Message from Our Executive Director
IAALS awaits Scott Bales’ arrival with great anticipation, but in true IAALS’ fashion, we are not missing a beat in the transition. We are launching two very exciting new projects (stay tuned), and the juggling balls will not have a chance to hit the ground as I pass them off to Scott.

Our Communications team is finally at full strength, so be on the lookout for more coverage of our work and our issues. In short, my term is coming to an end, but our work is just getting started!
Please enjoy this newsletter and join with us in our mission.

Rebecca Love Kourlis, IAALS Executive Director
August 2019
Honoring Becky's Lifetime of Service
"I had the pleasure of working with Becky on the Civil Justice Improvements Committee and through that experience had the opportunity to witness what she brings to the table. 

As a direct result of her contributions to this project, civil justice has been advanced in ways that would have been unfathomable even five years ago. "

Read more from former Chief Justice of Connecticut Chase Rogers and others as they reflect on their time working with Becky.
News from IAALS
New Effort Underway to Improve the Bar Exam and Lawyer Licensing

Most law school graduates sit for the bar exam at the end of each July—an exhausting ordeal of multiple-choice questions and essays that test legal knowledge and reasoning. But does the current bar exam actually test whether the next generation of lawyers has what it takes to practice law? Does the exam actually protect the public?


The answer is “we don’t know” because state regulators have not defined the “minimum competence” lawyers need to practice law—the very thing that the bar exam is supposed to measure.


IAALS, in partnership with Professor Deborah Merritt at The Ohio State University (OSU) Moritz College of Law, has launched  Building a Better Bar: Capturing Minimum Competence, a national research project to develop that critical, missing information. 

Read More.

New Study Explores Nonlawyer Navigator Programs around the Country

As state courts work to serve the substantial numbers of litigants who navigate the civil and family court process without an attorney, they are taking a variety of approaches. Some have fillable forms, some have established self-help centers, some make available digital self-help resources, and some have implemented simplified processes. Some courts have done all of the above, and more.

One approach to increasing self-represented litigant (SRL) access to help during the court process is the use of “nonlawyer navigators.” A recent study conducted by Mary E. McClymont, Senior Fellow at the Justice Lab at Georgetown Law Center, Nonlawyer Navigators in State Courts: An Emerging Consensus, identified and analyzed 23 nonlawyer navigator programs that have been established in more than 80 locations in 15 states and the District of Columbia. 

Read More.

After a Long Hiatus, Las Vegas Review-Journal Plans to Bring Back Evaluations of Nevada Judges

Nevada, which directly elects nearly all of its state judges, has never implemented an official judicial performance evaluation (JPE) program. Instead, between 1992 and 2013, the state’s largest newspaper, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, conducted its own surveys of attorneys in Clark County regarding judges seeking reelection. The paper then compiled the attorney responses and made recommendations to voters on which judges should be reelected.

About ten years ago, the Review-Journal’s survey methodology came under sharp criticism and, in 2013, the newspaper ended its evaluation program.

Last month, the paper announced that it would recommence its evaluations of judges for the 2020 election cycle. The survey instrument has been revised in an effort to reduce the risk of implicit bias and to focus on each judge’s actions rather than personality traits.


Read More.

Civil Justice Reform Efforts in Illinois Show Benefits of New Case Management Tools and Technology

In June, the National Center for States Courts (NCSC) released the second in a series of evaluations of civil justice reform demonstration pilot projects around the country: Civil Justice Initiative: Evaluation of the Civil Justice Initiative Project (CJIP) for the 22nd Judicial Circuit of Illinois. The pilot, located in McHenry County, Illinois, implemented all 13 recommendations from the Civil Justice Initiative (CJI) Implementation Plan, endorsed by the Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) and Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA).

The recommendations were designed to transform the civil justice system in our state courts to meet the challenges of contemporary civil caseloads and the needs of those who come to the courts for resolution of their disputes. The pilot primarily focused on implementing civil case management teams, tools, technology, and the pathways approach.

Read More.

IAALS in the News
July 17: IAALS fellow Russell Wheeler was interviewed for a story in The Baltimore Sun about new judicial discipline rules in Maryland.

July 18: The IAALS Regulation Workshop was mentioned in a blog post on, the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism’s communication channel. The workshop and presented model also appeared in the CA Task Force on Access Through Innovation of Legal Services regulation reform recommendations that were published for notice and comment recently.
Get Involved
IAALS is a national, independent research center dedicated to facilitating continuous improvement and advancing excellence in the American legal system. Our mission is to forge innovative and practical solutions to problems within the American legal system.
in the Future of the American Legal System
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