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This month, The Pew Charitable Trusts released a new report that looks at trends in debt collection lawsuits in the United States and suggests steps that courts can take to modernize our state civil justice system and ensure access to justice. Pew has also called for these discussions to extend beyond state court officials, legal aid, and reform advocates to policymakers—noting that in many states “policymakers have not been a part of conversations about how and why court systems are shifting; the extent to which the changes might lead to financial harm among American consumers, especially the tens of millions…
Last year, IAALS surveyed members of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) as part of a broader research effort exploring public trust and confidence in the legal system. The ABOTA survey findings were published in the Fall/Winter 2019 issue of Voir Dire in an article authored by Logan Cornett, IAALS Senior Research Analyst, and Natalie Knowlton, IAALS Director of Special Projects. The survey explored attorney levels of trust and confidence in the system and factors that influence their perspectives. A substantial majority of respondents reported high levels of confidence in both the state and federal court systems (76% and…
IAALS announces new project to help courts more quickly resolve the anticipated wave of business interruption insurance cases stemming from COVID-19-related closures and losses. IAALS, the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, has launched a new project to create Initial Discovery Protocols for COVID-19 Insurance Claims. In response to the rapid increase in court cases involving business interruption insurance property damage claims arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, the project will develop pattern discovery protocols specific to these cases, in an effort to reduce conflict and cost and to help both businesses and insurers alike reach a…
Earlier this year, the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) published Unifying Juvenile and Family Matters in Marion County, a set of recommendations for the redesign of the Marion Superior Court in Indianapolis, Indiana. This redesign is “a timely opportunity for the implementation of best practices that can better serve families facing legal challenges through the court.” The comprehensive report, which was presented to Marion County circuit and superior court judges and administrators, covers numerous areas of court operations, including: Operational model and structure Caseflow management and triage Family court services and functions Alternative dispute resolution Self-help Judicial roles,…
Domestic violence affects millions of people across the world. The United Nations reports that, in 2017 alone, more than 50,000 women were killed by intimate partners or family members. And, of course, in 2017 we weren’t in the middle of a pandemic—during which domestic violence victims are often forced to stay at home with their abuser. Most stay-at-home orders have only been in place for a month or two, but the increase in domestic violence reports is devastating. In just the first six weeks of London’s lockdown, police made around 4,000 domestic abuse arrests and received a 33% increase in…
On August 9, 2020, friends, family, and fans of Alli Gerkman will gather at the Farm House at Breckenridge Brewery in Littleton, Colorado, for Alli’s Rally: a fun, free, casual self-supported bike ride to celebrate Alli’s love for riding, her infectious laughter, and her extraordinary legacy. A special jersey with Alli’s likeness can be purchased here; jersey orders must be placed by May 20. You can also honor Alli by making a donation to Wish for Wheels, a non-profit organization that gives new bikes and helmets to 2nd graders in Title 1 schools. The gift of a bike fosters…
In mid-April, the Louisiana Supreme Court announced “changes to its rules that will increase transparency and public access to judicial discipline proceedings while maintaining fairness, due process, and the orderly administration of justice.” The court voted unanimously to make three major changes: Hearings on allegations of judicial misconduct that have been investigated will now be public, as will the record and results of the formal proceedings. If a judge is admonished, any additional admonishments within a judge’s term of office (ten years for appellate court judges and six years for district court and other judges) shall now be public. Information…
On February 27–28, the University of Pennsylvania Law School’s Future of the Profession Initiative hosted Law 2030: A Global Conversation About the Future of the Profession. The conference was an “interactive, inspirational, and educational conversation about how real change happens, why lawyers struggle to change, and how legal professionals can improve client service and learn from innovators in other fields.” IAALS Manager Zack DeMeola, who leads our projects related to legal education and the profession, sat down for a conversation with Associate Dean Eleanor Barrett as part of the Law 2030 podcast. Topics included learning outcomes in law schools,…
Law Day 2020 celebrates the centennial of the transformative amendment that gave women the right to vote. The women’s suffrage movement and victory won in the 19th Amendment changed the history of our country, empowering women with a voice and a right to participate in American democracy. The movement also served as a catalyst for other civil rights movements and constitutional reforms that have changed our legal landscape. Yet as my colleague Janet Drobinske highlights in her piece, “Law Day 2020: Trailblazers to Guide Us and a Future to Inspire Us,” the women’s suffrage movement fought to claim equality in…
“Trailblazing.” The word has sizzle. A certain romance. It calls to mind a swift and brazen ride in a new direction on the back of a fleet-footed horse. And, it may belie the enormous effort involved and the complexities along the way. This year, the American Bar Association marks Law Day 2020 with the theme of “Your Voice, Your Vote, Our Democracy,” a celebration of the centennial of the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. While August 26, 1920, is the official date it became law, following passage by both houses of Congress and ratification by three-fourths of…
In a recent article for National Law Journal, IAALS Board of Advisors Member Jeremy Fogel challenges federal courts to use the data and information gathered through COVID-19-related emergency measures to evaluate and implement more modern court processes going forward. Fogel, the Former Director of the Federal Judicial Center and current Executive Director for the Berkeley Judicial Institute, believes the federal courts have a unique opportunity now to seize on this change. The federal courts’ remote technology response to the pandemic is unprecedented in its history, with the federal judiciary steeped in tradition and incremental change. As Fogel lays out,…
In this unprecedented time, IAALS continues in its work to ensure everyone who needs it has access to justice we can believe in. Our mission is critical, now more than ever. The challenges facing our legal system will be compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, and we must ensure that states, courts, and the legal profession can adapt and be responsive to the needs of the people. And, we can’t do it alone. We rely on a tremendous group of partners who help guide our work, and we are thrilled to announce three new advisors. James J. Sandman, President Emeritus of…
The recommendations can provide critical support to courts facing unprecedented need for change during the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, IAALS, the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, and the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) finalized a three-year project with the release of their new report, Transforming Our Civil Justice System for the 21st Century: The Road to Civil Justice Reform. This report highlights the experiences of four states—Idaho, Maine, Missouri, and Texas—as they worked to implement change in their courts. Their reform efforts were in response to the 2016 Conference of Chief Justices’ Civil Justice Improvements…
For many practitioners and law students, the current crisis and subsequent need for social distancing is causing anxiety, stress, and depression—all of which impact our ability to maintain the level of professionalism required of lawyers. And as lawyers strive to maintain their practices, meet client needs, and stay physically and mentally safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic, law students are facing unique challenges of their own. Law students are figuring out how to transition to online classes, having their graduation ceremonies canceled, and wondering when—or if—they will take the bar exam and begin their careers. For many students enrolled…
Courts, judges, and lawyers have demonstrated a remarkable ability to adapt to a remote and technology-driven version of our justice system in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Advancements in technology within the legal system are not new, but this shift is different. Changes from the pandemic have fundamentally altered the way the justice system operates, and these changes call for a renewed commitment to civility and collegiality across the legal profession. Seismic Changes on All Fronts Seismic changes to daily court operations have prohibited many traditional methods of communication. Lawyers are now prohibited from face-to-face meetings with opposing counsel, as…
On April 10, the State Justice Institute (SJI) launched its Funding Toolkit for State Courts and Justice System Partners, hosting a webinar to introduce attendees to the toolkit. The Funding Toolkit is designed to support courts and their partners as they pursue federal and philanthropic funding opportunities. It includes resources that cover the entire grant-seeking writing and management process, such as planning checklists, sample documents, frequently asked questions, and fact sheets. SJI is also providing technical assistance to courts as part of the toolkit. SJI’s mission is to improve the quality of justice in state courts and foster innovative and…