Latest from IAALS Blog

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 practicing and advocating for innovative design changes in legal education, teaching online does not and should not involve doing what professors have always done—lecturing, leading discussions, and delivering exams—through internet-enabled platforms.  In my own work developing a program to…
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 the CEO position at IAALS, an organization committed to advancing justice for all people and inspiring confidence in our judiciary, is such an extraordinary opportunity, and one I’m incredibly grateful for. IAALS’ work is more important than ever. Efforts to reform…
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 McCormack of Michigan, Chief Justice Nathan Hecht of Texas, and Chief Justice Matthew Durrant of Utah. Their conversation was moderated by IAALS’ founding executive director, Justice Rebecca Love Kourlis (Ret.) of Colorado. Video of the event is available below, and a…
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 civil justice areas—attorney access, support for self-represented litigants, language access, and disability access—and assigned a score to each state, based on the extent to which they’ve adopted those policies. In this year’s Justice Index, Washington, D.C., Connecticut, and California…
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 professional qualities (such as a reputation for integrity or respect from leaders of the legal community) and six of which captured political qualities (such as experience running for political office or respect from elected officials). Respondents were asked to rate…
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 bar exam has never tested for. To form this definition, we held focus groups consisting of both junior lawyers (“new lawyers”) and lawyers who had directly supervised at least one junior lawyer during the two years preceding the study. We…
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 and processes, all in an effort to continue the administration of justice amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, with nationwide vaccination in progress and an end to the pandemic in sight, we have the opportunity to learn from this extraordinary experience…
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 Utah Rule 4(c)(1) now requires that a party filing a complaint provide notice with a bilingual summons to provide people with more information about their rights, responsibilities, and the ramifications for not responding to lawsuits. The new summons contains: A…
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 is now retired from the bench. His op-ed comes after a new Montana law gives the governor the sole power to directly appoint judges to fill temporary vacancies in district courts and the state supreme court. Although Montana’s supreme…
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…