat to the outcomes and transformation that IAALS has achieved through Foundations for Practice and resulting efforts. After Foundations launched in 2016, WTO and IAALS collaborated to survey WTO’s partners on the characteristics that they viewed as most essential for new associates to be successful at WTO. The
Continue Reading The IAALS Effect on Hiring at Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell

On June 28, the Special Committee to Improve the Delivery of Legal Services submitted its final report to the Florida Supreme Court, recommending that Florida adopt a Law Practice Innovation Laboratory Program. The committee had been tasked by the court with studying whether and how the rules governing the practice of law in Florida may be revised to improve the
Continue Reading Florida Joins Growing List of States Testing Legal Regulation Reforms

In May, the Colorado Judicial Branch announced that a pilot program allowing documents in family court cases to be filed online will expand to seven more counties.The two-year pilot program allows online filing in divorce and custody cases where litigants lack legal representation—which accounts for about three-fourths of all family law cases in Colorado. Following the expansion, 25 of the
Continue Reading Electronic Filing in Colorado Family Law Cases Expands Amid Growing Trend

If the first step to fixing a problem is admitting there is one, the second step is understanding the scope of that problem—why it exists, how it persists, and who it’s affecting. And, when it comes to civil justice problems, data must be at the core of that understanding.The Georgetown Civil Justice Data Commons (CJDC) recently made the case for
Continue Reading Making the Case for More Civil Justice Data

IAALS is pleased to announce that Amy Livingston has joined the organization as its new Director of Development. Livingston comes to IAALS after consulting with nonprofit clients and philanthropists to secure multiple transformational gifts, which strengthened maternal and newborn healthcare delivery systems in East and West Africa. She brings to IAALS over 25 years of experience in the nonprofit sector
Continue Reading IAALS Welcomes Amy Livingston as New Director of Development

IAALS’ report, Building a Better Bar: The Twelve Building Blocks of Minimum Competence, provides the first-ever empirically grounded definition of the minimum competence required to practice law. Our comprehensive study found that minimum competence consists of 12 interlocking “building blocks,” which reveal not only what it takes to be a minimally competent lawyer, but how current licensing systems must
Continue Reading Better Lawyer Licensing, Part 2: The Second Three Building Blocks of Minimum Competence

The COVID-19 pandemic required the entire legal education system—along with every other educational institution—to move to online teaching overnight. By necessity, this required using existing technology tools, such as online conferencing and learning management systems (LMS), which were largely used to move an existing legal educational framework (lectures, classroom discussion, and exams) to the web.As I’ve learned from many years
Continue Reading Putting Students at the Center of Modern Legal Education

I am thrilled to have officially joined IAALS as CEO on June 1. Throughout my career—including serving a combined 14 years as law school dean at Hofstra University and Loyola University Chicago, as well as president of Marist College—I’ve had the tremendous privilege of championing values near to my heart: service and the rule of law. That’s why stepping into
Continue Reading Looking to IAALS’ Next Chapter: Building on Strengths, Taking on New Challenges

On June 9, IAALS co-hosted the first session of the Redesigning Legal Speaker Series, bringing together over 150 people to learn about and discuss the regulatory changes underway, the challenges they face, and the opportunities they provide. “Leading from the Bench—Expanding Access through Regulatory Innovation” featured a panel including Vice Chief Justice Ann Timmer of Arizona, Chief Justice Bridget
Continue Reading State Justices Stress Need for Courts to Lead the Way on Regulatory Reform

In May, the National Center for Access to Justice (NCAJ) at Fordham Law School published the latest iteration of the Justice Index, a national survey of state civil justice policies that provides “a snapshot of the degree to which each U.S. state has adopted best practices for ensuring access to justice for all people.”The NCAJ examined policies across four
Continue Reading 2021 Justice Index Puts Spotlight on States Who Pass and Fail Justice Metrics

What qualities do Americans want in their state judges? Professor Herbert Kritzer, the Marvin J. Sonosky Chair of Law and Public Policy at the University of Minnesota, addresses the question in the Spring 2021 issue of Judicature. In a national online survey, Kritzer asked respondents to rate the importance of 12 characteristics of a judge, six of which captured
Continue Reading Americans Know What They Want in Their State Judges. Can They Agree How to Achieve It?

Last October, IAALS published the groundbreaking report Building a Better Bar: The Twelve Building Blocks of Minimum Competence, containing clear, evidence-based recommendations and guideposts for improving the bar exam and lawyer licensing. At the core of the recommendations is an empirically based definition of the minimum competence needed to practice law—something the legal profession has never had and the
Continue Reading Better Lawyer Licensing, Part 1: The First Three Building Blocks of Minimum Competence

Pilot projects have long been used when implementing reforms—they provide a smaller-scale testing ground to administer the changes, they create an opportunity to gain broader support for innovation, and they allow for evaluation and improvement prior to broader adoption. Throughout the past year, our courts, in many ways, have been engaged in informal pilot projects; they’ve tried out different technologies
Continue Reading Pandemic “Pilot Projects” and the Next Steps for Court Innovation

On May 1, amendments to the Utah Rules of Civil Procedure went into effect, several of which provide better notice of parties’ rights and obligations at the outset and throughout a lawsuit. The rule amendments are also paired with judicial council-approved forms that include notice of rights in plain language and in multiple languages.Notice and Service of the Complaint

Continue Reading Utah’s New Civil Rules Provide Multi-Lingual Notice, Plain Language, and QR Codes to Self-Represented Litigants

In a guest column for the Montana Standard, former Montana Supreme Court Justice James C. Nelson calls for the implementation of a merit-based judicial selection process to keep Montana’s courts free from partisanship and outside influence.“We need to change this whole system so as to ensure that the judiciary remains fair, independent, impartial, and competent,” writes Justice Nelson, who
Continue Reading Former Montana Supreme Court Justice Urges Switch to Merit Selection

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
Continue Reading Pandemic Positives Speaker Series Features Resourcefulness in a Crisis, Part 2