Latest from IAALS Blog

In 2019, sports stadiums were selling out seats, office water coolers were drawing crowds, and courthouses were holding hundreds of in-person hearings each day. Fast forward to 2020 and things look quite different. Stadiums now have recorded cheers and cardboard cutouts instead of fans, office water-cooler chat has turned into Zoom happy hours, and legal hearings look like the opening credits of The Brady Bunch. A lot has changed. We have learned to operate almost…
A new report from IAALS showcases the innovative adaptations made around the country to best help those who cannot afford an attorney during COVID-19. IAALS, the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, released a new report, Pandemic Positives: Extending the Reach of Court and Legal Services. This report showcases the innovation occurring in courts, self-help centers, legal aid centers, and law/public libraries throughout the country to address the needs of self-represented…
If only 15 percent of people who wanted a haircut could receive a haircut, you’d think the hair grooming governance structure was broken, wouldn’t you? John Lund, one of my favorite legal innovators who continues to lead the way in Utah, asked me this question on a Zoom call. IAALS’ very own Zack DeMeola, also on the Zoom call (and also one of my favorite voices and forces of change in the legal space), agreed.…
On October 27, IAALS and the University of Denver Sturm College of Law co-hosted a virtual panel discussion on how legal regulations in other countries have allowed for greater accessibility to the justice system and increased innovation among service providers. As part of our Future of Legal Services Speaker Series, the panelists offered real-world examples and models that the United Sates can look to for guidance, including how the regulations work in practice and whether…
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on businesses, forcing nearly 80,000 small business to permanently close their doors from March 1 through July 25 of 2020, and resulting in lost investments, jobs, and household income. When small businesses (firms with less than 500 employees) make up 44 percent of all economic activity, widespread and simultaneous business closures have an immediate and significant impact on the economy and long-lasting negative implications on economic…
In September, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences released Civil Justice for All, a report stemming from their Making Justice Accessible project. The report examines the United States’ ever-widening access to justice gap and offers seven recommendations geared toward closing it. Americans, especially those with low income, face a slew of hardships related to housing, employment, debt, and healthcare—all of which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. And despite the fact that…
Each year, tens of thousands sit for the bar exam nationwide, a final step in demonstrating that new law graduates possess the minimum competence needed to practice law. What exactly minimum competence is, however, has never actually been defined—not by the bar examiners or the legal profession at large. This critical flaw has gone unaddressed for a hundred years, making it impossible to know whether the exam actually assesses what it purports to assess—a glaring flaw for…
We must look back to move forward, so the saying goes. Courts face a backlog of civil cases that have been placed on hold since mid-March because of state and local shelter-in-place orders, court closures, or other pandemic-related concerns. Cases filed pre-COVID-19 will soon vie for court attention along with a predicted wave of case filings stemming from the pandemic, such as evictions, debt collections, and business litigation matters. State courts must also adapt to…
On Tuesday, October 20, IAALS hosted a virtual Rebuilding Justice Award Celebration after our annual gala was postponed in April. Instead of gathering for dinner as we normally do, we were joined by people from all over the country and world via Zoom to honor both Margaret Hagan and the late Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady for their leadership and innovation in advancing our justice system. The two have inspired the movement toward…
IAALS is pleased to announce that Carla van Dongen, Vice President – Counsel for State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, will chair our Business Leadership Network (BLN). In this role, she will also serve on IAALS’ Board of Advisors as liaison for BLN. In addition, Van Dongen already serves on our US Justice Needs Advisory Committee, which has helped guide the development of our justice needs surveys of people and businesses across all corners…